The romanticisation of Jonathan’s shoeless past and the ongoing spin on his underclass (socially) and underdog (politically) antecedents have continued to engender a kind of sympathetic solidarity in the consciousness of many Nigerians. But beyond the overkill, we have the unconvinced advocates of pessimism who see Jonathan as a fraud, temporising and uncertain. The pessimists can easily and rightly satirised Jonathan as flaccid, dithering and a kind of front office manager. Another summary might echo Jonathan as the innocent variant of the vermin called mafia, cartel or cabal – the very antithesis of our progressive dream.
In a nation where professional cynics are being bred like maggots through the nightmarish experience of our revolving door polity, pray, where are the happy, optimistic, bleeding heart liberals the president seeks in his dream to transform the Nigerian dinosaur? Paid acolytes of the president are still perfecting the art of colonising, no, invading, both our public and private domains and asking for kinship loyalties to an Itueke journeyman who started out from humble deprivation. The emergence of Jonathan as our president foreclosed our old, timid and porcine accommodation of our leader’s inanities. From the wasting era of Babangida’s atomisation of society to Obasanjo’s do-or-die, Yar’Adua’s slow motion tenure and now Jonathan’s, Nigerians have truly waited for their political universe to be weighted and transformed. We have all made a stand. The stand is never again to normalise the unthinkable and the abominable. Enough is enough!
Once Jonathan assumed the mantle of scholar-leader as opposed to his predecessor’s servant-leader, he began to roll out a new political orthodoxy. The first brain box of Aso Rock unfurled a new vocabulary. He divorced from the old, tired and outworn clichés we were used to. Jonathan, riding on the crest of popularity began to build interest in us for his new politics. Do-or-die and 7 point agenda were PDP’s jaded, juvenile mantra no longer fit for the redoubtable chamber of our democratic space. In his desire to keep faith with the power of a networked world, Jonathan bought into a transformational agenda. Here, I must confess that I am one of his apathetic and law-abiding citizens who are clueless as to his newfound political self-indulgence of transformation. Even the select group of highly literate minds I spoke to was of the opinion that the transformation on its own sounds lofty and aspirational, but the holistic renaissance it promises is buried deep in confusion and occultism.
What does the president want to transform? Does he want to transform Nigeria and take it back from the rapacious hands of elitist politicians who are interested in fiefdom and citizens’ serfdom? Does he want to transform the shameless reduction of our democracy to electoral fraud as we saw in many stolen mandates that led to gubernatorial reversals? Would Jonathan be able to transform our pretentious sectarian politics of identity where the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa will cohabit in a patriotic capsule of tolerance, unity and collective dream? Can we wager our last coin on his transformational agenda as the perfect harbinger of equitable law and justice, transparency, eradication of corruption, provider of stable electricity, reformed Police, Army, Navy, Custom and FRSC, education, employment, good roads, housing and direly needed infrastructures like hospitals, industries and refineries?
The Nigerian public needs clarity and proper articulation of Jonathan’s transformational whammy. The rhetoric from the misinformed divide is accusing Jonathan of shrouding his transformational creed in the realm of darkness. Most of what are being grind out by media advisers, willing intellectuals and paid demagogues are merely calming words about the president’s benign and altruistic motive while the essential mission of educating, informing and encouraging intelligent exchange with the governed are lost in disputatious politics of mere soundbite. We still have unbelievers, roundly educated by experience and prescience, who see Jonathan’s transforming agenda as a charter for the warped-minded. It is perceived as a load of sentimental guff devoid of hard sense. Why transformation agenda when Nigeria needs a draconian, even, merciless swing of baton against corrupt, lazy, empty-brained, phoney, dodgy, unpatriotic set of greedy fattened mice we called politicians? They reckoned that transformation agenda will soon be swallowed up by that implacable Aso Rock animal called dumb inaction. Of a truth, Jonathan must understand that he presides over a nation of grumbling bunch of impatient citizens. Citizens who are lining the cyber highways and holding banners of pain and disappointments, all, calling for change.
Frustrated and revolutionary-hungry Nigerians are spoiling for a fight if transformational timeline exceeds their capacity to bear. They want to see transformation not as a nebulous and archaic soundbite crafted to deceive, but as a retooling hardware for the dismantling of our usual dinosaurs. They want transformation to morph into a retooling hardware for the dismantling of our vexing anxieties like official high corruption, greed, tribalised impunity, political sacred cows, oil industry perfidy, allowances of politicians, anti-people constitution and the systematic stripping of government assets by political cronies.
However, Jonathan must guard against his transformational agenda being reviled as an intellectually bankrupt creed that has nothing to contribute to the triumphal progress of our democratic renewal. I still remember a time when we were serenaded by the patriotic vision of one Prof. Dora Akunyili (wannabe Ondo woman?) to rebrand Nigeria. If the ethical articulation of a dour Dora had been a success, the endless scandals of our nation would have been minimised. If dour Dora could not rebrand the dinosaur, can a transformer come out of Itueke? This land still faces the challenges of policy failure and somersault. If the president is promoting himself as the chief transformer of a transforming government, Nigerians want to see action. Transformational agenda cannot exist in silent manoeuvre and official brick wall. We need to see action on the reports of all the constituted committees.
We want to see radical and disrupting incursions into where the angels feared to tread. We cannot transform Nigeria by not naming, shaming, prosecuting and jailing saboteurs, thieves, terrorists and blood sucking vampires. It is hoped that Jonathan will rise from the dark dungeon of complacency and transform the sickening mores of our society. It is hoped that he will unhinge our paralysing chains of business as usual and carve a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of half century of disasters, disappointment and documented failures. Mr President has to be bold, brave and brash. He needs to be heckling and provoking. The peoples’ ambivalent feeling is crying for a president who will take a principle stand without being timid, defensive and prevaricating- old Jonathan alter ego. Let the new transformer from Itueke confront the dinosaurs.