Jonathan’s lessons for presidential contestants

As the excitement and public interest generated by the approach of the electoral season in Nigeria takes hold of the imagination of the populace it is becoming increasingly obvious that next year’s presidential contest might provoke unprecedented conflict among some sectors of the electorate.
It is widely assumed that a substantial proportion of the younger voters intend to use their franchise to express disenchantment with the conduct of governance in the country in recent times. In order to make this impulse achieve definite success several voters intend to use the democratic process to reflect the popular will rather than to support traditional establishmentarian viewpoints.
To do this they will cast their vote in a manner meant to effect genuine change in the nation’s social agenda. The outcome of any such initiative will probably be to upset the expectations of the conventional political actors in the society and thus to bring about a result that will create confusion after the first ballot..
If we give any credence to the public protestations that are being noised about at this time it is probable that for the first time since Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999 the contest could end in an uncertain result that will necessitate a runoff. This is likely to occur because of the way that the candidates who are regarded as the front runners in the race have emerged.
In the event that the northern states share their votes so that two of the contestants come out of the race without a clear advantage as appears likely at this juncture then in the runoff the South-East and the South-South might end up being the major zones to decide the final victory. Such an outcome can probably heat up the polity severely and generate an atmosphere of public disorder that will take on divisive regional expression.
Should Nigeria end up with a crisis of public uncertainty arising out of the conduct of the presidential polls it might serve the polity well for the contestants to recall the outcome of the 2015 contest and the conduct of former President Goodluck Jonathan. In a unique book entitled My Transition Hours Jonathan narrated the circumstances and context of his decision to concede victory to retired General Muhammadu Buhari even before formal announcement of the result was declared by the electoral commission. This book is a remarkable insider’s account of the circumstances surrounding a national leader confronted with extraordinary internal; division in his party and a host of betrayals by former allies.
The book represents Jonathan as a clear-headed leader who tolerated the disenchantment of those who helped to craft his defeat in spite of his best efforts to fulfill campaign promises of his party as the major obligation of his presidential tenure. While those who are contesting might not have much leisure time to read as they are preoccupied with their campaign activities they should at least find the time to peruse the general principles which are stated by Goodluck in a short but very touching introductory essay entitled Reflections.
The entire book will be very interesting reading for anyone contesting for leadership in the volatile Nigerian arena under the trying circumstances that have become normal in the contemporary era. It is important for the building of Nigeria’s fundamental democratic order for leaders to be tolerant and amiable.
They must also be ready to accept compromise in order to install stability as the foremost outcome of democratic contest in Nigeria. This principle is what Jonathan depicts and promotes in no uncertain terms in this unique volume of record, and those who are preparing to call on Nigeria’s voters to support them would do well to absorb the lessons in tolerance and patriotic selflessness which Goodluck Jonathan displays in his unique book.

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