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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
more articles by Terver



Finally, persistence pays. That's the lesson from the opposition and Buhari who for three times lost his bid for the Presidency but never gave up. He tried again and again and succeeded the fourth time. For the first time we are having a prepared leader and Nigerian are eager to see a new beginning. History beckons!


Lessons from Jonathan's defeat.

The defeat of Jonathan in the last Presidential election has broken some political myths in Nigeria and also so radically redefined the game of power succession; such that political analysts and social scientists will need to review their theories or formulate completely new ones in order to accurately interpret political developments or predict future trends.



The first theory that has lost validity is the one that says an incumbent president can not (or should not ) loose election in Nigeria. For 16 years that has been the case because the Nigerian Voter has not been allowed to assert his constitutional right to decide who should or shouldn't be his leader. That right was hijacked by those in power and made to seem like a favour when bestowed upon them by the power mongers. Even when the Voter cast his votes, it took the magnamity of the leader in power to allow the votes to count. Thus it became almost unthinkable that a sitting President could loose an election. It was this belief that informed PDP's boast that the party would rule Nigeria for 60 (continuous) years. Thus in the run up to march 11th, most of the supporters of Jonathan relied sorely an this presumptive reasoning to insist it was Jonathan till 2019.

The second theory that needs a review is the notion that with money, electoral victory is guaranteed. Money indeed may answer all things but it can no longer assure victory because Jonathan spent Money. He spent it in dollars. He spent it lavishly . From Nollywood stars to Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria to Traditional rulers to religious Leaders to National Association of Wizards(and witches), Ogboni cult members, to politicians and their hangers-on; the list of beneficiaries of the Jonathan Dollar-rain is endless. Rumours put the bill at 2 trillion Nigerian Naira ,though spokesman Abati denied as usual, he failed to do it convincingly. It appears that Nigerians have finally learnt how to collect the money and endorse candidates with their mouths but obey their conscience while alone in the polling booth.

Politicians need to also realise that kneeling before "men Of God" and dramatisation of religion can not win votes. The religious card was played generously by the Jonathan campaign. If he was not kneeling before pastors for prayer and endorsements , he was in Jerusalem on pilgrimage. It has now proven to be a gracious error for any candidate to bank on the support of his religious community for victory because to win the Nigerian Presidency, in addition to polling majority votes, one needs at least 25 % of votes cast in at least 24 states which cuts across religious boundaries. It was therefore a great disservice to Jonathan when his supporters reduced him to a Christian President rather than the President of a secular Nigeria.

Still on the matter of religion, it would be more beneficial to the ambitions of politicians to pay more attention to the cries of the people, to their desires and aspirations than the flattery and prophecies of fake Prophets who claim to speak the mind of God when God has not spoken. They should avoid the mistake of Ahab who gathered 400 prophets to prophesy lies to him in furtherance to his disobedient agenda. As it is now obvious, the "men of God" who prophesied victory for Jonathan lied. God didn't speak to them. They spoke what the President wanted to hear. They spoke from the abundance of their own hearts, therefore they spoke their minds and not the mind of God. They spoke for their pockets and their stomachs. They were inspired by greed and mammon and not by the Spirit of God.

This election has also confirmed that desperation can take you all over the country but it can not give you victory. Jonathan showed uncommon desperation as he ran from pillar to post, committing presidential gaffes as he went. Out of desperation he launched the dirtiest campaign ever conducted by Presidential candidate in the last 16 years of our existence. No insult was spared his main challenger Gen. Buhari. They said he was an illiterate but sensible Nigerians knew that it was simply impossible for a Nigerian General and former Head of State to be illiterate. They said he was brain dead at a time the General was making more sensible campaign speeches than Jonathan; even going to speak at the prestigious Chatham House to the applause of international audience of intellectuals. They said he was terminally ill, forgetting that even the Presidents wife "resurrected from the dead" after her terminal sickness. Most extremely they wished him dead! Ironically all these tactics backfired. Discerning Nigerian's could see through it all. They saw an under-performer hiding behind Buhari to cover up his failings. For a sitting president, it made more sense to seek re-election on the basis of your performance than the unsuitability of your opponent.

I have a free advice for politicians who have lousy wives ; never let loose your wife during electioneering. Put a strong chain on her leg and tie her to a theter in the corner of your bedroom far from public view. She will be released after you win. If you doubt me, ask Jonathan; his wife Patience made more enemies for him than Jonathan needed. She chose wrong targets and created unnecessary controversies that added no value to her husbands campaign. It was Mrs. Jonathan who said Buhari was brain dead. Imagine a woman who can not make two consecutive correct sentences in English calling a man who was head of state when her husband was still in school brain dead. Patience also insulted the sensibilities of the Chibouk parents when she called a publicly televised meeting to try and prove to the world that no girls were kidnapped. That meeting ended in a comedy but the wounds of her thoughtless outbursts remained unhealed. Her battle with Amaechi was also a senseless battle. It may not be obvious to some but keen observers would agree that her onslaught against Amaechi actually made the man more popular and increased his sphere of influence. Now the man is victorious while Mrs. Jonathan is leaving with a bloody nose.

Another lesson from this election is that goodluck has an expiring date. It is not enough to be lucky; one must add virtues like integrity, performance and good governance if he desires continuous support from the people. Luck may propel you from a shoeless son of a fisherman to the presidency of Africa's most populous nation but it can't sustain you there.

Politicians must learn that lies too have expiring date. For the whole 6 years of Jonathan in the saddle, Nigerians have been served a cocktail of lies. If it was not one lousy minister of information reading out phantom performance indices, it was the exaggerated minister of finance releasing her voodoo economic statistics. Jonathan fulfilled less than 10% of his preselection promises yet we kept hearing of a transformation agenda. A fake railway line was commissioned in Makurdi and the train coaches disappeared the next day. I learnt the coaches were taken out on truck for another commissioning! This was in addition to failed promises like dredging of River Benue to build the Makurdi inland port. Well Jonathan lost Benue because the people could not be deceived anymore.

Perhaps the most obvious lesson from Jonathan's defeat is that power is transient. Therefore those who occupy positions of authority should constantly remind themselves that they are only holding power in trust for the people. They should resist the temptation to think and behave as if it is permanent. This applies also to their aides and confidants as well. Who could have before March 11th, convinced the Okupes and the Fayoses or the Asari Dakubos and Edwin Clarkes of this world that their unlimited access to Aso Rock would cease on May 29th?

With APCs victory, opposition is now good business .Before now opposition was seen by many as a gang of disgruntled outsiders to the corridors of power. It was never seen as a vehicle to the seat of power .Opposition politicians were ridiculed and dismissed with the wave of the hand. But this time around PDP dismissed the APC at their own peril. As the APC takes over, they must also reckon that the PDP is still a formidable opposition they would not afford to overlook. They must realize very early that the only way to keep the PDP at bay is to give Nigerians good governance.

Finally, persistence pays. That's the lesson from the opposition and Buhari who for three times lost his bid for the Presidency but never gave up. He tried again and again and succeeded the fourth time. For the first time we are having a prepared leader and Nigerian are eager to see a new beginning. History beckons!




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