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OPINION: 2015 – Jonathan’s Minority Burden


Let us not pretend about it, Otuoke is small and inconsequential as far as politics in this country is concerned. It is a small sleepy town in Bayelsa, hardly able to boast of an illustrious son until some few years ago when it produced the number one citizen of the country.

Now this is where the romantic story ends. The man in question, President Goodluck Jonathan, in the last three years has had to face up to what it means to be a minority man in a country such as ours.

Let us not mince words about it. Where you hail from and the size of your tribe in Nigeria determines what you get, how you are perceived or how your actions or inactions are read. So having the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria come from that seemingly small part of Bayelsa means a great deal as 2015, an election year, approaches.

In the last three years of Jonathan’s administration, the public space has witnessed an unprecedented clamour of criticisms ever marshalled against a president. Against the very visible performance in roads reconstruction, revamping of the railways, improvement in power supply, ensuring steady availability of fuel and abolishing long queues at the filling stations, an improving economic indicators, more jobs availability, robust foreign policy that now makes the average Nigerian a priority of federal government in the Diaspora, Mr president is having to contend with uproar of opposition that seem to make no sense.

More or less, the opposition to Jonathan is not about whether he performs the eight wonders. The prevalent message is from his traducers is that Jonathan cannot contest 2015 because he from the wrong part of the country. So, the thinking here is that whether Jonathan builds ten new roads per day, manages more remarkable fit in power generation or even turns Nigeria to the Singapore of Africa, he they count for nothing so long as it was done by a man from Otuoke and not from any place from Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa lands.

Maybe ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo never meant to buttress this simple fact. But his now ominously obnoxious open letter to President Jonathan gives the clearest indication on the template for which the president is judged by the opposition. OBJ, as the former president is called, accused Mr President of being ‘clannish.’ Very few commentators paid attention to the sub-text in the use of the expression.

As many kin observers of public matters would recall, a public office holder perceived of favoring his kith or kin is either accused of tribalism or ethnicity. But in the case of Jonathan, OBJ chose to call him clannish. Whether or not President Jonathan stands accused on this score is immaterial at this point because Edwin Clerk, Ijaw leader, Jonathan’s ‘Clans’ man, adequately debunked the allegations with facts and figures in his response to OBJ.

The real matter here is the worrisome implication contained in the subtext of OBJ’s claim. Anybody with an average competence in English will readily understand that a clan is just a part of many others that make up a tribe. Even more, the use of the word by the ex-president is pejorative, indicating a sense of being small, inconsequential, and therefore must be at the behest of the bigger tribes, like Yoruba, where the former President Obasanjo hails from. Having this unique insight then, is it any surprise that men who should know better would call the President Jonathan ‘clueless,’ ‘weak’ or worse still, a ‘kindergarten president?’


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