The hue and cry over Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s right to contest for the office of the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is misconceived, inflammatory and disturbing. There have been inappropriate, misleading and mischievous references to the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) preference for a zoning system in this unfortunate debate. There is nothing even remotely constitutional in this debate. If Dr. Jonathan's critics are fairly represented by the likes of the governor’s forum and some element in the PDP, then the case for electing Dr. Jonathan to the office of President have been reinforced.
Dr. Jonathan's right to contest for political office - any political office including the office of President, is constitutionally guaranteed. His prima facie qualifications under sections
131 and 137 of the Nigerian constitution are not in question; nor is there a credible dispute as to the credentials of this particular candidate. Given these predicates, a non-issue has been fabricated. By the use of smoke and mirrors, persistent innuendos and intellectual sleight of hand, the objective is to tarnish the reputation of a good man and deny the Nigerian people the right to choose who will lead them in this trying period.
To begin with, the available evidence overwhelmingly indicates that Jonathan’s bid for the PDP’s presidential nomination more seriously, for a run would be good for the party and good for the country. Why? Because Jonathan is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people. The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting.
Furthermore, it is undisputed even by the critics that Dr. Jonathan has led by his exemplary service and has articulated strong values and principles that matters most to Nigerians. He is the candidate who has displayed responsiveness to criticism. In my earlier article “Goodluck Jonathan the Reluctant Leader” I challenged the Acting President of lack of courage in carrying out presidential duties and the need for reforms, coupled with criticism from Nigerians and the international community. He responded by making changes in his administration and forwarded the Justice Uwais Electoral reform report to the national assembly unedited. He is most capable of consensus building, of thriving even as the pressure of governance inevitably builds up in Abuja. This is evident in Dr. Jonathan's tenure as Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President and Acting President respectively. Dr. Jonathan has articulated a viable strategy for addressing Nigerians challenges, beginning with the inauguration of the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC). He has also rolled out proposals for reforms and is responsible for implementing many of the obvious barometers of progress under the current administration.
I echo the sentiments of President Barack Obama in town square Springfield, Illinois while declaring his run for the Presidency of the United States of America that, "what's stopped us is the failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics -- the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our preference for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to tackle the big problems …"
Felix Ayanruoh Esq.
Practice Law in New York and District of Columbia