It is rather comical how Nigerian leaders refuse to leave politics years after their tenure in office has elapsed. It is even more so when these leaders blame their political losses on basic things that occur in all democracies. According to Goodluck Jonathan, he lost the 2015 election because the PDP governors plotted against him. What our ex-president seems to be missing is that this is how the game of politics works, at least in a democratic state system.
What is the point of democracy if not to make sure that one’s preferred candidate wins and, inevitably, the other loses? All forms of disagreement and support are fair game in our political system, even if and when they occur against members of one’s own party. This was not even the case in 2015, as the PDP governors who supposedly sabotaged Jonathan’s chances in office defected to the APC.
In a book recently published about his tenure in office titled My Transition Hours, Jonathan also chalked his 2015 loss up to fake news and Northern leaders’ opposition. Media sensationalism is a feature in all types of government and state systems worldwide. What Jonathan and US President Donald Trump would call “fake news” is simply private media companies trying to gain as many views and thereby make as many sales as possible through any means necessary.
In addition to that, even though the media is a key player in politics and it is 70% dominated by the state in this country, it is under no obligation to operate in accordance to the interests of present or past political leaders. If we want to stake any claim to democracy at all, it is important that we recognise freedom of press.
With regards to the opposition of Northern leaders, it is indeed a shame that Nigerians continue to vote along tribal and religious lines. However, Jonathan did have the support of those Nigerian leaders who identified with him along the same lines.
It is interesting how Jonathan waited until 3 years after his defeat to claim that the odds were stacked against him during the 2015 election. It is even more interesting considering the upcoming 2019 elections and the persistence of political godfatherism. This case of non-electoral mudslinging may be nothing more than a strategic move to gain support ahead of next year’s elections.
Furthermore, if these three factors that Jonathan claims caused him to lose the election instead had worked in his favour and caused his opponent to lose, it is very unlikely that he would raise alarms about these allegedly unfair campaign practices and occurrences.
Nigerian leaders’ tendency to remain involved in politics long after their elapsed time in office is probably the second largest challenge to democracy and leader accountability in Nigeria. The largest challenge by far is their lack of understanding of the internal mechanisms of democratic state systems.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.