President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's last political gimmick unravelled and consigned him to the dustbin of historical tragedy. Aware that he has lost the election, he carried on as if he had a fighting chance through some dumb voters who could still be swayed by his final delusion. He deployed some delusional tools, techniques and strategies.
For instance, he went on the offensive and bled the airwaves with messages of a lost cause to perceived undeciders; created election propaganda section headed by the renegade Femi Fani-Kayode of tattered reputation, manipulated online conversations, encouraged open cyber attacks, set up oppositional surveillance, bullied Professor Atahiru Jega, allowed mob illegalities through his proxies of OPC and MASSOB, let loose his Rottweiler wife as a mad dog on the attack and worse, massively pillaged federal government treasury to fund a lost election.
Welcome to a new Jonathan universe. Welcome to Jonathan delusion. I arrived Nigeria - Ibadan for real - early February to monitor the heart and mind of grassroots voters, listen to their pulse, fear, emotion, feelings, doubt and aspiration for the future. I was a witness to Jonathan first delusion. His cancellation of earlier date for the election was a clear manifestation of fear of losing, insensitivity and political cowardice. Mum was the reaction among Nigerians. No groans, no protests, no grunts, no shouts and no fight.
Ibadan as a location for my field work provides an important context. Ibadan has divorced itself from its old, muscular, wetie stronghold into a pulsating, vibrant, promising metropolis of melting pot configuration where Igbo, Hausa, Ijebu, Egba, Ogbomosho, Kogi, Ede, Edo, Fulani and Benue live shoulder-to-shoulder as landlords, employers, employees, residents, friends, associates, rivals, husbands and wives. Ibadan is a new narrative of a healthy mix of tribal conurbations.
Ibadan represented a battleground in the many political wahalas of a shipwrecking President Jonathan who is shamelessly obsessed with power to the consternation of those he once fooled with hypocritical, humble narrativisation of a poor, shoeless Otueke boy.
In the course of the last Presidential election, the humble boy morphed into Africa's worse power drunk, power mongering and power obsessed dictator despised and hated even by his own people. If Habermasian's conception of public sphere is a talk shop of rational and critical discourse among different actors in the society, then it is not farfetched to deploy his theory and test his prognosis among my own people. In the course of my research, I criss-crossed the noisy hair dressing salons, Dugbe corporate axis, Gate spare parts junkyards, UI campus, mama put bukas, okada parks, bank halls, mechanic garages, barber shops and public transports. Without bias, I discovered massive support for the triumph of Buhari as Nigeria's next president. Voters readiness to elect Buhari as their next leader represented the beginning of a rising political shift.
Jonathan does not find any persuasion in the fact that he is no longer popular but prefers to live in a delusional bubble of you-never-know. Jonathan's unpatriotic last minute distractions; his gratuitous resource vandalism, his poll victory conspiracy, the fetishing of failed transformative agenda, his elevation of morons to national prominence, all, epitomise, the hubristic catastrophe of a deluded lame duck leader. Our PVCs sunk him. Oh, my goodness!!!
The balance sheet of his putrescent and vulgar 6 years delusional presidency has mired Nigeria in deepening poverty, economic decline, and social and tribal polarisations. Before the election the unhealable internal implosion within the PDP not only implied vision of electoral disaster but also the breath of Jonathan's delusional hope of winning the presidential contest.
Only the blind and mischief makers will disregard the massive tide of worldwide affection for General Mohammadu Buhari. I also realised that certain aspects of digital technologies helped in shaping social mobilisation. I have come to believe that sophisticated use of social media is leading to intellectual, social and political emancipation among Nigerians. We are evolving into a nation of digital protesters. A real technological and cultural root is gaining acceptance!
Before the election, groups like Global Intelligentsia for Buhari, Nigerian Diaspora Group for Good Governance, Nigerian Global Awakening Group, Nigerian Diaspora Group, and Diaspora For Buhari discussed, commented and interrogated varied political, social and economic issues paralysing the Nigerian state and deployed 'spin' to achieve subjective and maximum impact.
Major themes of discussions were bad governance, endemic corruption, poor policy implementation, infrastructural decay, power outage, unemployment and electoral fraud. These groups were digital attack forces that marshalled arguments to destroy all the canons of Jonathan's lies, hypocrisy, corruption, resource vandalism, political vulgarity, baseness and other palette of abysmal failures of his presidency.
It is hardly any surprise that the use of the Internet and the Web, the so-called distance and time-shrinking telecommunication, has become a truly potent phenomenon among Nigerian's digital protesters. In the sub Saharan African region, there is no country more ferociously hungry for media consumption than Nigeria. We inhabit a cyberian republic populated with warrior netizens who have come to embrace social media and deploy them as tools to fight, criticize, project and highlight various social injustices affecting the destiny of their nation.
Even digitalised diaspora Nigerians who are oceans away from the centre of political, social and economic life back home, are daily engaging in online communities to register their participation in the social, economic and political processes happening in their homeland. Some find accommodation in blogging. Some take to twitter. Millions embrace Facebook. Others communicate through WhatsApp and other social media devises. In all the flourish, Muhammadu Buhari was the pillar of their hope for a new Nigeria. He was the centre of their gravity. Sai Baba/Buhari was the battle cry before the election.
The March 28 general election was Nigeria's most troublesome and challenging election in living memory. Appropriately, activities among Nigerian voters on Facebook reached saturation point. Nigerians both at home and abroad converted Facebook into a platform for information diffusion, participation, mobilisation, propaganda, smear campaign, personality attack, abuse, ethnic polarisation, radicalisation, caricaturisation and empowerment.
Resources and time were deployed to encourage mass turn out for a Buhari's victory. Articulation of arguments for his choice became a byword of digital unity. The election was couched in the metaphor of a messiah coming to undo the work of a dark, corrupt incumbent bent on destroying Nigeria because of his inability to let go a transient power. Meanwhile, most Nigerians I interviewed desired a rebranded nation of peace, power, possibilities, promise and prospects.
The distillation of their ongoing conversations and democratic deliberations strengthened their resolve to CHANGE the worsening conditions around them with a blast of Buhari's unsoiled reputation, integrity and political honesty.
Therefore, realising that there were no factory fresh political ideas to sell to Nigerians, Jonathan fell from grace into the desperate grip of delusions. His first delusion was the wasteful injection of billions of naira to saturate the broadcast, print and social media in a cowardly propaganda to damage the reputation of Mohammadu Buhari. He failed!
In another delusion, Jonathan criss-crossed Nigeria, giving an average of N50 million each to traditional rulers, most especially in the South-West and the Northern parts of Nigeria. Letters in English and Hausa backed by millions in cash were dispatched to willing rulers in the region. Religious leaders, trade unions, youth organisations, outlaw groups (OPC and Niger Delta Militants), professional bodies, entertainers were not ruled out of the money sharing jamboree of a wantonly wasteful criminal Jonathan. He failed!
One of his laughable delusions was the last minute forced friendship with the Yoruba people. Yoruba are the famed, lionised, intelligent and resourceful race of omo Oduduwa that had remained rejected, mistreated and marginalised by Jonathan in a mysterious alchemy of geopolitical miscalculations. The fixer of our tribal quota relegated the Yoruba to nothingness under Jonathan's presidency.
The injury of Yoruba political oblivion under Jonathan would later bundle him back to swampy Otueke through a calculated electoral revenge. His final delusion to force feed the renegade Afeniferere with billions of naira also failed. For the record, Afeniferere has emerged as a leprous finger of shame and scandal. This time there is no forgetting of their crime against Yoruba unity.
Another Jonathan delusion was the use of his shameless wife - the damned - Dame Patience as a trench warrior, fighting verbal wars on all cylinders and spreading quarrels and anger all across the geopolitical divide.
Patience Jonathan illiterate quarrels and horrible comments in the public domain were forms of delusional tools used to woo illiterate voters like her. All noises and no substance! Her projected fears of a victorious President Buhari later came to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. She failed!
Her reduction of nuanced and intelligent soap box campaign into Bolekaja-Warri-pidgin-megaphone by a tempestuous, accidentally lucky housewife shows her vulgar upbringing. Another of Jonathan's final delusion was his blindness to see renaissance voters who were ready to defy his propaganda, promote the idea of CHANGE, of reconstructive democracy over transformative fraud and good governance over corrupt leadership.
Being slow to interpret the signs of CHANGE that were all around Nigeria, Jonathan's biggest effrontery was the idea to save his face from electoral failure and bushwhacked Nigeria into the unpopular arm of Interim National Government - ING. Thank God, his evil desire to derail Nigeria from paradise into purgatory has backfired on his face. He failed!
Lastly, Jonathan's attempt to reduce our democracy to a do-or-die and delusional farce blew up on his face. His 6 years of embroidered lies, stealing, plundering, impunity, marginalisation of the Yoruba- his burden bearers to the Presidency - naked ambition, over-heating of the polity and his crude benign blindness to see CHANGE all around him have all combined to bury him into the depthless darkness of political oblivion. The desire of most Nigerians to live under a new universe became an instant opium and all of us turned into Buhari junkies. Sai Baba won!!! Job done!!!
* Tijani is the Europe and Middle East Coordinator for Global Intelligentsia For Buhari.
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