Between John Campbell and Goodluck Jonat…

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President: Goodluck Johnathan

President: Goodluck Johnathan

Though Ambassador John Campbell is a US diplomat who served as the USA ambassador to Nigeria under the administration of President Gorge W. Bush and now serves as a senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, I’m pretty certain that he’s better known as the author of the headline-grabbing book entitled “Nigeria: Dancing on the brink”. Based on the choice of the title and timing of his book under reference, it was easily-discernible that Ambassador John Campbell’s brief was to shoot down President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential ambition and his main tactic was to deploy the crudest form of scare-mongering diplomacy! With his mission defined and his tactic chosen, his strategy was to work from the answer -and as is always the case with anyone who chooses to work from the answer, his logic was bound to suffer lethal asphyxiation compounded by selective amnesia!

First, Ambassador John Campbell argued that President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential bid lacked legitimacy and therefore was of doubtful feasibility because it wasn’t the product of  ‘elite consensus’. Ambassador John Campbell’s second argument against President Jonathan’s presidential bid was that it had the potential of undermining national unity because it was a violation of the zoning arrangement agreed between the Muslim North and the Christian South. Not done, Ambassador John Campbell proceeded to argue that if President Goodluck Jonathan contested the 2011 presidential elections, the election was going to destabilize Nigeria with the possibility of triggering a military coup!

Interestingly, Ambassador John Campbell was canvassing exactly the same arguments and shooting the same arrows of crude intimidation at President Goodluck Jonathan as the Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum which brought together Generals Babangida and Aliyu Gusau and Atiku Abubakar and so it seemed more like he was doing his part as the international wing of the Northern Political Leaders Forum! Any comparison of the positions and arguments canvassed by Ambassador John Campbell on the one hand and the Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum on the other hand will definitely constrain any fair-minded arbiter to rule that this is the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob! What a coincidence that both Ambassador John Campbell and the Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum were critical of President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential ambition even though they knew that he had the right to so aspire under the Nigerian constitution?

What a coincidence that both Ambassador John Campbell and the Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum argued that President Jonathan’s presidential bid ran the risk of destabilizing Nigeria because it was in violation of the zoning arrangement agreed between the North and South when they knew that both General Babangida and Atiku Abubakar who are now swearing in the name of zoning had obtained the PDP’s presidential nomination forms and publicly-declared their intention and eligibility to contest the 2003 presidential elections when the PDP zoning calendar indicated that it was the turn of the South!

What a coincidence that both Ambassador John Campbell and the Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum could argued (and even threatened) that President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential bid was most divisive and destabilizing because the North could not bear to be kept out of power for another four or eight years when they know that out of Nigeria’s fifty years of independence, a combination of Northern Generals and politicians have dominated the presidency for a total of thirty-nine years while Southerners only held the top job for eleven years and yet the country didn’t burn? What a coincidence that both Ambassador John Campbell and the Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum chose both to elevate PDP’s zoning arrangement to the level of national policy and to argue that it is what has ensured national unity and stability when they knew that it’s purely the internal arrangement of one of Nigeria’s many political parties which is neither even supported by all the opposition parties nor has ever been subjected to say a national referendum through which it could be properly negotiated by all the federating units! What a coincidence that both Ambassador John Campbell and the Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum talk only of the political interest of the North and the likely injustice that the North stands to suffer on account of President Jonathan’s decision to contest the 2011 presidential elections while remaining silent on the political interest of the South and the thirty-nine year exclusion of the South from the top job plus the fifty years exclusion of the Southern minorities who account for the oil that has kept Nigeria’s economy running since 1957 from the top job!

Now that the 2011 presidential election has come and gone with local and international observers adjudging it Nigeria’s best ever and President Jonathan winning a landslide victory achieved through inter-ethnic, inter-religious and inter-party consensus that’s totally unprecedented in the political history of Nigeria or any other African nation, rather than congratulating the grossly underrated and maligned President-elect for pulling such an impossible feat within less than a year in office, Ambassador John Campbell has once again chosen to resume his negative, anti-Nigerian scare-mongering diplomacy by warning as follows, “The just-concluded Nigerian elections are being hailed as the most credible since the restoration of civilian governance in 1999. International observers and governments have congratulated the Nigerian people on their conduct and Goodluck Jonathan on his presidential election. They have also expressed satisfaction that Nigeria is resuming its role as the model of democracy in Africa. Not so fast. The elections have polarized Nigeria…The predominantly Christian South sees the election as credible. However, many in the North view the presidency and the elections as having been stolen from their region and their candidate, the Northern Muslim Muhammadu Buhari.”

It’s all too obvious that Ambassador John Campbell is painfully disappointed that the success of the 2011 elections and President Jonathan’s electoral victory as well as Nigeria’s continued unity despite the criminality of a few evil politicians whose stock-in-trade is to stoke the embers of discord conclusively proves that the real Nigeria that just elected its new president across ethnic, religious and party divides is the direct opposite of his mythical Nigeria that’s sharply (and even irreconcilably) divided between the Muslim North and the Christian South and so denies him the opportunity to declare ” I told you so”!

Dear Ambassador John Campbell, even if Nigeria ever existed in the deeply-divided state that you continue to imagine with absolute finality, it’s still no less absurd for you to assume that Nigerians are either not desirous of or incapable of beginning the journey to national transformation! It’s most disappointing that throughout your tour of duty in Nigeria, you knew nothing about the majority of Northern Muslims and Christians and Southern Christians and Muslims alike who are living happily and doing business/playing politics together as well as freely inter-marrying with themselves! The sooner Ambassador John Campbell can stop arguing with himself by simply admitting that his “Dancing on the brink” thesis on Nigeria was both wrong-headed and wrong-footed, the better for him. However, should Ambassador John insist on continuing with his tangential policy positions on Nigeria, then all I can promise him is that truth will always triumph over falsehood.

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