by Fortune God’sSon Alfred
Like GEJ many manufactured problems (including a War on Boko Haram Terrorism) Lincoln had his Civil War to worry about. His entire Political destiny relied on it. Opposition to the war, to the administration’s policies, and to Lincoln waxed and waned, depending on how well—or poorly—the army was doing in the field. Today, Jonathan is in a similar position
I once wrote that “…legacies are assessed after those who bequeath them exit the podium. GEJ still has 3 years in his first term. And as I speak, I am yet to see or meet anyone who can point at any past ruler of this country whose achievements, if placed size by size with GEJ’s will surpass the latter. Yet, never in the times of the other rulers were they called Clueless, daft, kai-kai drinker (drunk), weak, etc. (Read HERE)
Two years after I wrote those words, I am still convinced about the rightness of my above quoted assertion. I am even more emboldened by my studies of the tenure of the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln.
Every now and then, history presents mankind with some astonishing parallels, which the discerning cannot help but view as happenings that may be beyond mere coincidences. Many are already very familiar with the parallels (or coincidences if you may) between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy on the one hand and the less famous 16 coincidences between John F. Kennedy and Alvaro Obregon (President of Mexico from 1920-1924), on the other hand. For instance, “both “Kennedy” and “Obregon” have seven letters; each was assassinated; both their assassins had three names and died shortly after killing the president; Kennedy and Obregon were both married in years ending in 3; each had a son who died shortly after birth; and both came from large families and died in their forties”.
I do not intend to talk about JFK, Obregon or coincidences here. My main reason for writing today is about the parallels between Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Abraham Lincoln.
Nonetheless, let me state here and now that I am not saying Jonathan is Lincoln. Yet, there are many parallels between both men that cannot be ignored. Let’s see a few of them now.
Like GEJ, the Gentle Abe was called a drunk tyrant destroying American republican values with despotic and arbitrary actions, subverter of the liberty of the American people, debaucher of their civil aspirations, an abuser of the US Constitution (IMMUNITY as some of our friends would shout today) a procrastinator, etc. In fact to underscore their disdain for his plan to free African-Americans from Slavery, one 1864 propaganda pamphlet from his most ardent critics, “the Copperheads” mockingly called him “King Abraham Africanus I”. The pamphlet depicts Abraham Lincoln making a pact with the Devil to become the King of the United States.
Also, just like many ethno-religious and regional chauvinists with a “Born to Rule” mentality who believe Aso Rock is their birthright, who GEJ contends with daily in today’s Nigeria, there were many Americans from the North and South who thought Lincoln was too country to be President of the US. As far as they were concerned, he was a Nobody Illinois Lawyer who was an intruder in the White House. (Even William H. Seward, his Secretary of State had condescending and skeptical attitude toward Lincoln at first, before they grew to become close friends.)I am sure you are familiar with the constant reference to Otuoeke by Jonathan’s bashers.
To Lincoln’s bashers, he lacked pedigree and finesse. Thus, the Copperheads saw nothing good in him. Rather daily they reminded him of how very different he was from Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, whom they saw as Role Models. Today, President Jonathan has his own more dangerous Copperheads who attack him without pointing to any administration in Nigeria’s history that had performed better than he is doing.
Like GEJ many manufactured problems (including a War on Boko Haram Terrorism) Lincoln had his Civil War to worry about. His entire Political destiny relied on it. Opposition to the war, to the administration’s policies, and to Lincoln waxed and waned, depending on how well—or poorly—the army was doing in the field. Today, Jonathan is in a similar position, where his entire political future is about to be shaped the War against Terrorism, rather than how well or poorly he done with the development of the Country. There has been a well-orchestrated campaign to make the War against Boko Haram the most important decider of the 2015 Presidential election.
When opposition to the US Civil war was fiercest, in the summer of 1864, Lincoln was under intense pressure to stop the war at any cost. He resisted clamorous calls for a cease-fire, but he and many others (including his aides) thought it would cost him reelection that fall. That Lincoln was able to withstand the extraordinary pressures to halt the bloodshed, even at what he thought would be the expense of his presidency, underscores both his tenacity and his moral and political courage. AIN’T THAT FAMILIAR? ARE WE NOT ALL WITNESSES TO THE CALLS FOR BOKO HARAM PRISONERS SWAP DEAL? President Jonathan too has taking many hard decisions that has threatened his chances of reelection. A case in point is his decision to totally remove subsidy from PMS in January, 2012. A more recent one is his decision to attend a Multilateral Summit against Boko Haram rather than visit Chibok on the same day, despite thunderous clamours from some quarters. A leader must be willing and able to take difficult decisions to protect the greater interest of his state, even when doing so is not popular.
History is indeed cyclical and the passions of men do repeat themselves. I recommend the movie “LINCOLN” to all who seek a deeper understanding of the GEJ Administration.
In that movie you will see the intrigues that went into the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, which abolished Slavery in the USA.
Also you will see that Lincoln’s opponents opposed all his important decisions. They opposed his decision to call out the militia, which is a congressional prerogative; challenged his order to blockade Southern ports, which they claimed was an act of war before Congress declared war; and disputed the income tax and the suspension of habeas corpus. Dissidents, most notably newspaper editors who differed with the administration, were being thrown in jail.
Other newspapers received visits from uniformed troops who destroyed their presses or just locked the door and shut down operations. Lincoln declared martial law in Maryland, in part as a way to protect Washington, D.C., from the Confederate sympathizers who lived mostly in the eastern part of the state. The Copperheads claimed that Lincoln was a “tyrant” using unconstitutional methods to prosecute the war. FAMILIAR? Even worse than the Copperheads, today we have a class of Nigerians who actively work against the Nigerian Military’s efforts to tackle the Boko Haram terrorist menace in Northern Nigeria. There is also a large population of Boko Haram sympathizers in Jonathan’s Nigeria today.
Lincoln was luckier than Goodluck in some respects though. At least his opponents clothed their disdain for him in issue based discusses. Jonathan has not had that luxury. For instance, Lincoln did not have a Governor Nyaku or Governor Kwankwaso to accuse him of the most heinous of crimes humanly possible. He did not have an army of social Media hate groups and propagandists spreading lies against him daily.
I can go on and on. But suffice to say, “In a land where everything is politicized and reason is murdered for propaganda and blind hate induced arguments, IGNORANCE RULES.” Yet, History will vindicate GEJ, just as it has done Lincoln, if he focuses on consolidating on the things he has done rightly in the past 3 years.
Notwithstanding the forgoing, as a wise man once said “presidents who obsess over history obsess over their place in it, instead of forging it.” Thus, my piece is not aimed at providing President Jonathan with historical inspirations from Lincoln’s Presidency. No two presidencies are the same. Jonathan’s Nigeria has its own Existential realities that are distinct from 19th century USA.
So President Jonathan still has the task and obligation to rise above the challenges he faces daily to work hard for the development of Nigeria. He has to forge his own history. If Lincoln had allowed the challenges he faced to faze and overwhelm him, I doubt if he will be viewed as the great President he is seen as today, so many years after his assassination.
Neither the opposition nor Boko Haram (who now serve as alibis for all of the government’s shortcomings) was elected to serve Nigeria presently. That task is with Dr Jonathan and his Administration. Thus the success or failure of Nigeria under him to achieve greatness will fall on his shoulder and not that of the opposition or Boko Haram.
In the final analysis, like Lincoln, only Jonathan can decide how he will be judged by posterity. The ball is in his court.
Fortune God’sSon Alfred is a Strategist and Public Policy Analyst based in Lagos. He blogs via www.godssonism.wordpress.com and tweets from @ElMagnificento1
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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