2011, 2015 And The Circumstantial Heroism Of Goodluck Jonathan, by Timothy Nkenu Woma


by Timothy Nkenu Woma


Ever since Goodluck Jonathan, the outgoing president of Nigeria made the rather historic phone call with which he conceded defeat to the opposition’s candidate and winner of the Nigerian presidential elections, Muhammadu Buhari, a lot of debate has been going on as to whether Jonathan’s action is worthy of earning him the honor of becoming one of Nigeria or in the general sense, Africa’s heroes. My stand on this would be made known below.

A little flash back to Nigeria’s post-election period in 2011 and a comparison with that of 2015 would bring out the fact that this year’s post-election period have been by far more peaceful with a few casualties occurring mainly due to celebration mishaps. In 2011, scores of Nigerians were killed after the opposition alleged rigging by the ruling party, PDP.

Jonathan’s administration has by far been the most criticized, allegedly the most inefficient and the most corrupt of all democratic governments that Nigeria has seen; as to how corrupt the government really was, is a discussion for another day. However, his acceptance of defeat has been applauded by many Nigerians, including members of the opposition parties.

Now, to determine whether or whether not Jonathan should be named among Nigeria (and Africa’s heroes), one needs to majorly consider the environments within which he operated and their politico-electoral patterns. These environments are Africa, a continent within which the real practice of democracy has been a major issue from Zimbabwe to Libya, Uganda to Ivory Coast and so on. The second environment is the country itself, Nigeria, a land within which even the electorates have long accepted that elections are a period not for which votes count, but for which the best ‘rigger’ wins. Also, in both environments, post-election violence is regarded as an evil that has come to stay.

With both environments in mind, I would say that Jonathan can be best described as a circumstantial hero for averting the rather normal post-election violence in the country and the continent at large because normalcy in an environment of absurdity is legendary. Also, for the incumbent to be defeated and accept defeat which is rare in both environments.

If Jonathan was to have operated in an environment where democracy is stable and where post-election tranquility is guaranteed, then absolutely nothing about Jonathan would be heroic. My stand therefore is that given the environment, Jonathan should be described as a circumstantial hero because if the environment within which he operated were to be different, he and his action would only be commendable and the issue of heroism would be totally non-existent.