President Jonathan cannot have had the easiest four years. Do you think it’s easy waking up knowing that at least three quarters of the country is unhappy with you? Even the ones that voted for him will agree with me. The reasons for their votes probably had more to do with the fact that they didn’t like the competition than their approval of GEJ’s leadership. Anyway, all of that is yesterday’s news because come May (fingers crossed), we’ll have a brand new President whose office won’t be as ineffective, inefficient, and corrupt as his predecessor’s (fingers crossed).
As bad as the GEJ administration has been I can’t help but feel that we are a little overzealous in our blatant disregard for the man. There’s so much contempt for him out there, and while he’s undoubtedly deserving of a fraction of it, it’s a touch unfair to lay all the blame at the feet of one man. In our haste to dissociate ourselves from the loser of the elections, we mustn’t forget all the good that GEJ did while he was in power. I won’t dive into a critical assessment of the policies he put his weight behind, as these are far too controversial for them to be properly graded without anything but a dissertation. Instead, I’ll focus on the less contestable areas of our president’s performance.
GEJ’s legacy will be his handover. We cannot possibly overestimate the good he’s done us with his acceptance of his defeat. If he’d mentioned anything about heading to court to contest the results, I do not think that any of us would have returned to business as usual on the work days that followed. His cronies were ready. Godsday Orubebe showed us that when he snatched the microphone from Jega. The fight was there in his eyes, but without a willing master, his complaints of tribalism and favouritism fell on deaf ears. He’s the first sitting president to have conceded defeat and it’s the first democratic handover of power between parties in our country’s history. Apart from the president’s apparently inherently peaceful disposition, there’s another reason why he’ll be remembered and that is his humour.
Don’t get me wrong, we rarely ever had cause to laugh at or with him, but his wife was a different matter entirely. Mama Peace is up there with Basketmouth and Bovi in her comedic prowess. She’s been described as a hippopotamus, an intolerable vulgarity, and the height of obscenity. However, I like to think of her as a woman whose heart was in the right place but just couldn’t rise past the limits of her education and socialisation.
Most of her comedic success was unintentional, but the intent doesn’t matter as much as the results. I’d hate to believe that she didn’t know what she was doing. The fact that her failings at her use of the English language all went viral can’t have missed the attention of her media office. I’ll never forget her absolute inability to understand what is meant by “widow” – she called herself a widow (any way you look at it, she isn’t) and then went on to call orphaned children widows as well. Or her inability to differentiate between singularity and plurality (The President was once a Child and the Senators were once a Children; My Husband and Sambo is a good people). And who can forget her unparalleled achievements in the use of hyperbole (If you vote the PDP and Jonathan, it would be better for you. If you vote the APC, you will go to prison; If you drink APC, you will die).
And lastly, I’ll never forget her experiments with fantasy (Nigerian women shine your eyes, don’t go for analogue, go for digital. PDP is digital, APC is analogue). During the PDP campaign she outdid herself! She was at almost every political rally delivering her truly original lines with so much gusto, charisma, and gumption that even her biggest critics were wowed by the spectacle of it all. If her more presentable successor chases an issue with half as much enthusiasm as Mama Peace did anything, I do not doubt that we’ll be all the better for it.
It is a little sad that we must say goodbye, but I’ll keep a prayer going for her transition to Nollywood for there is no reason why her skills at entertaining should die.