Not a few Nigerians from various walks of life expressed gratitude to God that what would have been a national disaster was averted, even if it still ended on a sad note of claiming some two precious souls as well as inflicting injuries on several others including Nigeria’s immediate past President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. A ghastly automobile accident which took place last Wednesday night along Airport Road Abuja, involved the convoy of the former President. Although he reportedly survived even with some hospitalization after the incident, two police officers in his entourage were not so fortunate as they paid the ultimate price in the course of official duty. This ‘Penpoint’ column hereby expresses its condolences to the bereaved families of the departed souls, as well as sympathy with all those who sustained one form of injury or the other in the incident.
Ever since the development, goodwill messages as well as queries over the development have been trending on several platforms. Touchingly is the fact that among those who expressed remarkable concern over the accident, was the younger brother to this author – (name withheld), who even with contending with his compromised health condition, was grievously pained on hearing of the plight of his former neighbour as well as dear friend, and who he is now inclined to consider as seemingly lost to politics and high public office. After all, what are friends for, one may ask?
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Meanwhile, even as copious streams of reactions flow over the incident, raging across several circles is the question – what if the result of the accident was worse and had even affected the life of the ex-President. ‘God forbid’, is the traditional exclamation that is trailing this question even as this writing progresses. However, the issues surrounding the incident go beyond the exclamation ‘God forbid’. Is it not the African proverb which says that, it is when you break the leg of a seemingly stray chicken for any reason, that you see the enraged owner, charging towards you for settlement.
In the present mood of the country, whereby matters that border on national unity and cohesion have remained touchy, the personal fortunes or otherwise of leaders at every level of society, often remain ascribable to their primordial bases. It is therefore easy to conceive that if President Jonathan had come to more harm than is the case, reactions would have also flowed in torrents not only from the Niger Delta where he hails from, but from several other parts of the country where since his exit from office, his popularity has soared. If nothing else several insinuations would have been swirling- including those that fall within the terrain of banality.
If the outcome of the accident had been otherwise, two factors among several others would have served as the drivers of the trailing complement of valid and invalid narratives. Firstly is the lionization of Jonathan after office, courtesy of the abysmally defective run of office by the succeeding administration of President Muhamadu Buhari on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which failed to endear itself to Nigerians since it took over the reins of governance in 2015. The crass failings of the present Buhari administration has so venerated Jonathan that there is significant clamour across the country for him to be drafted by the ruling APC which defeated his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, for the 2023 Presidential race on its platform. Even as the mere contemplation of this situation rankles the ears of not a few well-meaning Nigerians, it actually constitutes a measure of Jonathan’s new found political worth across the country.
Secondly is the groundswell of resentment over his misfortune that would have swept across the entire Niger Delta region, for whom the man is still a hero anyday. Even if there are mixed reactions over his tenure in respect of which some detractors may claim did not demonstrate enough representation of his region in the sharing of the proverbial ‘national cake’, Jonathan’s emergence as the country’s President even as a member of the country’s minority states between 2009 and 2015, has established him as an icon in the pantheon of heroes beyond even his Niger Delta base.
This is even as the root cause of the accident could have been a human error from any of the drivers who drove the accidented vehicles or even the state of the road. No surprisingly too, is that the public may be isolated from any snippets on any form of investigation of why the incident even occurred. This for many Nigerians is asking for too much when even any investigation to the knowledge of the public is yet to be conducted on the recent terrorist attacks on the Abuja-Kaduna train which recorded multiple casualties, injuries and kidnaps for ransom. Nor was the earlier incident of armed attack by terrorists on Kaduna Airport was even mentioned significantly in the public domain beyond the summons of the security chiefs by the National Assembly.
This is indeed a very interesting stage in the life of the country Nigeria where anything can happen to anybody, anywhere and anyhow. And what follows can also be anyhow.