I Believe in...Who?

July and August has passed and I promised myself that I would post at least something during the month of September. Sorry for the pause in communication – life (and laziness) got in the way.

So apparently Nigerian elections are slated for January 2011 – yeah, goodluck with that one. And speaking of Goodluck…our former Vice President, now President and (finally) presidential aspirant 2011 has recently hit the campaign trail and from the looks of things, he seems to be targeting the youth as evidenced by his widely popular presence on Facebook. Makes sense considering that Nigeria, like it's developing world contemporaries, features youth as its most popular age-bracket. But beyond making friends on Facebook, I have the sneaking suspicion – as has been mentioned elsewhere – that GJ is taking a page or two out of Barack Obama’s playbook.

Goodluck Jonathan – the next Barack Obama. I know to the most ardent Obama supporters this may seem like blasphemy, but the mercurial rise in popularity of the once (relatively) obscure Goodluck Jonathan in many ways mirrors that of the Obama during his bid for presidency in 2008. Like his American counterpart, GJ is well-educated, articulate, and compared to his competitors, somewhat scandal-free. Let us not forget that the Jonathan presidency and potential second-term carries historical weight. The United States welcomed its first black president fifty years after the death of civil rights champion, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. And now, fifty years post-independence, Nigeria may for the first time, elect a minority president. Jonathan’s wide support from a diverse number of groups in the south and the north confirm his (or rather PDP’s) ability to shatter ethnic barriers. No small feat. The smiling president, like Obama, is well-educated, articulate, and compared to some of his competitors, somewhat scandal-free.

Recently, I came across the Youtube (yes, loves, Youtube) campaign videos of Goodluck Jonathan (H/T NigerianCuriosity). Peep the English version, which features a litany of Nollywood actors and heavyweights (including my teen heart-throb Emeka Enyiocha…taking a moment…yessss…please don’t judge me).

Cute, though (surprise! surprise!) it bears an uncanny resemblance to will.i.am’s 2008 “Yes We Can,” Youtube sensation, a similarly star-studded gushy tribute to Barack Obama’s platform of hope and change.

All well and good – but hope, change, and lofty promises can only get you so far. Obama is learning that the hard way seeing that his support over the past few months has decreased, somewhat precipitously. Over the summer, I was surprised to find out that Goodluck Jonathan commands overwhelming support from the Nigerian populace – approval ratings of up to 75% (I know…no need). Such a figure, begs the question – why? I remain concerned about declarations that Jonathan is not only blessed with good fortune, but that somehow, GJ is divinely appointed and with him lies Nigeria’s way forward (see here, here and here). While GJ’s emphasis on the youth is commendable, any failure to deliver on campaign promises such as repairing basic infrastructure, stands to add to the increased jadedness of the youth whom he seeks to inspire.