Goodluck Ebele Jonathan unarguably has an impressive dossier among Nigeria’s living and dead presidents. Like Barak Obama, his story is too good to be true – one of such that make atheists to reconsider their stance on God, nature, spirituality, deity and the trinity. His ascension to the highly coveted post (ask Atiku how bad he wants it) is meteoric, and when made into a film directed by a veteran director like Spike Lee or our own Tade Ogidan, his story could become more successful than Fela on Broadway. This is the only good thing that I can make of an unpresidential president.
Deciding which presidential candidate to support in 2011 has been an almost impossible task for non partisan citizens like me who greatly loath Nigeria’s version of politics. For some time, I was considering President Jonathan as a likely candidate until I saw him at the National Youth Summit, live on national TV. At the event, he announced handsome prizes for the winners of the website design competition organized by the Nigerian Youth Forum. While the gesture might be seen as commendable from several angles, the résumés of the award recipients revealed that they don’t really need the money. The three finalists attended universities outside the country (India, Kenya and England), and are working with desired employers like the British Council. Yet Mr President didn’t hesitate to dole out his or our millions. This got me thinking about his perception of the Nigerian nation, his orientation on the problems of Nigeria, his attitude to Nigerian problems and the appropriateness of his candidacy.
For months, I’ve patiently waited for the time he’ll finally fit into the shoes that unforeseen circumstances had put him in, yet times without number, he has consistently shown that he is not different from past Nigerian leaders since 1971 when the civil war ended, thus necessitating the need for another man (or woman) as the landlord of Aso Rock Villa.
Since 1971 when new oil fields were discovered in the oil rich Niger Delta region, oil exploration has reached an unprecedented rate with millions of barrels coming out of the bellies of Ken Saro Wiwa’s motherland on a daily basis. But despite the stupendous wealth revenues, unemployment and crime continue to rise steadily, incessant strikes consistently plague every sector of the nation, inflation remains mounted and millions of graduates are either unemployable or cannot find jobs apart from selling MTN recharge cards.
It’s rather funny that every time we say “it cannot be worse”, it gets worse. Under the Jonathan-led administration, Nigerians have not faired better hence there is nothing exceptional about his government except his ascension to power, and a fascinating first name. In addition, his style of ruling the nation highlights the resounding gong of danger that warrants our collective and individual close attentions. This is the major issue that I have against President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
He leads a government that flows with the tide — telling us what we want to hear, instead of doing what he’s supposed to do as the Commander-In-Chief. Like every past Nigerian president, President Jonathan’s administration has been characterized with incessant strikes. The way he has handled them so far present him as a pusillanimous leaders who waits for problems to arise before seeking “common sense” solutions.
Unlike the military era when the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) could embark on strikes within short notice, Dame’s husband has enjoyed working with extremely patient workforce that gives long notices before embarking on strikes, yet none of such strikes was averted. It’s like he enjoys daring the labour by testing their resolve to lay down the tools. The eighteen thousand Naira basic minimum wage saga is a perfect example of one of such Jonathan Moments.
It wasn’t until the rank and file of the NLC embarked on warning strike that the presidency took them serious and set up an impromptu roundtable discussion to address the issue. The same scenario repeated itself with the strike that was embarked on by RATTAWU members; other unions are already aware of the fact that without strike, it’s impossible to attract Jonathan’s attention. This familiar trend spells doom for our nation since essential service providers like PHCN, medical staffs are now applying Jonathan’s Formula to press home their demands.
It’s not only labour matters that the president’s attitude to pressing issues is having strong impacts; it’s also affecting issues of national security. The new trends in societal unrests are a good illustration.
Times without number, Mr President has spoken eloquently on his resolve, and that of the various security outfits, to keep Nigeria and Nigerians safe; he has also vowed to apprehend perpetrators of evil acts yet these actors keep repeating their acts (just like Ocean Eleven), sometimes confidently pre-empting us by issuing privy statements to the government about their intentions. They can now blow up – successfully, whatever they feel like blowing up knowing that the president will only make another reassuring speech on national TV, vowing to catch the perpetrators at all cost. The perennial Jos crisis is one of such numerous instances that showcase Goodluck as a poor crisis manager. Despite his assurance and reassurances, the city remains ablaze.
It’s clear that he doesn’t have a solution to the crisis but enjoys looking as if he’s got everything under control. Till today, there is no official federal government blueprint or roadmap to resolving the crisis yet thousands of residents in the city remain uncertain about tomorrow. The situation becomes more complex with the discovery of our newly found love in times of crisis – bombs and other explosives. Prior to the outset of the current administration, bombs were only used by the military and MEND, but today, bombs are cosmopolitan. Apart from the administration’s failure to take responsibility for not coming up with real solutions to the incessant unrests in Jos, Mr President and his Security Council do not even have an explanation on how the bombers got the bombs in first instance. These pose great present, even greater future challenges for our nation, who knows what the next item in our arsenal would be . . . maybe nuclear weapons.
President Jonathan’s economic policies are also funny. When President Olusegun Obasanjo left office, Nigeria was debt free, but just few months in power, Nigeria (under President Goodluck Jonathan) is already begging for loans for no known or justifiable reasons. If Jonathan can get us into these numerous debts in the spate of few months, only God knows what he will do in a full term.
Another Jonathan-related issue that should be of concern to Nigerians is that of Jonathan’s friends. Currently, Mr President fraternizes with the so called corrupt politicians, especially members of the unconstitutional Governors’ Forum who seem to be the president’s inner caucus. Recently, an utterance that was attributed to Mr President promised every incumbent PDP governor with 2011 aspiration automatic ticket to contest at the next general elections.
Like a friend rightly said, the failure of GEJ started with the failure of a system that does not empower you unless you make a compromise. If we may recall that it was said that the governors negotiated GEJ’s release of excess oil funds before he was made acting and from thence, the foreign reserves got extensively depleted. The stage is set for the advancement of this mutually beneficial partnership between the presidency and the forum that oversees the second tier of government.
Ensuring national security is another soil on President Goodluck Jonathan’s white apparel. Like millions of Nigerians, I’ve never been to Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Police College or any other security training institution; be-that-as-it-may, we all expect that national security shouldn’t exclude the right of Nigerian citizens to sleep and wake up without thinking—even for a second—that their lives might be at risk. But what we all know is that the country is not yet safe for citizens talk less of foreigners. Under this administration, kidnapping had gone unabated. We cannot forget the notorious activities of previously inert Nigerian kidnappers in Aba, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano, even in Kuala Lumpur – the capital city of Malaysia. More than ever, the influx of arms and ammunitions into Nigeria has been unprecedented and only God knows, we might have more nuclear weapons secretly acquired than what America is looking for in Iraq and Iran.
When I thought I’ve wrapped up the last paragraph, I heard rumours of assassination in the once peaceful and blissful ancient city of Ibadan, and several bomb blasts in Bayelsa of all places. Hence if you still disagree with me on the current status of Nigeria’s security under the administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, you must be in the Diaspora.
The northern ticket that Mr President is poised to wrestle from the north should also intimate us with the numerous yet undiscovered interesting sides of Mr President. According to Dr Olusegun Fakoya “Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has succeeded in making himself the focus of northern hatred by his discreetly manipulative political style and his opportunistic fascination with power”. Although some people might see this statement as far-fetched and untrue, a reassessment of the circumstances surrounding his candidacy would make Dr Fakoya’s statement an understatement.
I don’t have issues against his intention to rule the nation; I’m however finding it difficult to decipher how he’s presented himself as a southerner contesting on Yar’adua’s ticket. By the way, the riddle becomes more interesting when one hears his legal team’s explanation that brings to mind Chief Richard Akijide’s (SAN) famous two-third theory; this further ascertain the fact that lawyers can defend anything. But instead of looking at Jonathan’s fascinating conundrum squarely before taking sides, Nigerian media practitioners tongue-lashed the rank and file of the ruling PDP because they believed that zoning might favour no other person but the genius himself – IBB – while they’ve failed to recognized the game plan of Nigeria’s twenty first century political genius – Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
I believe there is more to GEJ than we know about him. Even with the little that we’ve gathered about him, we need to exercise caution before embracing him as the anointed consensus candidate because apart from the dress sense and PhD, there isn’t much difference between him and the so called wrong candidates. At the next elections, Nigerians should be poised to make holistic change – we need to change the system completely.
I know that Gallup polls favour the president as the favourite for the next general elections, majorly as a result of weakened opposition. And on a personal note, I hope he wins so that when he start to show his true colour, I will confidently refer to this article and the ensuing comments as another depiction of our inability to look beyond what the eyes can see when casting our votes.