From the moment President Goodluck Jonathan knew and or decided he was going to contest the 2015 Presidential Election, he should not have picked a fight with Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and a few other persons and powerhouses. Thinking about it now, I am sure that he regrets it. More than anybody else, Governor Amaechi pulled the roof on the President’s head and in the process preempted the president’s planned victory parade. But really, what was the president and his wife thinking when they picked on a man whose support they needed? Hubris, maybe?
Second, what impelled or compelled the president to enter the race this time around? You look and or listen to him and you get the feeling that he is exhausted, frustrated, uninterested and angry. He was a deputy governor, a governor, a vice president and then acting president before becoming the president in his own right. That should have been enough for him. Or for anyone else in his position. Really, it should have been. After all, 1999-2015 is a long time to shoulder the weight of a people. Damn, what was he thinking? Insatiable greed, perhaps?
Even so, if President Jonathan had done what he was supposed to do, he wouldn’t be in the shape and corner he is right now – gasping for oxygen and for electoral survival. But look at him now, he is everywhere begging, begging and begging and in the process have become the nation’s laughing stock. He was in Jerusalem. He was in Oyedepo's Winners' Chapel. He was in Adeboye's Redeemed Church. He was in Lazarus' Charismatic Church. He has also consorted with TB Joshua. He has been in so many Churches and other places of religious and spiritual significance many of us have lost count.
In his desperation, he is bowing and kneeling before everybody and everything! And then he shows up at the Ooni palace (in Ile Ife) looking subdued and as if in a trance. What is he looking for? Power? Power at all cost; power no matter what it takes? Some voices in the social media have begun linking him with the Ogboni society. This is sad, so very sad and pitiful!
In the last couple of years, we’ve seen many sickening and un-presidential pictures. What are we going to see next? Are we going to see pictures of initiations? A president pledging his kidney, pledging his liver, pledging his soul -- just so he could remain in office beyond 2015? There is a limit – there has to be a limit to what a man can and should do in search of power. Does he have loved one? He should be called to order.
One of the saddest and most unfortunate things about President Jonathan is that he doesn’t hold anyone or institution responsible for willful transgressions. Clearly, he seems incapable of penalizing anybody. His aides, it seems, have come to realize this fact and so they commit offenses knowing they can and will get away with it.
Take the most recent embarrassing situation for instance: someone or a group of people at the foreign affairs ministry or so made him look small, very small before the Moroccans and the international community. Yet, the President has only promised to “look into it.” Oh no! When you embarrass your president (at this level), heads must roll. At the very least, get the foreign affairs minister to cane and can the offenders. There should be accountability: people should be held accountable for their actions and inactions (especially when such egregiousness diminishes the prestige and reputation of the President and or his office).
If you have a basic understanding of politics, one of the things you never want to do is surround yourself with mediocre minds and mediocre intellects. But more than that, you never want to surround yourself with people who are (a) afraid to tell you the truth: (b) afraid to disagree with you; and (c) afraid to walk away if and when their advices are constantly discounted.
But on the other hand, we don’t always give our best effort or best advice simply because we don’t want to be jobless; don’t want to give up the perks and trappings of the office; or because we came into office insincere about our intentions. In essence, we are there, not for the good of the collective or the nation, but for the good of ourselves. This Jonathan should have known.
A leader may be a danger unto himself if he cannot sift the grains from the sands; if he cannot tell the difference between praise-singers and honest critics. He does himself no good if he allows superficial noises to cloud his mind and his sense of self and understanding of people and ideas. This is a problem that’s peculiar to many Africa rulers. In Jonathan, it is prominent.
And he rarely acts like a leader. When the presidential election (slated for February 14, 2015) was postponed, he didn’t think it necessary to address the nation, to explain why the election had to be postponed. But instead, he kept shifting blame and responsibility to others even though he is the nation’s chief executive officer. In essence, he failed to provide leadership. He was silent for a number of days – forgetting that he is the leader of our republic.
There is something comforting about showing leadership, direction, taking responsibility and allaying the people’s fear and doubt. In times of moral, political, economic or social crisis, leaders step up to the podium. They take charge. They lead. This singular act engenders and promotes trust and confidence and respect. Jonathan didn’t seem to know or understand this singularity. Or, maybe he just didn’t care!
One of the many tragedies of the Goodluck Jonathan narrative is that too many of his friends and advisers are/were not sincere. They lied to him. They betrayed him. They used him. And now, like a broke piece of tumbler, they are about to toss him away. He is being betrayed left, right and center. Another tragedy is this: the vast majority of those who drank from his cup and ate from his palm, shied away from defending him. They shied away from going to bat for him. And many of those who defend him do so because of inducements -- and not because of love, respect or loyalty.
History has shown that electoral outcomes can be unpredictable. Very unpredictable! Two weeks is a long time when it comes to elections. And that’s long enough for Jonathan to close the gap and come up with a Hail Mary. But I doubt it. Experts at reading tea leaves tell me that the majority of voters will vote for Change – as opposed to Continuity. I am happy with that.
Sabella Abidde lives in Alabama and can be reached at: [email protected]