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A Lesson on Power for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan

February 17, 2010
At this watershed period of our union as a people, an important lesson on power requires both our attention and that of Ag. President Goodluck Jonathan.  It may even be that he has already read the book, “The 48 laws of power” by Robert Greene. Let me do a commentary on a law of power in this book, which I intend to dwell upon as I try to X-ray Dr. Jonathan’s actions or the seeming lack thereof in the past few days since he was declared Acting President and Commander –In- Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the National Assembly. 

RE-CREATE YOURSELF: Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions—your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.

COMMENTARY:  One obvious mistake Dr. Jonathan has consistently made since the resolution by the National Assembly on February 9th, 2010, making him the Acting President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation is to still think like a Vice-President. Until a man changes both the content and construction of his mind upon the thrust into the limelight of power his efficacy in the new role will be mediocre. Until Dr. Jonathan re-creates himself, he shall remain insipid, boring, and of no positive effect whatsoever to the exigencies of the time.

My reading is that Dr. Jonathan is scared of many Ministers of the Federation and certain individuals whom he considers “very powerful.” You cannot be an effective leader when you are afraid of the people over whom you should preside. One, Dr. Jonathan is afraid to dissolve the cabinet. In spite of the rumours to this effect, it may just be smoke without fire. Two, the Acting President is yet transfixed by the prospect of either the “soon return” of “President” Yar’adua or a court of law declaring illegal the resolution by the national assembly on February 9th, making him the Acting President. He that worries about tomorrow leaves today’s deeds undone, and misdeeds done.

Dr. Jonathan still cuts the picture of a Vice-President even though he is enrobed in presidential garb. The quicker he dispels this image the better for him and the nation. If he has ears to hear, let him do so. Dr. Jonathan must dissolve the cabinet forthwith. You don’t put new wine in old bottles. He must also ring some changes in the leadership of the nation’s military. He must create a team he will call his own. I hope he will not painfully regret his dithering on those issues. I can never over-emphasize these. The resistance by the Executive Council of the Federation on Wednesday February 17th to declare “President” Yar’adua incapacitated in accordance to section 144, in spite of the facts, is an indication that the majority of its members do not view or accept Dr. Jonathan as their leader. No leader can function that way. Dr. Jonathan cannot afford any more delays in doing what is appropriate and timely. He is not leading, but being caged. And time is not his luxury, but master.

Dr. Jonathan’s office released a statement on Wednesday February 17th   about people whom they alleged were fighting his “acting presidency”, and even plotting to kill Dr. Jonathan. I re-produce an excerpt here:

“…We know those behind these publications. Nigerians have come to know them as careerists in power. But we see them as misguided elements determined to exceed their call of duty and play God over the affairs of the nation. They are wicked and ungodly and their time is up! Never again must we allow our nation to be strangulated by a privileged few who will rather fiddle with our commonwealth while the nation burns.

"We are aware that they have set aside a huge war chest in billions of naira to bring the Jonathan Acting Presidency to disrepute by any means possible. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that as corny as these allegations obviously sound, they still get mention in our media space. We are fully on the tracks of this so-called group; this unfortunate band of liars. In the fullness of time, they shall be brought to book.

"Let me use this medium to reiterate that we shall not be deterred by campaigns of calumny or any other method whatsoever in our collective efforts to reform this nation, and change our ways of doing things once and for all. The Acting President is determined, and he is counting on the total support of all Nigerians.”

I wonder if Dr. Jonathan expects any sympathies from Nigerians with the statement. He is fast convincing some of us that he is part of our national problem. Why cry when you can act? What more support does he want from us? He needs not worry about “corny publications” if he starts performing. We are smart and know performance when we see it; then, “campaigns of calumny” (nauseating cliché) will have no intended effects. If Dr. Jonathan cannot take the painful but necessary steps to redeem Nigeria, then he must resign. If he is contented with just the title, just like Ernest Shonekan was with the title imposed by the “step aside” of IBB, his “resignation” shall soon be announced on radio and TV by another and not even by himself. We are tired of this shenanigan. Dr. Jonathan, act now or get the hell out!

Just think of this Acting President sending some Ministers to Saudi Arabia to visit “President” Yar’adua and his family, and deliver a goodwill message to the King of that country, who would not allow elected representatives of the people to even see their “president”! Has Dr. Jonathan no access to King Abdullah’s phone number? Could he not call the King and express the concerns of the Nigerian government over the whereabouts of their “president”? Is this how careless Dr. Jonathan could be about his missing Associate? The constitution of Nigeria requires regular contact between the President and Vice-President. Wouldn’t a responsible acting president protest the despicable treatment given to a people’s representatives, who had embarked on a visit to “President” Yar’adua through a resolution of the House of Representatives? Jonathan kept quiet, and then responded in this stupid and shameful manner—sending a delegation of un-elected Ministers to Saudi Arabia with a goodwill message for the King, without even a hint of protest against the shabby way our lawmakers were treated. We have people with no sense of decency in power.

Maybe we need a violent overthrow after all. Jonathan is too weak to lead. I expect him to prove me wrong in the next one week!

Leonard Karshima Shilgba is the President of the Nigeria Rally Movement ( ) and Assistant professor of mathematics with the American University of Nigeria.
TEL: +234-8055024356; Email: [email protected]


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