- The Goodluck Jonathan government has repeatedly proven its incompetence. But are Nigerians ready for a better alternative?
BEYOND President Goodluck E. Jonathan's current deficiency in clout -- beyond the recently shallow level of his reserve in goodwill, both with the Nigerian political class and the people in general -- is an abject lack of the type of leadership acumen, nay sophistication of thought, required to successfully govern any people, more so govern a complex society of almost 200 million Africans of various ethnic stock in the forced matrimony of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
To say that President Goodluck Jonathan is unqualified is actually an understatement; the situation is worse than that. He is sorely beneath the rank of one to preside over the affairs of any group beyond village chieftaincy, where he would attend to small-time disputes between market women and local farmers, with his trademark trite commentary. His approach to issues is at best simplistic. Where quick thinking needed to be deployed, backed by the resources available to his offices as president and commander-in-chief, he adopts a wait-and-see attitude. In the meantime the bleeding remains. And when he eventually rises to act, he institutes some weak idea that only serves as a temporary solution.
Of course his coterie of impressionable fans will rise to hail such move as deft. For them, this man is simply a calm, assured guy who is not easily ruffled as he studies situations before moving to tackle them in a manner that surprises those who have previously underestimated him. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. There is rarely any show of brilliance in these decisions anyways. At best, again, his decisions and actions are mere shots in the dark. Little research is done to ascertain the viability or effectiveness of these actions, beyond some misguided supplication to whatever deity he and his supporters serve, that it works. It is why most of the decisions made by Mr. Jonathan's government often result in little successes, if any.
For his supporters, known these days as the 'Jonathanians,' the absence of impressive successes in administration for comparison misleads them to misread Jonathan's puny successes as 'achievements,' or 'great strides.' "He is at least trying," say these tortured fans who only have abject failure of leadership around them to compare for a credible measure of President Jonathan's so-called successes.
The Jonathan Administration has repeatedly proven that it is a challenged one, helping to make the tag of "clueless" stick on the president since he took full charge of Nigeria's affairs in May of 2011. Again, and again, it has taken steps that backfired. One of the first acts of President Jonathan was to suggest a study on terms of office of elected officials in the country. The justification was that terms of political office in Nigeria needed to be amended in order to end what Jonathan and company saw as the perpetual obsession with campaigns and elections within the short frame of time available for elected public officials. This, the president prioritized, in the middle of far more dire challenges begging for urgent action, top among which was the troubling security situation the country’s flash-points.
Later on, as the security situation worsened in the northern part of the country, Mr. Jonathan sat ensconced in the comforts of the federal capital city of Abuja, and it wasn't until a group of opposition politicians paid a solidarity visit to the troubled region under extremists' attack that the president finally paid the same area a visit. Although there were suspicions that these opposition politicians merely jumped the gun upon learning of a planned visit by Mr. Jonathan, the damage had already been done to the president’s image as ineffective and lacking concern enough to actively tackle the bare-naked violence rocking the region.
And then there was the rude shock to which Nigerians awoke on New Year Day of 2012, when the government stunned Nigerians with the news that the so-called subsidy on petroleum products had been yanked. Whereas it looked good on paper as a sound economic policy, the boneheaded manner of its execution ignited protests unseen in recent years across the country. The decision to scrap government subsidy of petroleum products was one of the first instances where the administration took what looked like a good policy initiative that was potentially people-friendly, and made it look like a bad one. There are ways that this government could have sold the idea to Nigerians as a worthy sacrifice for the greater good of all, before going ahead to act on it. But the cart was put ahead of the horse; it wasn't until after the protests had begun that the government organized town hall-type events to explain the benefits of getting rid of the subsidies - subsidies that are mere conduits for entrenched interests to funnel away the commonwealth for their personal gain anyway.
Shortly after the protests came Mr. Jonathan's revoltingly patronizing attempt to woo Nigerians of south-western stock by renaming the established, culture-hip brand of the University of Lagos, acronymed 'UNILAG', after the late icon of the watershed presidential elections of June 12, 1993, as Moshood Abiola University. Again, the Jonathan government did this with barely any across-the-board consultation to gauge how the public will react to the decision. Again, the government inadvertently provoked the ire of the public, who scorned the idea for what it was: a daft attempt to win the hearts of the Yoruba people. As many people pointed out, there is a square in Abuja named after an anonymous eagle. Renaming that square after the late politician would have cost less and achieved more.
As it was with the case of the oil subsidy removal decision that preceded the failed attempt to rename UNILAG, the government withdrew to lick its wound, duly chastised for its thoughtless and shabbily executed decisions. Likewise was the case with the decision to tinker with terms of office of elected officials by extending it beyond the average period of 4 years, on the deplorably juvenile excuse that it will afford these elected officials time to focus on their priority of governing effectively. [Shouldn't it be obvious that any politician who is too distracted to deliver on the job within a space of 4 years has NO business being in that office in the first place? Perhaps that was the earliest sign yet that Goodluck Jonathan was a bad bet!] It is evident at this point that the only thing the government has been consistent with on its fourth year in power is blunders, serial blunders.
In a space of one month, close to one hundred people have died from the endless cycle of violence rocking parts of northern Nigeria, in a country that is not in a state of war - in a country with a government administration in place, equipped with a standing army, navy, air force, a paramilitary organization and a behemoth, corruption-ridden national police apparatus - among other security agencies, including the clandestine Directorate of State Security. There is also considerable wealth in the country and there is political power by virtue of the sound mandate issued Mr. Jonathan in the last presidential election – although he has squandered it at this point. What, then, is President Jonathan's excuse? Of course there is none.
Approximately a week ago, about 20 young women were abducted and taken away by savage militants who profess to the Islamic faith, and no one has any idea of the fate of these young women in the hands of those hypocritical, blood-thirsty, sex-starved dogs. And just last night, a raid of one of the federal unity schools, the Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, by these same bigot savages left about 40 people dead. 40 people in one boarding school facility! This came a day after Mr. Jonathan, in a gut-turning media availability on national television, argued that his government has made an impact in stemming the tide of violence rocking the northern part of the country. His best effort at making this argument was to say to his audience that if he pulled out the big guns of the Nigerian Army from these restive regions, it would showcase the proof of the efficiency of his efforts.
The president was responding to complaints of inefficiency from one of the governors from the area under the siege of the Islamic extremists. It is one of the careless plainspeak for which Mr. Jonathan has become infamous - à la, "I am not a lion [therefore, don't blame me for not being ferocious enough with your violent extremist tormentors?]." It is one thing for the average Musa on the street to speak that way, but it is embarrassing to see a president do the same. Yet it is a known pattern of this president. It is the result of a lack of the kind of exposure a leader needs for high office as the one he occupies. It makes sense to imagine that Jonathan means no malice, per se. And, who knows, maybe he probably means well - he is probably a good man with a good heart. But that is only a probability. Yet a good heart or good intention alone is no guarantee of success in administration at any level. In fact, a clueless, visionless administration can be just as dangerous as any autocratic, violent regime. It is as dangerous as installing 'a very decent and unassuming person' to pilot a jetliner full of people across the Atlantic.
Nigerians made a mistake to be so taken by Goodluck Jonathan's shoeless narrative in 2011. That error needs to be redressed, once and for all. But will the same people [about 90 percent of whom pumped their fists in the air in a proud show of support for Jonathan's accursed anti-homosexual law that basically robbed not just homosexuals but every Nigerians of his fundamental human rights] know any better than to find a good alternative to mediocre leadership as personified by Goodluck Ebele jonathan? As a good friend of mine is wont to say, only time would tell.
* Twitter: @folabi24