'Clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?

Introductionalt

An epithet indolently and disrespectfully bandied about in contemporary discourse on Nigerian affairs centers on the notion that President Jonathan is 'clueless'. On the Nigerian Village Square (NVS), a supposed repository of some of the finest thinkers, one seeks to engage in dialogue on national issues but attempts at discourse very quickly become mired in maudlin mutterings as those who make that statement attempt, unsuccessfully, to swamp those they perceive to be 'beneficiaries' of the present administration with sobriquets. Rather than persist in pointless polemics, one sought an objective basis for assessing the president’s performance on the first anniversary of his ascension to Nigeria’s presidency and was reminded of a thread on the NVS where members had contributed THEIR ideas and suggestions to the then incoming president.

The thread and contributions can be seen here, the resulting wiki document can be seen here and the final pdf document here. A review is helpful.

NVS Members Priorities

A poll summarized the following headings as indicative of NVS members' priorities in the approximate proportions below and these form the basis for assessment and discussion:

S/N % Description
1. 80% Electricity/Energy Improvement
2. 41% Justice/Security Issues
3. 30% Revitalize our Educational System
4. 21% Lay Groundwork for the future
5. 18% The Economy
6. 16% Open Governance
7. 16% Come to Terms with the past
8. 05% Foreign Policy & Nigerians Abroad
9. 05% Interaction with the Public
10. 05% Other

Electricity/Energy Issues: This was an 80% priority item to NVS members and, significantly, one of President Jonathan's first actions was to launch the Electricity Road Map whose details can easily be accessed online providing the searcher is actually interested in facts and not foppery. This could indicate that the president shares the priorities purportedly advanced by those who call him ‘clueless’. He has gone as far as sending soldiers into electricity installations in attempting to move that sector forward from merely awarding contracts for procuring generation equipment to building an interconnected infrastructure which is hoped to advance the power sector via foreign direct investment and in a way that will prevent the efforts from being reversed in the future. This is akin to what has happened in the telecommunications sector where it would be very difficult to reverse Nigeria to the era of 'telephones are only for the rich'. With alignment on an 80% share of NVS members priorities, what therefore accounts for commentators being so chronically misguided and calling the president clueless?

Justice/ Security Issues: The president appears to be maintaining a scrupulous firewall between the executive, the judiciary and the legislature and therefore justice remains the dominant preserve of the Judiciary. The separation of powers and authorities even led to public disagreements between the executive and legislature about budgeting processes and the passage of bills just before Democracy day 2012. Yet, due to a learned, historical and unhealthy addiction to the ‘halcyon days’ of ‘automatic effect’ and ‘immediate alacrity’, some people wail and complain incessantly and imprudently about the executive branch following 'due process' in many national issues. One can only imagine what would have happened in the fuel subsidy payment situation if the Attorney General had gone ahead to prosecute the case on the schedule of the commentators without proper investigation. It would have been interesting to see Farouk Lawan testifying on behalf of both the prosecution and the defence.

A full 38% of the 2012 budget is dedicated to Security amidst a simmering conflict that ‘coincided’ with President Jonathan’s victory in an election that, while imperfect, was seen to be largely free, fair and broadly representational of the electorate’s wishes. In response to the mayhem primarily occurring in certain areas of Northern Nigeria, certain commentators on and away from NVS might advocate that the president satisfies their blood lust. They recommend indiscriminate conversion of some of those regions into ‘parking lots’, and killing their innocent Nigerian brethren by the thousand, akin to the actions of at least one of his predecessors. Curiously, they voice these ‘powerful’, ‘progressive’ opinions while viewing events from afar and maintaining the option to cower in the ephemeral safety of their foreign haunts. Fortunately, President Jonathan is not inspired by that flavor of idiocy. Boko Haram and their backers - the instigators of the murders and mayhem - hardly receives the type of caustic criticism reserved for the president and interestingly, even when news of government attacks, killing or capture of Boko Haram members emerges, it is largely discountenanced by the ‘professional’ critics and the media who choose, instead, to embrace and uphold the actions of the murderous sect as their evidence of the president’s purported ‘cluelessness’. Again, what gives?

Educational System: 30% of responders on NVS urged the president to revitalize the educational system. When considered side by side with many other competing interests in the 2012 budget, the education sector had the second highest priority, attracting 16% of the total budget. In recognition of the challenge presented by a large uneducated population of youths, seemingly doomed to a childhood of hunger and adulthood of hopelessness, the president has inaugurated ‘almajiri’ schools to address a long-standing problem, baked into segments of Nigerian society far in excess of the 50-odd years of Nigerian ‘independence’. When the president mentioned facts that allude to the long-standing problems of Nigeria, a firestorm of thoughtless criticism erupted wherein he was called everything but a 'child of God'. His attempt to provide a certain segment of the population with alternatives for the future can be likened to the single step that apocryphally begins every thousand mile journey.

Groundwork for the future: 21% of NVS responders expected Nigeria’s economy to be diversified from the oil & gas mono-culture. From available news sources, one of the president’s priorities is improving employment via the agricultural sector. He has encouraged efforts by the agriculture minister to rationalize the entire agriculture value chain and results are already emerging. Even within the oil/gas sector, he in intent on increasing local content involvement. Combined with improvements in energy supply and distribution, educational improvements etc. hope begins to emerge for the future. The health sector has also received attention in terms of actionable policies that are aimed at improving the indices of human existence in Nigeria. However, he is but a single individual and no one person can move Nigeria from where it is to where it needs to be. The responsibility of the populace is to contribute beneficial ideas and actions to the collective rather than reflexive criticisms, bile and bitterness.

The Economy: This sector attracted the focus of merely18% of NVS respondents, a surprisingly low number in my view, considering that some of them are currently ensconced in ‘greener pastures’ in other climes, many for economic reasons. Economies, by their very nature are highly individual but interdependent, as the contemporary Euro crises and even American economies illustrate. Even the ‘Asian giants’ increasingly glance over their shoulders while reassessing their economic fundamentals. With that in mind and considering Nigeria’s historical economic dysfunction, the president chose not to coast through his presidency and push the problem of unsustainable budgetary structures to the next leader. Although he stood to gain nothing politically, he had the courage to take on a rent-seeking ‘subsidy payment’ ecosystem and that alone should have merited nothing but the highest praise.

What emerged instead? Those who should have commended him were instead assembled in bogus groups, under the guise of ‘occupying Nigeria’ and they would have been successful if indeed the expanse and entireity of Nigeria and the diversity of her many peoples could be equated to a small landscaped triangular depression adjacent to a landfill on the outskirts of Lagos. There, for a series of ‘free’ concerts, obsolete and embittered personalities sought to reinvigorate their flagging notoriety and in their myopia, embraced the folly of the national assembly ‘hurrying’ to convene on a Sunday without passing a SINGLE resolution to reduce THEIR obscene emoluments. Subsequently, the president has effected reductions of certain categories of salaries that are under his direct authority by 25%. Again, the thousand mile journey can be referenced and the question of just who is ‘clueless’ revisited.

When a single item (oil) is responsible for about 90% of a nation’s economic activity, it may be inferred that it is an inspiration for nearly 100% of the possible corruption therein. It emerged that this corruption was routinely enacted in the form of false invoicing and payments for petroleum products never imported. Since the drama of January 2012, we have learned that the 59-odd million liters of fuel purportedly consumed daily in Nigeria has fallen to about 35 million liters – surely not a mere coincidence, especially when viewed against the finance ministry’s determination to ‘scrutinize’ the payment regime closely. Threats abound of ‘fuel shortages’ and in a dynamic economy there may yet be shortages, but sanity appears to be flirting with that sector. It is early days yet but in hindsight, and with the emergence of the scandal involving Femi Otedola and Farouk Lawan, few sentient beings now object to the concept of rationalizing the petroleum industry’s downstream sector.

The government establishes, communicates and works towards economic targets of reducing recurrent expenditure and when the news recently emerged that Nigeria’s external reserves had attained a 21 month high, I pondered how this could be, under a ‘clueless’ president. Even the perception of daily corruption (induced by the soul-searing exchange of small change between citizens and the police) has reduced after the Inspector General (appointed by this president) instituted changes to the road block policy. Still ‘clueless’?

The issues of Open Governance, Coming to terms with the past, Foreign policy & Nigerians Abroad, and Interaction with the public, attracted 16%, 16%, 5% and 5% of NVS respondents attention respectively. We now know the names of companies and the amounts being paid as fuel ‘subsidy’. Unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. We also know that the refineries have been handed back to their original makers for maintenance rather than to a Turn Around Maintenance ‘cabal’ that refused to fix them. It is possible to point to the Freedom of Information Bill, the honoring of Ojukwu at his burial, the honoring of Abiola after 19 years, the government’s reaction to South Africa over yellow fever vaccine mass deportations, the evacuation of Nigerian citizens in Ivory Coast and Libya under threat from conflict, the Nigeria/UK airline landing slot saga, the foreign airline pricing discrepancies, the new visa regime to encourage foreign direct investment and many ministerial briefings and addresses as indicators of meaningful motion in these various directions. The government stopped awarding contracts at the Federal Executive Council without proper design and documentation in place to avoid the specter of project cost inflation and/or project abandonment. Many other items exist to be addressed in the nation but governance, worldwide, is a matter of establishing and pursuing priorities. This means that a person elected into office possesses the prerogative of pursuing items they deem to be priorities during their term of office. I imagine we each will benefit from that presumption of prioritizing if or when we attain positions of authority.

Conclusion

Can every index of national progress be improved? The answer to that question is a resounding YES, and longsuffering Nigerians have a right to expect speedy progress on all indices. However, on reflection, one question that emerges is exactly what responsibility individual Nigerians ascribe to THEMSELVES in advancing the development indices of the country? How many have actually applied for actionable information using the Freedom of Information Act? Or would that seem too much like actual WORK? Has the psyche of the average Nigerian been so debased over time by a succession of violent, visionless and vacuous ‘leaders’ that he is incapable of independent thought and assessment? Is it impossible for many to actually observe what is going on in real time in the country and analyze it for themselves? Is it impractical to sit up, shut out the echo chamber that passes for ‘common knowledge’ and engage in actions that actually produce results and not relentless recrimination? Or is it just easier to exert zero intellectual effort, receive and slothfully consume the dregs that emerge from bitter, twitter ‘activists’ and online ‘reporters’?

When will the ‘social media influencers’ inform and direct their ‘followers’ ire and attention to those who actually affect them on a daily basis? People like their garbage collectors and their dog catchers? Their ward chairmen, state assembly members, local government chairmen, representatives and senators in the national assembly and their governors? Is it benign intellectual indolence that confines social media ‘mavens’ to pathetic, personality-based, pot shots at the president or is it craven cowardice and a desire to billow in the backwaters of zero personal responsibility? Are they addicted to the cheap allure of high-fives from their doting followers that result from their ineffective, lowest denominator, crowd-pleasing screeds? It is no longer enough to say ‘they’ said so-and-so. Who is ‘they’ and how or why should they know more than you or me? With the surfeit of information available in a Google-enabled world, there is simply no excuse for so many people to be willfully ignorant and depend on ‘others’ opinions to arrive at their own conclusions. Personal responsibility for obtaining, assessing and analyzing information for oneself is a fundamental human requirement of the 21st century.

Increasingly, many commentators in the public domain appear to base their contributions, opinions and attribution of the term 'clueless' to President Jonathan not on easily available and verifiable facts or analysis but on misplaced sentiments du jour. While entitled to their opinions they should realize that national progress will not emerge from the corrosive contents of their hearts but from the creative output of their pens and keyboards. A venerable African proverb reminds each person pointing a finger of responsibility at someone else that at least four are pointing back at them. When President Jonathan’s priorities and performance after year one of four are assessed side by side with items that some NVS members themselves declared to be their priorities, it quickly becomes evident that many who ignorantly, impotently and impudently emote the term ‘clueless’ are chronically craving a clue themselves.



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Re:
Bamaguje posted on 06-17-2012, 07:10:12 AM
Is anyone other than the writer buying this crappy sychophancy?
Nigerians are not interested in empty promises or statements of intentions, whether in the form of roadmaps, or bloated budgetary provisions most of which will be stolen.

We've had more than enough of empty promises, ill-thought visions and unimplemented budgets.
We want to see actual improvements in power supply, security and diversification of our economy with full employment.
We want an end to fuel importation and an end to corruption.

So far - three years in power - Jonathan has abysmally failed to deliver.

It is odd that the writer mentions Almajiri schools as one of Jonathan's achievements.
This is supposed to be a secular country, so our president has no business promoting Islamic miseducation.
On the contrary, given that Islam is a global menace (not just here in Naija), we need less of it, not more of it.
Consequently, the president should be promoting secular education to discourage religious extremism.
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Blissfully posted on 06-17-2012, 07:22:01 AM
This writer missed the goal post several millions of yards . What we have now have nothing to do with all the english language in this piece
What we have now is a government of deception and by deception including bare-faced stealing.

The situation is worse than most people envisaged. Morality and integrity have taken flight. Can you re- write the article focusing on lost values, lack of integrity, government by deception and barefaced stealing. Thank you
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Papadonkee posted on 06-17-2012, 09:21:29 AM
"Indolent and disrespectful"?

I hear Aso Rock pays by word count, these days.

Clueless indeed.

2015!!!

Dr. Abati, PhD, people like Bozimo do your Master more harm than good. You should ask for a refund.

Or get people like Auspy, Obuji, or even Super Ego on board. At least their own bouts of bombastic madness are sincere.
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Yum posted on 06-17-2012, 13:33:57 PM
Vomit inducing boondoggle. I have to ingest brine to douse the syrupy aftertaste I assimilated by feasting on that hagiographic piece up there.

Ha Bombast!
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Purple posted on 06-17-2012, 13:34:27 PM
Clueless GEJ should never have applied for the job of Commander in Chief. He simply does not have what it takes (the saddle is not meant for the back of a goat). His lack luster bumbling performance so far is a serious embarrassment. If he can't take the heat, he should simply get out of the kitchen.

I sympathize with the author, a villager who is notorious for defending GEj at all costs. Mr Bozimo writes from certain loyalties to Badluck (na awa pikin, make una allow am do am). Please take heart that your principal is continually exposed and disrespected by the people. This cowardly crowd pleasers as you describe your fellow Nigerian citizens pay clueless GEJ's salary and allow him and the Flashy, Travelling, I-never-see-wealth-before Dame to have access to the never ending graft that drips from Aso Rock. This gives them the right to call him out any time.

You may want to read how OBJoke was derided for his serious misteps and allegedly criminal behaviors too. His 'people' (hanger-ons, psychophants, cronies ati be be lo) learned to develop a thick skin. Badluck's 'people' should do the same.
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Big-K posted on 06-17-2012, 14:40:15 PM
Ebi's methodology of linking performance to the agenda laid out by NVS members is laudable. It's also a reminder of the potentials of this village. I disagree with the conclusions though, as the ultimate measure of progress will be in the results and not the intent.

But overall, using smart metrics to measure clear objectives is great.
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
DeepThought posted on 06-17-2012, 14:55:28 PM
Eezeee.

I never thought I would see this day and I write this with quite a bit of sadness.

I don't respect a lot of people here as you would probably know and I don't hesitate to show my contempt for such people through trivializing and mockery. But because of the high integrity you've consistently shown over the years on a lot of issues, I can truly say you're one of the few I still respect (or respected).


I don't live in Nigeria so I can't claim to know as much as you or the people on ground, but I do still have family, friends and relations in Nigeria, so my ties are still quite strong. In addition to that source of reliable information, I still keep myself fairly conversant with Nigerian news . And so I can say I have a fairly good idea of the situation in Nigeria and haven't lost touch with the Nigerian reality.

Of course its not about all the fine, fine words and fine, fine print and fine analysis which you put up there. I must admit that if it is about that, then Jonathan is very close to being a saint or a god and we would indeed deify him. The problem is we've always had fine , fine words and fine fine programs in Nigeria. As you know, its always the implementation or lack of. And the reasons for this failure are also well know. There are structural and personnel reasons which MUST be addressed before any real , tangible progress can be made. I'm sure you know all these anyway.

So perhaps Jonathan is possibly no worse than the ones who came before him but that is a terrible, terrible indictment.

As long as he is unwilling or unable to make the required structural and personnel changes (which I know he can't, not through any special fault of his), he will fail....like all those who came before him. There is no other option.

To add to the foregoing - considering the new dimension of terrorism (which we know is not his fault, but which he hasn't tackled because he is too scared) Nigeria is now more in danger (if that were possible) of becoming a failed state and the fate of Pakistan/Afghanistan is already being plotted for us by the enemies on the outside.

So by doing nothing to urgently restructure the country address the foundational or fundamental issues, Jonathan is merely window dressing. He then becomes an enabler of the enemy without and also becomes part of the enemy within. Just like all those who have occupied the position he now occupies.

He too is now writing his name in the blood, the blood of future generations, just as those who came before him did. And so he deserves ALL the opprobrium being poured on his head - and more

Is he unaware of the fate that is awaiting Nigeria if he fails?
Jonathan has three choices

1) Act like all the others who have come before him and continue with the status quo - which is the protection of ones own selfish interests as well as that of the milito-political class of which he is a member
2) Acknowledge that the problems are beyond him and quit
3)Genuinely attempt to tackle the problems of Nigeria and risk losing his life in the process

Of course, being a member of, and being a part of the problem, it is clear that choice no. 1 has been made. It is almost inevitable that anyone who becomes a "leader" in Nigeria will make choice no.1 because the field that throws up the players is skewered towards perpetuating the status quo. So they will come up with slightly different fine, fine words but the results will be the same.

Your point about the passivity and culpability even, of Nigerians (including myself) is well made and noted. However that doesn't preclude even vacuous nonentities like myself from knowing the truth or saying it, even if I'm not lifting a finger to actualize that truth (for whatever reasons, including selfish indolence)

Anyway, go and look at my (satirical) comments on -->Eja's thread on the plans being finalized for Nigeria.

If you're close to them in Abuja, let them know that even with all their money and influence they too won't escape unscathed.

If they are not betrayed by the ones whom they think they can count on , if they don't share the same well deserved fate that befell traitors like Saddam Hussein ( despite being an American agent/enabler/willing pawn for years), they or their relatives will pay a price , probably in blood when Nigeria eventually fails due to their actions and inaction.
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Busanga posted on 06-17-2012, 15:48:33 PM
I would have to take credit for using the word "clueless" much earlier than the later day converts today; I have to apologize for the use of that word though..Jonathan is worse than clueless; he is lost!

Based on metrics provided by this writer, here is a more objective score card just taking the top 3 categories:

Electricity/Energy:

Power Produced in 2010 (3600 MW) vs. 2012 (3,278 MW)

Fuel Price in 2010 (65 naira) vs. 2012 (97 naira) per Liter

Imported Petroleum Volume: 2010 (8.1 million MT) vs. 2012 (est) - 36 million MT

Justice/Security

Total Number of Suicide Bombings: 2009 (1/year) vs. 2012 (3/week)

Ranking in Global Safety: 2011 (142nd) vs. 2012 (146th) of 152 Countries

Education:

Number of Nigerian University Ranked in Top 6000 in the World: 2010 (0) vs. 2012 (0)

So much for progress!
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Emj posted on 06-17-2012, 16:23:46 PM
QUOTE:
Clueless GEJ should never have applied for the job of Commander in Chief. He simply does not have what it takes (the saddle is not meant for the back of a goat). His lack luster bumbling performance so far is a serious embarrassment. If he can't take the heat, he should simply get out of the kitchen.

I sympathize with the author, a villager who is notorious for defending GEj at all costs. Mr Bozimo writes from certain loyalties to Badluck (na awa pikin, make una allow am do am). Please take heart that your principal is continually exposed and disrespected by the people. This cowardly crowd pleasers as you describe your fellow Nigerian citizens pay clueless GEJ's salary and allow him and the Flashy, Travelling, I-never-see-wealth-before Dame to have access to the never ending graft that drips from Aso Rock. This gives them the right to call him out any time.

You may want to read how OBJoke was derided for his serious misteps and allegedly criminal behaviors too. His 'people' (hanger-ons, psychophants, cronies ati be be lo) learned to develop a thick skin. Badluck's 'people' should do the same.



Hee, heee, Erelu Purple....copyright infringement...Objokes and ati bee bee lo....just saying

@ Ebi,
Nice piece, you are actually trending well....i didnt expect anything less than this...but remember that all talk, numbers and no action= Clueless+Redundant......

Previous respondents have done more than enough justice to the matter at hand.

Btw Sonala's piece is also a good one, his okro can help this egusi along....what do you think?

http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/forum/main-square/71078-how-harvest-okro.html

Ltr



PS>>>....we might disagree on GEJ, but still friends forever...KWIM
Re: 'clueless' Commander-in-chief, Clueless Citizenry Or Cowardly Crowd Pleasers?
Big-K posted on 06-17-2012, 16:27:03 PM
QUOTE:
I would have to take credit for using the word \"clueless\" much earlier than the later day converts today; I have to apologize for the use of that word though..Jonathan is worse than clueless; he is lost!

Based on metrics provided by this writer, here is a more objective score card just taking the top 3 categories:

Electricity/Energy:

Power Produced in 2010 (3600 MW) vs. 2012 (3,278 MW)

Fuel Price in 2010 (65 naira) vs. 2012 (97 naira) per Liter

Imported Petroleum Volume: 2010 (8.1 million MT) vs. 2012 (est) - 36 million MT

Justice/Security

Total Number of Suicide Bombings: 2009 (1/year) vs. 2012 (3/week)

Ranking in Global Safety: 2011 (142nd) vs. 2012 (146th) of 152 Countries

Education:

Number of Nigerian University Ranked in Top 6000 in the World: 2010 (0) vs. 2012 (0)

So much for progress!


Exactly what i'm talking about - a fact-based rebuttal. Please don't stop at three - go on and review everything else.
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