These days, there is one argument that is persistently heard
when a section of Nigerians attempt to explain why the President of Nigeria Dr.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is largely perceived as having under-performed during
his four-year tenure that is running out in a few months. This negative
perception is so aggravated in some quarters that some disgruntled
sharp-tongued commentators simply rephrased his name in some social media
outlets to read “Goodluck Ebola JoNothing” while a now deceased Facebook
commentator of blessed memory once described him as “Emir El-Retard-een Jonathan”.
These abuses underscoring the frustration of several hobby commentators often
end up amusing the President’s opponents while it is generally taken with
utmost contempt by his admirers, who cannot understand why people are taking
the freedom of expression to the extent of ridiculing the country’s own
These days, we hear the argument that hardly anyone could
have done better than this President under the atmosphere of genocidal and
coercive insurgency that the northern political elite has subjected the country
to. It is indeed, no secret that some northern leaders, in the run-up to the
last Presidential election in 2010, vowed to make Nigeria ungovernable if Dr.
Goodluck Jonathan insisted on becoming President, while the northern tenure
under the zoning arrangement was cut short by the untimely death of the former
In fact, the rapid pace at which events have happened within
the tenure of this presidency renders the chronicling of events almost
impossible. Yet a fairly alert mind should be able to reflect on some events
that unfurled within the past three and a half years of Dr. Jonathan’s
Also read: Jonathan easiest sitting president to defeat in
It started on a very bad note when the President – in
reaction to the deeply-rooted chaos in the Nigerian Football Federation
(Nigeria’s governing soccer body) that saw the national team end up with a
shameful performance in South Africa 2010 – disbanded the national team,
dissolved the Federation and suspended international outings for two years.
FIFA raised its voice a few days later and the President chickened in
immediately. He had not done his homework properly and did not consult with the
proper experts for advice before hastily announcing actions beyond the reach of
his powers against FIFA. Boko Haram had not yet thrown a single stone, not even
from a catapult.
Shortly afterwards, signs began to emerge that Boko Haram
was stepping up its campaign of violence by striking at soft targets and taking
scores of innocent lives. If anything, these initial actions signaled the need
to address the issue head-on and as a matter of utmost priority. The President
reacted and took the matter very seriously. He plunged himself into the
politics of reaching out to those, who he thought mattered most and distancing
himself from those, who he thought mattered less. The choice was his and his
alone. He appeased them with some power-sharing arrangements, when he thought
the people mattered most and offered them and their cronies, lofty government
appointments. In return, he was repeatedly assured that the menace will be over
not later than six months into the future. He took it all with deep
satisfaction and took to assuring Nigerians with dates, by which the menace of
Boko Haram would be confined to the trash can of history.
In his confidence and complacency, he turned his attention
to another front. Without the requisite deep-thought, analysis of pros and cons
and the need to take the bull by the horn, he lied and had his ministers lie repeatedly
to Nigerians that he had no plans to remove fuel subsidy. Then on January 01,
2012 he gave Nigerians the demonic New Year’s gift of subsidy removal against
all wise warnings of risking a revolution if he did. The President unwittingly
responded that he was ready for a revolution. He was not taken hostage by Boko
Haram at the time. Inspired by the widely reported Arab Spring, traditionally
fearful Nigerians took to the streets and the President escaped a full-scale
revolution by the whiskers at the cost of a few innocent lives.
In the meantime, Boko Haram’s insurgency was turning nasty
and showing early signs of insurgent sophistication. His predecessor and mentor
Olusegun Obasanjo offered himself for mediation – a task none of those people
he appeased took upon themselves. He ended up ridiculing the former President
and having his paid agents rain abuses on the old man with jeers and scorns.
The choice was his.
Flashback to the subsidy protest: The nationwide uproar
beamed the flashlight on the filth in the oil sector and all its attendant
evils. The intelligent option of creating self-sufficiency in refining crude
oil and discontinuing the regime of importing refined fuel was the final
settlement that killed the nationwide semi-revolution. Investments were to be
made in fixing old refineries and building new ones. A memorandum of
understanding was even reached with Chinese engineering companies at the
initial stage. We had no report that resources had to be withdrawn from the
project to facilitate the fight against Boko Haram. No. Yet, the whole project
died a quiet death while the regime of fuel importation continues unabated to
the benefit of corrupt importers, who no one dares to question. Not because
Boko Haram stops anyone at gunpoint! The President is simply held hostage by
the corrupt power of the capital.
The speed at which the sins of people are exposed, who try
to expose the scale of thievery in the oil sector underscores the excellence of
President Jonathan’s government when he chooses to expose thieves. Half of the
energy invested in nabbing the lawmaker Farouk Lawan’s acceptance of bribe to
kill a part of his investigations on subsidy thieves was never invested in
catching any of the oil thieves indicted. Yet Boko Haram did not incite this
ineptitude. The mole planted in Ribadu’s committee was never planted in any
NNPC body to track corrupt officers.
Bursting the Nigerian Governors’ Forum with undemocratic
means had nothing to do with Boko Haram. Having the President’s wife meddle in
the politics of Rivers State and attempting to have 5 lawmakers rule over 27
others in the Rivers State House of Assembly had nothing to do with Boko Haram.
The President’s only flagship project of success – the
reactivation of the railway line from Lagos to Kano – was not disrupted by Boko
Haram even though Kano is at the heart of Boko Haram’s operation. Yet Boko
Haram is blamed for making governance difficult for the President? Boko Haram
did not force the President to grant a national pardon to former Governor
Alamieyesigha, who has been officially adjudged corrupt and declared an
international fugitive. Today this former Governor wields far more political
influence in Jonathan’s Nigeria than the cleanest of all public figures. Boko
Haram did not incite the President to make lords of militant touts in the Niger
Delta nor has Boko Haram stopped the arrest and public prosecution of powerful
brains behind illegal oil refineries all over the Niger Delta region. Even
Co-President Asari Dokubo declares openly that President Jonathan will “not
dare” (repeat: “not dare”) to refuse running for re-election. “Else he
can’t come back home na! E no fit!” No single comment was issued by the
President to rebuke the young, exuberant slime ball. Did Boko Haram ask the
President to grant that much power to a thug?
The Niger Delta insurgency did not stop Olusegun Obasanjo
from negotiating away Nigeria’s foreign debt. It did not stop him from pushing
through with GSM, with NAFDAC and the installation of the EFCC even if its
operations were more one-sided than otherwise. It did not stop him from
building 6 power stations that would have been operational today if he had more
time at his disposal. And I am not alone in the belief that an Obasanjo third
term would have done Nigeria far more good than this disastrous Jonathan term
has done. Obasanjo did not submit to militants who undermine him publicly like
Asari Dokubo does Jonathan today. Obasanjo confronted as many powerful forces
as he could and they joined hands to give him a fight. Without prejudice to
those areas in which President Obasanjo also had his failures, these powers it
were that successfully carved out the perpetual evil image for the old man with
which many people associate him today in a convenient bandwagon effect.
On the contrary, President Jonathan shied away from
confronting any force that is opposed to the interest of the state except those
that challenge his personal ambitions. Today, his apologists are unfortunately
in a desperate search of a scapegoat for the resultant dismal failure. First it
was Boko Haram. But we know today that the President did not take on the
background forces to nip the tragedy in the bud and tolerated if not partially
participated in propping up a version of Boko Haram. Now, they blame the Americans
for failing to sell weapons to defeat Boko Haram. We now know however that the
Americans only refused to sell attack helicopters that can easily be bought
from Russia and scores of other sources.
Also read: Jonathan named most performing president since
Now, they are engaged in shadow-boxing over political
defections. But high level defection from one party to the other is nothing new
in the Nigerian democratic tradition. The overriding precedent case played out
in 2007 when the Supreme Court of Nigeria validated the defection of a sitting
Vice President from the ruling party to an opposing party. I am one of many
Nigerians who thought – in the face of logical considerations at the time –
that the Supreme Court Judges may have either been standing too tall on the
high grade of intoxication or were simply drowned in their conspiracy to teach
the overbearing Olusegun Obasanjo a very serious lesson. Whichever way it was,
they did a serious disservice to the nascent democracy that is now hanging on
the system as an albatross. The logic was simple. If for any reason then,
Olusegun Obasanjo died as President, his Vice President, who was elected with
and handpicked by him as a candidate of the PDP, would automatically have
become the new President from another party, whose program the electorates knew
nothing about and did not vote for. It was the second highest office in the
The lesson there was clear. Whether or not, the judgment was
passed under the influence of intoxicants or emotions, and no matter how wrong
the judgment was, it had definitely been passed and cannot be overturned. It is
the law of the land until the constitution is explicitly amended to reflect
another unmistakable reality. It therefore goes that the fact of being elected
on the platform of one party should and does not automatically translate into
the loss of an office upon defection to another party. It was the case with
Governor Isa Yuguda, who defected from the ANPP to the PDP, Olusegun Mimiko,
who defected from the Labor Party to the PDP, Governor Rochas Okorocha, who
defected from APGA to the APC as well as Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who left the
PDP for the APC.
I therefore wonder aloud, why President Jonathan simply
refuses to accept his fate in the spirit of political sportsmanship each time a
leading politician defects from his party even in these dying minutes of his
presidency. The futile persecution of Governor Rotimi Amaechi does not seem to
have shown the President the limits of his impunity. The same scenario is now
being replayed against Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The botched amateurism of the Rivers State House of Assembly ended in dangerous
bloodshed. It did not teach Jonathan any lesson. He sought to trick the House
of Representative to re-convene under the guise of extending some worthless state
of emergency only to attempt to stage-manage the impeachment of the Speaker.
Now that this too has failed, efforts are said to be underway to arrest the
speaker. I will dare to ask how Boko Haram has influenced this show of impunity
which shows the President as constantly being petty, unintelligent and often
failing to do the right thing at the right time.
But Nigeria will never be the colossal failure that it is
today, if people do not routinely set the wrong agenda and priority every step
of the way. Today, rather than focusing on the illegal and impuned invasion of
the premises of the House of Representatives by armed policemen who would jump
into the bush for safety at the shout of armed robbers, and soldiers who run
away from Boko Haram, Nigerians are hurling stones at lawmakers who scaled the
fence to frustrate the planned second illegality of impeachment. This should
ordinarily have been a point, at which the fact of the Nigerian legislature
being populated by celebrated and high-profile thugs ought to have occupied the
back seat in the face of the more urgent issue of presidential impunity.
The threat by the opposition APC to form a parallel
government if the presidential election is rigged is now the cry of brutal
defiance by an opposition that smells a rat in the President’s extreme
desperation to retain the presidency. The recipe is clear. Insurgency is
already on course in the north. A brutally aggrieved opposition will render
escalation an easy task. The Niger Deltans – I assume – are ready as well.
Obasanjo once cried out and warned of an army being built by the President with
an arsenal of lethal weapons. Is 2015 the watershed to ending the amalgamation?
Of course, Nigeria is made what it is today with the immense
help of hungry and willfully collaborative praise-singers, who give incompetent
politicians like President Jonathan the leverage that they need to survive and
drain the stability of national interests. After all, these are the same people
who conjure the fairy tale of grand performance by the President that no one
else sees but they alone! It simply remains to be seen where Jonathan thinks he
will be taking Nigeria and how he will end as a person and page in the history
of a now dejected Nigeria.
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