Let me say ab initio that I actively supported the election of President Jonathan into office in 2011. Like many other Nigerians, my supports were based inter’alia on the following:
(i) A President coming from the ‘minority’ region especially the Niger Delta which had been ravaged with degrading environmental and humanitarian crises due to oil explorations and abject poverty in the presence of abundant wealth deserves the Presidency. Such a development would go a long way to assuring all Nigerians irrespective of ‘minority’ or ‘majority’ regional or ethnic background that they can rise up with determination to any possible level in the nation.
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(ii) The campaign promises of President Jonathan appeared convincing if he would go ahead to keep the promises.
(iii) This is a rapidly advancing scientific age and the youths are in a better position to manage public offices based on better comprehension of emerging trends. I believe the future belongs to the youth and the youth should be allowed to take charge of their future. President Jonathan appeared the younger acceptable candidate.
(iv) Clearly, performances and achievements of public office holders have more to do with innate leadership ability, intelligence, charisma, visionary ideology, self-discipline, firmness and sincerity of purpose than paper qualifications or previous experience in political leadership as exemplified by the excellent achievements of great leaders such as Sir Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo (locally) and internationally (President Bill Clinton, President Nelson Mandela, President Barrack Obama and several others). But then Dr. Jonathan was the first President with the highest level of educational training (PhD) who appeared a departure from the past and it would be worthwhile to give such a candidate a chance. Furthermore, President Jonathan was a former Deputy Governor, Governor, Vice President, Acting President and President (May 2010 to May 2011) and appeared well groomed for the Presidency.
Initial Glorious Steps:
President Jonathan, therefore, got to office first in 2010 and then in 2011 with tremendous goodwill. He was judged as one the masses could look up to. He was expected to provide a new way of doing things. President Jonathan started well by being the first President to vote the highest budget percentage to Education in 2010. This was reversed to worse levels gradually. He also appointed Professors Jega and Nnaji as INEC Chairman and Minister for Power and Steel respectively.
Despite some irregularities, the 2011 elections were more credible when compared to previous 'selections' (not elections) of 2003 and 2007 organized by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. President Jonathan took some positive steps on power reforms but later bowed to pressures from influential stakeholders and Prof. Nnaji was forced to abandon his committed agenda. He was forced to resign from office. Obviously President Jonathan had not been without some initial positive steps in other sectors such as the NHIS, agriculture, Aviation, railway sector, and others.
Why did President Jonathan fail later on?
(i) President Jonathan got to the presidency without a clear idea of what he would do when in power and without an intellectually prepared manifesto. There was no guiding policy. He further failed to come up with same even well after he got into power. He should have taken this right path expected of individuals well prepared for leadership positions (with or without higher educational degrees) or of his respected high educational level of training. He flip-flopped on many occasions because of this. To change our systemic anomalies for good requires a Presidency with a rigorously debated manifesto who knows clearly what went wrong and what needs to be done. This applies to all public sectors. The manifesto whether produced before or after getting into power (best produced before getting into power) would have afforded the relevant stakeholders and the opposition to strengthen positions or offer alternative positions where necessary. This would have helped shape such manifesto for the best. The Presidency would have then taken positions with firmness, justice and fairness and take the lead while others follow. Such a Presidency would have put all on their toes and working for the nation thus preventing unions from going on strike with different demands which would have been previously addressed. Such a Presidency would have had a clear domesticated position based on best international practices that will bring sanity to the health sector without allowing the contending parties to push the government around. With a poorly prepared Presidency, we have witnessed several months of strike actions by ASUU, ASUP and others with devastating effects on an already comatose educational sector. Same problems are responsible for the on-going NMA strike action.
(ii) His government became corrupt, pardoned corrupt elements who have cases in courts, paid huge billions to fake oil marketers and continue to embrace well known corrupt elements for self-preservation.
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(iii) With personal agenda of winning a second term in 2015 overriding national interest, President Jonathan has failed further to fight corruption and bring our pervading insecurity challenges to control. Security funds are mismanaged, soldiers run away from war front, soldiers complain of poor welfarism, there were complaints of ghost soldiers been paid when our heroes on the battle field complain of wants, families of fallen heroes neglected, no arrest of sponsors of terrorism and Boko Haram now chasing soldiers out of their barracks while carting away ammunition and taking over territories. The terrorists have continued to kill us with impunity. There are confirmed reports of wives and family members of our soldiers protesting openly that their bread winners should not be sent to the war fronts to confront Boko Haram with poor weaponry compared to that of the terrorists. The Nigeria military has a glorious past dating back to pre-independence days with our former Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi (and our officers) bringing peace to crisis-torn Congo in 1960 and 1964 (commanding an entire United Nations Contingent). We have seen our military receiving global recognition in the not too distant past for the roles our soldiers played in returning countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe to socio-political normalcy. Something is definitely wrong somewhere with the current anti-terrorism campaign!
(iv) Oil theft has continued unchecked and has risen to unprecedented level. Oil theft has gone so bad that states no longer have enough funds from the federation account for their programmmes.
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(v) President Jonathan became reckless by granting selective justice as seen with misuse of security forces against political opponents during the Ekiti State governorship election when APC governors were turned back and further denied the use of Akure Airport for departure and PDP Chieftains (Minister of Police Affairs and Minister of State for Defence) were allowed in. APC local leaders were equally arrested and harassed during the election. The President allowed the landing of the personal plane of former Governor Ali Modu Sheriff at the Maiduguri Airport which had been previously shut and was not opened for locals even during lesser hajj. The locals had to travel to Kano with all the security implications to continue with their journeys to Mecca. Sadly, reports say that Gov. Shettima was denied the use of the same Maiduguri Airport by the military just a day or two before the preferential treatment granted former Gov. Ali Modu Sheriff. Unfortunately, no lessons seemed to have been learnt as the recently conducted governorship elections of Osun State was unduly militarized with masked security forces shooting sporadically into the air to intimidate Osun State voters. Furthermore, local APC and National Executive members of the APC were harassed and arrested on the eve of the election barring them from working actively for the party’s victory at the polls. That APC won had more clearly to do with the resoluteness of the Osun State electorate who were more than determined to return Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as governor for a second term in office than the impartiality of the Federal Government.
The Way Forward:
Nigeria needs a new President with innate leadership ability, intelligence, charisma, visionary ideology, self-discipline, firmness and sincerity of purpose to move the nation forward. Nigeria needs a patriotic youth with integrity (with or without previous political leadership experience) who will be in a better position to manage the Presidency based on better comprehension of emerging local and global trends. Such great individuals as Nuhu Ribadu, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, Donald Duke, Kayode Fayemi, Fola Adeola, Ken Nnamani, Chimaroke Nnamani, Rotimi Amaechi, Raji Fashola, Sule Lamido, Adams Oshiomhole, Ositadinma Chidoka, Ibrahim Shekarau abound across the polity.
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