Does Jonathan have the answer?

Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck
Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck

By Lateef Raji

The campaign fever is here again. For the electorates, it is time to assess the candidates and the various parties’ programs and manifestoes to enable them decide which of them could best meet their expectations. This is an inalienable right of the people. In our quasi federation, the office of the president is the most tasking not in the sense of opulence but more of appropriation of our collective resources. To a large extent, the person who occupies that office must come out with the best qualities that represent the character of an average Nigerian. Goodluck Jonathan today seems to be the front runner for this office only by the mere fact that he is the incumbent. I have observed that sentiment rather than reason has been the basis of the expressed support that has been coming his way.

Beyond the regular gaffes he is becoming popular for, the man never strikes me as one that could be trusted with the high office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His academic credentials notwithstanding, Dr, Jonathan does not possess the type of aura capable of affecting the closest person to him talk less of affecting the people of Nigeria, whom he wants to lead.

On the domestic front, this man has not demonstrated that he possesses the necessary capability to lead. Taking cue from his performance as the symbol of his party, Jonathan has acted the script which makes it obvious that he is not on top of events in his own party. The story of how Nwodo was dropped after he helped prepare the grounds that would secure the ticket for Jonathan is something that explains the mindset of the man.

As governor of Bayelsa State, he drew the state treasury down to zero, but thanks to the 13% derivation that guarantees the regular flow of funds. His poor management of the finances, infrastructure and human resources of that tiny state mark him down as a character that cannot be trusted to manage the multi cultural and diverse people of Nigeria.

What does Jonathan stand for? This is a critical question that should agitate the minds of all voters come April. Is he on the side of the people or is he with the cabal that has been plundering the wealth of this country for the past 12 years? A clear articulation of his position and details of how exactly he plans to tackle the country’s myriad of problems will assist the electorates in reaching a decision on him rather than the general statements he is making in his current dandy runs around the country. Or is he a mere opportunist, taking advantage of the system?

The issues in Nigeria today include the quest for a true federal system that guarantees development at the pace set by each of the component units of the federation. This is a core demand of the people of the Niger Delta region notwithstanding the frustrations that have led to kidnappings for ransom variant that we see today. Its power and ability to control its resources for the development of its people and area is the reason for the agitation and in the wildest scenario. Does GEJ fit into the mould of a character that could make this happen for his much abused people? Does the Ijaws believe that once a fellow Ijaw man becomes the president of Nigeria, his agitation for a better living condition is met? I doubt it. The people would rather have control over their resources than create a minor tyrant who wine and dine with their tormentors at their expense. The fact is, GEJ does not share in their aspiration and agitation. He has only been elevated to the rank of the oppressors of the established order.

Like we have also witnessed in the past 12 years with his predecessors, Jonathan and the PDP have declined to take part in a presidential debate that would have given Nigerians an insight into his programmes simply because he would not be privy to the questions. This is rather tragic on many fronts because it confirms the suspicion of many Nigerians of his capacity to run a successful government among other reasons. The presidential debate of 1993 so much endeared the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola to many Nigerians and invariably gave him an edge over his colorless rival, Alhaji Bashir Tofa .

Presidential debates world over have become the singular direct platform to assess the competence, strength of character, health status, temperaments, mental capacity and above all to gauge the level of the understanding of current issues by the candidates. It has become a tradition in some places like the United States of America where it runs on a three stages while Britain started in the last election. Rather than grab the opportunity it offers, Jonathan and his PDP cohorts have been scheming to put notable figures of opposition away and rigging the elections as usual.

There is the problem of insecurity all over the land. Has Jonathan, since he became president, been able to proffer any meaningful solution? In contemporary world order, the trait of a leader is marked among other virtues by his capacity for crisis management. It is trite knowledge that crises are an endemic part of all societies and the ability to manage such gives society the edge in the committee of nations. This is against the background of the intractable Jos and Boko Haram menace and the shoddy way the administration of Goodluck Jonathan has handled the crisis that has taken hundreds of lives.

How many times has the federal government-sponsored JTF under GEJ bombed the creeks and killed scores in the name of fighting militancy? Who were the people affected? Were they not the same people of the Niger-Delta he claims are his people? The amnesty program initiated by the late Yar’Adua administration with all its imperfections, have not guaranteed peace as the persistent breach continues to resonate. There have been claims of ‘settlement’ of few big boys in Abuja and the neglect of the ‘boys’ in the creeks. If he could not use the goodwill of the office of President to secure peace in the Niger-Delta region where he hails from, how could he ensure peace in the country as a whole? The Niger-Delta has more credible persons in abundance than to be led by an agent of the entrenched oligarchy.

On the economic front, what measure has Jonathan put in place to ensure that the economic fortunes of the people would improve considering the fact that the foreign reserves and the excess crude account newly christened Sovereign Wealth Account has been depleted to zero. Does Jonathan strike as someone who understands the Nigeria Economy when not too long ago, he lifted ban on the importation of toothpicks and vehicles over ten years old et al? Since assuming leadership of the country, how many jobs has he been able to create? What incentives has he put in place to make the productive sector vibrant and responsive to the yearnings of the teeming masses of Nigeria? For me, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan does not understand the dynamics of an integrated economic system and cannot proffer any healthy solution beyond the ‘allocation’ economics of oil money.

Some among us will want us to believe that all these problems enumerated above are inherited but Nigerians are not in the mood for complaints and unending promises, what is he coming to the table with? His party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power since 1999, there is nothing to show for the over $500bn it has made from the sales of oil alone. He is more consumed by the tiny fancy of being the first Ijaw man to be president of Nigeria more than what he could offer Nigeria. The people of the Niger-Delta too should not see him as their representative beyond the filial scope because his allegiance is more to the cabal that is nudging him on and there is not much he can do to ameliorate the worsening conditions of the people of that region. He neither understands their aspirations nor share in their political and economic philosophy. Rather than be an asset, it is obvious Dr. Jonathan would at the end of the day turn out a liability. God save us all!


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