Nigeria News

NIGERIA: An Unlearned President

 President Goodluck JonathanSave for his politics, President Goodluck Jonathan has not deployed sufficient experience in the art of governance.
At a time the Boko Haram insurgency became aggressive and crippling, all that President Goodluck Jonathan had said to the Nigerian people, at least to pacify them was that the act of terrorism had become a global threat and that it was probably the turn of Nigeria to have a dose of the bitter pills of terrorism.

His position, quite expectedly, elicited anger and rage of the people as it was not only unpresidential but an indication of a government that was both helpless and clueless. A few years down the line, the Nigerian government, still under the leadership of Jonathan, has yet found a way round the menace of Boko Haram and other sister terrorist groups that have made the Northern Nigeria their safe abode.

Instead, the Nigerian government, apparently hunching to political and religious pressure, has bought into the idea of negotiating with terrorists, an initiative that remains a-no-option in civilized climes.

Although, in advanced societies and even in progressively developing ones, the idea of dialogue is often embraced in crisis situation as a critical tool to resolving differences in order to avoid the shedding of blood, such extreme generosity is hardly ever extended to terrorists because rather than buy into the essence of dialogue and shift grounds for peace, the demands of the anti-social groups are hardly within reason and common sense.

It is therefore common knowledge that, for the same reason, the United States Government does not go to the roundtable with anyone or group identified as terrorist. The terrorist, like the biblical thief, comes not just to steal and destroy but kill. As such, the basis for dialogue with persons or group with such a mindset is not justifiable by any standard, hence the hard-line but patriotic and reasonable stance taken by the US government.

This was, however, reaffirmed recently when the US government released to town, all its security apparatus to hunt down two brothers who masterminded the Boston marathon bombing over a week ago. Immediately the attack was carried out, not only did government swing into action and uncovered other explosives planted in strategic places, the US President, Mr. Barack Obama, came out to say that the perpetrators would be brought down and true to his words, they did.

The Tsarnaev brothers, Tamerlan, 26 and Dzhokhar, 19, have since been caught up with. While the younger brother who is still in custody and just regained consciousness after police cornered him in Watertown, near Boston, his elder brother, Tamerlan, died following a fatal injury sustained during a shootout with officers in the course of the manhunt.

Although, it took the American government nearly a week to round up the bombers, that government was resolved about this was not in question as a whole Boston city was practically shut down in the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers. The whole of America celebrated the success and an excited Obama described the feat as the end of a chapter in that episode.

Unfortunately, while the Nigerian government is habitually unlearned and ideologically lame, the American government has only reaffirmed its ascription as God's own country. It is no wonder, therefore, that many a Nigerian would tell all sorts of fictitious stories just to step into the US soil and at a cost to the image of Nigeria and her people. The capture of the Tsarnaev brothers by the US government would later elicit denigrating jokes for the Jonathan administration as helplessly clueless.

But, there is the belief that the Nigerian situation is not as hopeless as the present administration makes it look. For many, if the Jonathan presidency devotes as much time to good governance as it does its politics, the administration would probably have recorded enviable growth and development than any of its predecessors in the country.

Starting with former Bayelsa State governor, Sylva Timipre, Jonathan, despite interventions from various quarters insisted on not allowing Timipre return to Government House and he did. He was even reported as having gone to the extent of showing video clips of where the former governor allegedly threatened to deal with him to people in order to attract their sympathy and justify why he has taken that position.
It did not matter to him what implications that probably portended for his administration even if only in terms of perception, the President had his way and at great cost to his fast dwindling image.

Next on his plate is the chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Rivers State, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. This is another development that has constituted huge distraction for the administration. It is also a feud that has continued, both in persons and by proxy.

It was all in an attempt to “tame” Amaechi because he does not pander to the President’s wishes, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum was set up and headed by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio. With that, the president has not only created a needless gulf amongst the governors, he has also caused enmity between Amaechi and Akpabio. This is in addition to allegedly setting his ministers after the Rivers Governor even where the issues involved are mundane and counter-productive to the president and his administration. Just like he did to Timipre, there is also a “fast selling video” on Amaechi.

The latest, however, is the sack of the Rivers PDP executive, a move at the behest of the president and his wife, Patience. The sacked executive was led by Chief Godspower Ake and considered loyal to Amaechi while the new executive is led by Chief Obuah Felix, ready to do the bidding of the president in Rivers State.

Although, the judgment handed by Justice Ishaq Bello of the Abuja High Court sacking the former executive has remained controversial and even described in many quarters as a setback to the progress so far recorded by the judiciary as its role in nation rebuilding, the beliefs that the judgment cannot stand the test of time is entrenched and predicated on time.

Ironically, while the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih undertook reconciliatory visits to Amaechi at different times, the president has continued to stoke the fire of discord and thus doing more harm to the collective good of the party and government.

Apart from the Amaechi/Jonathan deteriorating feud, the president has also clearly parted ways with his benefactor and predecessor, former president Olusegun Obasanjo, such that the former president has elected to maintain a “siddon look” stance and watch the president navigate his rickety ship. Not only has he sidelined the former president by yanking off his lieutenants from the party structure, he has also technically decimated his geo-political zone- the South-west in the subsisting equation.

Yet the president is doing these things for two reasons. First is the idea allegedly sold to him on the need to be his own man and stop deferring to anyone, irrespective of whatever roles such persons may have played in his emergence as the president. The other factor is that the president is believed to be blinded by his re-election ambition such that he would say yes to anything even if it is at a cost to national unity.

The irony, however, is that despite being the longest serving public official since 1999 that the nation returned to democracy, the president does not appear to have learnt anything- either on the job or from history. This is why his approach to issues does not only demonstrate poor thinking and political naivety but often at sharp variance with the thrust of his administration. It’s a situational misfortune!
Indeed, if all the president’s political missteps and muddled up approach to governance are because of his re-election which is politically unsettled and constitutionally contentious, he may have done more harm than good to his projections because at the end of the day, the gamut of all these is what will play out to the answers he seeks in the next election. And at that time, it might be too late to redress a lot of his undoing.

Like Albert Einstein once stated, the President needs to know that “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” If only that could guide his politics and drive his policy, perhaps, things would change considerably.

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