People who say, “President Goodluck Jonathan has done nothing!” are not being truthful, but those who take it literally are even more guilty. Jonathan has done something.
In November 2013, I travelled into Nigeria and wrote about the mess that was the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on this column. Sixteen months later, that same airport is very far from being world class but it is a long travel from the seamy dump of shame it looked like that November. I also believe that his administration has not done too badly with Information and Communication Technology. There are people who believe the successes in agriculture are more noise than substance but I am of the view that agriculture, while still very far from where it ought to be, has seen some improvements in terms of the process involved in helping farmers access extension support. It may sound like a campaign catch but that we didn’t have a famine after the 2012 flooding is credit to the work done by that ministry. Sports haven’t been stellar but you can’t say, “nothing has been done” here either. A former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, achieved great things. So yes, Jonathan has done something. If you make a six-year old-child president, s/he also would get some things right in five years because someway, somehow, someone in his government would just decide to leave her own legacy behind and not mind the incompetence of the “baby president”.
However, President Jonathan’s failings are not as much about what he has done as it is about what he has not done. One believes the most important attribute of leadership is caring; Goodluck Jonathan does not care about the people. He is a provincial, insensitive, callous, selfish, clueless, top-of-the-range incompetent President who woke up one day with power and has spent half a decade still wondering what to do with it.
If you followed the Chibok girls’ abduction, you’d see the only reason Boko Haram successfully abducted the girls and still has them is because President Jonathan and his crew of “na our turn” handlers refused to believe the girls had been abducted. It took over two weeks for the President to acknowledge this. The cost of that delay is the reason almost a year after, the girls remain in the custody of their abductors.
President Jonathan refused to visit Nigerian soldiers in Borno State until he had to visit the state to campaign. He then made one visit to the state just before his campaign visit; to deflect the criticisms that’d come from being seen as visiting Borno just for elections and not to meet with the citizens who had been burdened by insurgency for years. It was a callous act on the side of the President but it was consistent with his attitude.
When 59 boys were murdered by Boko Haram at the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, President Jonathan and his handlers not only did nothing, they said nothing. The President only sent the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Abdul Bulama, one whole year after the tragic incident, to convey his “grief” with the parents. One year after? That is diabolical! Note this is not yet about the President failing in his sworn responsibility to protect the people of Nigeria – he has so failed that Nigerians themselves no longer care to expect him to be responsible on that front – this was the President not caring to commiserate with the parents and relatives. This is not only a failure of leadership; it is a failure of President Jonathan’s humanity.
A day after a bomb blast that killed over 200 people – government claimed 75 people but eyewitnesses including an online news medium stated otherwise – in Nyanyan, on the outskirts of Abuja, President Jonathan was pictured actually dancing “Skelewu” alongside a renowned northern artist, Sani Danja, while welcoming former Kano Governor Ibrahim Shekarau back to the fold of the Peoples Democratic Party. This happened last April. People say Nigerians suffer from collective amnesia but is it so chronic 11 months are so far into the past we cannot remember what happened? The late human rights activist, Bamidele Aturu, said at the time, “It is plain insensitive, really. It is an evidence that the leadership of this country does not take our lives seriously at all,” and few will argue against that statement even today.
You would think the President has learnt his lessons since all of the above and others too numerous to mention happened, he has not. Last Sunday, 80 people were killed as the Fulani and Agatu clashed. Instead of at least making a statement, the President chose to spend the time wining and dining with celebrities in Lagos. No word, no action. When 12 people got killed by terrorists at the Paris office of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, President Jonathan commiserated with the people of France, while on this same day about 2,000 people were killed at Baga – government claims the numbers are far less but no claim of it being less than 150 people – yet the government offered no commiseration, condolence or the usually tepid “we will bring the perpetrators to book” statements that both the spokesperson and the person who was being spoken for have never believed would happen.
This President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, does not care! There are many facts to back this statement up but if the above tragedies are not enough to make the point, the point would never be made with a countless other examples.
Remember that the fuel price increase of January 1, 2012 could have been done any other day and month of that New Year. What sort of a person looks at the first day of the year and decides to take such a decision? Many still have sad stories about how returning to their bases post-Yuletide season was tougher than anticipated. The President – two weeks to the elections – is announcing a joke 30 per cent reduction in certain salaries. This promise was made three years ago when Nigerians marched against his government. Nothing happened in three years. He also promised to cut on his and his aides international travel expenses; check, the numbers have only increased since then.
You would see the President has been running around over the last four weeks – since the elections were postponed – to see if he can turn the tide. He took all of us for granted in the past because he never envisaged there would be an alternative to the PDP. Until these elections, no political party stood a chance of beating the PDP at the presidential poll. The All Progressives Congress was expected to crumble latest by December of 2014 when it held its presidential primary. Miraculously and against the usual order of opposition politics, the party came out of that even stronger. It was then and only then that Jonathan began to see that he stood a chance of losing the election. It was then and only then did he remember he had a country to preside over.
As he meets with Yoruba Obas, celebrities and those who claim to be youth leaders, amongst other interests, let the ones brave enough ask him: in a sane world, would he even be a candidate to run again after all his failures? This is Goodluck Jonathan, and there is no rational argument available to vote this man as President. He has done enough and not done enough to show that he took Nigerians for granted. His cup is full; it is time to let someone finally pay for this mess we have come to get used to. The power is in your hands!
Views expressed are solely the author’s. This was first published in The PUNCH Newspapers under a different title.