2015 and Jonathan’s Ostrich game
Ostriches are the largest, flightless living species of birds that are found in Africa. They weigh from 63 – 145 kilograms and 6 – 9 ft tall. When exposed to danger, the ostrich usually escapes by burying its head under the sand while exposing its huge body. This is called the ostrich game because the bird is notorious for disingenuously ignoring the obvious. Those who play ostrich refuse to face painful facts and unpleasant truths.
The same could be said about the attitude of Nigeria's President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his rumoured bid to re-contest for his position in 2015. Otherwise how else will we describe the statement credited to his spokesperson Dr. Ruben Abati asking not to distract the President with 2015 elections. In Dr Abati's words, 'President Jonathan's wish to be left alone to focus on delivering on his promise of good governance and national transformation without unnecessary distractions must be respected.' The Egba born comic artist further dismissed the rumours of the 2015 election bid as the handiwork of 'political jobbers' and their collaborators heating up the polity with baseless and falsehoods revolving around imaginary plans and schemes'
However, can Dr. Abati's words be trusted? Really? Dr Abati has consistently denied that his boss is may not be seeking re-election in 2015 or is thinking about such a topic yet. However how we explain why President Jonathan, the same man is busy submerged in politicking even when several aspects of his political promises still remain in the pipeline. For example he has been shifting goal posts in the power sector. He has neither completed the second Niger Bridge or built the coastal road in the Niger Delta. Instead of fighting corruption, he is rather superintending over distributional politics.
To many Nigerians, the President has displayed outlandish hypocrisy that will make it difficult to trust him again. But practically GEJ has unleashed his men to do everything and anything that will improve the chances of his their principal's objective which is to clinch the most coveted position. As a citizen of the federal Republic of Nigeria, it is the Constitutional right of the President to vie for another term in office. Never mind that some quarters believe that he allegedly admitted to serving one term. Those gentle-man-agreements hardly obtains in a litigious Nigeria as they cannot be admissible in law. But what many people are worried about are the is the style that tactics that he is deploying.
One of these deplorable tactics can been seen in his interference in the Nigerian Governors' Forum(NGF). In the absence of a viable opposition and constructive dissent, the NGF has provided Nigerian with a platform to debate national issues. Instead of stampeding the governors to 'select' a leader on their behalf, GEJ and his strategists should seek an NGF that is more open to the views and aspirations of the Nigerian people. Deliberate efforts must be made beyond tokenistic 'facebooking' and 'twittering' to get a feedback of his policies on the Nigerian people. That is the direction GEJ and his loyalists should invest their energies and not hassle to intrude into the right of free association of the governors. A viable NGF with a majority membership drawn from the ruling party is an added value to the Peoples' Democratic Party and by implication Jonathan. Frankly, the fact that he convened a meeting last week, to push for a leadership change at NGF exposed his political apprehension and heighten the suspicion even among the governors allegedly loyal to him.
One other blunder comes from the alleged interference of the Presidency in the affairs of the Rivers State Chapter of Rivers state government. Since the controversial ruling that ousted set executives and installed another, fingers have been pointing at the Presidency. Although some of these remain at the level of speculations, such 'rumours' are very unhealthy for a President who is posturing that he is not yet thinking about 2015. The hasty swearing in of the new executive by the national secretariat makes many observers tilt to the suspicion that it was in obedience to the orders from above. Since the controversy erupted, the spokesperson of the President have remained quiet, allowing Nigerians to rightly or wrongly speculate that such judicial banditry might have been part of a rehashed vindictive agenda. One will think that President Jonathan currently show enjoy some goodwill in Rivers State. Such goodwill could diminish if he(or his proxies) are seen to be meddling unnecessarily into avoidable political battles.
How can the Presidency be living in denial? What are they afraid of? What are the achievements that this government can point to, that will make anyone vote for them again. Are we going to rely on the sentiments of power shifting to the goose that lays the golden egg? Has that tale not become old-fashioned and obsolete? Is it feasible to continue to depend on the marginal support that comes from dispensing patronage to political entrepreneurs with a long history of subverting the will of the people? Can the Presidency sustain the current onslaught of harassing and hounding any person with contrary views until all Nigerians are instilled with fear? How long will Nigeria survive under the current democratic authoritarianism that symbolises what the late Prof Clauke Ake referred to as democracy without choosing. Someone should tell the President that Nigerians have become wiser. He is the one distracting himself by chasing shadows. Whenever and if ever he makes up his mind, he should be told that what the Nigerian want to see are new jobs created, improvements in their security, stability in the power supply, expansion in their infrastructure and enhancement of their livelihoods. Our young people want assurances of a secure future through visionary and incremental development, not just promises.
With the advent of information technology, we now know the amount of money being siphoned away through corruption and some of us know the opportunity cost in terms of development impact. President Jonathan should now own up to his 2015 ambition. It is his constitutional right to do so. He should push his programs aggressively to ensure that there can concrete deliverables from his 2011 electoral promises. He should sharpen his radar and break away from the walls erected around him by the real political jobbers and connect to the people who elected him in 2011. He has become so unpopular even among politicians that he must be ready to make compromises and incorporate those who will bring mileage to his rumoured ambition. He no longer has the luxury of time. Performance and luck will count in 2015. Playing an ostrich game with his ambition at this time is strictly UNPRESIDENTIAL!