PRESIDENT JONATHAN: INTERPLAY OF DESTINY AND PROVIDENCE
With what has happened so far, I wonder if there is anybody still in doubt that the remaining part of the year is very likely going to spring more surprises? Everything points to a future full of uncertainties.
The transmutation of Umar Yar'Adua into eternal glory is one event that will continue to shape the socio-political life of our dear nation for a very long time. Contrary to the thinking of some Nigerians, including the international community, that Yar'Adua's death would create visible vacuum, his death has rather opened a new vista in the leadership of the nation. This was why I described him, in the last edition of this column, as a unique leader. Yar'Adua was brought by God as an instrument of change - to restore the lost glory of our fatherland. Only a death like his could bring the transformational paradigm the nation has witnessed.
I must confess that I have been engrossed in a deep thought about the way forward for the nation since this great leader passed away on May 5. I knew for sure that the enormous personal sacrifices he made for the peace and progress of Nigeria would not be in vain. The less than three years Yar'Adua spent in office were characterised by a well-articulated desire to change Nigeria. He pursued this goal with unremitting candour and vigour.
It is gratifying to observe that the seeming animosity between the aides of Yar'Adua and the acolytes of President Goodluck Jonathan is beginning to fade way, thereby giving way to a more cordial working relationship between them. Expectedly, this reunion has indirectly aided the effort by President Jonathan to enforce far-reaching changes in the way the nation is run.
I will not fail to appreciate some of the bold steps taken by President Jonathan so far to sustain and even surpass the achievements of Yar'Adua. Of particular commentary is the procedural overhaul of the machinery of government and the systematic enforcement of rule of law. These changes have brought some robustness and focus to governance. President Jonathan may not be as audacious and loquacious as many would have expected, but he makes up for this with his quiet, calculative mien – which anybody can ignore or underrate at his own peril. I must confess without any fear of contradiction that everything about him is infectious. This has attracted him to even his most virulent critics.
Those who followed consistently the metamorphosis of President Jonathan from a university lecturer to a deputy governor, then governor, Vice President and now President will see a definite pattern - a pattern never witnessed in the annals of this country. The enigma of the man Jonathan does not lie in his meteoric rise to the apogee of the nation's political hierarchy. It lies rather in the hand of God upon his life. Anybody may say or write whatever he likes about him, but one thing nobody can dispute is his manifest covenant with God. When you talk about one having a covenant with God, it is epitomized succinctly in Jonathan in practical, unambiguous terms.
Can anybody tell the difference between Goodluck Jonathan and David the son of Jesse? Both share many things in common, you may not know. For instance, David was a shepherd with a humble beginning while Jonathan was also a shepherd in a way. Is a lecturer not a shepherd of human beings - moulder of character? Take a look at this interesting synchrony: Goodluck (has 8 letters) Jonathan (8 letters); David (5 letters) Jesse (5 letters). David went through intractable travails to become the King of Israel while Goodluck confronted some pitfalls (probably not in equal degree) to become the President of Nigeria.
At the time David assumed the leadership of the Kingdom of Israel, the kingdom witnessed an era of boom and plenty even though it faced some adversity, particularly from its neighbours. The same situation applied to Jonathan who became president at a very critical period in our nation's history. Just as nobody gave David (a shepherd boy) any chance to emerge as president nobody also anticipated that Goodluck (from Otuoke - a sleepy, remote town in Bayelsa State) would succeed Umar Yar'Adua the way providence designed it. David was a king after God's heart; and this was responsible for the special relationship he had with God. Is it out of place to also conclude that Goodluck is a leader after God's heart, considering the inexplicable way he has guided him since he emerged on the nation's political scene? No wonder he is very close to God and has displayed his commitment in the way and manner he has carried on with his faith. David was liked by the people of Israel, who reposed tremendous confidence in him. Similarly, Goodluck enjoys the immense goodwill of almost every section of the country as demonstrated by the large retinue and calibre of guests that call daily to identify with him since he was sworn in as President.
Probably, the most striking similarity between the two leaders is their courage and fearlessness. David confronted the mountainous problems that faced Israel with remarkable zeal and ease, while Goodluck has never left anybody in doubt about his ability to surmount the huge problems facing Nigeria with the same unrelenting commitment and uprightness.
As Israel thrived under David, so shall Nigeria under Goodluck, since it is the same God that brought them to the thrones. Those familiar with the story of David should recount all that he went through as King. It is hoped that Goodluck would come out of all the difficulties he will face in his presidency unscathed.
Nobody is immune from the travails of life. It is generally believed that the more one's responsibilities the greater the difficulties. However, the consolation here is that God does not place on us any load that is too heavy for our delicate shoulders to bear. He is a merciful and just God and, therefore, always ready to help, especially in times of difficulty.
President Jonathan should not shy away from the reality of the challenges that confront him. I am sure he has the capacity to resolve them. One of the biggest challenges he will face is the high expectations from Nigerians. Many Nigerians believe he has the magic wand to change things overnight - forgetting that he needs sufficient time to plan and execute his programmes. This is why I have deemed it right to advise him to concentrate and remain focused - no matter the pressure on him. There is certainly going to be a deliberate ploy by his detractors to put a wedge in the wheel of progress. He should be at the alert at all times and pray God to confuse these enemies of progress.
It is gratifying to note that Mr. President has already found his rhythm having held fort for former President Umar Musa Yar'Adua during his long period of hospitalisation. The experience he garnered during this delicate period comes handy as he grapples with the enormous task of nation-building.
Having been a major actor on the nation's political turf for some time now, I cannot fail to advise him to beware of political jobbers, hagiographers and praise-singers. They come in diverse shades and often pretend they are for you when indeed they are plotting your downfall. I have followed very diligently their modus operandi since your emergence and find their actions detestable and mendacious. In fact, they are the sponsors and bankrollers of the campaign to draft you into the presidential race next year. Their major mission is to curry favour, not minding whether what they are doing is favourable to you or not.
I wish to state categorically that your emergence as president and your political future are all in God's hands. It was God that brought you up at this crucial period of our national life to redress all that had gone wrong. Forget those who appear before you creating a larger-than-life image about who they are and what they are capable of doing: They are nothing but paper tigers. Where were they when the going was rough and tough for you? How many times did they consult you before you became the president? Even those who drafted you to run with Yar'Adua in 2007 did not do so out of their love for you. They did it thinking it would benefit them in the long run.
I refuse to be hook-winked by their grandstanding. I am sure they are already telling you how much they sacrificed to make you president and how they drafted Yar'Adua into the race when they knew he would die in office for you to take over. Think of this: Even if such a claim is true was it not smacked of deceit, treachery, and double-dealing? This is the time to take stock of their antecedents and run away from them. They have an unfathomable capacity for evil.
My joy is that you have refused to allow yourself to be fooled. Your consistent affirmation of the positive relationship between Yar'Adua and yourself is a clear sign of your urbane and humane self. Some other persons would have seen the death of Yar'Adua as an opportunity to denigrate and impugn him. But this you never did. Rather you have done everything possible to preserve his name and even promised to continue with some of his programmes and policies. Of particular mention was the strategic role you and your government played in his funeral. You did not take to heart some of the things done against you. As a true Christian, you forgave and forgot. What a rare leader!
It may be important at this point to charge you to see the whole nation as your constituency - ensuring that justice and equity are done to every section of the society. It may be an uphill task to expect you to satisfy everybody. And nobody can either. What the majority of Nigerians needs from you are basic amenities of life such as steady power supply, good roads, food, and health facilities. This is why the pruning down of the 7-point agenda of your predecessor to just three is quite commendable.
Similarly, Nigerians and the international community expect you to promote rule of law, security of life and property, and political reforms with intense passion and vigour. Political reforms, which have been at the centre of the ongoing effort to review the constitution, should be given priority by you. The dislocation in our socio-political system has since been traced to our flawed electoral process and inoperable constitutional provisions. The success of next year's elections is, no doubt, tied to the success of the constitutional review being carried out by both chambers of the National Assembly. You should bring your influence to bear on the exercise by ensuring strict adherence to procedure.
You should do something about epileptic power supply. As the former chairman of the National Economic Council, you have sufficient experience about the economic problems of the country. You should, therefore, try to speed up the completion of works on the various ongoing National Independent Power Projects (NIPPs) to meet and exceed the December 2009 target of 6000 megawatts. It is commendable that at least your government has stabilized prices of petroleum products, especially fuel. This effort should be sustained as a prelude to sustained economic recovery.
Let me state unequivocally, however, that Nigeria cannot be great without steady power supply. You will not be forgotten by posterity if you succeed in the next one year in solving this daunting problem. I am glad that there has been an appreciable development in power generation and distribution across the country since you assumed office as President barely a month ago. I imagine that the situation will improve significantly by the time you complete your tenure.
I advise you to take an objective look at the Niger Delta Development Plan with a view to religiously implementing the plan to achieve maximum results in line with the present exigencies. You should not because you come from the Niger Delta fail to comprehensively implement the plan. Any attempt to neglect any aspect of the plan will spell doom for the region and the entire nation.
It will amount to a great disservice if I fail to draw your attention to the deplorable state of infrastructure across the country, especially in the South-East geo-political zone. Almost all the federal roads in the zone are impassable. When fully rehabilitated, it will promote economic activities in the zone. I am sure that kidnapping and violent crimes that have ravaged the zone have seriously embarrassed your government. The menace has assumed some notoriety of recent. The danger in allowing the menace to go on unchecked is that it will have adverse effect on the 2011 elections. Conducting free and fair elections will not only stabilize democracy, but give credibility to your administration and make you a statesman and a foremost patriot.
Your next political plan, after serving out the Yar'Adua tenure, depends entirely on God and not PDP or boot-lickers or political charlatans. You should pray over it fervently, consult wisely, and seek the face of God before taking the final decision. As for me, I believe in your ability to take Nigeria to the next level. How you achieve this uphill task is left for God, providence and the people of Nigeria to decide.