NEED TO WORK WITH A PROMISE KEEPER
On May 29, 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan commenced a fresh four-year term that will terminate in 2015. He was first sworn in as president on May 6, 2010 following the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua the day before.
The next four years call for the resolve to build a Nigeria which everyone will be proud to say “yes, Nigeria is my home and my country.”
Nigerians, have, since the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999, been looking for the people’s president, that man or woman who will not rest until Nigeria regains its momentum and realizes its potential, that man or woman who strives to ensure that Nigerians are safe and well in their homes and work place, or that person who is determined to create the right atmosphere for Nigerians to realise their dreams in a free society where justice and equality reign.
The major question in what can be done about nation-building is the question of who should do it, and who can effectively do it. It is not the duty of the military, not the responsibility of foreign powers, but the task that must be undertaken by all Nigerians-the women, youth, religious leaders, political class from the various divides, traditional rulers, civil society as well as the academics.
The aim is to unify the people or peoples within the state so that it remains politically, economically and socially stable and viable in the long run. Nation building matters to intractable conflict because of the theory that a strong state is necessary in order to provide security, that the building of an integrated national community is important in the building of a state, and that there may be social and economic prerequisites or co-requisites to the building of an integrated national community.
Some have said that the military has the magic touch. But it is common knowledge that military incursion into government set Nigeria back a hundred years. The army’s responsibility is to exert force, or as retired Colonel Fred Peck of the US said in an interview on October 22, 2001: "Our job is to kill people and smash things." The president needs all and sundry to take part in the task of recovery. He declared after he was announced winner in the presidential election that he is not a believer in the concept of “the winner takes all. He stated that he has no desire to dominate, no ambition of take everything and that his aim is a democratic peace - a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of everyone, man and woman. What can be more beautiful than this? In the run-up to the recently-concluded elections he made it clear that he was going into the contest as a good sportsman and told his party men and women not to “rig for me.”
Nigeria has witnessed series of crises since independence. Three of these include the state of emergency declared in the old Western region in the early 1960s; the civil war 1967-1970; and the imbroglio over June 12, 1993 annulled elections. Let us be mindful that every challenge that confronts the nation is also prevalent in some other countries. Nigeria has celebrated its 50 years of independence. It is true that our collective assessment and expectations as a people have not actualized our possibilities; that is to say that we have not maximized our potentials to the fullest. But, then, those who have visited some other parts of Africa will readily come to appreciate that as bad as things are here, we are in some instances, comparably better off than they.
The president shares the sentiments of those who maintain that we have not, as a country, fared better judging by the resources that we have at our disposal.
Speaking at the 16th Economic Summit in Abuja last, President Jonathan acknowledged that Nigeria has been overwhelmed over the years by bad leadership, a situation he attributed to greed as well as inconsistency in policies.
Said the president: “My vision is for us to have a nation that all Nigerians can be proud of...you really see that people are beginning to lose confidence in the nation, a nation built in unity and all of us can live in unity as one people, unity that can encourage solid, sound economy based on sound education, so that we can move further, where we will have basic infrastructure like power, roads and others.
“A nation where the private sector will drive the economy, and where sincerity will encourage investment locally and attract foreign direct investment and for that to happen, we have to build institutions, the civil service, the judiciary and other organs of the executive to do what they are supposed to do and for us as a nation to play our role globally so that we, as one of the leading African countries, will be recognized and Nigerians are no longer subjected to all kinds humiliation because of our challenges, when they live the shores of this nation”, he told the gathering.
With such a commitment, it is time that all Nigerians, irrespective of class, ethnicity or religion took a critical look at the country and come aboard in this recovery effort. The president’s sincerity has never been in doubt.
He promised to give Nigerians a free, fair and credible election. And he delivered same. In the Niger Delta region, his homeland, where militants have long campaigned for a greater share of their land’s oil revenues, he vowed to build on the late President Yar’Adua’s amnesty programme. Thousands of youths gave up their weapons in return for promises of stipends and training. As of today, about 628 youth have been sent overseas for university education and vocational training.
Writing in his weekly column in The Sun newspapers of April 30, 2011, the former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu said of the president:
“I saw the hand of God in Jonathan, from the first time I met him as deputy to then Governor DSP Alamieyeseigha. This was when, as the governor of Abia State, I paid a friendly visit to the governor in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. His humility, camaraderie, and quite mien caught my fancy. He was also soft-spoken, articulate and witty as he exchanged pleasantries with members of my entourage. DSP told me personally that he was happy with the choice of Jonathan as his deputy. That opinion never changed throughout the time DSP was governor of Bayelsa State.
“Different persons have traced the success story of Jonathan to his name ‘Goodluck’. They may not be totally wrong. But as a believer in divine order, I think Jonathan is where he is today because God has destined it so. After all, Psalm 139 is definite that ‘before you were formed in your mother’s womb I have already known you’. Nothing in life happens unless God endorses it. This is why it is always impossible for anybody to obliterate what God has destined to happen. No matter how much you are buffeted by the storms of life you will always achieve your destiny.
“Jonathan is simply a man who came ahead of his time. Everything surrounding him is wafted by the strange hand of providence. His birth was as lowly as his general upbringing was steeped in uncertainty. He told the world when he declared for the presidential race in Abuja that he had no shoes, no schoolbag, no car to take him to school, yet he was able to get to where he is today. Could he have reached these heights if not for the mighty hand of Most High God? Imagine the son of a relatively unknown village farmer growing up to become a graduate of Zoology, later earned a Master of Science degree and crowned it with a PhD. He later took up an appointment as a university teacher, was elected as deputy governor, and succeeded his principal as governor. With fate still at work, he participated and won the governorship primaries of his party in 2007, from where he was moved to become Yar’Adua’s vice presidential candidate. On May 29, 2007, they were elected president and vice president.
Having found himself in the corridors of power at the centre, it was easier for God to complete the good works he had started. That then began the swift march to the apogee of his career. Today, he is both President and president-designate. What an achievement!
He continued: “One undisputable fact Jonathan must always be conscious of is that Nigerians have reposed much confidence in him. They see him as the messiah that would take Nigeria out of its numerous socio-economic difficulties. It was this confidence that translated into the massive 22 million plus votes they gave him in the April 16 Presidential election. The spread of the votes also tells one story: Nigerians of all shades of opinion, religion and status spoke in unison for him to become their president. Contrary to the general view that Nigerians expect too much from Jonathan, I believe his Presidency will be the smoothest and most functional.”
Judging by the wide acceptability that the president enjoyed from Nigerians at the polls, the military, traditional rulers and the political elite have endorsed his election. For all practical purposes, the matter is settled. The next best thing Nigerians should do is to join hands to build the country.
Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, UN Under-Secretary General, Political Affairs puts it succinctly: “True as it might be, overcoming the challenges of nation-building requires collective effort as well as a quintessential leadership that goes far beyond the capabilities and vision of a single leader, and indeed, well beyond the ability of one man to uplift a nation.”
Written by Gboyega Adeoye.