GOODLUCK JONATHAN: THE JOURNEY SO FAR
The drum beat in the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been itching for higher crescendo as everyone that count in the party have continued to produce their war heads to express or assert themselves as they navigate the maze of bumpy PDP BOT Chairmanship election. True to type, internally, the party could not conclude an ordinary internal election. This has remained the PDP debacle. On lookers are continuing to express shock and disbelief in the unfolding events. But finally, it makes sense for us to remember that this group called by different acronym regularly thrives in controversy, and each time they gather to produce their regular antics, they always produce victors and vanquished and they are already counting in their numbers right now.
Nigerians are very gullible people. We believe almost everything and forget so easily every event no matter how much it may have hurt us. It is in this country that we had an Obasanjo leadership 1999 to 2003 then 203 to 2007. His style was so sluggish then that even his best associate was ready to dump him and move one with a new foe towards the end of his first term. The man was on the verge of losing the party's nomination for a second term. He had fallen out of favour with his Deputy and the one had brought all the weapons in his arsenal to the table to give the then president a good fight. The situation was then as it seem now terribly worrisome. Suddenly, movements at night and coalitions changed the tempo during the day and friends became foes for the moment. News men and analysts were almost carried away with their situational report. But when the chips were down, many found their tails between their legs. Victims were produced and so, also, were victors. They are all living among us today and are keenly watching events unfold. Chief Audu Ogbe was once a victim, so were the likes of Senator Banabas Gemade, Chief Okwesileze Nwodo, oh Senator Waku etc and the new one on the block is Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The intrigue is continuing.
Today, the leadership of GEJ is on the front burner. Critics are already writing the president off and branding him as a none perfomer others say he moves too slow for the Nigerian train. He has been called several names, and trust Nigerians, we never lack acronyms. Even the President himself has come out to say that he is the most criticized president the world over. He has also said, and l believe that at the end of the day, he would be one of the best presidents Nigeria would ever produce.
We are a people who are so quick to praise ever too ready to denounce. Most Nigerians never look into great details, are easily carried away with flattery and most times fall for just anyone who will give carrot today and forget you almost forever. That is why we can forget so soon the intrigues that reigned supreme in the dying days of late Yar'Adua's leadership, the transition and finally the enthronement of a Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Didn't we have sleepless nights while the infamous likes of Michael Aandoakka (then SAN) now de-robed held sway? Are we forgetting so soon how the Goodluck leadership began? Can we say that these few years of GEJ is really enough for a one hundred percent assessment of the man's leadership and style whose inheritance was total decay? This is the subject matter of this article.
Leadership is one of the most difficult element in business and politics because it has to do with the thoughts of men not materials. It is so, because to be a good leader, one must almost always forget self. Self means family, friend and foes together. To be a great leader, one must have a vision and desire to pursue it to logically. In Nigeria, former Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida had his vision of the country. Given the elements at his disposition, it is on record that as a military leader, he took some of the most sensitive and daring decisions. The late General Idiagbon and Muhamadu Buhari in their regime had vision and worked assiduously to delivering on their perceived solutions in spite of all odds. Late General Abacha had vision and was pursuing it till he died in office. Retired General Abdusalami Abubakar had vision and were it not for it, we would probably not be discussing democracy in Nigeria today. Baba OBJ vision produced the BPE and BPP in his quest for proper application and use of slim fund. His vision gave vent to the now popular GSM Mobile Phone. All mentioned leaders, some rulers, now have history behind them. The truth is that they all while in office, thought that all they did were right. Looking back now they all see where they made mistakes, but cannot rectify because time and tide has taken their tolls.
Enter Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. I would like to be permitted to look first at Jonathan from the archives. How did he metamorphose to becoming the President of Nigeria? Writers, reviewers, commentators etc, have all traced GEJ to his humble beginning. But none seem to have actually taken the pain to x-ray him from the perspective of the present circumstances. His Excellency the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was not a politician. He was co-opted into politics from the top – at the Deputy Governor level. As a brilliant academician, he was suitably located in the environment he would thrive well when the call for service beaconed on him.
As a Deputy Governor, Goodluck demonstrated that he could be trusted. He never failed to let it be known that he was a very satisfied man with his position and was very unassuming. During the trying times of his boss, he never assumed anything without consultation and was ready to throw in the towel when insinuations were wrong towards him. But uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. Hence, while he looked forward to exit from office, he was converted to the higher position as the Governor of Bayelsa state. While looking forward to consolidating on the gains of the new position and desiring to give a run to his first election ever, his demonstrated qualities earned him the Vice President position just when he was thinking that being the Governor would have been his most exulted political office and post. Again Jonathan was definitely looking towards exiting as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, because given all political calculations; no one from his geo-political zone at the time could have smelt the Presidency. He may have looked at the efforts of the likes of Harry Mashal, Chief Dikibo both of whom died while promoting to South South Presidency, and resigned to faith. But God had another plan however. Yar'Adua died and he became the president!
Given the drama that greeted his natural choice, despite it being a right, the man became like King David – a King without any troop! No territory and no clout. Yet the country must function! Men needed to be put in positions, men needed to be trusted and in the murky waters of Nigerian politics, Jonathan had to pick and choose those he would work with to put Nigeria back on saddle. The president wanted reliable men and women of value. As a technocrat, he would have preferred his likes, but so in politic. It is a game of pay back and as winners takes all in our landscape, the option left was for him to seek and receive recommendations from his party the PDP an already known gathering of Lions, Tigers, and Cobras most of whose members are stomach fighters. GEJ needed men and got support from all who had personal agenda – not his own men to promote his vision of Nigeria. We forget that OBJ handed down impossibilities through the series of removal of fuel subsidy and almost total decay.
GEJ, who started working with his ministers, some of which he was meeting for the first time, may be slow in the eyes of many, but they all also forget that they were the ones who shouted to no end when Obasanjo was bulldozing the legislative arm to getting things done his way. If Obasanjo sent a note to the National Assembly for the destruction done Odi, Zaki Biam, etc, it would have suffered clear defeat. Yet the death of Odi produced Oil theft Militant and Amnesty while Zaki Biam is the senior brother of Boko Haram and tribal killings in Jos Plateau State and environ. Has the problem completely ebbed or escalated?
GEJ in coming to power has taken the side of the law and that is democracy, but the people are yearning for swift action to ailment that has been there for over 30years! How can we get immediate respite? Non functional electricity supply is not a creation of GEJ. But it is on record that there have been marked improvement from what it used to be and hands are still on the deck. Last Christmas, all travelers saw improved roads especially in the neck areas of Ore but no one cared to remember that GEJ did not create the Niger bridge-head snail speed or could a second Niger Bridge have come online just before Christmas? The Agricultural sector has received a boost and has saved the country over N25 Billion through GEJ direct distribution network. Are the Northern farmers still crying? Or buying Fertilizer at high price? What is stalling the MoU signed by Federal Mortgage Bank with EXIM Investment AG for the provision of 20,000 housing units at the expense of the later while the former would provide only Land and security? Is it that an Anti GEJ is in the saddle over there? Is that not one of the investment drives so orchestrated in 2011 yet is not taking off while housing needs shots up? What is intended to be achieved by the construction of Almanjeri Schools? Are they not adding value?
In criticizing the GEJ government and approach to issues, it should be appreciated that it is even now that the National Assembly is settling down for the real work of legislation. It does not surprise me that there are regular brushing between the House of Representatives and the executive arm of the government, because where it to be otherwise, we would have been having an arrengee leadership. GEJ has been accused of being a committee man. But we forget that this is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. If he sets up a committee, it is for all to be seen to be involved in decision making. Nothing less.
Finally, it is pertinent to note that like debt, a duty deferred is a service not delivered. It steers you in the face daily. The debtor may be forced to pay in most uncomfortable way one day some day in some ways. That is the debt our leadership owe Nigerians. We have deferred action in most areas of our lives and the chicken is coming to roast. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is involved in repairs and we must appreciate that it is easier to destroy than to repair. We need to be contributory followership or we shall soon be evenly paid as events keep unfolding. GEJ has certainly embacked on a journey, and so far, the road has proved very tough, but it takes his like to slowly but surely put us back on the burner. he needs not only our prayers but also support to earnable us breath the promised fresh air.My prayer is that we should be on the right side of the soon coming justice.
We are still struggling and watching.
Mike O. Akpati is a Public Affair Analyst based in Port Harcourt