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Renowned Nigerian Scholars Underscore Jonathan’s Failure At Book Launch

By Segun Balogun
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Renowned Nigerian academics have described President Jonathan's failure to lay a proper foundation for his administration as the cause of his dismal performance and Nigeria's worsening instability.

Discussants at the public presentation of three books, which held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs last week, said the president's vacillation over issues in the public court set the tone for his neither here nor there administration.

The books, edited by Emeritus Professor John Ayoade and professors Adeoye Akinsanya and Olatunde Ojo are: The Jonathan Presidency: The First Year, The Jonathan Presidency: The Sophomore Year, and Nigeria: Descent into Anarchy and Collapse?

The review of the books and the ensuing discussions re-ignited Nigeria's leadership woes and the difference that could have been, had President Jonathan lived up to the groundswell revolution that brought him into power.

“A lot of Nigerians welcomed him to the presidency with high hopes over a lot of issues that were inherited by him – the restructuring of the Nigerian federation with a view to strengthening the states to generate economic prosperity in the country, the horrendous monster of corruption, the very disruptive inadequacy of electrical power supply, the culture of disrespect for the rule of law, the growing intensity of inter-ethnic hostilities and conflicts, the troubling challenge of terrorism, and the growing depth of poverty,” said the book reviewer, Dr. Ademola Omo Orangun.

“Often, he would stoke the popular hopes upon an issue, and thereby attract a lot of popular support – only to slow down on the issue or even give it up altogether. By the end of the first year of his presidency, it had become almost impossible for most Nigerians to tell what President Jonathan really stood for on any national issue.”

“The first year of President Jonathan failed to even set out the roadmap towards solving problems. All the problems he inherited at inauguration seem to have become aggravated largely as a result of preoccupation with politics of survival.”

While reviewing the third book, Omo Oragun said Nigeria can become the first federal state where perceived imbalance lead to disintegration of the country because “the interests of the ordinary citizens seem to be incongruent with the interests of the elite. Undoubtedly, where a federal arrangement harbours discontentment of a large number, the country may suffer a sudden death.”

The chairman of the event, Professor Bola Akinterinwa who is the Director-General of NIIA, while holding out front-page headlines of major newspapers said “I don't know what has been written in the books, but it appears the headlines are in agreement with the titles.”

In his contribution, Professor Itsey Sagay said Nigeria's problem is not only bad governance but also defective structure.

“Nigerians should not think if Nigeria is well-governed, there will not be any problem. This is not true. Both governance and structure are interrelated. A good system should encourage diversity and unity. The 1999 constitution does not have this quality,” he said.

One of the authors, Prof. Adeoye Akinsanya lambasted successive Nigerian governments since mid-80s. “The federal government has always been anti-intellectual since the mid-80s and the current one is in fact intolerant of academics,” he said.

Segun Balogun
Programme Officer
Afenifere Renewal Group
23, Fola Jinadu Crescent,
Gbagada, Lagos.