Reasons Jonathan Lost To Buhari (part Two)

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In the first part of this article, I mentioned some principal characters who in their conduct and utterances contributed adversely to the failure of Jonathan to retain power. The list of those mentioned is not exhaustive. There is no way one would talk about such a list without including the duo of Chief Edwin Clark and Alhaji Asari Dokubo. Had these people taken a different approach to the issue of Jonathan's second term bid, the negative impact created by them would have been minimized. For instance, Chief Edwin Clark who has been around for a pretty long while, politically speaking, was busy throwing unfriendly statements at those he perceived to be Jonathan's enemies. Persuasive reasoning was replaced with uncharitable attacks on those who held contrary views. One would have expected that his wide experience would be used to build constructive bridges across the political divide such that could have been tapped to Jonathan's advantage. It became clear that Chief Clark had no real 'friends' in the North he could knock on their doors for support. Even if there were, his utterances most of the time were too combative to earn him sympathizers. He became too possessive of Jonathan; making it look like Jonathan could not survive a day without his disruptive roles. Unfortunately, Jonathan allowed him too much room and the price for that is what he is paying now.

On his part, Asari Dokubo went overboard threatening the country in his style of showing solidarity with Jonathan. He vowed to unleash fire and brimstone should Jonathan not get re-elected; he threw caustic remarks at every perceived opposition and had no ability to moderate his public utterances. He too, had no friends across the Niger in spite of his religious background which would have been a plus in drawing people closer for the cause he needed to achieve.

In all of the above cases, Jonathan should take the blame for not keeping these 'local' supporters in check. And when I say local, I mean in the sense of being citizens of Niger Delta of Ijaw descent; I am not using the term in the negative sense. He did not need to come to the open to blame or warn Chief Clark but could have done so in private if he disapproved of his style of support. If he ever did, the result did not show. In the case of Asari Dokubo, Jonathan did not need to waste time in issuing disclaimer against his war threats over his re-election bid. As the President, it amounted to abdication of constitutional responsibility to turn the other way when a citizen for whatever reasons, was threatening the peace and corporate existence of the country over elections, even if he stood to benefit from these threats.

To have allowed these 'brothers' unfettered space to insult the sensibilities of other Nigerians, was to drive a wedge between him and his supporters who were being castigated no matter the soundness of their arguments. Jonathan has all the blame here.

When planning strategies for re-election, care ought to be taken to select people to work with; such people must be those who have the charisma, the character and the profile of being trusted. They must be men and women who could be looked up to in defining moments to hold hope for the ordinary citizens. Curiously, the president did the exact opposite by nominating to his Campaign team people who in the eyes of the public cannot be trusted. Here come Femi Fani-Kayode and Doyin Okukpe. They descended to the deepest depth of obscenity. They deployed uncivilized and crude method in tackling opponents of Jonathan. They went real dirty as nothing was too crude to be thrown at their opponent. Unfortunately, each dirty pellet thrown at the direction of Buhari only attracted more sympathizers for him. Thus Buhari drew huge political benefits from most of the attacks instead of the opposite intention.

Another important point which did so much harm to Jonathan's re-election was his kid glove treatment of corruption issues. It became worrisome that even when cases involving close associates in matters of corruption broke out, Jonathan would pretend not to be bothered. It would appear that he might have called such culprits for explanation and once satisfied would close his eyes and ears to loud screams coming from the outside. I guess this has to do with his style rather than his complicity. Jonathan appears to be a man who once he has given you a job to do, allows you the comfort of performing that job and would care less about what people may say. In other words, his supervision of these people even if they were his government appointees was lax if not non-existent. From the Ministers to Advisers and other aides, the story was the same.

How can a government that would seek re-election have allowed a minister whose ministry caused the death of many Nigerians in a job scam to continue in that office? I am here referring to Abba Moro of Internal Affairs ministry. No reprimand, no query, nothing. Everything went quiet. Again in the heat of the subsidy sleaze, a moment a President should have seized upon to buoy his electoral value, Jonathan was busy doing nothing about it even to a point of appearing to be shielding the culprits. Had his administration managed to obtain a single successful prosecution, he would probably have been forgiven.

Take another case of the mishandling of his 'fake' phone call to the King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI for instance. The Foreign Affairs ministry headed by Alhaji Aminu Wali that issued a false claim that Jonathan had indeed spoken to the King when he did not, would have earned instant reprimand. Instead, the president is alleged to have set up a probe! Added to this is the stunning revelation by Prof Wole Soyinka that the Nigerian President did not know Morocco had withdrawn her diplomat from Nigeria over the telephone faceoff until he (Soyinka) told him so. This is ludicrous! By the way, whose duties were they to give the President first hand information on this? The Foreign Affairs ministry did not know and the Security Services too did not know? And the heads of these government departments are still in service?

Pages could be filled in dealing with the topic of corruption issues in the administration of Jonathan. He made it look like his government was permissive of corruption which explains why the spread of the plague became extremely wide. From political appointees to civil servants, there appeared to be competition as to who has looted more as the beneficiaries proudly and unashamedly flaunted their loot in the most obscene manner. Corruption virus became a virtue to be adored and worshipped rather than condemned.

Jonathan's near care free attitude to the running of sensitive institutions helped ruin his chances. A vital institution like INEC was not keeping the president informed of its activities. And there is little to believe he 'gave a damn”. It would not have amounted to interference if Jonathan was paying more than casual attention to the goings-on at INEC. That would have helped his government at strategy planning for the election. He woke up way too late to find out that a lot of issues that ought to have been dealt with in INEC was left till election period by which time the damage to his administration had become irredeemable. I am holding the Political Adviser to the president responsible for disappointing Jonathan in this direction. He did not need to interfere with what INEC was doing but would have been abreast of how the institution was planning for elections. It is either the Political Adviser was complacent, a key ingredient in most of those who served in the government, or he plainly was naïve. It was unbelievably embarrassing seeing the ruling government running from pillar to post condemning one thing or the other in the processes leading to the conduct of the election. If a ruling government did not take active interest in the day to day running of its election umpire, an exercise it is also a candidate, then the government deserves what it got at the end of the day. Please readers should not get me wrong here. I do not by this assertion mean that Jonathan or any of its appointees should have interfered in the administration of INEC. I am only saying that if a student was going to write exams, he should be well advised as to the style and mode of questions he is likely to be asked. He should be conversant with what the invigilator(s) would take into consideration in assessing his answer sheet, speaking figuratively. I do not want to say more here. But suffice it to say that election could be won or lost in the boardroom of the electoral body without its showing partisanship in the eyes of the public.

Watch out for part three.

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Articles by Eyenisong Ibibio