WHY NO HONEYMOON FOR GOODLUCK?
The aftermath of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan's inauguration has been marked by such frantic politicking that we are inclined to assume that there is a conspiracy to reject any presumption that he deserves a reprieve from criticism to enable him settle down. Apart from a plethora of Internet commentaries excoriating his inaugural address as being both uninspiring and unexciting the issues that have been extant since his installation have been noticeably hostile.
On the internet and in many local media the question of whether he is right to advocate the preservation of continuity by asking those of his Ministers and advisors whom he considers competent to continue to provide service and advice has become a keynote issue.
However the most remarkable element of the political imbroglio that has emerged as a consequence of the electoral victory of the PDP and by association the installation of the Goodluck Jonathan phenomenon in the Presidency is the impressive post Obasanjo challenge of the new order of democracy in Nigeria. The emergence of Hon. Aminu WaziriTambuwal as Speaker through a higher level of credible internal voting than has been the custom so far in the House of Representatives has signaled a potential for true transformation in the polity. In spite of this Goodluck's detractors have set out to portray this event as a sign of either weakness or lack of courage on his poart. The truth is that Dr. Jonathan's modesty and commitment to allow the credible expression of public opinion is being gradually entrenched in the political arena. What is being stigmatised as either his blandness (as supposedly contained in his inaugural speech) or his weakness (as supposedly symbolised by his refusal to enforce party privilege) is actually a symptom of his desire to allow the popular will to prevail.
His immediate and obviously sincere congratulatory messages to both the returning Senator David Mark as President of the Senate and the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, speaks volumes. Jonathan is ready to work with a new order that is relevant to his emergence. It will be totally improper for anyone to assume that because his party's hierarchy has assumed a hostile stance towards the process he will become the champion of a cause that has been roundly rejected by popular acclamation. There are other processes however where the issues of popular choice and Presidential desire have apparently come into conflict. It may have escaped widespread notice but last week when he appointed former Senate President Anyim as the new Secretary to the Federal Government and re-appointed General Azazi as National Security Adviser some elements in the media raised insubstantial dust over the supposed appointment of what was said to be an interim Chief of Staff in his office.
The reports claimed that this appointment was vested in the person of Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali who was to act in the capacity. One site on the cyber network suggested that the incumbent Chief of Staff Hon. Mike Ogiadhome had supposedly questioned whether this was correct since he had not been told to stand down. In fact this appeared to us to be a most unnecessary and irrelevant controversy. Since the constitutional term of such appointments was deemed to have concluded along with the elective term of the President it was necessary for him to request specifically that his appointees continue to work in their capacity pending his decision to either reinstate or remove them.
In the matter of his Chief of Staff's appointment it would be unfortunate if the aforementioned Ambassador Igali should be victimised for being considered to replace Ogiadhome since such an appointment could hardly be faulted on professional or constitutional terms. For those who might not know the unassuming and yet increasingly influential Ambassador Igali the attacks on the supposed ambitions of the career Foreign Service officer might appear to be the usual infighting that has become commonplace among political jobbers, but Igali cannot be described as one of such. A former Consul-General in the Cameroons at the height of distress in the neighbourly relations between Nigeria and that nation among other high profile appointments, Igali served Jonathan as Secretary to the State Government when he was forced to take over the reins of Bayelsa State politics after the impeachment of his boss D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha. Interestingly in recent times Igali has been occupying a low profile though no less challenging position as Federal Permanent Secretary outside of his natural habitat of either the Presidency or the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
No one can doubt or challenge his impeccable credentials for the job of Chief of Staff in the Presidency if indeed he was selected to replace Ogiadhome. This would cast no aspersion on his predecessor who might of course be given some other important role as a reward for his loyalty and dedication during his term of service. The attacks mounted against the suggestion that Igali was being considered sounded like planted rejections founded on a basis of irregular dissent. It seemed as if some observers were suggesting that just because Igali came from the same state as Dr. Jonathan he should be denied the opportunity to serve his nation in the most appropriate position at a crucial moment when his experience and abilities were most needed.
These issues have been granted so much space in a broad cross section of the Nigerian media that one wonders why Dr. Jonathan of all leaders who have emerged in Nigeria so far should be subjected to such an impressive barrage of dissent. The idea that his inaugural speech was less inspiring than it should have been seems to us to be based on overbearing expectations. We found the speech to be cautious and moderate in its assumptions but also characteristically modest in its vision. Dr. Jonathan has never been one to say that he will achieve great things but rather he always promises to do his best. It is left for his audience to decide the extent to which his best will satisfy their expectations.
In this wise his speech did not disappoint those of us who feel that it is his dedication to duty rather than his attempts to overstep the bounds of reality that has created the opportunity for him to serve. Dr Jonathan's speech was characteristic, rather than disappointing and most of those who claim that it disappointed them are actually asking him to act out of character. As long as he resists such blandishments he stands fair to achieve that which he can rather than to attempt to do that which he does not feel himself capable of.
His entire life has been one of possibilities rather than of improbabilities and he appears to be determined to stay calm and well balanced in his approach to leadership. It is not surprising that many commentators have decided that Dr. Jonathan should be challenged over the commencement of his tenure. What should interest us is the fact that Dr. Jonathan seems to be dedicated not to responding to or trying to satisfy the cries for him to glorify his mandate but rather he appears to be determined to maintain the equilibrium of caution as he establishes his leadership as a consequence of a popular rather than a manipulated mandate.