President Goodluck Jonathan Slip-ups
President Goodluck Jonathan has come under the radar of public scrutiny after he failed to show leadership on some very crucial domestic policy challenges that erupted on the home front. His supporters are genuinely puzzled at the President's slip in popularity, especially amongst Lagosians. People are racking their brains to explain how a man who swept into Aso Rock on a tide of goodwill as a detribalized Nigerian could have fallen so low in public opinion barely months into what he promised would be a transformational presidency.
Most Nigerians at home and abroad who commented on Jonathan's performance on social media like Facebook and twitter said they now disapprove of the job the President is doing. That's a dramatic change from his early months in office, when the president's approval ratings were high, despite the long delay in naming his cabinet.
A former Obasanjo aide suggested Jonathan has been acting more like the Bayelsa State Governor and less like a president, relying on external circumstantial accomplishments to define his presidency.
After holding the country hostage and stalling governance for over a month upon taking office, the President and his top aides sought to railroad Nigerians into believing how meticulous Jonathan was working to put together his new cabinet, which in his own words would engender the transformation of the country. But when the cabinet was eventually announced, the list was nothing short of the scandalous as it was just a rehash of the old goons of the regime. That Jonathan took so long to re-appoint the old guard back into office was recklessly unedifying for a man who rode into office on the tailcoats of transformational change.
Jonathan's horribilis came with the recent flooding that virtually submerged the city of Lagos, and here again, the President and his advisers demonstrated that they were clearly not only in denial, but more importantly, they are out of touch with reality. In the wake of what observers agreed was one of the worst flooding disasters in Lagos, Jonathan decided to play politics.
Up till now, the President is yet to visit many of the disaster areas and show compassion with the victims besides the Federal Government's belated announcement of its intention to intervene through the Ecological Funds Office in the Presidency. Public opinion is unanimous that Jonathan failed Lagos and people continue to wonder how Jonathan could not see the need to identify with Lagosians, after the shocking effect of the heavy flooding that claimed many lives and caused damage to property.
But the explanation for the president's disapproval is pretty simple. Jonathan seems to have no clue what to do when confronting a crisis -- and everything he's done so far has either failed or made matters worse. But it isn't just the president's policies that are problematic. He may be the most out-of-touch occupant of Aso Villa in our lifetime.
Witness his reaction to the series of terrorist attacks by Boko Haram terrorists, involving huge civilian casualties. Under the guise of seeking a peaceful solution to the acts of terrorism - as if anyone was suggesting otherwise, Jonathan condescendingly lectured Nigerians about the need to pander to the demands of terrorists who have killed and maimed innocent Nigerians, and who are now dictating the terms of their own surrender.
The climax of this buffoonery came when Jonathan had to bend over backwards to re-assign Yusuf Suleiman from the Transport to the Sports ministry portfolio, ostensibly on the instructions of former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo). Now that Jonathan has decided to cower and cringe in the face of violence by terrorists, we want to remind the President that on this issue of terrorism, be it by Boko Haram or Niger Delta militants, it is not for the perpetrators of the terrorist acts to tell the victims to forgive and forget what happened to them.
Three months ago, candidate Jonathan was able to fill stadiums with adoring crowds everywhere he went. Nigerians were drawn to his message of hope and change -- enough so that they overlooked his inexperience when they went to the polls. He was a tabula rasa on whom many Nigerians projected leadership qualities they wanted to see. But the real man hasn't so much led Nigeria as he has stood aloof. He seems eerily disconnected even when he gets what he wants. The partisan approach with which he handled the Lagos flooding was a fundamental failure of leadership and points to a leader, incapable of sound political judgment. Jonathan should have known that the Lagos flooding has unique historical and contemporary dynamics and circumstances. The same applies to all other regions, which is why a national approach is required to deal with these issues. Denials, prevarications and justifications won't help the President.
We are sure that Nigeria's democracy, despite being in intensive care unit, has in other respects vastly matured and we are now capable of making informed choices on the strength of our education and knowledge, not emotions. President Jonathan must stand up and show true leadership, and reassure Nigerians that the buck really stops where people believe it ought to stop; on his desk!