Jonathan, the buck stops with you!
'The buck stops here' (A sign on the desk of President Harry Truman 33rd U.S. President)
OUR President Goodluck Jonathan was quoted as saying that his government deserves no blame for the security lapses that resulted in the Boko Haram terrorists bombing, killing, maiming in Nyanya/Jos and the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls. Prior to that unfortunate statement, his apologists (I will call them hangers-on), have been blaming rival political parties and others for the troubles confronting our beloved country under President Jonathan's watch. These people, who don't wish the President well, have been trying desperately to pin all the failures of Jonathan's Presidency on past leaders, ghosts, as well as the Nigerian-factor. They say these are forces that want Jonathan to fail. It is not surprising that most of these apologists belong in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and, of course, his ethnic affiliates. Even the revered Professor Chinedu Nebo blamed demons for epileptic power supply! Haaa!
While addressing the National War College on December 19, 1952, President Harry Truman said, 'You know, it's easy for the Monday morning quarterback to say what the coach should have done after the game is over. But when the decision is up before you - and on my desk I have a motto which says 'the buck stops here' - the decision has to be made.' President Truman knew what leadership and responsibility meant. These attributes do not exist where there is a culture of blame-shifting and recrimination. If the truth must be said, blame-shifting has been the hallmark of the Jonathan Presidency.
Perhaps the President needs reminding that, as Commander-in-Chief, he hired the Minister of Defence, Security Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, as well as the Director General of State Security Services. Their successes are his and their failings are his failings. That is what leadership is all about. Rather surprisingly, with all these multiple mishaps under Jonathan, nobody has deemed it fit to take responsibility and resign. Even the President has not mustered enough courage in this respect and he looks weak and indecisive in the eyes of honest Nigerians and the observing world.
The assumption of office by the late President Umaru Yar'Adua with Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President held a lot of promise for Nigeria - the exciting prospect of intellectuals in Nigeria's apex level of governance. With Yar'Adua's death, the PhD-wielding Jonathan became President. In a society where most celebrate high-sounding certificates, much was expected from Jonathan. Our hopes and expectations have been over-exaggerated. The Presidency that started with such hopes and optimism has been rightly described as the most clueless and hopeless in our contemporary history. What we have now is a Presidency in perpetual denial.
The Presidency once told us that the power situation was good but the man in the street knew better. There was the claim that there was no poverty in Nigeria when all statistics point to the contrary. Even there were claims that no schoolgirls were abducted and later that the abducted Chibok girls except a few had been rescued. These turned out to be untrue.
What we have today is a Presidency that started badly. A Presidency that allows corruption to fester under its watch is a failed one. At the root of the Nigerian problems is monumental corruption. It is true that corruption in Nigeria did not start with President Jonathan but he has actively encouraged and perpetuated it. All the organs of government that were established to fight corruption - the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), have been emasculated. One agrees that Jonathan did not sack the former Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu. That ignominious action belonged to the late President Yar'Adua but Jonathan has the power to bring him or his like back if he was serious in the fight against corruption. It is common knowledge that these two bodies now only run after the lowly thieves in the system while the bigger thieves enjoy the protection of the Presidency.
Also, Jonathan was responsible for the presidential pardon granted to DPS Alamieyeseigha who was tried and convicted of stealing while in office. This same Alamieyeseigha is now a delegate to the National Conference at Abuja. Rumour has it that he is a potential Senatorial candidate.
It was under Jonathan's watch that ministerial impunities were committed by the likes of Ms. Stella Oduah of the N255 million bullet-proof cars scandal fame. We currently have an evolving scandal involving Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and her usage of private jets to the tune of N10 billion.
All these, and other documented cases are responsible for Nigeria's problems. A young graduate whose future has been stolen by a thieving Minister or Governor is a willing hand for mischief and illegal activities. The proverbial idle hand is the devil's workshop hence the Boko Haram terrorists and other miscreants in our society.
President Jonathan, instead of concentrating on governance, appeared to have concentrated on second term ambition too early into his Presidency. His body language has been about a second term in office, even though he has not been confident enough to declare his ambition. This adversely affected his ability to learn and focus on the job at hand. There is the issue of the North that lost out with the death of President Yar'Adua. Instead of placation, they were bullied by Jonathan's kinsmen.
A more rational and intelligent leader would have ignored all the distractions of his kinsmen and political jobbers, place the nation's interest above selfish and narrow interest, perform creditably well and allow the people to judge him on his performance. If there had been peace, better power generation cum supply, job opportunities for our teeming youths and coherent health, working agricultural and educational policies, Nigerians will be begging Jonathan to continue as President. He might not have needed all the Edwin Clarkes or Asari-Dokubos of this world to threaten the Nigerian voters with violence before he gets their votes for the second term.
As things are, the only way President Jonathan can win a second term in office is to rig the elections and damn the consequences. He may contest and win but the consequences will be dire for all and sundry. He does not give a damn, and that is the main worry for the rest of us.
Bamigboye is a Consultant Gynaecologist based in the United Kingdom.