How President Jonathan Has Fared: A Personal View

How President Jonathan Has Fared: A Personal View

Monday, March 2, 2015 12:21 pm

By Kanayo Esinulo

The curious circumstances that threw up Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s fourth elected President are too well known to detain us here. But it suffices to say that providence may, perhaps, have hands in it. Having succeeded his boss, late President Umaru Yar’Aduah, a fraction of northern political establishment never made any effort to conceal its opposition to the ascendancy of Jonathan as the number one citizen of Nigeria, as clearly spelt out in our constitution. It was indeed difficult to know what this clique wanted: a vacuum or a resurrected Umaru to succeed himself after he had been recalled by his creator or for another northerner to be catapulted to the position of the president, against all known procedures. It took the personal courage of Dr, Dora Akunyili to persuade a reluctant Federal Executive Council to accept and invoke the doctrine of necessity that would allow a thoroughly confused Vice President to even become an Acting President. The greedy fraction of our politicians north of the Republic never really forgave Dr. Akunyili, then the Minister for Information. The cabal never wanted the constitutional order to take its course – that the Vice President takes over in the event of . . . .

In 2011, Jonathan indicated interest in running for the office of the President of Nigeria. This same northern clique, again, stood firm in its resolve to frustrate him. And one of them was immediately positioned to inform Nigerians that in the event of Jonathan’s victory, ‘the north would make Nigeria ungovernable’. And no security agency in Nigeria invited Alhaji Isa Kaita to come and explain what he really meant. That was the time to act, if you ask me. And in the popular saying of my people: that thing that will happen tomorrow should start happening today. The truth, I must confess, is that in the more than thirty five years that northerners held power, back to back, only tolerating Olusegun Obasanjo once in a while, they succeeded in instilling fear and awe in all of us. That fear still persists, only it is beginning to thin down. Three Nigerians, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and more recently Alhaji Mujihadeen Asari Dokubo have, to my knowledge, squarely challenged the arrogance of the north on power sharing in Nigeria. And Jonathan, in my personal assessment, does not possess the balls to ask this greedy and unpatriotic fraction of northern politicians a few critical questions. No, Jonathan does not.

He has continued to placate the north in spite of the discomfort and the distractions that this clique that have brazenly dominated and exploited Nigeria for so long have inflicted on his administration, at least, I am told, to prove the hawks there wrong. The rehabilitation of the railway system, the alamajiri schools, the new universities and dams, the improved road infrastructures, the nationwide upgrading of airports, the new power plants, are efforts to convince the greedy clique that with his administration ‘nothing spoil’, but the clique that swore to make this administration ungovernable is insatiable: it wants power returned to the north. Simple! They would only be mollified if the government of Nigeria falls back into ‘the hands of another northerner’, to borrow from General Yakubu Gowon who, in his maiden broadcast to the nation on August 1, 1966, deployed that phrase to justify his seizure of power after the brutal assassination of his boss, Major General JTU Aguiyi Ironsi. Jonathan surely underestimated the capacity and the insatiable appetite of these northern hawks for power. And in the near four decades that the northern political elite have monopolised power in Nigeria, many cannot point finger at any specific legacy left behind by a succession of their visionless administrations.

If they had continued, these cell telephones that everyone in Nigeria take for granted would have remained a dream. It took one of their most loyal protégé, Olusegun Obasanjo, to provide the necessary environment for NITEL, the octopus that colonised our telecommunications industry, to be demystified. It will not be too long from now when the mafia that colonised the electricity industry too to be dislodged and defeated, and we begin to take electricity for granted too. And these are modern-day necessities that Ghanaians, Ivorians and Burkinabes take for granted, while ‘the Giant of Africa’ reels in darkness almost endlessly. Days after commissioning Olorunsogo and Egbin plants, regime wreckers and saboteurs appear to be at work, if only to deny Jonathan the deserved credit of improved power supply capacity and delivery. The mistake is that no mechanism is deployed to monitor or checkmate the excesses of those who wished failure for the administration. Prof. Chinedu Nebo, the Power Minister, should have monitors on ground, nationwide.

Those who make political permutations their job or hobby keep pointing to the regions of the south-south, south-east, north-central and parts of the south-west as sure areas of victory for Mr President and his party. But what they ignore is that these regions have robust complaints against the man. In the South-east that delivered almost 91 per cent of their votes to Jonathan in 2011 say to everyone’s hearing that there is nothing really that they can easily point their fingers at in 2015 to justify that level of loyalty and trust. The second Niger Bridge, which is becoming a standard reference point, would benefit the region and the surrounding regions. Commuters to Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rivers, Benue, etc need a second bridge on River Niger as much as South easterners, but this project is paraded as if there is an easier alternative routes for the adjourning states. The bridge is a necessity and long overdue. The recommendations of last year’s National Conference should also be attractive to the political elite in the south-east, south-south, north-central as long as it is kept on the table by the usually pro-active south-west politicians, thinkers and activists. For now, it is only in the south-west that the proceeds of that important conference is discussed with vibrancy and expectations.

Sometimes, Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, keeps repeating the debt that the north owes the south-south – always referring to the morbid alliance between the moribund Niger Delta Congress led by Harold Dappa Biriye and the Northern Peoples Congress. The more the octogenarian keeps that mindset alive and active, as a propaganda line, the more sensibilities he injures in the south-east and some parts of the south-south itself. Does Clark stop to consider what would happen to this political struggle with the greedy fraction of the northern political elite if, tomorrow, Ndigbo decide to be sympathetic to the latter’s position. Of course, the political equation would change immediately and the legitimate struggle of our people in the south-south would collapse. That is on the board – so obvious. But, trust Ndigbo they will never desert you at your greatest hour of need, like they were betrayed between July 1967/January 1970. But for that betrayal which Chief Clark keeps referring to all the time, the Biafran struggle could have produced different results. And they know it.

Finally, this election should not be ‘you either die or I die affair’. In other climes, political campaigns also provide fun for citizens, like the one Senator Bola Tinubu provided me the other day. When the news kept coming that Tinubu’s Ikoyi, Lagos was surrounded by soldiers for days, the ex-governor put out a huge banner in front of his residence that simply bore the message: ‘Wrong Deployment, This Is Not Sambisa Forest’. I laughed and laughed. And that is what political campaigns should, sometimes, provide for us.

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