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Frisky Larr (MA)
Journalist/Interpreter
Author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.
Bochum, Germany
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Goodluck Jonathan’s Government: The Truth about the Two Sides!

 

An audacious and crazy Muhammadu Buhari would have been a good replica of Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria needs so badly at this point in time. But Buhari’s transparent tribal and religious leaning in favor of northern hegemony and extreme intransigence clearly makes Goodluck Jonathan the best bet that Nigeria had on Election Day. It does not matter how well Muhammadu Buhari tried to disguise bigotry by choosing a wayward self-proclaimed preacher Tunde Bakare as camouflage deputy. An uncontrolled firebrand Tunde Bakare trying to outshine his principal in anticipation of his own days at the top would have spelt disaster for the project Nigeria.


Frisky Larr is author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.

There are two faces to the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan. One is the face that is slowly but steadily growing entrenched in public perception. The other is the face at the background that is hardly noticed for its less popular appeal. They are faces constituting the strength and weaknesses of the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. They are faces also showcasing the very essence of the public perception of actions on the theatrical stage of political realities. The face of Nigerian politics and its perception by a target audience with a moderate level of political sophistication!

 

Since the year 2007 when the first ever transition from one elected civilian government to another happened in Nigeria, the Nigerian public developed an appetite for hyping expectations. Nigeria emerged from a regime of aggressive journalism probing tenaciously into the motives and methods of political governance on the fringes of humanly acceptable standards. The government of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua disappointed the nation and most especially, his northern home constituency in the shadow of prolonged illness, after taking over the rein of leadership.

The most noticeable casualty of disappointed expectations under the government of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the face of it was work on the sector of power generation. This was very closely rivaled by the collapse or total disappearance of leadership from the seat of the Presidency. All these are placed against the backdrop of one frame of reference left by the government of the man who led the handover to another civilian government. This government it is that has become the reference point for each of the two governments that have emerged since 2007.

The assertiveness and authoritarian nature of a former General and a prison inmate-turn-President got the media up in arms. In a way, it meant the involuntary development and ushering in of a progressive stance in the modeling of a free press and freedom of expression like Nigeria had never before experienced. Even if largely misused and misdirected, the free and aggressive press beefed up a sense of public expectations in the direction of national advancement.

Nigerians took for granted that the economic policies implemented under the outgoing President of the year 2007 would stay on course and be improved upon to bring the benefit down to the ordinary man on the street. After all the man on the street is always the last segment of society, in which the benefits of every meaningful and affluence-boosting economic reform is felt. Nigerians took for granted that assertive leadership by the President will remain in place and hoped to have a few corrections here and there to diminish the aura of divisiveness and polarization radiated from the presidential seat in Aso Rock.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was a sick man and was hindered from showing leadership the way he knows it. But the economic policies that he knew and sought to implement had nothing to do with the status of his health. Policy reversals that were unnecessary and very badly thought-through simply exposed a glaring shortage of presidential qualifications for a task that required a higher level of intellectual and programmatic preparedness.

When Goodluck Jonathan took over the presidency in the two stages that he did – Acting President and then President for real – the nation took for granted once again, that he has had sufficient time to learn his lessons on what it takes to rule Nigeria successfully.

Indeed, I humbly think he has learnt his lessons only in some cases. That is the reason that he has presently left Nigeria with a very conflicting picture. In fact there are times when observers like me had to go through a rough time navigating the uneven terrains of internal questioning to understand that some failings by the President do not necessarily mean that he has not learned his crucial lessons.

Recent events have however sealed my conviction that the man truly learnt his lessons on what Nigeria needs to move it forward on the developmental stage. Contrary to his predecessor, he towed the Obasanjo path of bringing in Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the Economic team and thus made her what the media in Germany would call "Super Minister". If there is anything I am willing to vouch for, I will risk whatever I own to bet that Nigeria's economy is in for better days under the watch of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Her sense of bureaucratic and administrative discipline as well as the technical know-how that she has acquired all through her years of education and as an international technocrat serving the World Bank are invaluable attributes that will play out in her favor. In Nigeria’s favor too!

Jonathan further displayed to the world that he knew which way to steer Nigeria by returning back to the drawing board to rejuvenate Olusegun Obasanjo’s National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) scheme. All in defiance of his former boss' unwitting suppression of the project for no academically comprehensible reason! Today, everyone can be sure that utterances made by Goodluck Jonathan or any of his spokesmen predicting the capacity that power generation will attain in Nigeria at any given time, are not empty talks. The works are going on and progress in the power sector as in other areas of infrastructural development is simply a matter of time.

Goodluck Jonathan signaled to the world that he learnt his lessons from the Olusegun Obasanjo's extremely polarizing era by seeking to calm frail nerves and not provoking old angers or rekindling old battles. For a long time to come, Olusegun Obasanjo will be Nigeria’s most assertive leader and President who always defined what he wanted and went for it not giving a damn whose ox is gored. The negative side of this approach was the clear polarization of the country into the camps of haters and admirers. Goodluck Jonathan has so far, sought to sail in calmer waters. For this reason alone, the onlooker could understand that he chose to sacrifice two very effective and capable operatives of the Olusegun Obasanjo days – Nuhu Ribadu and Nassir El-Rufai by not featuring them in his presidential team! No doubt their contributions would have gone a long way to help Nigeria in various capacities but the underlying rationale for sidelining them is (grudgingly) acceptable.

In spite of all contrasting arguments and opposing postures, the envisaged bill to be introduced to the legislature on one single seven-year tenure for President and Governors is another major project that is administratively well thought-through and may yet be fine-tuned for a perfect law.

So expectations were justifiably hyped that the President knows what he is doing and what he will set out to do.

But when he started in 2010, by dissolving the national soccer team for reasons of effecting reorganization within two years and coming up with a better and less corrupt Soccer Federation but suddenly turned around again to reverse his position very quickly upon the slightest harassment from the world soccer governing body FIFA, he exposed his first failure to do a proper homework in advance of public assertion.

Recent events have so far, fanned the flames of suspicion that President Goodluck Jonathan will be a good administrator and manager of Nigeria’s economy and infrastructure. Unfortunately however, he is yet to radiate the aura of a born leader and a perfect presidential material.

The nation hardly knows where he stands on salient issues and one hardly knows if he is sometimes, not personally collaborating with unseen forces to take the entire nation for a perfect ride. It is yet a mystery why Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is allowed to go on the rampage for so long, propagating Islamic Banking in a multi-religious society without the leader and President of the country calling him to order to maintain the status of religious neutrality at government level. If anything, it would have served to underscore the secular structure of the country’s constitution. But respectable Sanusi seems to have secured the blessing of the President well in advance of his public posturing and no one knows how far this sell-out of national interest behind the iron curtain may have gone in obvious strategic horse-trading. Sanusi is now permitted to take a project that members of other religions hold in high suspicion, to a level that even a crafty military leader like Ibrahim Babaginda did not dare to go for the purpose of avoiding the undue excitement of public sensitivities. The farthest Babangida went was to enlist Nigeria in the Islamic Conference Organization and only secretly too until the bubble burst open on him. Today, President Jonathan has given Lamido Sanusi the blank check to go on a daylight rampage.

The President makes public statements that are logically not well thought-through. He signals for instance, to government functionaries that he would not sanction any senior government employee who fails to come to work at the legally stipulated opening hour of 08 O’clock because his target is to build institutions and not personalities. No doubt a glaring error of this sort will not happen if the services of capable speechwriters and consultants on public speeches are efficiently employed.

Then comes the issue that I addressed in a previous essay in which I chastised the President’s adamant stance of sticking to his present style of quiet leadership without agenda-setting charisma. A group of antithetic political elites committed to the destruction of his Presidency has obviously taken the initiative to set the agenda. All President Jonathan does today is to react to the tune dictated by the hidden forces paying the piper’s music. He fails to speak out. Not even through spokesmen and about the pressure that the hidden powers are subjecting him to!

President Jonathan has two faces. The face of a competent administrator well suited perhaps, for management as a technocrat and the smooth-running of administrative machineries. President Jonathan also bares the face of an invisible President, who has not understood that the position is overwhelming him without the requisite craze, audacity and assertiveness to hold the nation together. He is heading for the realms in which the roof may collapse on his head and the gains in economy and infrastructure may find no more place to unleash their beauty. But did Nigeria have a choice? I would dare say No.

An audacious and crazy Muhammadu Buhari would have been a good replica of Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria needs so badly at this point in time. But Buhari’s transparent tribal and religious leaning in favor of northern hegemony and extreme intransigence clearly makes Goodluck Jonathan the best bet that Nigeria had on Election Day. It does not matter how well Muhammadu Buhari tried to disguise bigotry by choosing a wayward self-proclaimed preacher Tunde Bakare as camouflage deputy. An uncontrolled firebrand Tunde Bakare trying to outshine his principal in anticipation of his own days at the top would have spelt disaster for the project Nigeria.

Frisky Larr is author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.

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