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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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The Self-Created Problems of President Jonathan

 

I read an Internet forum today in which someone reminded him of Ghadaffi’s reaction when he was told of the starting of a revolution in Benghazi while on a foreign trip. He said “Libya is not Tunisia”. On returning home to confront the rebels, he was sure he would flush out those “rats” in no time at all. In the end, Ghadaffi was flushed out of a hole like a “rat” that he shouldn’t have been. A word is enough for the wise!


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

Since his ascension to the number one slot in Nigeria’s political leadership, President Goodluck Jonathan seems to have perfected some expertise in moving from one political restiveness to another. Rather than clarity of purpose, most major actions of the President often leave more questions than answers.

 

It took some time to forget the FIFA fallout in the aftermath of Nigeria’s dismal performance at the South African Soccer World Cup 2010. Without adequate consultation and planning by exhaustively weighing the pros and cons of his actions, the President hastily declared the disbandment of the Soccer Federation and the National Team. This was promptly followed by a foray of criticisms by opposition forces at home and abroad even though the President’s action was widely applauded by a teeming majority of soccer-loving Nigerians. The President however backed down in a mild show of shame before the World Soccer Federation. Critics roared at the time that the career of several young lads was on the line. The rot in the soccer system that has so far persisted unabated has however shown that no career has ever been enhanced since the ill-fated retreat by the President. Soccer is still very much in a comatose state with players performing fine in their club sides and displaying automatic woefulness at the national side.

The President did not know then that the suspension of Nigeria’s membership of FIFA on grounds of striving to put our soccer house in order, should have predated the disbandment of the domestic Federation. He simply needed to have consulted with professionals and legal experts who were versed in the standing orders and guiding rules of FIFA on the terms of quitting the world body on temporary basis. This would have been followed by further domestic measures and reform steps that the President should have kept close to his chest until perfecting the suspension of membership from FIFA. Unfortunately, the President placed the cart before the horse and the project failed.

Observers shook their heads in dismay wondering who the President’s advisers were. It was termed a bumpy start and people were ready to give the President many more chances to prove his worth.

Knowing what the nation suffered in the hands of the Yar’Adua Mafia in a desperate bid to enhance casual tribal dominance, voters were in no mood to accept Buhari’s tribalism-soiled political credentials over Jonathan’s glaring leadership inexperience. Jonathan was voted in amid typical cries of foul from the losing party. But all signs at the present moment, point to the fact that several inexperience-induced political blunders committed by President Jonathan so far would have been avoided under a President Muhammadu Buhari. This is the unfortunate price that we seem to be paying for striving to enhance geographical equilibrium in political leadership.

The President however started fine with the appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to head the nation’s Economic Team with a fistful of robust professional competence. He brought back Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai from unceremonious self-exile. From the moment that he refused to integrate these competent fellows into his government however, his lack-luster disposition and romance of choice with the enemies of yesterday became more than obvious for the eyes to see.

The President then gave a first elaborate presidential interview and lamented public clamoring for a more decisive and action-packed Presidency. He complained that he was not a Military General and could not go on the rampage in the name of governance. He chose the inauspicious example of Directors in government departments who do not come to work at the official opening hours. Since he was not a General, he should not be expected to go after such erring Directors with the baton of discipline, he was quoted as saying. It was latest at this point it became obvious that the President did not have a talent for public communication. A well-prepared interview should not have given such erring Directors a blank check in flouting standing orders on official opening hours. In a nutshell, it became clear that this President cannot be let loose by his minders to give public speeches unguided.

On the policy front, the story didn’t look different. To the astonishment of several African countries, Jonathan shot out a pronouncement to recognize the new and incoming Libyan government of Benghazi rebels who had just defeated the long-serving forces of Colonel Muamar El-Ghadaffi in a NATO-led civil war. The African Union had been boiling with fury over NATO’s unilateral breach of the United Nation’s resolution on a No-Fly-Zone over Libya and open support for the Libyan rebels. The mandate of the United Nation was clearly exceeded. While every political observer and activist agreed that no tears should be shed for Ghadaffi, the world was in no mood for this NATO’s game of inordinate belligerence for the advancement of the private agenda of its individual nations. Without consultation with other Heads of State, Jonathan unleashed an unsolicited support for the rebels that eventually left him struggling for remedial explanations on the diplomatic front. No one was against the inevitable backing of the rebels ascension to power and the President knew this. A balance only needed to be struck between support for the new government and admonition of NATO’s errant ways all possibly within the scope of a united front of the African Union. Aside reminding the world of late President Yar’Adua’s awesome consternation at his presence in the White House and sudden jettisoning of the African High Command deal, President Jonathan by his pronouncement once again, left observers wondering who his advisers were. It seemed the President could stop at nothing to play the puddle of the West for some undisclosed reasons.

Then all of a sudden and in the style of a military General that he never was, President Jonathan went tough. He relieved Farida Waziri of her position overnight and unceremoniously. It was in the middle of her battle with corrupt Nigerian Legislators who sought her head for reasons that are yet diffuse. The world knows however that her prosecution of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole, on charges of wanton corruption in which fingers are also pointing at the present Speaker of the House Mr. Tambuwal did not go down well with several Legislators who stand the risk of prosecution themselves. Till the present moment the President is yet to come out with any single explanation let alone a credible one, for relieving Farida Waziri of her position with such an incredible timing. The result is that civil society is now agitated more than ever before in its drive for lesser Executive freedom in the removal of the leadership of the anti-graft commission if the fight against corruption is to make any headway. The clamoring for a better legislation to amend the EFCC law is just beginning and people are wondering who the President’s advisers are.

As if that was not enough, the President has been having to contend with another fully unnecessary but self-created battlefront of the removal of government subsidy on petroleum products. While several voters now cry ‘betrayal’ at the President’s obvious obstinacy on an issue that hardly ever featured during electoral campaigns, the President seems to be biting far more than he may be able to chew in a very unnecessary and unwarranted battle.

At the moment, President Jonathan’s success in making improvements on power supply and his bold moves to advance the NIPP for a lasting solution to the power sector problem is going down unnoticed. Like many other achievements of the government, reported progress in fixing the comatose Lagos-Benin expressway as well as several little strides made by the Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s Economic Team in injecting fiscal discipline into the system, are all going down unnoticed. In the end, President Jonathan seemed more than determined to reduce his government to the damning judgmental fate of fuel subsidy alone.

Opposing parties on both sides of the aisle agree without reservation that fuel subsidy has to be removed. The most vehement and vocal party is simply asking the President to keep refineries functional and possibly build a few more and then allow subsidy to die its natural death. Only on May 13th, 2011 President Jonathan seems to have understood the rationale behind this argument. He had permitted the NNPC to sign a $23.8 billion deal with China State Construction Engineering Corp. to build three new refineries in Nigeria. For reasons yet unexplained however, no forward movement was ever recorded on this deal. Then barely six months later, President Jonathan will have none of it anymore and simply wants to take out the subsidy no matter whose ox is gored. It is deja vu all over again. The idea of putting the cart before the horse surely seems familiar to us.

But whose ox is truly gored but that of the common masses? Speculations hold sway that beneficiaries of the subsidies who are political financiers of the president have been working assiduously against domestic refinery. Yet the President does not throw down the gauntlet against these millionaires. Then this unfortunate and highly obnoxious interview once again! In another absolutely unguarded statement in this apparently yet unprepared interview a few days ago, the President was quoted as saying that he was ready for a revolution if that was the price he would pay for removing the fuel subsidy. A declaration of war on his own people, so to speak!

I read an Internet forum today in which someone reminded him of Ghadaffi’s reaction when he was told of the starting of a revolution in Benghazi while on a foreign trip. He said “Libya is not Tunisia”. On returning home to confront the rebels, he was sure he would flush out those “rats” in no time at all. In the end, Ghadaffi was flushed out of a hole like a “rat” that he shouldn’t have been. A word is enough for the wise!

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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