Sunday Trust online

Jonathan’s six-year-term trick

For those who voted not according to their conscience, but according to their warped perception that Goodluck Jonathan is a messiah, every day is a disappointing revelation of their wrong decision. Rather than hit the ground running as he promised, the president appeared to have broken his legs and is even unable to crawl. Not until it became embarrassing did he send a lame-duck ministerial list to the National Assembly consisting mostly of the same clan with nothing but a track record of nothing to offer. When Nigeria voted Goodluck Jonathan, a man who had served the country plus or minus for four years without any notable achievement; a man who promised nothing except double-speak and elevated tribalism; it mortgaged the peace and progress of the country. It is now evident that that is what we have, for this government has no blueprint for the urgently required national transformation.

It takes more than a streak of luck to run a country of 150 million people. But.... nature has done the job for him. This country produces petrol, which, hopefully would remain relevant for another decade or two. But it is also endowed with 34 other solid minerals needed for national transformation and export. But then God in his infinite mercy, is biased towards Nigeria, because he then complicates our fortune by giving us a wonderful climate and an estimated 90% arable land. If there would be judgement of nations, Nigeria would stand accused before God and other nations for its current state of helplessness. But its leaders stand accused before a citizenry yearning for change but being shepherded away from it by manipulative systems that stifle growth.

Jonathan’s announcement of a six-year single tenure for the president and governors reminds of Steel Pulse’s classic song – now that we’ve found love what are we gonna do, with it? This man manipulated all the senses of the country to get his own term but has proven totally clueless as to how to use his term. Instead, it is now evident, from the way he emerged that contrary to the white lie being touted by Reuben Abati the new propaganda chief, that Jonathan believes he can hobble through this term and somehow garner the usual lame crowd for another stage-managed return in 2015. Or drag the country into another civil war if he failed. The indices are there and contrary to what happened in the first war, this one is not one from which any nation survives. Ethnic and religious tension is highest today than they were in 1969. The weapons of war are more easily available and a people disillusioned by governmental inertia are easily recruitable to causes that would leave Nigeria’s vast mineral resources to the global vultures waiting for our country to burn. Only a blind person would not see this.

This new nonsense is even coated in the garb of altruism – to save Nigeria the wastages associated with elections. The truth is, no amount of money spent in the sustenance of democracy is a waste provided that the people get service. It becomes a wasteful when, as is happening now, people brace the elements to vote and leadership is estranged from their basic needs, their yearnings, their aspirations, their hopes and their dreams. It becomes a monumental and unpardonable waste when the president rewards the circus of indolence and non-performance like he recently did asking the legislature for parity of salary for his aides while denying workers a paltry minimum wage. It is wasteful creating duplicitous ministries just to compensate political jobbers while the nation stagnates in infrastructural and development. It is wasteful to spend as much as we do on a legislature that does practically nothing except pass budgets only to stand at the end of the conveyor belt to pick the substance.

As it stands, there is nothing wrong with a four-year term. Babatunde Raji Fashola needed less than one year to convince Lagosians that he is their man. He transformed an eyesore state into a flower garden complete with infrastructure. For all his irascibility, Sule Lamido did not need a second term to convince Jigawa indigenes that transformation is do-able. Simply put, it is not the tenure, it is having a plan to impact lives and the mental acuity to implement programmes created using the bottom-up approach that comes from listening to the people. Power belongs to the people and they have a clear idea of what they want – leaders simply implement the people’s plan. Good leaders do not seek office first and then start playing pranks and introducing diversionary tactics to cover up endemic corruption. Leadership is not about beautiful speeches and globe-trotting to shake hands with real democrats while doing nothing at home.

Mr. President, Nigeria is a big country with 150 million people 70% of who live below poverty line. The endemic poverty created by clueless leadership has exacerbated tension of all tendons including the very brittle religious tendon. Institutions needed for transformation are in a coma and needs to be revived and leaders are voted to make changes and not fix tenure. Nigeria’s hospitals are worse than consulting clinics and its universities are losing the capacity to train needed personnel to keep it running. Seven years ago, our neighbour Ghana achieved a national power average of 12 hours per day, Nigerian spent $16 billion to buy darkness and wants to spend an extra $35 billion. We are the laughing stock of all. This president of our sleeping giant should realise that in Niger Republic, night travel is as safe as air travel, yet Niger has only one exportable mineral resource and a vast array of desert.

Nigeria would forgive Jonathan if he realises that he needs a six-month break to go and study leadership skills in any of the Ivy League institutions with appropriate curriculum provided he would return and perform. As he stands, he is a disgrace to the doctorate degree he acquired being absolutely unable to fashion out a blueprint for national transformation as the first president with a doctorate degree. Life has become worse under him than under his godfather Olusegun Obasanjo, the functional illiterate national manipulator.

Nigerians should move agitation beyond the internet and the press and begin a campaign of civil disobedience to drive home the point that it can no longer cope with cluelessness in leadership. Civil society groups should formulate a developmental and political masterplan now that it is evident that PDP can gerrymander but not deliver the goods. Since PDP has made electoral change impossible, we should make it uncomfortable for its officials to continue to ruin our country as if no-one is in charge. For introducing this diversion, this government should cover its head in shame. But then, does it have a conscience?

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