Nigeria: Can anything good come out of President Jonathan?
By Paul Omoruyi
There is always the proclivity to criticize and see all the wrong things going on around us in Nigeria. This is not unique to Nigeria and Nigerians. It is the human factor. As developed and advanced as the United States socio-political systems, some Americans (at least Republicans) will tell you one million and one thing wrong with the Obama’s government and policies.
There is a place for criticism. I think it is good for the overall health of any society. Human beings tend to become tyrannically corrupt if there is no one to keep them in check. Nowadays, even pastors are not exempted! The old maxim captures it beautifully “because power corrupts; society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”
Let me be clear, I am a critic of Jonathan’s government. I think he has not demonstrated the political prowess and will to prosecute those who have evidently stolen and wasted our collective wealth. He pussyfoots in his war against corruption. He tergiversates when dealing with insecurity in the country. He prevaricates when it is time to act on an investigative report recommendations that will be beneficial to the country. He appears overly cautious not to offend the Nigerian “godfathers” that unfortunately have capacity to bring down the Nigerian State at their whims, anytime, any day.
Criticism they say “should not be querulous and wasting, all knife and root-puller, but guiding, instructive, inspiring, a south wind, not an east wind”. Any well-meaning social crusader will not only criticize but also instruct, inspire and guide those in public office.
Most Nigerians voted for President Jonathan (GEJ) thinking he is learned enough to change the status quo. I have been asking myself lately if there is anything for now that Nigerians can be proud of about Jonathan. Some seemingly good pointers came to mind that I think GEJ should deserve a little encomium for now until we see where he ends:
Before Jonathan, previous governments (shame on all past Nigeria “Cell Wait US”- Senators and “RepresentaThieves” – Representatives) did not dare to raise the issue of fuel subsidy scam and malfeasance in the Nigerian public domain. It leaves me to wonder why former presidents from Banbagida to Obasanjo did not fight against this injustice on the Nigerian people during their presidency.
Apparently, the previous presidents were privy to the same data and intelligence as Jonathan. Did they willingly collude with the cabals; had a piece of the pie and shut their mouth? Nigerians need to ask them to testify under oath and prosecute them accordingly. Doesn’t Jonathan deserve some praise for raising the issue to an unprecedented level in Nigeria that even the market women now understand how fuel subsidy works? Your guess is as good as mine.
Another pointer that I think GEJ deserves to be commended for is in the area of money-laundering. With all its flaws, huff and puff, EFCC during GEJ’s administration has done a laudable job in capturing “live cash” smugglers in Nigeria airports. Have you thought about all the ungodly sum of live cash that have been smuggled out of Nigeria in the past with the connivance of Nigerian elite before now? Your guess is as good as mine.
Lastly, Jonathan’s administration has awoken the sleeping Nigerian populace. For the first time in my life, I see Nigerians talking and engaged in the daily issues and public policy debates that affect their lives. In the past, many policies were imposed on them even by foreign governments without their input. I was enthralled and a cold chill ran down my spine when I heard a fellow young Nigerian say “I am ready to die for a change in Nigeria” during the occupy Nigeria fuel subsidy removal protest.
Whether it is the 5000 naira notes or the capricious and senseless renaming of Lagos State University, Nigerians were able to rise up, speak up and have their voice heard on the matter.
Now that I see some modicum of good in GEJ, I have pieces of advice for him. Going forward, GEJ has to make a conscious decision (yes, it is a leadership and conscious decision!) to decisively wage war against corruption without giving “a damn” (remember he does not give a damn?) about whose head the axe will fall on. Nigeria masses have given him the mandate and political capital. He should not waste it but spend it judiciously by fighting for the same Nigerian masses.
GEJ should immediately take control of keeping Nigeria safe. The fact that he is holed up in the safety of Aso Rock security does not mean that he will remain unaffected by the pains that average Nigerians feel everyday from Boko Haram and kidnapping bedlam. Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will be able to explain better to him!
As January 1st, 2013 approaches, Nigerians are looking forward to what GEJ will do whimsically as his manner has been. However, whatever GEJ does in 2013 will determine his legacy and place in Nigeria history. In 2013, he should achieve as much as he can focusing on specific projects that all Nigerians can see and use as his legacy reference point. The question is, do Nigerians think anything good can come out of President Jonathan? Your guess is as good as mine.