Wednesday, 1 April 2015

#NigeriaDecides II: Goodluck Jonathan is a good man

He showed promise
Goodluck Jonathan is a good man, I have heard many people say. I have no doubts about either the goodness or niceness of the out-going President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has had a 5-year stint at the job and that was good for him.
However, a good man is someone you ask to watch over your bag if you wanted to go to the toilet, hardly someone you ask to run a country.
When he took office in March 2010 as Acting President and then substantive President at the demise of his predecessor, he appeared to have promise. At least, I thought he did when he acted decisively to rejig the cabinet and when that cabinet did not seem to be working to his agenda, he sacked the whole lot and brought in new faces, all within a month. He had good luck and goodwill.
A meteoritic rise
You could say, he was both in power and in office that by the national elections in 2011, even though we were not too enamoured by his political party, we were willing to give him a strong mandate. He became president in his own right for the very first time standing as the main candidate.
A man, more or less plucked out of obscurity to be a running mate in one of the Niger Delta states of Nigeria, where his boss looted the state treasury as if it was his piggy bank, he rose to governor on the impeachment of his boss, and then was plucked from that role to be the presidential running-mate of the ailing, but nice, Umaru Yar’Adua. [AkinBlog]
He had the good luck of succeeding his bosses and urban legend suggests he has had this run of eponymous good luck from as far back as history can glean of his humble beginnings.
He failed himself
Yet, it got to a point where the most academically qualified leader of Nigeria in history with the amazing profile of having been in a number of executive governance roles, just remained a generally good man, but never good enough for the job that he finally got.
He surrounded himself with conflicted and compromised counsellors and preachers whose Christian principles were too questionable for any in-depth analysis to be important, the choose bad advisers who too easily got power drunk, his media team was a constant disaster of atrocious invective and most of his ministers literally had no scruples.
It would seem, Goodluck Jonathan had no good luck in choosing really good people, he seemed to constantly find recycled political deadbeats, institutional fossils, rent-seeking dinosaurs and worse. This led to claims that he was clueless, ineffectual, poorly briefed and quite badly informed too. In that, he woefully failed himself.
Not good for your girls
Having reached the pinnacle of academic achievement, he did not seem to open himself to new learning and so where he could have grown into his role as President of Nigeria, he shrunk into it, developed a cocoon of siege mentality within Aso Rock and was left exploited by chancers and sycophants who painted the wrong picture of his domain to him.
At least that became evident when the Chibok girls were abducted by the menacing Boko Haram insurgency that was left to fester that it became a formidable force able to sack barracks and towns in North-Eastern Nigeria. He eventually admitted that they never initially took Boko Haram seriously.
Indeed, Goodluck Jonathan is a good man, but probably not one you could entrust the security of many ordinary Nigerians to, for about 20,000 lives have been lost to the insurgency, girls and women abducted and millions internally displaced. Life is hellish for those within the sphere of Boko Haram’s influence, even with the imposition of the State of Emergency in the three states affected most.
Unguarded to a fault
Goodluck Jonathan was mostly reactive rather than proactive, and that usually after being embarrassed to act accordingly. Notable statements like ‘I don’t give a damn’ and ‘What they call corruption is just stealing’ appeared to be cues for his people to act with impunity and in fear of no consequence.
The divisive rhetoric from his representatives and people close to him with their personal agendas and hope for reward from the Nigerian commonwealth precipitated the development of an effective opposition to match the ruling party of 16 years at a national level.
A personal good luck charm
In the end, Goodluck Jonathan could not succeed himself, there was no further role he could rise to from being president and I guess that was the end to the power of the talisman that brought a good man from humble origins in the creeks of the Niger Delta where he once had no shoes to the highest office in the land.
To himself, he did well, for Nigeria, it was not particularly good luck, he was limited by his own capacity to grow, his sloganeering had become vacuous and the ruling party had become a haven of entrenched attitudes, all inimical to the progress of Nigeria.
The umbrella (the symbol of the ruling party) was no more wide enough to shelter those who needed help the most, the poor, the child, the masses and the powerless could not look to the government for anything than to be exploited for political gain.
Thank you for coming
Aso Rock had become a cosy place of irresponsibility and obliviousness, a comfortable place to enjoy the comforts of office and nothing else.
The time for change had come and as we send the good man and his wife home with our very best wishes, like any good man, once he knew he was defeated, he called his worthy opponent and conceded.
Goodluck Jonathan is a good man, whether he was a good enough to be the President of Nigeria is one we should leave history to judge.

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