Of course, President Jonathan has all the rights in the world to seek another term. After all, against all odds, despite the fact that he had no known track record of performance.
Nigerians, rightly or wrongly, kept faith with him in 2011. They also supported him in his trying times - when a devious cabal almost denied his ascendancy as President after the death of his boss, Umaru Yar’Adua.
Never mind these latter day ethnic bigots now whipping up sectional sentiments and making it seem that Jonathan is being criticised because of his ethnic background. It is either they have no sense of history or are deliberately creating a decoy to detract Nigerians from the real issues about the Jonathan’s Presidency.
But Nigerians know their recent history. It bears no repeating. They know that during Jonathan’s dark days, it was the opposition block and a vociferous media, those now being harangued and labelled anti-Jonathan, that marched on Abuja and vehemently demanded that his rights be respected. But that was then. Now, times have changed. Now, it is about the moral justification of re-contesting a lacklustre Presidency.
Having assessed the man and his Presidency, I have come to the conclusion that this President may be pushing his luck too far if he decides to seek another term in 2015. The circumstances of his emergence should speak to the President himself. He must be thankful for his ‘’good luck’’ and Nigerians for getting this far. But he must not over reach himself. He has been vice-president. He also completed the late Yar’Adua’s tenure. Now, he is mid way in his tenure of a four-year term as an elected President.
Looking back, President Jonathan’s style, his attitude to governance and the precarious state of our nation, have shown that Nigerians were naïve in entrusting him such an epic responsibility in the first place. A second term will be asking for too much from a President who has so far not shown the capacity to make a radical difference in a nation adrift. And the President must know that blind ambition is the Achilles heel of an ego-driven leader. He must not allow himself to be afflicted by its dangerous virus.
Now is the time for him to reflect and quietly ease himself out in 2015. It will be the right thing to do. That will be the path of honour. If this President is discerning enough, he would know that there is massive discontent in the land. A general angst hangs precariously in the air. Not even the curious afterthought of a National Dialogue will douse an imminent danger that lurks ahead. The President must know that he stands on the threshold of history if he takes the honourable way out in 2015. He could choose the Mandela option.
Indeed, this President has two choices ahead of him in 2015. One can lead to perdition. The other, to his eternal redemption; the choices are his. He could decide to listen to the babbles of sycophants and ethnic praise singers egging him on; threatening fire and brimstone if he does not get a second term. At worst, he could decide to bully his way out of his party convention; make the 2015 election a do-or-die affair and sit tight till 2019. The consequences will be dire. That may be his Russian roulette. If he takes the hard way, he must know that his ambition could drag the country to the edge.
Already, the year, 2015, ominously hangs on us like the sword of Damocles. It is a portentous year. The balkanisation of Nigeria has been predicted for this date. But no one knows yet what form the distingeration will take. It may never happen. But make no mistake. Our brand of politics is too divisive. Ethnic mistrusts run too deep. They could trigger a chain of events that may spiral out of control. Let it not be said that it is the over ambition of one man that drove our country to the path of extinction. On the other hand, he could write his name in gold by rejecting all selfish entreaties to perpetuate himself in power till 2019. Either way is his choice to make.
There are many things wrong with the Jonathan Presidency. Where does one begin without sounding like a broken record? Is it his record of performance? Is it his lackadaisical approach to governance? Is it his pandering to a corrupt elite? Is it his indecisiveness and lack of political will to fight corruption- all of which has combined to create a vicious cycle of impunity? Name it: It is no longer news that the President cannot fight corruption. He confirmed this himself recently when he was reported to have blamed Nigerians for encouraging corruption. He said he would not name corrupt individuals because he ‘’feared being attacked’’. Now, that’s our Commander-in-Chief.
But I am not surprised. Under Jonathan, buck passing has become an effective excuse for non-performance. Our Commander-in-Chief is afraid of rocking the boat. Our President is afraid of naming and shaming those that have stolen us blind. If our President cannot name names for the fear of being attacked, then who will? Can somebody tell this President that the buck stops at his table? At his recent media chat, the President said corruption is not Nigeria’s major problem. What more do we need to know that a President who denies the existence of corruption which is the bane of underdevelopment cannot take us to the Promised Land?
Really, where does one begin to talk about the disappointment of this administration? Do the stark realities of its failures not stare us in the face? Never before has a Presidency been this divisive. Jonathan, rather than being a unifying figure, has been the most divisive president in Nigerian history. It is scary. In 2011, when ordinary Nigerians gave him a Pan-Nigerian mandate, never for once did they imagine he would clandestinely pursue a sectional, ethnic mandate that would prop up ethnic bigots championing sectional interests.
These ethnic champions are making him look more of a sectional President than a Nigerian leader. What about the state of our nation? The economy is comatose, the claims of the likes of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala notwithstanding. All national and international development indices have shown that poverty continues to drive ordinary Nigerians to their deaths. Unemployment rate is at an all time high.
A recent report by the World Bank has confirmed that unemployment is first-time high under the Jonathan administration. Yet, only his Finance Minister and the administration believe that the economy is buoyant. And to think this is happening in a government that promotes a culture of waste and mindless borrowing leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities continues to linger. The Niger Delta does not fare any better, the shambolic amnesty programme notwithstanding. Poverty in the region continues to grow. Isn’t it delusional to think that because we have a Niger Deltan president, the region will be transformed into the Dubai of our time?
But now the depressing news out of the delta is that of unparalleled oil theft threatening the economy and environment. The Niger Delta Development Commission reeks of corruption. A culture of entitlement inimical to genuine development pervades the entire region. In saner climes, this President would have been impeached a long time ago. But our National Assembly is part of the rot. Certainly, this is not the breath of fresh air Nigerians were promised. The air of the Jonathan Presidency has become dangerously polluted and toxic. In 2015, if our situation does not radically change for the better, Nigerians must collectively tell this President he does not deserve a second term.
By Bayo Olupohunda