What exactly is “clueless” about Goodluck Jonathan? (3) By Femi Aribisala
By the time you are reading this, by the grace of God, the 218 kidnapped Chibok school-girls may have been released. If not, their release is imminent. A ceasefire with the Boko Haram has been negotiated. Never mind that there are still skirmishes here and there. “Clueless” Goodluck Jonathan has forced the insurgents to consider seriously putting down their arms.
He has done this in spite of the nagging of the opposition about his “cluelessness.” He has done this through the much-maligned Nigerian military; and without mortgaging the nation’s security to foreign troops. Now is the time to give the microphone to Lai Mohammed, who talks about Nigeria’s security as if he were a Chadian. Now is the time to hear from Muhammadu Buhari, who claimed in the past that Boko Haram is a malevolent Southern conspiracy against the North.
What would these implacable critics of Goodluck Jonathan say if the girls were released now? Would they be gracious and eat their words? Don’t bet on it. Don’t expect them to commend the purposeful tactical manner by which the Jonathan administration has forced the Boko Haram, at the very least, to the negotiating table. It is increasingly apparent that if Jonathan is “clueless,” his “cluelessness” is the magic that Nigeria needs at this very moment in time.
On hearing that a ceasefire had been negotiated and that the girls might be released, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso still had this to say: “What we need to do is to take appropriate military step to stop insurgents and protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria or we sit down and negotiate with the insurgents.” Now that is what is called new original thinking. Clearly, Kwankwaso has nothing worthwhile to contribute to this matter but hot air.
Only in Nigeria does a national tragedy get so mischievously politicized, just because of the rampaging ambitions of a power-hungry cabal. In the face of insurgencies, nations close ranks. No British government was ever pilloried for the terrorist activities of the IRA. However, in Nigeria, the leaders of a roguish opposition party accuse the government of complicity in the insurgency. They undermine the resolve of the military. Then they maintain that the government is incapable of dealing with the situation.
The fact is that in Nigeria, the APC opposition is fundamentally unpatriotic. It is not averse to play political football with Nigeria’s security. It has yet been able to tell Nigerians what it would do differently from the government to achieve more immediate results. Would it carpet-bomb Sambisa forest and bring home the dead bodies of the girls? Would it use black magic to pinpoint their precise locations? Or would it send the loquacious Lai Mohammed into the hideouts of the Boko Haram as Nigeria’s distinguished Ambassador?
All the opposition has offered to date is a load of sound and fury designed to divide the North from the government. Now that this is backfiring, let us hear what the acerbic Northern Elders Forum and the wolf-crying Arewa Consultative Forum have to say. They said they would not accept the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan unless the girls were released. Would they campaign for the president if the girls were now to be released?
There was never a magic wand to the release of the girls. But you would not think so if you were to listen to these ethnic jingoists. These people forget that it was the same “clueless” Goodluck Jonathan who midwifed a durable peace with the militants of the Niger Delta. They were hoping to seize power by cloak-and-dagger means under a democratic dispensation, threatening to soak the dogs and the baboons in blood unless they have their way.
There is something anomalous about having military dictators take off their uniforms and then masquerade as democrats. We had this charade with Obasanjo. Whatever anybody might call our dear former president, he was anything but a democrat. Every election conducted under his watch was massively rigged and highly disputed.
Can anybody imagine what would have happened if Obasanjo was labeled as “clueless” during his presidency? How quickly they forget. By the time some offending journalists disappear, nobody would have dared any longer. Have we forgotten the rash of political assassinations under Obasanjo? Even the country’s Attorney General was not spared.
But now we have the government of Goodluck Jonathan. The opposition is calling him “clueless” and no one gets arrested. No one gets shot. Jonathan continues to smile. Under him, the press is free and unfettered. Finally, Jonathan has signed a Freedom of Information bill into law. This has made the Nigerian press one of the freest in the world. It validates the right of Nigerians to information about how they are being governed and safeguards our freedom of expression. Why was this legislation not passed until Jonathan came into power? The answer is simple. Jonathan is the first real democrat to rule Nigeria.
Nigerians need to remember this before we surrender our freedoms to another military turncoat masquerading as a democrat in the person of Muhammadu Buhari. Nobody who knows Buhari would accuse him of being a democrat; no matter the convenient noises he is making now. Lest we forget: Buhari overthrew a democratic government; jailed ministers without trial; muzzled the press; killed innocent Nigerians under retroactive decrees. Surely we cannot allow this military man in civilian clothing to violate our freedoms yet again.
“Clueless” Jonathan has supervised truly democratic elections. Despite the noises made by people like Lai Mohammed, who are paid to make negative noises, Jonathan has not rigged any polls to prevent the opposition from prevailing where they have genuine support on the ground. As a matter of fact, it is on record that opposition parties have won more elections under Jonathan than under all previous dispensations put together. This can be attributed to the democratic inclination of the president, and he has erased the do-or-die politics of the past.
From Edo, to Ondo, to Anambra, to Ekiti, to Osun, the Jonathan administration has overseen free and fair democratic elections, devoid of acrimony and violence. In Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, Jonathan declared a state of emergency to quell the Boko Haram insurgency. Nevertheless, unlike Obasanjo, he was mindful of the prevailing democratic structures and did not tamper with them.
While the power-hungry opposition is determined to blame Jonathan for every negative national happenstance, even including car accidents on federal roads; it is equally determined to deny him of plaudits for successes under his watch. The deadly and highly contagious Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) came into Nigeria by way of Liberia, claiming precious lives. The government swung into action, mobilized resources and organised a resistance that contained the epidemic in record time. Thanks to this forthrightness, the whole country now breathes a sigh of relief.
Three months down the road, the World Health Organisation has now declared Nigeria Ebola-free. It did not declare Lagos State Ebola-free. It did not declare Rivers State Ebola-free. It declared Nigeria Ebola-free. The president of Nigeria is Goodluck Jonathan. It is not Babatunde Fashola. It is not Rotimi Amaechi. And yet these two APC state governors are claiming that Nigeria’s victory over Ebola is due to them. This is poppycock! The victory belongs to Goodluck Jonathan who is the only man charged with the responsibility for what happens in Nigeria. The buck starts and ends with our president.
Even former president Olusegun Obasanjo, an implacable opponent of Goodluck Jonathan, could not help but commend the Jonathan administration for the way and manner it moved with speed and determination, and kept the Ebola virus at bay. Should the epidemic return to ravage Nigeria (God forbid), Jonathan would be held responsible. Now that we have prevailed over the scourge, Jonathan deserves all the praise. Indeed, Western governments are now sending people to Nigeria to study how we dealt with Ebola.
The truth of the matter is that there is something compelling about this South-South man from Otuoke in Bayelsa State. This accounts for his very mysterious rise to the presidency. Under his stewardship, Nigeria has attained milestones that have eluded us in the past. With four more years of Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential saddle, we are bound to achieve even more. Without wanting to sound too fatalistic, it is undeniable that Goodluck Jonathan brings good fortune to Nigeria.
Under Jonathan’s presidency, Nigeria’s Under-17 football team won an unprecedented fourth World Cup title in 2013, making Nigeria the most successful country in the tournament’s history. We also won the African Cup of Nations football tournament in 2013; the first time since 1994. No government in the history of Nigeria has ever had this combination of accolades.
At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, we won 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals, to place eighth overall. That is something of a record. We also won four medals at the World Athletic Championship; the last time we won a medal there was in 2000.
This Goodluck factor also extends to international relations. In 2010, Nigeria was elected into the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent, non-veto member for the 2011-2012 sessions. In a most amazing manner, we were re-elected again in 2013 for the 2014-15 sessions. This is unprecedented in the annals of Nigeria. The UNSC is the most important and prestigious organ of the U.N. Nigeria has only served on the UNSC on three previous occasions.
Four more years
I am not from the South-South. I don’t know Goodluck Jonathan from Adam, and I don’t want to know him. I will never accept a government job. But I am a Nigerian, and I feel affronted when I see all these power-mongers bad-mouthing our president, simply because he is from the minority South-South and they want power at all cost.
There can be no question that Goodluck Jonathan has been an effective president, and he should be allowed to continue for another four years. Two terms of South-South presidency is surely not excessive appreciation for our chronic reliance on South-South oil.