A new journey begins for Nigeria after incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan was re-elected and sworn in as President over the weekend. However, from the trappings of the recent past, that journey seems to be on the same path of corruption, government ineptitude, official sleaze and waste and general hopelessness.
Virtually everywhere you look on the Nigerian polity, all you see is how governance should not be done. If you expect that the new administration of President Goodluck Jonathan will usher in the much needed drive towards fast paced development and economic liberalization, then you expect too much. We see no reason how a man who has been at the helm for the better part of the last one year will suddenly do things differently now, simply because this term is his “personal mandate”. It does appear so though, as given the fact he said he would not be seeking a second term, then you’d expect an all out style of governance without fear and prejudice. There would be no need to satisfy the powers that be as he wouldn’t be in need of them again for any re-election purposes. If there is any man who owes Nigerians a huge debt, it is Goodluck Jonathan. Despite the PDP’s notoriety, they came out in their numbers to vote for him. Most of these voters said something in the line of “I am not voting for PDP, I am voting for Jonathan”, this despite the fact that Jonathan on the ballot paper was the symbol of an umbrella and the acronym PDP. In Nigeria, reason is always beyond reasoning. Words are bandied and used as if Nigerians were its creator. Well, they voted PDP and Jonathan won in a free and fair election at the surface but skewed when probed within. The question is whether Jonathan will stand by the masses now he has what he asked for.
He has a lot to do. Outgoing Governors have handed over some 48 hours or so early. The two term Governor of the South Western State of Ogun, Gbenga Daniel is as we speak somewhere in the United Kingdom having handed over to the new government well ahead of schedule. Fully cognizant of his imminent arrest for corruption and his immunity, he chose to outrun justice early while justice cannot yet run after him. A man whom the people of Ogun state trusted with their future eight years ago as he promised them an agenda for a secured future, would not even wait to be cheered (or booed) out of office as he chose to leave in the cloud of suspicion and the fear of his own demons. Jonathan has the responsibility of making sure people like Gbenga Daniel, Alao Akala of Oyo state, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo state, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano state and their ilk face the wrath of the law. The fact that some eight or so past Governors of previous regimes still walk around as free men does not encourage one’s optimism on this front.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo whom many will credit for Jonathan’s rise to power spent some $16 billion in his bid to help make electric power outages history in Nigeria, but the history about that is how much of the money went into private pockets (including his) and how he left the problem of electricity generation far worse than he met it. Jonathan has promised to ensure Nigerians enjoy more electricity. In the run up to the elections, this looked a believable promise as the supply of power rose to unprecedented levels -something which the president was quick to refer to in his bid for the people’s mandate, only for that to suddenly change soon after the elections. He needs peace in his home town region of the Niger Delta to achieve anything meaningful with Nigeria’s chaotic power supply and he has been able to achieve something close to that so far. The short term will determine how far that pregnant peace will hold.
I had told sitting Nigerian ministers in Abuja at a World Bank organised Nigerian village square meeting on the need for a total overhaul of the educational sector. They agreed, but things have gone from worst to disastrous since then. Institutional strikes that keep University students at home for long stretch of months remain the norm. This along with the National Youth Service Corps top the mess that is the educational sector Goodluck Jonathan will need to tidy up. To understate how much the government valued the life of a Nigerian graduate, they gave a whopping $32,500 (N5,000,000) to the families of deceased Corps members killed in the aftermath of the president’s electoral victory. It was easier for the government to gather some young Nigerians together at a Lunch with the president worth N70,000,000 to discuss issues the president knows too well having been a University lecturer. Much has been written about that ill-fated Lunch, so there would be no need to highlight that mess here.
However, a ray of hope exists. The success story of Lagos is a pointer to the fact that Nigeria can change. President Jonathan does not inspire confidence when he speaks, but that will not matter if his works as president inspire Nigeria to its rightful place of greatness.
He sees God in his rise from sheer poverty to the presidency, President Goodluck Jonathan will certainly call for the divine in his quest to tidy up Nigeria. His story inspired Nigerians to vote for him, one can only wish his works will inspire Nigeria to greater good.