The job of the Nigerian president could be the easiest. Nigerians of the current dominant generation – the one of my father – have very low expectations of public officers. Theirs is the generation that expects every project no matter how small, to be commissioned by often small minded political office holders. Little wonder then, that their generation permits a Governor who fixes public goods with public money stamp his face on same as though it were a private gift. In the case of Goodluck Jonathan, greatness was at his feet, fate had indeed set him up to be the next African great man. Jonathan is like a man who was offered a tool of greatness – that is power – but instead got consumed by the tool. For many, holding a public office is a dream come true, but for real men and women with a determination to make the world a better place, holding an office is the key to making dreams come true.
What took Jonathan from the heights of public goodwill as he had in the post Yar’ Adua Saudi Arabian mal-odyssey to the depths of arguably the most senseless thing ever done by a Nigerian president – stopping the music of the nation’s New Year festivities by halving the worth of each citizen in one fell swoop on the one day apart from Christmas and Sallah it should never be done? The last of Jonathan’s goodwill crashed like the pulverization of iodine never to be seen again because goodwill often times is like a mirror, once it hits the ground and crashes, fixing it is futile because like Humpty Dumpty it will not be the same again. If Nigerians were pulled into one flesh and made into one man, that man would be mostly swayed by emotional arguments than by mental ones. Nigerians are a hugely sentimental people. The makers of Jonathan saw that and banked on it. From arranged bomb blasts in Abuja on Independence Day 2010 to the carefully planned Bring Back the Book Campaign to adverts of the Jonathan who had no shoes as a pupil – pray tell, who amongst this generation had shoes growing up – the campaign found the right message mix and had a lot of oil money to work with and wow, didn’t they literally take over the airwaves. The nation was inundated and we were all shown why we needed to vote “one of our own.” Depending on who you were, the Jonathan makers had a “one of our own” message for you. Straight up, for the Niger Deltan “he is our son” sold out like freedom to enslaved men. To the southerner who was a Muslim, the message of “one of our own” sold in terms of “we must not let the north rule us again” and to the southerner without a Muslim background, “one of our own” came in form of “Northern Muslims must not be allowed to rule us again” because we need “one of our own” there now. To the Northern Christian, “one of our own” of course meant “you don’t want to vote for an Islamist over a Christian brother” and the message worked really well because the Jonathan campaign had carefully defined Gen. Buhari as an Islamist and sadly for his campaign team, the message though wrong, stuck on many a soul without the ability of rationalisation. For those who could not be swayed by the customised “one of our own” message, there was a one size fits all strategy of “Goodluck Jonathan used to be poor like you and a vote for this poor man is a vote for you and your future” which sold out too. In a country of mostly poor people, it was easy to identify with that.
We can then conclude that even though he was obviously helped by INEC, Jonathan in my opinion gathered more votes than anyone else in that election. Whether or not he gathered enough to win out rightly became a strong doubt when he somehow sacked Justice Ayo Salami. At least he became President without the drama of protests as we were forced to do to make him acting president. Like it or not, destiny apart, someone of Jonathan’s mental capacity should be never be found near the presidency except as a swimming pool manager. He rose to office on the sentiments of the poor and his policies as president helped to produce the highest number of poor people this country has ever known – 112 million poor people and counting. The seemingly good man Nigerians thought they voted for came out as his real self from the get go when the first thing he mooted was tenure elongation despite making pronouncements to spend a term and go his way. Soon after that, it was a series of contract awards to the donors of the Jonathan campaign. “At a period of generally high oil prices, about N1.6 trillion was paid as subsidy between January 2007 and June 2010, representing an annual average cost of N460 billion to the federation – i.e. FG and 36 state plus FCT! Why did it become N1.6 trillion (now over N2 trillion) in 2011 alone. What parameters changed? None.” Words off the KPMG report. Jonathan arguably got the poor people’s votes but he felt indebted to vultures in billionaires who funded his campaigns first against Atiku Abubakar, then Gen. Buhari. Was he ever the good man he posed himself to be? The answer is not farfetched; he left Bayelsa State with the same single road as he met it. He was under investigation by Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC as his wife was apparently the money courier as she still is.
The Nigerian people and the economy paid the price of the Jonathan desperation like “the amount budgeted in 2007 for subsidizing ALL imported refined products (petrol, diesel, kerosene, and aviation fuel) was about N300 billion. In 2011 the amount earmarked was N240 billion – an average of N20 billion a month as FG’s contribution towards the import price subsidy deductions for petrol and kerosene. Diesel had been “deregulated” since 2008” but Dr. Jonathan could care less because as far he was concerned he had reached the peak of his life “President of my country” and it was a case of “Let us enjoy it while it lasts” instead of “Let me pay back this people” whether or not it took a lot of lies and propaganda to get him there, a Jonathan with an intent to serve the people of Nigeria would have become the great man off a sham perception. Deservingly though, the good man that Jonathan never was, never indeed lived beyond the elections. It was finally buried on the 1st of January 2012 and the body will never be found because Nigerians now love to hate Goodluck Jonathan. A Nigerian in discussion with an EU diplomat said President Jonathan was a Niger Deltan president, the EU diplomat corrected her thus “No. Jonathan is an Ijaw President. He is the president of the Ijaw people” and I leave you to make of that what you will. What happened to Jonathan? Nothing, a great First Lady only recently told us “being president does not change who you are. No, it reveals who you are.” Yes, Obama and Jonathan both have something in common, like every man who found wealth and power, these tools of greatness do not re-make you, they just reveal and amplify who you are. This is the revelation of Goodluck Jonathan, though it is sad and pitiful in our sight.
~ I am @omojuwa
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