OLUSOLA FABIYI writes on the claim by President Goodluck Jonathan that his administration is perceived slow because he does not want to make mistakes
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is the most educated Nigerian to become the country’s President. With a Doctor of Philosophy degree in zoology from the University of Port Harcourt in 1995, Jonathan’s name must have entered the Guinness World Records as Nigeria’s most educated leader since it gained independence from its colonial masters in 1960.
Though not known to have done anything extraordinary during his sojourn in the classrooms as a teacher, he has, however, propounded a new theory as the President of the most populous black nation in the world. Because of his level of education, Jonathan seems to know more than Nigerians. When they trooped out in their millions in 2011 to vote for him and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, they demanded quick fixing of the dilapidated infrastructure such as roads, power, energy and aviation. When Jonathan was declared the winner of the Presidential election, the voters thought they had voted for a leader, who would be in a hurry to work on the agriculture, health, education and other sectors of the economy. To them, the end to the security challenge facing them and their nation was near.
But rather than these ills getting cured, they are becoming worse. Nigerians are, therefore, becoming impatient. To them, the rate at which corruption, terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery, tribalism, religious intolerance and nepotism is starring them in the face is unprecedented. They did not shy away from letting their leader know their frustration.
Their snivel climbed the hill in Aso Rock and landed on the table of their President. They must have thought that the end of their howl was near. But no, rather than solve their problem, Jonathan had a new theory for his followers. He said they must continue to endure. This is because as the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, he needed to think deeply before attending to the needs of his people. Because of this, his administration should not be rushed to make decision on major national issues in order to avoid costly mistakes.
Jonathan, at a Christmas Service held at the Cathedral Church of The Advent, Life Camp, Gwarinpa, Abuja, said experience had shown him that when rushing to take decisions, serious mistakes could be made. The President said he would not, because of the public perception that his administration was slow, begin to rush the decision-making process. Jonathan said, “Sometimes, people say this government is slow. Yes, by human thinking, we are slow, but I can say that we are not slow.
“Government must think things properly before it acts. When you don’t think through things properly, or when you rush, you will make mistakes. It is more difficult to correct errors. You can ask those who build houses. Government will not, because of the perception, begin to rush. But where we are required to act very fast, we will do so, just like we did during the recent flood disasters.”
The opposition political parties, socio-political and civil rights groups disagreed with the President. Indeed, some of them say it is wrong for the President to use this as an excuse for his slow style of leadership. They said in separate reactions that Jonathan’s comment had clearly shown that he was not prepared for governance. The three major opposition political parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, said the President must wake up from his slumber. Also, the Arewa Consultative Forum, Afenifere, Coalition of Concerned Northern Politicians, Academics and Professionals as well as the Ijaw Youth Council urged the President to change his style of leadership and perform.
Berating him, the CPC said that he was slow because he stumbled upon power. Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said the President was always looking for excuses. The CPC said, “If we spend seven years to prepare for madness, when will the madness manifest? That is what Nigerians should ask their President.
“He is slow because he stumbled on power; he never prepared for it. His coming to power was accidental. He has no idea about governance.” According to the CPC, the President is always looking for excuses to justify his inadequacies.
It added, “The government and the man heading it are bereft of ideas. The government only panders to the tunes of the corrupt. The last 13 years have been hectic for Nigerians and the Jonathan Presidency is worse. Despite the hue and cry of the citizenry, he has refused to change his transformation agenda which is only transforming the pockets of a few.”
The President, it further claims, has refused to learn. “When you have such a man at the helm, who is clueless and has no idea about governance, he will always look for excuse for his inadequacies,” Fashakin added.
Also, the ANPP said Jonathan’s statement was a demonstration of his incompetence. Its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Emma Eneukwu, said, “The President is not competent to be there. He is a President by chance. He keeps on giving excuses for his incompetence and inadequacies. He was not prepared for the position he suddenly found himself in. He came into office with the hope of learning and he has refused to learn. He has no specific programme unlike the late President (Umaru Yar’Adua), who came with a seven- point agenda. Jonathan came with a bogus Transformation Agenda without transforming anything. Nigerians are tired of his excuses.”
The ACN, through its National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, also flayed Jonathan. “The President must be a joker with his kind of submission. As the elected President, he is expected to take decisions, good decisions.” Afenifere, a Pan- Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, said that Jonathan’s slowness was not a recipe for perfection.
“We need a President who will take actions that will solve the numerous problems and challenges confronting Nigeria as a nation. We do not need a slow leader right now,” its Secretary General, Chief Seinde Arogbofa, told our correspondent. “Nigerians are expecting quick results and solution to their problems and not excuses for poor performances.”
Faulting the President, the ACF said he should be mindful that he had only four years to spend in office. The Forum, in a response by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, noted that Jonathan had no time to waste and must start performing immediately. The ACF added that Jonathan would be judged as the President who used all his tenure only to plan but never transformed the country. It said, “Those who framed the 1999 Constitution and provided for a maximum of four years per tenure must have taken into account the need for thorough analyses of situations with a view to arriving at informed judgment for performance by those with the mandate of leadership. So, Mr. President must take into account the fact that he does not have limitless time, lest he runs out of time and go down in history as a President who used all his tenure for plans that did not deliver on his promise to transform Nigeria into a better place.”
The Campaign for Democracy through its President, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, said Jonathan should have been guided by his manifesto if he had one. “What is the essence of having a manifesto or a vision before occupying an exalted position or running for an office? It shows clearly that he is an accidental President, with no clear-cut vision,” the group said.
To the convener of the Coalition of Concerned Northern Politicians, Academics and Professionals, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, Jonathan must stop giving excuses.
He said, “No amount of fishing for excuses will make him a better President.” He reminded the President that good leaders learn from their mistakes and the people around them. He said, “I think it is very disingenuous of Jonathan to advance this kind of argument so late in our democratic experience. It is a known fact all over the world that the human species is not perfect; people who come into office accidentally or even by design are expected to make mistakes at the beginning of their tenures because of the learning curve.
“But getting to two years out of a four- year tenure and we are still having this kind of excuses does not inspire confidence at all. He simply does not have what it takes to rule Nigeria; he lacks political savvy and he is lacking in intellectual capacity also. It is clear that Jonathan has the worst set of characters who are deficient in knowledge and cognate experience in leadership.”
Jonathan appears not to have the backing of his political party in his new theory as the party has reminded him and other elected leaders in the country that each of them must account for their misdeeds. The party therefore called on Nigeria’s leaders and the followers to imbibe the right attitude. Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, the party called on those in authority to know that it is not only the masses that would suffer the consequences of their (leaders) misdeeds while in office.
It warned leaders that apart from accounting for the misdeeds, they would also one day give account of every opportunity they abused while in office. Metuh said, “Those in authority might think it is for the masses alone to suffer but examples abound that every leader must in one way or the other account for misdeeds and every opportunity abused.” That may be a wake-up call on the President. Nigerians want him to act on their expectations with the same swiftness with which he removed subsidy on petrol on January 1, 2012.
– Olusola Fabiyi
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