Why Do Nigerians Not Like President Jonathan? – Adedoyin Adekunle @adekunlearches


Nigerians do not like the President. That is not a statement open for debate regardless of what his aides tell him every day. I imagine them saying this like “it’s the opposition figures that are sponsoring and peddling this falsehood”, “you are without doubt the best head of government in this dispensation” and my personal favourite “Mr President, your transformation agenda is working and lives are being transformed daily”. The funny fact, however, is that the last comment is actually true to some extent. Maybe it’s not a transformation agenda but some things seem to be on their way to working well  the question is how did we reach a point when the president became so disliked by more than half (at the very least) of the educated socially conscious voters who braved sunshine and rain to elect him to be their head?

I think a flashback is necessary. February 9 2010, Goodluck Jonathan became acting President; it was an achievement he refused to struggle for, as a matter of fact it took pressure from several quarters, both locally and internationally, everywhere apart from the good-natured humble and meek vice president to be named acting president after the whole world believed the then president, Umaru Musa Yar’adua was incapacitated. Part of that struggle included in no mean amount, the protests of the Save Nigeria Group led by Pastor Tunde Bakare who in a curious twist turned out to be the running mate of Jonathan’s main opponent less than a year after. How that happened is a story for another day.

Even after becoming the acting president with the powers of the office at his disposal, he still would not outrightly wield it; in fact, the strongest action this meek man took was to transfer, not even sack, Michael Aandoaka- that very dangerous and possibly the most notorious Attorney General and Minister of Justice this nation has ever seen to Ministry of Special Duties J cabinet and so when some northern forces tried to insist that a northern candidate emerge as presidential candidate in the 2011 elections, the people (yes the people) resisted saying this Goodluck was just too nice and good and meek ( and several other endearing words) not to run for president, It was simply not going to fly that this man veer off the path of destiny. Then came the campaign, the man literally melted our hearts saying “I grew up thinking I would be a canoe maker like my father”, I had no shoes ;)”, “if I could have made it this far, so can you” and the one I think was most believed “I am one of you”.

It was too much for the Nigerian people, Neighbours started linking with neighbours [pun intended], people started to believe the promised land was nigh, by the time he appointed a credible upstanding citizen of Northern extraction as Chairman of INEC, the sceptical remnant got sold into this vision of this humble PhD holder, from the minorities of minorities as it were, a man not cut from the fabric of the terrible politicians that have continually sought to milk the nation dry becoming president. Some even voiced the hope that his name Goodluck which seems to have catapulted him into prominence would divinely or in some way propel Nigeria to the Promised Land. Over two years down the line however, I can authoritatively say, many of those people are disappointed. All over the social media, the president has been the butt of jokes and insults so bad that I personally think are overboard and reeks of disrespect both to Goodluck Jonathan and to the office that he holds. However, again I ask, how did this happen? How did this man who was overwhelmingly voted for less than three years ago become this? Is it that Nigerians can never be satisfied? (Reminiscent of Baba Iyabo and his many clashes with CAN) or Nigerians fail to appreciate that the change they so earnestly desire requires some sacrifices on their part?

I got to asking people, reasonable intellectual people, what they think changed despite the fact that the man seems to personally want a better Nigeria and has taken some good steps in that direction

One of the reasons I have readily from almost all respondents is, to put it very mildly, the president is not in charge. Maybe people have been so used to military/retired military leadership and Umaru Yar’adua did not spend enough time to be able to spread the orientation that the president is not supposed to be a ‘Lion or a Goliath’. While that is true, I am inclined to side with the people on this matter. President Jonathan’s body language has not evoked the strength expected of a man leading Africa’s giant. I recall people being excited on the day he declared a state of emergency on the north eastern states just because “for once, he showed the spine and anger the situation deserved” and that was just with a 20 minute speech reading. And while sometimes I try and excuse him saying you cannot blame a man for his nature, he shows that when he has a personal interest/stake in a matter, he is not as docile. The house arrest of a sitting governor Timipre Sylva during primaries he was supposed to participate in comes readily to mind, the meek Jonathan did not blink an eyelid! The governor’s forum drama, the manner in which the G7 governors were hounded is just epic; and several other situations where the swiftness of action to protect the president’s interests was unprecedented.  This double nature is certainly not lost on the populace.

Another reason that I can see is the president’s stance at corruption especially in high places. It can almost be defined as romantic. NDDC board was accused of corruption, investigations took place and all the president did was sack the board! No prosecution! The fuel subsidy scam with all the overwhelming evidence of some officials acting in connivance with rogue importers has seen not one individual lose their jobs or go to jail; I’m not even going to get started on the bulletproof BMWs and all the Aviation mess. I don’t even know whether the committee headed by the NSA has submitted their report or that Jonathan has not had time to read it and take action. Need I mention the pension reform scam or the most flabbergasting appointment of a man (former Governor Muazu of Bauchi State) who is being prosecuted by the EFCC under the same Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for fraud as Chairman of the National Pension Commision! But as if that is not enough, when asked about corruption in Nigeria in the latest media chat, Dr Ebele Goodluck Jonathan boldly said that on the index of Nigeria’s problems, Corruption was only third or fourth. Yea, it is definitely a romantic relationship.

On his list of Faux pas again, is the fact that while we all criticised the late Yar’adua for surrounding himself with the Katsina mafia, Goodluck has done exactly the same with his Ijaw kinsmen who naturally have stepped up to the plate. Before anyone criticises the president, his kinsmen have begun to complain and threaten hell and brimstone, they say the only reason the president invites criticism is because he’s a minority. Well, here’s news, he messes up and that’s why he gets criticised and it has nothing to do with where he is from.  Yes, many times the government seems to have very bright ideas only to go about it in some far flung unrealistic approaches. I recall when the president banned the national football team only to have to bow, embarrassingly I might add, to FIFA and lift the ban; another is the recently announced Auto policy and the time given to Nigerians as notice being only about 5 months. I simply wonder how they expect people to be able to afford brand new cars or have enough faith in the locally produced ones when there is no single government institution patronising the local content neither is there any organisation presently that has the training or experience to regulate automobile manufacture and maintain global standard in its production quality or how the local manufacturers (Bless their Souls) will be able to meet the demand assuming Nigerians miraculously decide to purchase.

I suddenly discovered that I could go on and on with a lot of things that are wrong about the present administration but that would lose the soul of this write up. Whether it is believable or not, the Jonathan Administration has made some substantial achievements; there is true genuine  actual transformation in the agricultural sector and may I take this opportunity to congratulate Dr. Akinwumi Adesina on his well deserved Forbes award of Man of the Year 2013. I now see several Made-in-Nigeria Bags of rice; Foreign affairs too has fared well (though some may credit this to the now sacked Amb Ashiru) , Sports, especially football has been superb, Power is expected to improve as everyone now sings the song of the power revolution, the finance Ministry continues to be properly marshalled by Dr Okonjo Iweala and several other landmark achievements by this administration.

What I believe the president has done most wrong to the people who elected him or putting is this way; the president’s biggest offence in their eyes may not necessarily be his stance toward corruption, or the abuse by the armed forces to do his personal bidding whether or not he ordered them to do so; it may not even be the governance of the people by committees for functions for which government already has relevant organs; perhaps not even his wife, Dr Patience Faka Jonathan’s larger than life personality or his inability to cut the foreign trips to the barest minimum as he promised after the fuel subsidy crisis; I think the biggest disappointment of all is that many Nigerians put a lot of hope on him. We wished for a man, who would be different, feel our pain genuinely and passionately act to ease that pain; one who would not be lost in the power and politics of it all. Alas! We got their hopes severely dashed. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan simply stopped being one of us.


Due to my own religious persuasion, I will like to reference a portion of the Holy Bible to pass my own personal perception of Goodluck Jonathan. 1 Kings 12-14 tells a story of a King named Jeroboam, son of Nebat. Like Jonathan, there were powerful forces trying to prevent him from being King, however, he had been handpicked by God to lead a reform and so he became King despite those all of those forces. It could be said even that he also made some good achievements as the land was militarily strong in his era but he derailed from his divine mandate so much that the standard of measuring how evil a King was could be done using the life of King Jeroboam. I hope Jonathan will NOT BE Nigeria’s Jeroboam 

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