“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Sir Winston Churchill
The Goodluck Jonathan administration is in its twilight. There is a chance the President will get another shot at the top job if he wins a second term into office. But let’s ask ourselves a question: What if he doesn’t return reelected; are his achievements impressive enough for Nigerians to remember the President for good? Right now, the answer may well be in the negative. Jonathan’s presidency has been beleaguered within and out with criticism especially because of the Boko Haram leads insurgents and incursions in the North-Eastern part of the country. Important aspects of National discuss critical to Nigeria’s development such as the economy, power, education and road infrastructure have taken the back seat.
It is unclear the direction Mr. President has taken the nation in the last four years. The transformation agenda has been more a rhetoric than a blue-print. Although the Presidency will lay claim to some accomplishments; on the whole, they are not enough to save Jonathan’s name for posterity.
On foreign policy, Jonathan’s administration has made commendable progress. Nigeria has responded promptly and responsibly to the needs of her citizens abroad. For instance: when the issue of the £3000 visa bond by the United Kingdom came up, the Nigerian government rose to the occasion. Also, after South Africa deported Nigerians for allegedly possessing phony yellow cards, the Nigerian Government responded in kind. Nigerians felt proud and a level of patriotism was palpable because we saw that the government would come to our defense whenever the need arose. Under Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria also assumed membership of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, trade ties with the Asian giant, China have been robust under the Goodluck era. On the African continent, Nigeria may not possess the “Big Brother” mien she did under Obasanjo (in trying to stabilize other African countries’ democracies) but she is well positioned to assert herself in the committee of nations both in the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Still, the president’s progress in foreign policy is not enough and will not guarantee Goodluck’s legacy.
If there was ever any area one could call a “quick-win” for the President, it was in power. A solution to Nigeria’s power problem is sure to confer a “savior-like” status on anyone who delivers on the mandate. Nigerians have not seen remarkable improvements in this sector even after the privatization of the PHCN. A large number of people still live in darkness and have to generate their own electricity. Despite the 7% growth in GDP between 2002 and 2012 and the increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, it would be near impossible for this growth to be felt by the poor without stable electricity. The much talked about diversification of the economy through agriculture is still a work in progress. Nothing this administration his working on is complete! So here again, Jonathan will not be venerated for his efforts in the economy and agriculture or for improving power. The Obasanjo era achieved better in terms of debt relief, telecommunications and banking reforms. As outlined earlier, Jonathan’s administration may have made some strides in some areas but these developments are too slow and too minuscule to give a long lasting legacy.
It is becoming clear that it is the security challenge that will define Jonathan’s legacy for good or bad. Violence linked with Boko Haram have claimed at least 10,000 lives. Boko Haram have burned schools, killed teachers and raised churches and mosques. They have gone after traditional rulers and governors. Women and children have turned refugees in their own country. The physical infrastructural damage run into billions of naira while the psychological cost will not be quantified for years to come. Boko Haram is public enemy number one. This terrorist group sunk a new low when they kidnapped over 200 Chibok girls in the dead of the night. The world was aghast and queried the government in power whose responsibility it is to safe-guard the girls. Celebrities and notable figures around the world including Michelle Obama got on #BringBackOurGirls campaign demanding the release of the girls. Jonathan’s administration floundered in its military and media response following the abductions. World-wide criticism from local and foreign media including Aljazeera and CNN did not spare disparaging remarks on Mr. President and his armed forces. Jonathan’s already wounded image took yet another plunge. In a self-redeeming effort, the President put up an OP-ED in the Washington Post explaining his silence over the Chibok abductions. The editorial has done little to help him because so long as the girls remain at large, it is considered another failure in his responsibilities. There is a growing hopelessness and despair about his leadership style and Nigerians and the world await any kind of good news about the girls and the security of the country.
I am certain the Chibok abduction would define President Jonathan’s administration forever. He has done well in trying to galvanizing international support in fighting terrorism in Nigeria. He has also sought more funding (about $1 billion) from the National Assembly to fight terror. As much as Nigerians want Boko Haram stopped, we are also skeptical to believe the money would be utilized for what it is voted for given our antecedence with corruption. It would indeed be sad if this money find its way into private pockets. While we await the findings on the $470 million invested in the procurement of CCTV cameras in the FCT and Lagos; we are yet to highlight a single crime that these cameras helped prevent since their deployment.
Although Boko Haram is the obvious threat to our dear nation, corruption is the cancer that has made Boko Haram’s activities thrive. Aside from security issues, our inability to prosecute corruption has undermined Jonathan’s efforts to transform Nigeria. It is fact that the EFCC is no longer revered like it was under Nuhu Ribadu. Under Late President Yar’Adua, Farida Waziri lead the arrest of ex bank chiefs accused of corruption. There was ‘sanitation’ of the banking sector that saved Nigeria’s economy from taking more damage from the global melt down. Under this administration, Nigeria has had to rely on the British Justice System to bring her citizens to justice. This President has also pardoned crimes that bother on corruption. It is the prerogative of the President to pardon whoever he wants, but he pardons send a clear signal to the world that President Jonathan’s anti-corruption mantra was a tale for the moonlights.
A television advertisement has tried to draw a parallel between President Jonathan and great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and President Obama. Our President must know that these great leaders are praised for actual achievements and not for campaigns. These men stood up for something or against something and these defined their legacy. Mandela stood against apartheid and stood up for the rights of black South Africans. Lee Kuan Yew grew Singapore from a just another country to one of the most developed in Asia. And of course President Obama brought a new meaning to the word-change- when he defeated John McCain in the stiffly contested election to be the first black President of the United State of America. It is a good thing that President Jonathan has set such high standards for himself and aspires that his name be called in the same breath as such great figures; but this can only be done if he achieves the mandate he was actually voted for and not with foreign PR firms helping to launder his image.
Whether he likes it or not, President Jonathan’s actions or inactions regarding security especially the return of the Chibok girls will be the defining moment for him. Winston Churchill will forever be known as the man who in war time rallied the support of the world especially President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United State, against the evil Adolf Hitler. It is clear that the war defined Churchill’s legacy. President Goodluck can do same and can be that man who will lead Nigeria out of the doldrums of terror. He can be that man if he decides to face the battle headlong devoid of political interests.
Nigeria has had more than her share of killings. The security problem has claimed innocent lives and the blood of the innocent knows no religious or ethnic cleavage. There is no Christian, Moslem, North or South divide when it comes to life. The air we breathe has no color or race or religion. President Jonathan must be that man to bring Nigerians together and win the fight against terror which has tried to change the way we live. He can bring his people together like President Bush did after 9/11. He can show us who we are as Nigerians. He can inspire faith in him once again and it has to begin with bringing the girls home. Gandhi did it, Mandela did it and Obama is doing it. President Jonathan, can also achieve greatness if he will just put his personal ambitions aside and put Nigeria first. That is the only way he will succeed. Nigeria will work someday, I am certain of it, but whether it will be Jonathan who would lead the people from the wilderness into the promise land, time as they say will tell.