By Usama Dandare
Do you know that former President Goodluck Jonathan has last week beaten the likes of Nelson Mandela, Strive Masiyiwa, Koffi Annan, Bola Tinubu and several other African leaders to clinch the “2015 African Leadership Magazine Award”? No be jokes o, and if you are not happy for him, you are wrong. Like him or not, you cannot strip him off the tittle “African Leadership Magazine Person Of The Year”.
Since leaving office on 29 May, 2015, Jonathan has been flying the green white green colours and lifting the name of Nigeria high in the global space. Every passing minute, we are been regaled with photos of him receiving awards in Europe, America, Asia, Africa, Nigeria and Otueke, all in recognition of his outstanding leadership. While many argued that Jonathan didn’t deserved such honours, others wondered how was Jonathan able to defeat the likes of several great leaders and symbols of African Leadership: well I need not to know the reasons behind his nomination or why he was chosen ahead of others before I can celebrate him. All I know is, you need not to be a good leader before you can be honoured in Africa, the benjamins alone can do it. Those asking why Jonathan should be awarded are Jonathan hatters who sees nothing good in him despite all the positive transformations he brought to Nigeria. Our son is bringing fame to our country, winning honours and awards all over the globe but yet, you keep on asking why would he be honoured. Must you know?
Since you insist, let me tell you why Jonathan is an exceptional leader who deserved honours and recognition above all other leaders worldwide: our celebrant today is unarguably an impressive dossier among Nigeria’s living and dead leader, what made him a political zero (sorry, hero) is his perception of the Nigerian nation, his orientation on the problems of Nigeria, his attitude toward the plight of Nigerians, and the fact that he doesn’t give a damn about anything and everything. Don’t mind Aljazeera for calling him badluck and the Economist for tagging him an “ineffectual buffoon”. Aljazeera is anti-jonathan because he is a christian while the Economist are APC sympathisers. So nothing good will come out from them when talking about Jonathan. But as far as I am concerned, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is indeed our political hero, a revered one at that.
What made him a great leader is this lenient nature of his, he doesn’t wants to wicked any Nigerian or treat anybody unpleasantly which perhaps stopped him from prosecuting a single case of a corruption, so that Nigerians would not see him as a wicked president. He believes that those who stole from public coffers shouldn’t be called corrupt (stealing should not be called corruption) in order not to tarnish anybody’s image, in fact they should even be pampered, celebrated, honoured and protected to any level against against all decorum. I think that’s why I am celebrating him today. He doesn’t believe corrupt government officials should be convicted but if mistakenly they got convicted, he’s always there to grant a state pardon. Blowing the whistle is something he hated with passion since when he had no shoes, whoever try to blow it under his stewardship will have a story to tell (ask HRH Sanusi Muhammed II), all in his drive to protect Nigerians from embarrassment.
Unlike today’s merciless regime that’s busy throwing Nigerians down the rivers, a lot of people under Jonathan regime have been linked with corruption but our hero kept his promises of protecting his people by making sure all the suspected looters go scot free. He believes it’s an injustice to jail anybody over simple stealing especially when the stolen amount is not up to the price of a Peugeot car, and always encourages self enrichment in an intelligent and civilised manner; like inflating prices of official cars, adding extra zeros to expense budget, inflating oil subsidy amount, coming up with white elephant projects etc. That was why during his stewardship, several billionaires were born overnight, ownership of private jets tremendously increases, exotic villas and luxury vehicles were also rampant all over the nation because he gave Nigerians the chance to make quick wealth. Yet, you are saying he’s not a hero despite making uncountable Nigerians to become billionaires. Is this not worthy enough to honour him?
Ask of any Nigerian president who kept to his words and I will undoubtedly show you our hero – Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. He promised to protect all Nigerians if elected president and he did just that, that was perhaps why he protected Boko Haram warriors with all his might, he got furious whenever any Boko Haram got killed because he is their president. He made sure that he has the military and all other government forces under his belt and constantly punish them with inadequate funding and career stagnancy whenever they tried to kill Boko Haram members, he makes them desert their duty posts in Boko haram troubled regions to take up a more important jobs of election rigging and mounting surveillance at the Ekoyi residence of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Indeed, he valued the lives of his citizens more than anything and have a special place in his heart for Generals that loves to divert arms funds in order not kill Nigerians (Boko Haram precisely).
True, Nigerians will forever live to remember the masses friendly government of President Jonathan that spent trillions of naira annually to subsidise petroleum just to ease things by providing enough fuel to the poor masses, despite criticism from both local and foreign communities. He ignored all criticisms and made sure his regime continue to pay subsidy not only for petrol but several other products. Even after the glaring need to remove subsidy, Jonathan made sure only 50% was remove and reinvested into improving the lives of Nigerians for the betterment of all and sundry. He founded the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), an agency under which the savings made from part removal of fuel subsidy were reinvested in compensating political associates and cronies for their contributions to the political success of the president and PDP as a whole.
Upon all the fresh air that Jonathan brought to Nigeria under his Transformation Agenda, his hatters were hell-bent on discrediting his uncredited administration for reasons that he is a christian from the minority: they sponsored the kidnapping of hundreds of girls, scores of boys, and the death of tens of thousands in the North East through Boko Haram, they again coordinated the murder of innocent youths during the ill-fated Immigration Service recruitment – just to make his government ungovernable and portray him as an incompetent leader. But being him a humble gentleman, Jonathan ignored all their plots and concentrated on his responsibilities of nation building especially in the last six weeks of his administration. Within that period alone: Jonathan found a way to get weapons to tackle Boko Haram despite America and it allies refusing to sell weapons to Nigeria, the President also summoned enough courage to visit the Boko Haram troubled region. Nigerians saw a welfarist regime within that short period of six weeks with 50% cut in electricity tariff, reduction in pump price of petrol, compensation for families of dead NIS applicants, reward for outstanding NYSC members and the disbursements of billions of dollars to political, cultural and religious groups. But yet, you keep on saying Jonathan didn’t deserved to be awarded.
Wait a minute! I am beginning to get frustrated, I cannot sincerely be satirical anymore. How can i be satirically normal while Jonathan keep embarrassing my country on a daily basis? He keep buying awards and honours from here and there all in an attempt to rewrite history and steal a legacy. It’s a great insult to any serious nation to have someone like Jonathan parading himself as one of its outstanding leaders; an accidental president under whose tyranny Nigeria failed to fair better in all developmental indexes hence there is nothing exceptional about his government except his rise to the top, his fascinating first name, and his fall from the top. In addition, his style of leadership only highlighted the resounding gong of danger that warrants our collective and individual condemnation. This is the only goodluck Jonathan brought to Nigeria and if there is any need to honour him, it should be based on these three things but nothing more.
He led a government that flows with the tide – telling the gullible few what they wanted to hear, instead of doing what is expected from him as the Commander-In-Chief. His administration was characterised with incessant strikes, monumental corruption, impunity, ethnic division, indiscipline, insecurity and above all blatant lies. He’s indeed a pusillanimous leaders who waits for problems to arise before seeking “common sense” solutions. Jonathan always spoke eloquently on his resolve to keep Nigeria and Nigerians safe but unfortunately, he only made things and contributed to the lost of uncountable numbers of innocent souls and properties valued trillions. Nigerians enjoyed no peace throughout his regime – from Boko Haram In the North to kidnapping in the East, from sea piracy and militancy in the Delta region to armed robbery in the West while an escalating ethnic crisis ravaged in the middle – but Jonathan woefully failed to act and instead, he and his cohorts siphoned all the funds meant for arms purchase into personal wealth. And yet, Dame’s husband is now pretending all went well and keep going round in search of some kangaroo awards.
Throughout his entire in office, there was no official federal government blueprint or road-map to resolve the lingering security situation hence Nigerians remained uncertain about their lives and lost all hopes of a better future until after his kindergarten stewardship. Apart from his failure to tackle the avoidable security challenges, Jonathan completely refused to take responsibility for not coming up with real solutions to end the crisis. Whenever Boko Haram struck, all the otuekean does was to issue some condemnation statements through his media aides days after the attack – promising to bring dead suicide bombers to book – and waited cowardly for the next attack to issue yet another condemnation. Only under Jonathan, that a large chunk of our territory – bigger the size of Belgium – was ceded to some ragtag that are now facing extinction in just ten months of President Buhari’s regime.
Fresh in our memories is the all embarrassing manner called Jonathan’s economic policies. Before the death of late President Umar Must Yeradua, Nigeria was debt free but just few months later, Nigeria (under Jonathan) was already begging for loans for no specific purpose and before he left power, we were owing huge debts to the tune of over $1trn with nothing concrete on ground to justify the spending of such loans. What baffles me more was in the midst of all these, Jonathan mischievously went ahead to share some huge funds in the name of Excess Crude revenue when it should have been stored it up for the Foreign Reserves that was as of then depleted from $80bn during the Yer’adua administration to less than $33bn under the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. When Obasanjo left power in 2007, $23bn was left in the Excess Crude Account after he built it up from nothing but by January 2012, the account was virtually squandered empty and scrapped. You must agree with me that Jonathan did nothing except enriching himself and his cohorts hence Nigeria kept on getting poorer by the day. If you still disagree with me on the status of Nigeria’s economy under the administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, you must be in another planet as of then but even the unborn can bear witness of Jonathan’s irresponsible stewardship.
Under Jonathan, no sector of the economy was spared of destabilisation. Education was given less or no priority while the healthcare system kept deteriorating in a monumental fashion; food production was at it lowest ebb ever while the transportation sector recorded a tremendous depreciation; poverty and unemployment waved across the nation in a befitting style while electricity was present only by structure; in the area of justice, Jonathan administration became the first and only regime that demoralised the entire judicial system and reduced our judges to mere thieves and second-class looters while the executives keep sucking the whole nation dry. Everywhere and everything was bastardised, our children and younger ones spent years sitting at home due to strike actions by teachers and lecturers of various academias nationwide; our brave and talented youths were turned cowards and tools for political violence overnight while our daughters and sisters were forced into prostitution just to carter for their wellbeing; the working class were left unpaid while the old were deprived their pensions due a gigantic corruption that swept through the whole country. In fact with Jonathan, our lives were endangered, our hopes crippled, our dreams shattered and our future amputated.
Meanwhile, now that all the possible awards have been bought, what next? To keep them in Otueke and voluntarilly submit himself to EFCC or wait for Magu to show him the way to Ademola Adetokumbo? It’s just a matter of time and it shall come. I don’t actually have any personal issue against Jonathan in person; I’m however finding it difficult to decipher how he is able to be parading himself around the globe as a great leader worthy honours, instead of residing back to Otueke and apologise to Nigerians for turning their country into rubbish. I said this before and will keep saying it: Jonathan will go down the annals of history as the most reckless, incompetent, clueless, unfocused, and irresponsible leader to have ever occupied Aso Rock and none like him will forever get the chance to lead this nation again. God forbid, never again. He should in fact be ashamed of himself for all the wasted years he stayed in office only if he knows anything called shame, otherwise we (Nigerians) are collectively ashamed on his behalf.
Usama Dandare is a social commentator, he writes from Sokoto.