Wednesday 27 May 2015

What cost Jonathan power in the end,started with fuel subsidy and ended with fuel scarcity

First impressions, they say, are everything. Not the
same for anyone who is president of a country like
Nigeria. With Nigerians, last impressions are just as
important as first impressions. Goodluck Jonathan’s
last week as President has seen Nigeria shut down
due to power cuts and fuel scarcity. Lives have
been lost, airlines cancelled flights, media houses
and banks closing early, telecom companies
declaring their services would be hampered by the
scarcity of diesel.

One could argue, despite the
turmoil that characterised his tenure, that this has
been Jonathan’s worst week as President. In the
midst of what has looked increasingly like a national
security issue, the government has offered nothing
in terms of explanations or an attempt to offer the
way forward.

But to sum the Jonathan administration up through
the events of the last one week would be unfair. It
would amount to saying a President who led a
country for five years can be judged according to
what happened within just a week. Yes, there has
been a clear display of government failure over the
last one week but the truth is, this administration
has been failing for the better part of the last five
years. It is only expectedly signing out, looking to
clear the minds of those who ever doubted its
incompetence to have such doubts cleared.

President Jonathan will be remembered as that man
who appeared uninterested as Nigerians battled a
cabal to have him installed as acting president, and
eventually president. He was that politician that
Nigerians, ignoring the platform he ran on, instead
assumed they could vote for him without regard to
the party he was representing.

Many will remember President Jonathan for
insisting the October 2010 Abuja Independence Day
bombing had nothing to do with MEND despite the
group insisting it carried out the terrorist attack.
Between 2010 and 2011, Jonathan was clearly the
most loved politician in the country.

His seeming
harmless mien combined well with a good
messaging had him win the 2011 election despite
claims by certain people the election was rigged.

Maybe, the election was indeed rigged but he really
was the most popular candidate in 2011, hands
That didn’t last. By January 2012, the President had
burnt all the goodwill he enjoyed with the people.

Allowing marketers and corruption combine to milk
the country of N1.6tn subsidy payments was bad
enough, the President was now seen as working
with the same cabal to transfer the cost of
corruption and the inefficient subsidy system to the

The revolt lasted for weeks but the
President had his way by increasing fuel prices to
N97 from N65.
He had his way then, many Nigerians simply bided
their time. Maybe, things would have turned out
differently had the administration prosecuted and
jailed those mainly responsible for the 2011 subsidy
heists, we will never know. Maybe, doing something
about the increasing cost of governance would have
made a difference will be hard to guess but things
only got worse for the administration from there.

Boko Haram’s bombing activities became intense
and persistent. If some thought he could not have
done much about the bombings, a few would forgive
him for the things he did just after some of such
bombings. Two Nigerian states, Kaduna and Yobe,
were under attack when the President departed the
country to attend the Rio+20 United Nations Summit
in Rio, Brazil.

The smoke from the previous day’s
bombing of Nyanya had not disappeared while the
President was already in Kano, not only receiving
an Ibrahim Shekarau defecting for the umpteenth
time but indeed captured on camera dancing! The
President was dancing while the nation mourned!
Things simply kept piling up.

Fifty nine boys got butchered at Buni Yadi while the
President and his handlers partied on, under the
guise of a centenary celebration. Several more
gaffes like that became the norm rather than the
exception. If the President cared about the
predicament of the North-East and its endless
devastation in the hands of Boko Haram, his actions
showed the exact opposite.

Then came the abduction of the Chibok girls in April.
What followed is unforgivable and Nigerians indeed
refused to forgive the administration on this one.
Several acts of negligence, indecision and outright
carelessness have simply meant that over 400 days
after, the Chibok girls remain abducted. You better
not even try to imagine what life would be for them
now, for those of them that survived the snakes of
Sambisa Forest and the terror of mad Abubakar
Shekau and his fellow gang of murderers.

government was desperate to wish the Chibok issue
away so it adopted the Bring Back Our Girls
advocacy group as its opposition. It should never
have done that; it lost that particular battle because
at each turn, #BringBackOurGirls always showed
the President and his government as not as
interested in rescuing the girls as it was in making
it look like the group was an enemy of the state.

Many things went down under the administration,
that if Jonathan ever decides to reflect on his time
as president, without the burden of office and the
stanching miasma of sycophants, he’d see that he
was the one person responsible for his own fall
from power. Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke stayed on
forever as Minister of Petroleum Resources, while
each new day she spent in office helped to further
deplete the President’s political capital. She was an
unnecessary liability he should have done away
with strategically; she stayed on so they would both
deservingly leave together this Friday. Princess
Stella Oduah was eventually eased out of office but
it was already an act too little – no prosecution –
and too late. Seeing as it was apparent she had
ordered two cars with N255mn of taxpayers’
money. There’d be no need to state that Abba Moro,
Minister of Interior, who was culpable in the death
of some 19 National Immigration Service job
applicants in March of 2014, will this week exit
government in the very same position.

That was an identity of the Goodluck Jonathan
administration: incompetence was fine as long as
loyalty was guaranteed; corruption was permission
as long as usefulness to the government via
election donation was on the cards. Heck! Embattled
Buruji Kashamu was President Jonathan’s main ally
in the South-West in the run-up to the 2015
elections. Things were really that bad.
When your administration has to deal with endless
reports of missing money, missing children and
adults, missing accountability and have that
combined with endless political battles against the
likes of Olusegun Obasanjo and governors of your
own party, you’d have needed more than luck to
retain power.
In the end, luck could only take Goodluck so far. In
48 hours, Nigerians will be saying goodbye to
Goodluck Jonathan. You can bet most of them will
not care about a farewell, there is proof of that, they
made him the very first casualty of a loss by an
incumbent president in the history of Nigeria.

For Jonathan though, his concession call to Buhari
was probably the most important thing he did as
President. That call was not just about him
conceding the election, it did help to quell tension
across the country. History will not be fair if it
forgets to credit him for this. So then, Jonathan was
a very bad President who somehow did a very good
thing on his way out of power. Goodbye Jonathan!

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