by Demola Rewaju
We have institutions and Nigerian will do well to just leave Goodluck Jonathan alone and focus on the heads of those institutions.
While the mainstream campaigns on television went on with the ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ tagline, there was a more subtle undertone in the rural and suburban areas, as well as online – the name Goodluck Jonathan came to be associated with a macabre kind of luck and modern day folklore stories were invented of how Jonathan from his youth had benefitted from the death or removal of his predecessors in any office – public or private. Never mind how people know these things but the story ends with the moral that if your bet man is named Goodluck or Jonathan, you may die on the day of your wedding and he’ll take over your matrimonial duties to your wife-to-be. So strong was this theme that many of my friends who are now bitter critics of the president added the name Goodluck to their facebook name – a friend from Kogi named his son Goodluck.
Perhaps that was the problem – the fame and myth built around the name and the man raised the expectations of our people to the highest level ever in this country – this seemed to be a president destined to lead Nigeria and he had been one of us – an outsider to power and no stranger to poverty. But that myth is always a myth as I insist that there is no messiah for any country. Countries progress by the institutions built, rarely by individual brilliance. The only nations that have advanced based on strong leadership are those where the powers of leadership are fully and totally given. Much as we may admire Singapore’s drive from third world to first, Lee Kuan Yew was a dictator and with dictators, you never know what you’re going to get.
Conversely, nations that have strong and independent institutions will progress even when they have weak leaders – there is a way of doing things that enables the weak to act strong and forces the strong to rein their strength: there’s a limit to how far you can go. In Nigeria, we are fascinated with the idea that one person will step in and change our lives and so we have a list of the best Presidents Nigeria never had – from Awolowo to Abiola. When Buhari dies, we’ll probably add him to that list except that in reality, all our living past presidents are never celebrated. (Reminds me of myths about Murtala Mohammed after he died – stories of how he was going to change Nigeria and make the country great and so forth).
There’s too much of Goodluck in our criticism and this is the essence of this piece. Some time ago I wrote this piece titled ‘They Should Just Forget GEJ’ and I’m reminded of it again this morning. I just read Kayode Ogundamisi’s tweet, holding GEJ responsible for the repressive request of the NBC to all tv stations asking them to inform the commission of live political programmes two days before they go on air. Where exactly is the Goodluck in that one? Did he sign the letter or do we simply assume that for anything to happen in and around Abuja Goodluck Jonathan must be aware? That’s messianic thinking: that one man is everything and everywhere.
Also reminds me of the Joseph Mbu ban on protests in Abuja – did Goodluck Jonathan know about it? I doubt he did – Mbu has proven himself to be a loose cannon in times past, overzealous in a bid to do what he assumes will serve the cause of his masters. The way Frank Mba emphatically distanced the force hierarchy from the ban shows that Mbu was acting without the express consent of the president, but perhaps with the connivance of some top aides.
Remember when the media started saying Bamanga Tukur was the anointed candidate of the president for the post of PDP chairman a few years ago? Goodluck had not even officially adopted the man but Ahmed Gulak, a presidential aide, was seriously rooting for his kinsman and the name of Goodluck was attached to Tukur’s candidacy – I explained that saga is this and this article.
We have institutions and Nigerian will do well to just leave Goodluck Jonathan alone and focus on the heads of those institutions. If electricity is not working well – let’s name the minister of power and CEO of NERC Prof. Chinedu Nebo and Dr. Sam Amadi respectively. If Boko Haram is ravaging the north-east, can we put direct pressure on the Military Chiefs? My point is that everything in Nigeria is supervised by someone and these people have names. The ban on the premiere of Half Of A Yellow Sun for instance would have been made very difficult if the President (read: Messiah) was from the North – someone would have suggested that he was blocking the movie from being aired rather than holding the Nigerian Film and Videos Censors Board responsible for what is within its purview.
So where is the Goodluck in every single issue that comes up in Nigeria? I think it is a carryover of our military mentality where everything had to pass through or come from the desk of the dictator but remember, this is no dictatorship and most times, the president hears some of these things on air just like the rest of us do, at other times, he’s simply not aware of what is going on – The Joseph Mbu ban on Abuja protests was widely reported as ‘Government Bans Protests In Abuja’ whereas the government had not taken an official position on that: it was the police who did it and with hindsight, it was not even the police leadership, Mbu was acting on his own so why do we put Goodluck and his government into everything? I suspect two things:
Either we have a serious case of Messianic Complex which leads us to always want the highest power to be responsible for our fate and therefore take the blame or the praise OR, we’re just doing it to make Goodluck look bad.
Both suspicions are the big problem with Nigeria.
Demola Rewaju blogs at Demolarewajudaily.com
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.