Opinion: Jonathan and his flawed opinion making policies

by Adesola Tomilade


Jonathan’s challenge is complicated by the fact that his decision-making process has led to a reactionary culture characterized by a lot of resentment and name calling from the public. Any action or decision he takes now doesn’t hold water from the citizenry, and no amount of National Dialogues undertaken would resolve that deficiency.

If there were points to be given for good intentions, then President Goodluck Jonathan would score pretty well in his administration. He seems honest and genuinely interested in doing the right thing. Both are laudable attributes of a leader, but they go only so far in the peculiar case of governmental administration in relations to the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Jonathan does not appear to have a problem making decisions. What appears to be sorely lacking however, is his ability to make timely and right decisions.

Apart from that, it seems that Jonathan has created a culture devoid of candid inquiry, where objective analysis and oversight take a backseat to maintaining a sub-democracy culture riddled with impunity. Of course, this situation has led to one of the most ridiculous democratic settings in the world, one which has been characterized with scandals, ineptitude and a culture of graft and greed.

One of Jonathan’s biggest problems is that he doesn’t ask enough questions. A country’s greatest asset is its people. But this asset is at its best when engaged. Without a culture of inquiry, engagement doesn’t happen. Thus, in addition to being a champion of good governance, a president is responsible for constantly assessing socio-politico issues through questioning. Unfortunately, Jonathan is not asking the types of questions that will create the environment of accountability this country needs to succeed.


Successful Presidents are rarely experts in more than a few disciplines. No one, of course expects Jonathan to know it all. But how a president utilizes and plays off the strengths and skills of the advisers and experts he surrounds himself with is key to successful leadership. Because he hasn’t surrounded himself with the right advisers and experts, Jonathan has missed the opportunity to address and change the culture of impunity this country is known for. This has resulted in him not being able to establish himself as a strong leader.

The lack of consistency in Jonathan’s approach to crisis and issues has affected his decision making skills, and this has undermined his capacity as a leader to signal intentions, values and predispositions by decisive actions. It is difficult for a country to function well when there is so much inconsistency from the part of the president. This inconsistency has resulted in the volatility and crisis the country is facing currently.

In Jonathan and The Decision-Making Black Box, Ayo Olukotun wrote that “the reason for considering Jonathan’s decision-making style is the repetitive nature of controversial decisions by the administration some of which have earned it criticism by civil society, the media and the international community” (Punch January 10 2014).

He then gave, amongst others, an example of Jonathan’s decision to keep mute about the results of the probe he set up on Oduahgate, that is the controversial purchase for the use of the aviation minister of two bulletproof limousines at the incredible cost of N250 million.  It was bad enough that Jonathan did not ask the minister to step aside while she was being investigated; it was even worse that nothing was done for a long time about the publicized report of the House of Representatives which indicted her as well as the findings of the internal probe. The counsel to ask Oduah to step aside was ostentatiously ignored; on the pretext that it will be too hasty to do so since she was being investigated at the time.  The President eventually sacked Oduah, but he had already lost the momentum and proactive timing which would have demonstrated that he is truly fighting corruption or means to take value setting decisions to reorder the entrenched political culture of graft and greed.

 Now, we can see the inconsistency in Jonathan’s decision making when we compare the suspension of the Governor of Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi before any investigation, to the suspension of Stella Oduah after investigation. Although he noted that Sanusi could come back tomorrow to continue his work, the President defended his suspension when he said the reason Mr. Sanusi was asked to step aside as CBN governor was to avoid undue interference in the investigations by the Financial Reporting Council FRC. One then begins to wonder if Stella Oduah couldn’t have interfered unduly during investigations into her own scandal, such that she was afforded the luxury of still continuing to be Minister of the aviation industry, one of the most sensitive and important industries in Nigeria.

Jonathan’s flawed and slow decision making is also openly manifested in his hazy reaction, or rather inaction on the ongoing terror in the North unleashed by the deadly group, Boko Haram. The death toll from the Boko Haram attacks has hit the 300 mark in just two months. The fact that young girls were abducted with fears of them becoming sex slaves to this lawless group made the matters worse. Yet, the only reaction the public gets from the President is a statement released by his spokesman, Reuben Abati extending heartfelt condolences to the parents and relatives of the murdered students. And as usual, condemning “the heinous, brutal and mindless killing of the guiltless students by deranged terrorists and fanatics who have clearly lost all human morality and descended to bestiality.”

While the statement is expected, perhaps what the President fails to realize is that it doesn’t show any sense of remorseful responsibility and any indication that decisive forceful action would be taken against this deadly group. The fact that it was simply a routine statement from a pre-written script edited to suit the circumstance, and released from the desk of a spokesman, and not read by the President himself shows how deficient he is in his decision making. In fact the message from the President is clear. He cannot protect the victims. He doesn’t know how to.

Jonathan’s challenge is complicated by the fact that his decision-making process has led to a reactionary culture characterized by a lot of resentment and name calling from the public. Any action or decision he takes now doesn’t hold water from the citizenry, and no amount of National Dialogues undertaken would resolve that deficiency. Because even that – The National Dialogue – has taken too long to be proposed.

It is not too late for the president to readdress his leadership style in timely focus on the inquiry and decision making policy. If he wants to create access to the information he needs to make better decisions, then he should start surrounding himself with blunt and honest professionals who would not hesitate to tell, nay, show him exactly how a situation is. By asking the right people the right questions at the right time, he would be able to set an example that speaks to the value of diligence, personal accountability and timely action.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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