Sonala Olumhense: Nigerians must campaign and vote in ABP next year

by Sonala Olumhense


The Economist warned: “The incompetence of Nigeria’s president and government is hurting the country’s reputation at home and abroad.”

As it turned out, we needed foreign assistance after all.

In the same week in which President Goodluck Jonathan shut down his government so he could host a conference, he also invited what he called “powerful” countries to help his government to find the hundreds of girls abducted by the murderers who are posing as religious zealots.

And so, days after he said he had no idea where the girls were, he was again boasting he would get them back.  Just as soon as he had said that, he announced that the girls had probably been separated and sent to different countries.

That shameful scenario was possible because for almost three weeks, he callously sat in Abuja focusing on running for the presidency again next year.

Three weeks after the abductions, Patience Jonathan, who does not understand she is not a part of the government, went on television to shed fake tears.  “Diaz God o!” she cried.

It was unclear whether she was saying that in approval or regret, but I must hope she was saying it in prayer.  In that case, it is time to advise the Jonathans to take their faith seriously and pray without ceasing.

I offer this unsolicited advice because it is important for them to understand that the story of the abducted girls may turn out to be a terrible nightmare for them.  Hopefully, they understand that the introduction of foreign expertise into the equation also means opening the front door to the intensive scrutiny they try to deny Nigerians.

In an editorial last week, the New York Times dismissed Mr. Jonathan as leading a corrupt government, and with little credibility.

“The kidnappings occurred just as President Jonathan is about to hold the World Economic Forum on Africa, with 6,000 troops deployed for security. That show of force may keep the delegates safe, but Nigeria’s deeply troubled government cannot protect its people, attract investment and lead the country to its full potential if it cannot contain a virulent insurgency.”

And in a description that applies to the Jonathan era as much as any other, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted how Nigerian leaders have squandered the country’s oil wealth and nurtured corruption.

“Now they are losing control of parts of their (own) territory because they would not make hard choices,” she said.

The Economist warned: “The incompetence of Nigeria’s president and government is hurting the country’s reputation at home and abroad.”

The abductions certainly expose the philosophical hollowness of Boko Haram, but they expose Mr. Jonathan even more.

Since his arrival in 2010, he has succeeded principally in the arts of promises and propaganda.  His lack of true concern for Nigeria is reflected in a democracy on the verge of collapse because, as I have often described in this column, he has become the problem.

Under Mr. Jonathan, impunity and corruption have become a major industry, leaving negative forces such as Boko Haram with a massive pool of the poor, the unemployed and the disillusioned from which to recruit.

Under Mr. Jonathan, there is a battery of dubious statistics and numbers in circulation, most of them manufactured and manipulated by the government propagandist.

Under Mr. Jonathan, the unemployed are despised.   Privately, they are recruited as thugs to inflict pain and defeat on political and business opponents.  Under Mr. Jonathan, the same Nigeria Army that was famous for peacekeeping has been exposed as being unable to maintain peace at home.  The police seem lost in the shuffle between their responsibilities to the constitution and helping wives of the Big Man to carry their vanity bags.

Mr. Jonathan’s supporters are always eager to say that he did not create the problems for which he is being blamed, as if he was voted to solve problems of his own making.  If so, he has not repaired his ineptitude of such a historic scale he is becoming the darling of international comedians.

What is crystal clear is that he lacks the capacity to make clear, patriotic choices, let alone implement them.  The situation is so bad that he can be on one television station making hollow declarations while his wife is on another referring to herself in the third person as if she is a political factor under the constitution.

Some of us knew what lay ahead.  When Mr. Bode George was released from prison in 2011 and Mr. Jonathan invested in the celebrations, I pointed out that he was making clear what kind of country he would run if he won the elections.

“George is a criminal,” I stressed in “The Fortune Teller of Aso Rock,” (March 6, 2011).  I said of Jonathan’s celebration: “His true message is therefore very simple: ‘I am Bode George.  Take me as I am.’  Give him your vote, and that is your future foretold.”

That is the precisely the kind of country Nigerians got, and that is the quality of governance that has nurtured Boko Haram.

Where does Nigeria go next, in a situation so laughable that even Mr. George last week called for war against corruption?

Hopefully, we will get the abducted girls back.  But it obvious now that Nigerians would be stupid to allow themselves, in future elections, to be blinded by emotion.  To go into the polling booth on the wings of emotion is like a man choosing a wife with a blindfold on.

In this regard, the only choice before Nigerians next year is to campaign—and vote—ABP.

That means Anyone But PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), and Anyone But Patience Jonathan.

But Patience was not elected, some people will cry.  To which I would answer, “My point exactly!”

Unless a Nigerian is a masochist, it is clearly time to prospect seriously for good governance—not goodluck goverance—because as we have seen, the quality of administration Mr. Jonathan offers can only lead to a regrettable political Sambisa forest.  Mr. Jonathan is the best proof of what can happen when a people fail to focus on what is important.

It is also important for the international community to recognize the important lessons in the Nigeria experience.

As I have argued elsewhere, the post-war multilateral architecture, with firm boundaries of sovereignty and territorial integrity, demonstrates its shortcomings in countries such as Nigeria.  That architecture grants the benefit of the doubt to the country that is exceedingly dangerous in the hands of a rogue leadership.

When that leadership is rotten, as we have seen in much of the past 50 years in Nigeria, the multilateral system does not know when to stop feeding the monster, and vast populations suffer immeasurable consequences.

This is why, when one considers the countries coming to the aid of Nigeria over the Chibok girls, it is interesting that most are the same countries that have in various ways aided and strengthened Nigeria’s corrupt leaderships in the past 50 years.

It is time to consider a scenario where such countries as Nigeria can enjoy an alternative—or parallel—path to development without having to travel through a horrendous graveyard that could have been avoided.


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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