Sonala Olumhense: Pres. Jonathan’s presidency ran out long ago

by Sonala Olumhense


At greater stake is Mr. Jonathan’s credibility, which is in tatters, shredded by errors of omission and commission. 

When President Goodluck Jonathan steps off the presidential jet from his South Africa trip today, he will have 370 days left in office. In July 2011 when I penned his Countdown Calendar for the first time, he had almost 1400.

Those 370 days come from the constitutional clock.  In practical terms, the Jonathan presidency ran out of time and meaning a long time ago.  In the past couple of months, President Jonathan has proved to the world, sadly, that his critics were right.

Last week, he journeyed to South Africa supposedly to discuss the militancy challenge confronting Africa.  According to his spokesman, Reuben Abati, he was expected to discuss with continental leaders “collective action to effectively roll back the scourge of terrorism in Africa.”

It is remarkable that Mr. Jonathan has no problem jumping on a plane to journey away from the political heat of Nigeria. He has been to France to discuss Boko Haram, and he has been to South Africa to discuss terror.

You would expect Jonathan to be hosting these meetings, but it is obvious that nobody trusts him with any such serious state affairs.  Jonathan does not appear to trust his own ability to protect himself, let alone anyone else, as his refusal to set foot on the soil of Chibok has demonstrated to the world.

But while he is willing to go anywhere but the ground zero of Chibok to demonstrate his manhood, he does not seem to recognize that he deceives nobody, as people now seem to require no privacy to laugh at him.

Foreigners are not yet in charge of Nigerian security, only the compelling challenge of finding and bringing home hundreds of schoolgirls Mr. Jonathan’s kleptocracy could not protect.  What is obvious, for now, is that others are concerned about the direction in which Nigeria under Jonathan is drifting.

Reflecting on the issue last week, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda warned that the delegation to foreigners of the responsibility to protect is a vote of no confidence on a country, and that he would hang himself before ever doing so.

“I have never called the United Nations to guard your security,” he told Ugandans at a campaign rally.  “Me, Yoweri Museveni to say that I have failed to protect my people and I call in the UN….I would rather hang myself.  We prioritized national security by developing a strong army otherwise our Uganda would be like DRC, South Sudan, Somalia or Nigeria where militias have disappeared with school children. It would be a vote of no confidence to our country and citizens if we can’t guarantee our security, what kind of persons would we be?”

Predictably, the crowds cheered.  A voter loves a leader who is committed to security for the people, rather than for himself.

Mr. Museveni made those remarks the same day that the United Nations Security Council blacklisted Boko Haram.

Said Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, “By adding Boko Haram to the U.N.’s 1267 (Al-Qaida) Sanctions List, the Security Council has helped to close off important avenues of funding, travel and weapons to Boko Haram, and shown global unity against their savage actions.”

In the action, the UN described Boko Haram as an affiliate of al-Qaida and the Organization of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Boko Haram has maintained a relationship with the Organization of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb for training and material support purposes,” the Organization said.  “For example, Boko Haram gained valuable knowledge on the construction of improvised explosive devices from AQIM.  A number of Boko Haram members fought alongside al-Qaida affiliated groups in Mali (in) 2012 and 2013 before returning to Nigeria with terrorist expertise.”

On the same day that those actions were being taken and views expressed, Mr. Jonathan was in Abuja trying to teach the world’s #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) they do not know what they are talking about.

First, the presidency took extensive measures to fend off protesters who had announced they would take their daily protests to the villa.  At both main gates, the government enhanced the already massive security visibility of various agencies.

Worse still, the president refused to meet the protesters, who were held off at the Federal Secretariat and lectured to change the focus of their advocacy.  Demonstrating the empty capacity in his government, Mr. Jonathan sent not only the Secretary to the Government, Mr. Anyim Pius Anyim, but at least four Ministers and four Special Advisers.

Their task was to tell the global BBOG: Blame the terrorists, not the government.

By his approach, Mr. Jonathan achieved the very opposite of what he intended. His message did not, and could not tell Nigerian and international protesters to focus on Boko Haram; on the contrary, it reminded them only that helpless Mr. Jonathan cannot help Nigeria.

If Mr. Jonathan had intended a shift of philosophical focus on the ineptitude of his government, his best approach was an appearance before the demonstrators at State House, and to have spoken to them as a man, without written notes or a prepared address.

By fleeing from confrontation and failing to take questions, the dirty work he sent his armada of overpaid and underemployed officials to do is far messier this weekend.

At greater stake is Mr. Jonathan’s credibility, which is in tatters, shredded by errors of omission and commission.

Yes, there is a Boko Haram. And yes, it was not caused by Mr. Jonathan, but it is an issue that—like other Nigerian problems of the moment—has been compounded by the Nigerian leader.  The president may wish to contradict this assessment by citing any public concerns he has fixed since taking control.

I hate to repeat the obvious: When a government or a leader is without credibility, character, or respect; when a leader loses the authority of his word, only those who do not mind drinking from such sewage can swear by that government.

That is why, this morning, it is no comfort to remind Mr. Jonathan he has but 370 days left in office.  That may appear to be good news to those who have failed to locate in a dictionary the term, “responsibility”, but it is an impossible agony for those whose daughters, like their government, are missing; whose commonwealth is being raped in the open; whose national pride has been punctured.

No, none of this is about the “scourge of terrorism in Africa.”  At issue is the menace of corruption and incompetence being inflicted on peoples by rulers whose definition of governance is self, not service.



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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