Between Goodluck Jonathan and Barack Obama by David Adeniyi
In the present day Nigeria; its a case of one day, one case of monumental corruption or the other allegedly perpetuated by the people at the helm of our affairs. It oscillates around our three arms (Local, State and Federal level). The country is neck-deep in various corrupt practices that Transparency International gave Nigeria a very “good” but unsatisfactorily embellished 35th position among the most corrupt nations in the world.
We are just 10 days into the year 2013, but Nigerians have not missed out being fed with sad tales of broad daylight frauds emanating from the corruption pulpit of governance. And this further portrays us in the bad light on the international scene.
As a patriotic citizen,I am worried; disturbed to the extent that I had to take a cursory look at our major problem as a nation- The Leadership problem.
A Yoruba wise saying goes thus:”Amukun eru e wo,o ni oke le nwo,e o wo isale”(meaning: When asked on why he was having a dishevelled load; a curved-legged man whose movement was occasioned with staggering answered: You were only looking at the top and not below). Our problem emanated from the top. And I know if our leadership problems can be solved,there will be substantial reprieve for us as a nation.
A lot has been said and written about President Goodluck Jonathan’s laissez-faire leadership style,yet he remains unmoved. His heart seems to have become so hardened like that of the biblical Pharaoh. Well,we all knew what happened at the end to King Pharaoh in the bible. God forbids bad thing!In the course of my research,I critically examined how and why Jonathan and Obama’s leadership styles differ strikingly.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan Ebele,was born November 20,1957 in his hometown Otueke, Bayelsa State. He attended St. Michael Primary School,Oloibiri finishing in 1969,later moved to Mater Dei High School and passed out in 1975. Hebrieflyworked as a Preventive Officer with the Nigerian Customs Service for 2 years before enrolling at the University of Port Harcourt,Rivers State where he graduated in Zoology in 1977. Ten years late he bagged his Master’s and PhD degrees in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology;and Zoology respectively at the University of Port Harcourt.
After graduating from the UNIPORT,young Goodluck Jonathan worked first as a Science Inspector of Education,Rivers State Ministry of Education in 1982,then joined Rivers State College of Education as a lecturer in the Dept. of Biological Sciences until 1993 when he was appointed Assistant Director(Ecology) of the defunct Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC). Jonathan was chosen as a running mate to Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha,the then governorship candidate of the PDP in Bayelsa State for the 1999 general elections.
Two years later,Gov. Diepreye was impeached for money laundering activities and Jonathan stepped in to become the governor effortlessly. Not long after that,while he was busy preparing for a possible (re)election into his full term as governor,OBJ handpicked him as running mate to Late Umaru Yar’Adua. On May 29, 2007,he was inaugurated as Nigeria’s Vice-president. Following Yar’Adua’s death on May 5,2010,Jonathan became the president by a “doctrine of necessity” passed by the National Assembly. As an incumbent president,he re-contested the 2011 presidential election. He was duly elected president in a keen contest which held on April 17,2011.
In the same vein,Mr. Barack Obama was born on August 4,1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He moved to Jakarta in 1967 where he lived for four years. At the age of 10,he returned to Hawaii and was raised by his maternal grandparents. After High School,he attended first Occidental College and then Columbia University where he graduated with a degree in Political Science. Five years later,he attended Harvard Law School and graduated in 1991.
Upon graduating from Columbia University,Barack Obama worked first at Business International Corporation and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group,a non-partisan political organisation. He then moved to Chicago and became director of the Developing Communities Project. Mr. Obama wrote his memoir,Dreams from My Father. He worked as a community organizer along with teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for twelve years. He also worked as a lawyer during the same period.
In 1996,Obama was elected to be the junior Senator from Illinois. Barack Obama was nominated (not handpicked by godfathers) after a very close primary race against a key opponent,Hillary Clinton,wife of former president Bill Clinton in February,2007. He won the election and became the first African-America to not only be nominated by a major party but also to win the presidency of the United States. He went on to win re-election in 2012.
Agreed that these personalities both have impressive credentials. But, I do have an issue with how each of them came into politics in their countries.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a fine gentleman,who in his wildest dream never envisaged that he would ever become the governor of Bayelsa State let alone the Nigerian president. He was not only unprepared for the leadership tasks of this magnitude but totally lacks the required skills to communicate flawlessly – and I don’t mean command of the English here. It becomes evident that luck is just a phenomenon that is difficult to measure. Jonathan got to the two coveted positions he occupied in government through stepping into the shoes of a disgraced governor(Diepreye) and succeeding a dead president (Umaru Yar’Adua). He became prominent in the political circle without piggy-riding into a place of favour.
Goodluck Jonathan’s ascension into power is in contrast to that of Barack Obama. Obama was a grassroots man;the type we call a street man in Nigeria. His preparedness for political participation is totally paralleled to Jonathan’s,and this greatly shaped and honed his leadership skills. Obama is very eloquent,smart,articulate and strategic! Qualities conspicuously missing in our president. He was a leader before he was made the American leader. In his early life,young Barack already knew what he wanted for himself and his country. He had read books, widely consulted with political associates and came into limelight as a result.
Barack Obama said and I quote:
“That’s what the leadership was teaching me day by day;that the self interest I was supposed to be looking for extended well beyond the immediacy of issues,that beneath the small talk and sketchy biographies and received opinions people carried within them some central explanation of themselves.”
“I saw the African-American community becoming more than just the place where you’d been born or the house where you’d been raised. Through organizing,through shared sacrifice, membership had been earned and because membership was earned- because this community I imagined was still in the making,built on the promise that the larger Americancommunity,black, white and brown could somehow redefine itself-I believed that it might,over time,admit the uniqueness of my own life. That was my idea of organizing. It was a promise or redemption.”
(Culled from Dream from My Father)
Barack Obama had long dreamed of becoming a political giant.
Another factor that played prominence between Jonathan and Obama was the society in which they were raised. We are the products of our society. It influences our beliefs and values. Obama was raised and nurtured in an ideal society which believes that politics is not a business but a mission. An ideal society where every American keeps one faith and fights for a collective destiny. Contrarily,Jonathan grew up in a polluted society made worse by his membership of the PDP -a self deluded biggest party in Africa that has been in power for about 14 yearswith no meaningful result in terms of infrastructural development and security. Yet,the ruling PDP has vowed to rule the country,at the federal level for 50 years.
In the build to the 2011 general elections,presidential debates were organised,Goodluck Jonathan struggled to attend. After serious public criticisms against his disappearance, he eventually debated himself. In the 2012 US presidential election,four major intellectual debates were held during the last weeks of the campaign. Barack Obama was ‘aggressively’ challenged on three occasions by his rival,Mitt Romney, on issues bordering on social security,healthcare reform,education,taxationetc.
In 2011 presidential election conducted by the INEC,Nigerian masses still ignorantly came out en masse to vote Dr. Goodluck Jonathan with a mild hope that his luck would better their lots. Many failed to realise that being the beneficiary of other people’s misfortune also has its own consequences. He did not sweat like a retired general who has contested for the same position unsuccessfully for three consecutive times.
As the drum for the election 2015 is rolled out with all the political actors and gladiators already scheming and strategizing to position their parties to the people,Nigerian masses must live above primordial sentiments and ethnic bigotrism.
Our ideal 2015 election candidates should be men and women from any part of the country,that are credible,visionary, well-groomed,fully prepared (physically and mentally) for the leadership tasks ahead and know the intricacies of good governance.
Nigeria is for us all. we should renew its glory, redefine its identity and reclaim our collective destiny as a people.
God bless Nigeria.
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