Fallout of the Chibok Scandal: What is Nigerians’ Red Line for GEJ’s Deficiencies? By Akeem Oyalowo
At what point in this imbroglio about the abduction of the girls in Chibok will Nigerians realize that the presidency as presently constituted is not capable of the type of leadership required to effectively deal with insurgency and/or terrorism?
It took the president 22 days to make a public statement about the stolen students. Instead of being seen to govern effectively (after waking up from his slumber), what he did was just to create a 30-man committee on the missing girls!
This is not the type of presidency Nigeria deserve. If in fact, Nigeria is Africa’s largest nation, the largest concentration of black people all over the world and if as a result of a rebased GDP we are Africa’s biggest economy, then we need a president who can steer the nation’s affairs effectively.
We do not need a president who is asking for journalists to supply him information on where our stolen girls might be. We certainly do not need a president, who it appears cannot galvanize the armed forces to defend the country effectively.
We do not need a president who in the face of a global backlash against his ineffectual handling of the kidnap of the girls, now realizes that he needs international help to recover the girls, only when the leader of the terrorist group went on international television to gloat about the crazy things he plans to do to the girls.
The president’s inefficiency is noticed, only when managing the affairs of the country. It is not usually missing when the issue of his hold on power is the focus. Remember there were some Nigerians, who demonized the PDP in 2011 but went on to vote for the President because he was seen as a breath of “fresh air”. Can anybody make a distinction between the PDP that was, prior to his election in 2011 and the PDP we have now?
The Presidency has been very effective in taking over the control of the party. Even when enemies were not to be found anywhere, his ministers and aides and sometimes, wife, went out of their way to create some for him.
The departure of so many of the party’s governors to APC is a reflection of the President’s stranglehold on the party. The virtual non-existence of the governors’ forum which since the advent of this republic has been an effective machine used in curbing presidential excesses, based on the president’s desire to control it is also another angle from which the presidency cannot be said to be indecisive or ineffective in the use of power. At least when it concerns its need to stay in power beyond 2015.
Those governors who were used in factionalizing the governors’ forum have not only done a disservice to their individual states, their level of intelligence as to their inability to differentiate between the need to separate the politics of the governors’ forum from internal party politics is to be seriously questioned. The governors’ forum in whatever shape or faction it exists now, is more of what the presidency wants.
The factionalization of that body has seen the presidency being less concerned about the allegations of a missing 20 billion dollars from the federation account. In the past, a united governors’ forum would have put the presidency to task and better answers would have been offered at least compared to Mr President’s less-than-wise attempt at differentiating corruption from stealing and his even more depressing answer that if such money was missing, the Americans will know, “since it is their money”.
Thus when one thinks of the Jonathanian era in the history of Nigeria, two things come to mind.
The first, is its inability to govern when one think of governance in its most basic forms. This is reflected in its inability to make lasting positive changes even when so much noise has preceded its announcement of policy change or reforms. Proof of this lies in the inability of the power sector to improve in service delivery, while capacity development remains shaky or unclear. This in spite of the privatization and unbundling of PHCN into different outfits.
The second is its politics. While many of its activities have lowered the image of the ideal presidency, its control of the ruling party is not much different to how, Obasanjo handled the party in his own time as well. Yet, Obasanjo was regarded in negative light based on his doings and this presidency cannot be seen in a different light from that also. Like Obasanjo, this presidency believes all existing political structures must be recruited into its campaign for holding on to power. It is why it has created enemies for itself and has kicked itself in the groin so hard, that the opposition has expanded and united its ranks out of it.
The total sum of the governance ability of President Goodluck Jonathan and his political conduct produces a picture of a man who expects benefits from his leadership position but shirks away from its responsibilities.
This has never been more evident than in this period of national crisis, specifically as it regards the need to deal with insurgency and terrorism and we like the rest of the world are as shocked by the virtual absence of leadership, as defined by the need to have a clear sense of direction, a clear and effective strategy to deal with this grave issue.
While Nigeria can alert the whole world to help in its campaign against Boko Haram because the west would be interested, due to that boko haram’s Al-Qaeda links, the need to make Nigeria a great nation cannot be done for us by foreigners. This presidency’s term remains a year before it expires. Consequently, it cannot be blamed solely for whatever becomes of our nation negatively, yet it is clear, the path where it is leading us.
While one can pray that as a sovereign entity we make it beyond 2015 as a united nation, what is the red line, which as a citizenry, we are giving to this government as regards the abducted schoolgirls, the unabated killing of people in northern Nigeria and the issues of corruption which this government has repeatedly shown it cannot separate itself from?
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