Goodluck Jonathan, Ayodele Fayose and Tope Aluko: ‘Ineffectual buffoons’, or Accidents of History?
“The Jonathanization of Nigeria is the process of governance where corruption and stealing cannot be equal. This process allows individuals to groups to loot a nation’s treasury with impunity, regardless of whose ox is gored” – Olumuyiwa Babatunde Amao
Over the last 6 months, former President Goodluck Jonathan has been traversing the globe, delivering key lectures on how democracy in Africa can be strengthened, and also bagging numerous international recognition in the process. He goes down in history as one of the few African leaders who voluntarily left office after losing their bid for re-election. Whatever the arguments for and against his decision to concede defeat to the then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress is or was, the truth remains that he could have stayed on in power if he wanted. Of course, Nigeria would probably have become Africa’s Syria, or another Sierra Leone or Liberia, by now. But he chose to act otherwise, and for that I again commend him.
Beyond this commendation however, events in the last 6 months are beginning to show that the man who is being celebrated as an ‘icon or hero of democracy’, most probably deserve no such commendation. Since his exit from office, Nigerians have been treated on a daily basis to tales of how the government he led milked their country ‘dry’ and brought it down to its knees. Perhaps, a more apt description of his government is contained in ‘The Economists’ article titled: “Cheap oil is causing a currency crisis in Nigeria, Banning imports is no solution”. Former President Jonathan was described as an ‘ineffectual buffoon’, who let politicians and their cronies fill their pockets with impunity’.
Expectedly, many Jonathanians, and some patriotic Nigerians were quick to register their protests against ‘The Economists’. Their grouse is that the attack on Dr Goodluck Jonathan, should not be seen from an individual perspective, but rather, as a collective insult on Nigeria’s Presidency. They argue that if this insult is allowed to stand, Nigerians would have ‘surrendered’, the sanctity of its highly revered institution to a Western media which often portrays Africa as a ‘dark continent’. To be honest, I share in some of these reservations. Like many other Nigerians, I do believe that despite former President Jonathan’s apparent bastardization of the Presidency as an institution, it is not in the place of a foreign media to throw such in our face.
Regrettably however, my stand on this issue has been altered by two major developments—the Dasuki and Ekitigates. Before proceeding into the nitty-gritty of both issues, it may well be necessary to establish exactly what constitutes an ‘ineffectual buffoon’, from the literary perspective, before situating same within the confines of the political and economic tragedy which befell Nigeria during the Jonathan Presidency. As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the adjective ‘ineffectual’, refers to situation where ‘someone or something fails or is unable to produce an intended result’. While according to Vocabulary online’, a buffoon refers to “someone whose ridiculous behaviour is a source of amusement to others.”
From these definitions, two major questions stand out. Was former President Jonathan an ineffectual leader? And (2) were his actions in office ‘buffoonic’ in nature? While one may argue that calling a former President of the largest black nation in the world an ineffectual buffoon is an insult, it is imperative to also admit that ascribing the appellation to him, based on his action or inaction in both the Dasuki and Ekitigates may afterall qualify him to be so called.
As evidenced in the Dasukigate chart for instance, the former President simply closed his eyes to his oversight functions and allowed his erstwhile National Security Adviser; Sambo Dasuki distribute money to all manner of politicians including marabouts. Nigeria under him virtually became an automated teller machine, and money meant for the purchase of arms and ammunitions became a national cake and an instrument of oiling his re-election machinery. It bears mentioning that this issue has already been over flogged, and I believe the chart below should do justice to the remaining analysis on the mind-blogging corruption which his Presidency turned a blind eye to.
The lesson to be drawn from the Dasukigate is that Nigeria, all through the six years Dr Jonathan was in power simply became an Automated Teller Machine, with the former National Security adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), becoming the ATM Card, and the Bank at the same time. Funds meant for the procurement of ammunitions that could have helped cut the wings of the deluded Abubakar Shekau, and his co-murderers, in the Northeast, were spent on frivolities and other irrelevances without conscience. In one particular instance, Olisa Metuh, (the National Publicity Secretary of Dr Jonathan’s Political party), and his Destra Investments Ltd, received about N400m, from the money meant for the procurement of arms, from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November 2014, ostensibly under the guise of carrying out ‘a special assignment’, for GEJ.
Similarly, there is the case of another of Jonathan’s prodigy, and ex-Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and five others, who are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly converting to their personal use a total of N2, 658,957, 666, belonging to NIMASA between December 23, 2013 and May 28, 2015. This is asides the numerous, and unaccounted oil deals supervised by the ailing Allison Madueke, and her male friend, Jide Omokere,, becoming the conduit pipe through which millions of dollars were ferried out of Nigeria’s shores.
Under the Jonathan administration, Nigeria had one of the best opportunities to change its story for good, but we missed it. For example, when former President Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in 1999, crude oil at the international market was selling between $18 and 24 per barrel, and it later rose to between $30 and $40 per barrel a year or so before he left office in 2007. Regardless of this however, Obasanjo still left over $60 billion in the foreign reserve for the Yaradua and Jonathan administration. When Dr Jonathan took over in 2010, he inherited about $63 billion in external reserve. A barrel of oil averaged between $100-110 in his 5yr reign. Not only did ‘blow’ the $63 billion he inherited, he also resorted to loans from China and other foreign financial institutions to ‘implement’ his window dressing programs. He similarly wrote to the 7th National Assembly for its permission to borrow a loan of $1 billion, (which was approved for him) under the pretext of fighting Boko Haram, but the time he left office on May 28, 2015, he left behind a near empty treasury.
The question then is what happened to all the money Nigeria made from her crude oil sales, all through the 5 years he was in power? For the purpose of analysis, let us assume that we sold the 2,000,000 barrels of crude oil we were producing per day over the 1825 days he was in office, at an average of $100 per barrel. I will leave the mathematicians to do the calculation. But what should bother us as a people is if we ever thought about how much progress we could have made as a country if these funds had been judiciously utilised and not misappropriated? How much of a relief it could have brought to the victims of Boko Haram in their internally displaced camps? How many smiles the looted funds could have beamed on those school children across the country without chairs and tables in their classrooms? The thousands of pregnant women who lost their lives owing to the absence of sonogram machines in our public hospitals that could have helped detect danger in pregnancies before disaster strike? Have we as a nation ever thought of how many world class highways, hospitals, solid universities we could have built with these monies?
Perhaps, a better testament to the ‘ineffectual and buffoonic’, leadership style of the Dr Jonathan’s Presidency, are the revelations coming out from one Dr Temitope Aluko, a former Secretary of the Ekiti State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, who alleged that former President Goodluck Jonathan gave Governor Ayo Fayose roughly $37m cash to prosecute the June 21, 2014 governorship election in that state. In Aluko’s words, “…both the security and the funding came from the Presidency and even the primaries money we collected at the NNPC Towers in Abuja here, and they took $300,000 from the $2m for courier which was on Monday, 23rd of March 2014 and we took it to Prince and Princess, Fayose’s house, but the N4.7bn came into Ekiti on June 17, 2014.” Aluko added that “the $35m was “taken to a bureau de change in Onitsha where it was converted to N4.7bn.”
Surprisingly, Governor Fayose of Ekiti state has not come out to deny the crux of Dr Aluko’s allegation. All Lere Olayinka; the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Fayose could mumble out was that ‘every political party had its way of raising funds for elections. Fayose’s other feeble defence was that Dr Aluko should not be trusted because he is of an ‘unstable character.’ And that “For Aluko to be taken seriously, he must first have to report himself to the police to be tried for perjury and committed to prison for three years, since what he is now saying is different from what he said under oath at the election tribunal, being the only witness called by the PDP and Fayose”. My heart bled for Nigeria, and the people of Ekiti state when I watched Dr Tope Aluko, and Lere Olayinka engage themselves on national television!
In saner climes, characters like Dr Temitope Aluko, and Governor Ayodele Fayose should have been behind bars by now. The latter for lying on oath in a court of competent jurisdiction that the 2014 gubernatorial election in Ekiti state was devoid of any manipulation, and the latter for playing on the intelligence of Ekiti people to ride to power. Clearly, there is lesson to walk away with from both the Dasuki and Ekitigates: the embarrassing impunity which defined Dr Jonathan’s Presidency could only have happened in a polity where you have and ineffectual buffoon in charge!
This is not a matter of insult. It is just a statement of fact. If not, how do we explain a situation where a Commander-in-Chief, wilfully allows a cabal to hijack his administration, and refuses to accept responsibility for the tragedy which befell Nigeria during his Presidency? Or a situation where a sitting President (as he then was), could publicly contend that “people exaggerate corruption in Nigeria”, and that “it is not even our first, or second problem, maybe the third, because what people call corruption most times is mere public stealing”? Again, what manner of President will commit over 4.7bn of tax payers money into a gubernatorial election which in the final analysis could only add 160,000 votes to his re-election bid?
Unfortunately, this is Nigeria where every, and everything goes. Like so many other stories, this episode will soon fade away. However, what would not, is what posterity would remember the likes of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, Ayodele Fayose and Temitope Aluko for. Will they be perpetually be remembered as ‘Ineffectual Buffoons or as Accidents of History, who were fortunate to preside over the affairs of their people, and did so without conscience? I will leave you to make the call!
Olumuyiwa Babatunde Amao is a final year PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of Otago, Dunedin. He can be reached on email@example.com and he tweets @talk2smat