The Dangers of President Jonathan’s Desperation By Frisky Larrimore
The body language of President Jonathan these days betrays everything but ease. It betrays defiance. Not often do we see the lips of this rather innocent and calm looking middle-aged man drawn tightly together and pointed, the wrinkles around the eyes drawn loosely upwards with the forehead pointedly squeezed to produce the unbefitting stern looks of a defiant rebel. These are the pictures that meet the eyes these days. The early days of striding effortlessly through the media aisles enjoying the expectant gaze of the audience from all directions now seem gone. Perhaps, forever too! Events unfolding in recent times also seem to give the President enough reasons to be ill at ease. The focus is on 2015.
In fact, the most closely guarded political secret that is indeed, no secret today, is the President’s will to be fielded by his party and re-elected President, come 2015. To achieve this goal, the President’s determination seems to know no bounds. He would even walk over corpses as a German adage would say. Yet he denies any intention to seek re-election publicly claiming to be consulting across the board to sample opinions. A pattern that is strongly reminiscent of the third term agenda of former President Obasanjo that the President denied until the bill got crushed at the National Assembly.
One way or the other, President Obasanjo survived this denting blunder and still remains a respectable domestic and international political personality till the present moment. Unfortunately, Dr. Jonathan does not have Obasanjo’s clout. There are justified doubts that he will ever end up as lucky.
While neutral observers largely agree that a goal is hardly ever achieved in politics without a fight, many are however stunned by the extent to which Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is presently taking his fight to achieve re-election in 2015. In fact, there is near unanimity of opinion amongst neutral assessors that this 2015 dream is a near-insurmountable challenge for the President given his present record and public perception.
Therefore every single time the President turns on the heat on opponents of this dream, he reveals to viewers from the outside that the opponents are growing stronger and have to be crushed. Each time the temperature is raised further to consume these same opponents, the world knows that the previous heat could not consume them. Further intensifications thereafter, simply serve to produce the image of a hopelessly frustrated and desperate President. Is Dr. Goodluck Jonathan unable to see these writings on the wall?
It seems to represent an element of the ensuing dynamics that the President is slowly drawn into a consuming labyrinth of manipulations when a single step simply refuses to snap. After all, all previous steps have functioned easily and effortlessly.
The removal of surrogates of the opponents from key party positions had gone very smoothly. The Chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees was elected under the tele-guidance of the Presidency against fierce resistance from the opponent’s camp and party business now rests on the platform provided by the presidency. The ease with which the President took over the party machinery from his powerful opponents in these intra-party squabbles seems to have given him a taste of the power of incumbency. But it was only the easiest part of the game. Problems begin however, when one single nut in the continuum refuses to snap into place. Prudent postulants would normally return to the drawing board thereafter and begin to wonder if they are slowly beginning to bite more than they can chew.
Today however, incumbent President Jonathan has opened up a new front to fight Governors perceived to be disloyal to the private cause. Rightly or wrongly every issue affecting the most prominent Governor at the center of the running battle is promptly perceived as a dirty trick whether or not it is related to the political dispute with the President. The grounding of Governor Amaechi’s jet at a Nigerian airport for valid technical reasons of night flight precautions will be spontaneously seen by many as another presidential dirty trick to intimidate an opponent. The public perceives this and it is the public that votes in the President.
A new political coalition emerges and chooses the name All Progressives Congress (APC) waiting to be formally registered. All of a sudden, a group crops up to overtake it and declares its intention to register a party with the same abbreviation APC. A move that was aimed at frustrating the successful registration of the coalition since another party would have then been registered with the abbreviation before the coalition! The public takes note of this and registers a dirty trick looking over the shoulder straight at the Presidency, rightly or wrongly.
But how frustrated would a President be to then come out from nowhere and tell a discerning audience that he alone has the wherewithal to keep Niger Delta militancy in check and empower the reign of peace in the oil producing region? Media reports have very lately reported the Presidency as highlighting the dangers of the resurgence of Niger Delta militancy if this administration is ditched in 2015. Another mild expression of the possible replacement of Boko Haram with a resurgent MEND or the double jeopardy of both after 2015 if President Jonathan is not re-elected! The discerning public takes note and many shake their heads in endless disbelief.
Then all of a sudden, the public begins to hear hitherto unknown quantities reporting of an ex-President who ran a Killer squad and a Robbery squad and also had a hand in the assassination of Bola Ige – Nigeria’s former Minister of Justice. This, in fact, is an issue that I examined with sufficient attention in my book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism”. Indeed any qualified journalist or mass communicator who watched this web TV and saw the highly unqualified toilet journalism that packaged the interview or read the subsequent article that summarizes the interview with two attention-seeking young men with a very poor sense of expressional articulation will know immediately that there is absolutely nothing in the brouhaha to be taken seriously. As viewers and readers comments in that childish website subsequently betray, the timing of these so-called revelations, the facts and the tele-guided journalistic questioning are all pointing to yet another dirty trick. The public takes note and keeps watching in dismay.
Not forgotten is yet the trouble of the oil sector. Troubles that were investigated assiduously albeit not without a dose of self-interest, by legislators led by Farouk Lawan! Findings were made and valid revelations too. But a very dubious and amateurish sting operation nabbed and exposed the Nigerian sense of greed in Farouk Lawan and all the findings and revelations were conveniently dumped in the waste bin of a President seeking re-election. The former no-nonsense Czar of the anti-corruption Commission EFCC was also drawn into the game to give it all he has and only ended up being conveniently rubbished by another highly coincidental procedural flaw uncovered by a subordinate member of his committee. The songs of dirty tricks have all been sung for times unending. Yet the public watches and it is the public that decides elections.
No one is in doubt that President Jonathan is aware of his very negative public image at home and abroad that will be a liability to any political party in any credible election. With a hand-picked party Chairman who has his own ambitions however, the President is not-surprisingly, being urged on by sycophants and dreamers with private agenda and political dreams.
Amid legitimate questions over tangible achievements by his government, the President does not sit up tight to achieve as much as he can in the remaining period of his tenure. No. He accuses the media of under-reporting his achievements.
So much has happened in governance to earn the President the title of “Mr. Clueless” that observers now seem to agree that President Jonathan’s governmental cluelessness has now been replaced by expertise in fighting opponents. But he was elected to govern and not to fight opponents.
Addressing the issue of consulting on 2015, the President has often cited the necessity of not being diverted from the business of governance through the politics of 2015 as a reason for not yet making up his mind in public. Yet the President stands out for having long thrown the business of governance overboard to concentrate on 2015 even though he had reportedly agreed to run just one term in the run-up to 2011.
Even one of the most credible, internationally-acclaimed brains in the administration who, hitherto has been considered by many as a hot presidential material has now been actively drawn into the business of telling petty lies to enhance the President’s standing. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had shamelessly posed before a world audience on CNN lately in a futile attempt to launder the overall image of the presidency and government’s achievements with one blatant lie. She downplayed the enormous consequences of corruption in Nigeria claiming that 99.9% of Nigerians are honest people with just 0.1% who are mischievously corrupt and hit the headlines all over the world.
Today, President Jonathan has commenced the process of irreparably destroying his party to sound the lesson of the consequence of his eventual demise in 2015. In other words, the party will be scattered if it fails to nominate him for re-election and he will not drown alone in the fecal pool of ominous stench. How far he also intends to take the corporate existence of Nigeria along with his doomed ambition is presently anyone’s guess.
If anything, the prediction of MEND’s resurgence will not portend good tidings. It is yet unclear that the insecurity of Boko Haram will be solved under his presidency. There is virtually no doubt that a faction of disgruntled elements would love to pick up arms again and fight the central government if the millions they presently earn in legally sanctioned brigandage are no more paid upon the demise of Jonathan. Combined with the raging violence of Boko Haram if not resolved soon, MEND resurgence will usher in the threat of a watershed civil war that may decide the fate of Nigeria.
With its high arsenal of nuisance weapon, the political architecture that has so far been constructed by the Okupe’s and the hungry Abatis under Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is recklessly strolling down the hellfire path without a care for the foreseeable consequences. All because a single man has grown an insatiable appetite for political power!
After all, political Nigeria had long witnessed strong popular hatred of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and thought no one could be hated more. If Nigerians now begin to consider it an insult on Olusegun Obasanjo to compare Goodluck Jonathan with the former President, then the alarm bells should be sounding very loud in Goodluck Jonathan’s inner circle. I received this post on Twitter just a few days ago:
“Can u compare obj to Gej? even dough obj is evil,this one is a demon.Frm looting to lawlessness to wickedness.”
Voices of reason will no doubt urge Jonathan to back down from 2015 NOW! After all, he has always left a back door open for an exit strategy by claiming that governance is more important to him than 2015. At the moment however, vested interests telling him that the opponents also have the choice of backing down are having the President’s ears. Dr. Jonathan will prefer to toe the most convenient line and probably lose sight of a dangerously bleak political future awaiting him if he fails to back down NOW!
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