Why Nigeria is Better Off Without Jonathan By Adejoh Idoko Momoh
In the last 6 years it has become uninspiring to live in Nigeria and the reasons mostly surround its Commander In Chief, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. His leadership not only leaves Nigeria largely disunited and directionless but also battling one of Africa’s worst insurgencies.
It is a fact that Mr Jonathan will not be remembered for much besides leaving behind a largely unbalanced nation where its rich has never been richer and its poor has never been poorer. His stewardship has seen largely celebrated corruption, weaker public institutions and unbelievable carnage meted on the nation by Boko Haram. Boko Haram has taken about 20,000 square miles of Nigerian territory and displaced more than 850,000 people; the level of carnage the nation currently witnesses is only comparable to the Nigerian Civil War which lasted from 1967 to 1970.
Amidst all these, certain concerns have described Jonathan as deserving of a Nobel peace prize or being statemanly for the act of calling to concede defeat and congratulate General Buhari on his victory at the 2015 Presidential elections, all that talk is hogwash. These people need to realize that it doesn’t take one act alone to redeem six years of purposeless leadership.
For starters, let’s consider the controversial campaign that brought about his political demise. In the 2015 election year, Mr. Jonathan’s campaign largely centered on rhetorics like ‘I may not have delivered on promises, but I promise to do more’. ‘I may not have gotten everything right but Buhari will get it all wrong’. ‘I may not have fought corruption but Buhari will throw us all in jail’. For most people including me, Jonathan’s negative tone shocked us mainly because of its sudden departure from the campaign of hope that brought him to office in 2011. Considering this alone, it is hard to imagine such a person as statemanly or heroic.
When you consider the economy, it is easy to conclude that Jonathan through deliberate policies, pronouncements and actions practically capsized the already shaky financial system he inherited. It is common knowledge that corruption is a way of life in Nigeria but Jonathan stands out for the scale on which it operated under his rule. Probes like the oil subsidy fraud and pension scam exposed theft of sums in excess of the appropriation bills of 2013 and 2014 combined. Both cases would ordinarily be avenues for him to show the will to fight corruption, yet in both cases he shielded the culprits.
In 2011 when he took office, the Nigerian economy would have been on track for a reasonable expansion but instead, through his policies it became more hostile to small business growth, the Nigerian naira saw a free fall and despite the country being oil rich, petrol pump prices skyrocketed.
Amidst income inequality, soaring unemployment and deepening poverty, Nigerians still struggled with paying the N65 petrol pump price. Not long after Mr Jonathan assumed office, he decided to remove the subsidy on petroleum products which resulted in an increased price of N144. Amongst nationwide protests which broke as a result of the dramatic increase in fuel prices, a reduction to N97 was ordered. In January 2015, a further reduction of N10 was announced effectively bringing the price to N87. According to rumors the N10 reduction was effected to achieve cheap political gains. More so, since this politically motivated reduction, major cities across Nigeria have never seen more fuel queues than they currently witness.
Sadly, even the Naira has suffered the same fate. Mr. Jonathan met it hovering at some N150. At that rate Nigerians assumed the exchange rate could not get any worse but Jonathan made it worse, ensuring that the dollar exchanged for at least N230. It only reduced to N198 naira after General Muhammadu Buhari was declared President Elect.
A friend recently reached the conclusion that the only reason Mr. Jonathan accepted defeat even before it was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is because he is too weak to stand a country under chaos, and I agree with him. Critics and sympathizers in a bid to describe Jonathan have described him as slow, unkind, and a genius, but in all their criticism they have all fallen short of calling Jonathan what he really is, a weak, power hungry political light weight.