Why Nigerians Turned Their Backs On President Jonathan By Terfa Naswem
When President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died on 5 may 2010 and Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was sworn in on 6 May 2010 as the 14th Head of State of Nigeria, I was extremely pessimistic about his government effectiveness and seriously had doubts that his government would build on the legacy of late President Yar’Adua. As he set the mechanism of his government in motion, so many unpleasant events that unfolded proved me right.
President Jonathan is naturally a gentle man with a very good heart; a man who loves children; a man who cares about the well being of people; a man who has the ability to stand firm against insurmountable situations; a man who is warm-hearted; a man who has the ability to invigorate every ministry in the Nigerian Government and reposition Nigeria on the move-ahead track; a man who has the ability to make positive and productive invincible choices for Nigeria. And above all, a man who is God fearing. But Jonathan appears to be bereft of all these qualities because of so many wrong choices made and some of those in his government including his wife Patience and those within his own family turned him into a mere inert resource for their diabolical schemes.
Although President Jonathan has made notable impact by: Promotion and practice of relatively stable democracy by creating an enabling environment where people from diverse opinions can be accommodated; liberalization of the press and guaranteeing the freedom of speech; Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN); establishing nine federal universities across the Country; introducing the Almajiri system of education in the academically disadvantaged Northern parts of the country; opening up of Nigeria to the global business; opening up of Nigeria to the global business community and becoming Africa’s number one destination of foreign investors. In the first six month of 2014 a total of US$9.70 billion or N1.51 trillion flowed into the national economy as foreign direct investments (FDI); making proceeds from Nigeria’s non-on exports to rise to $2.3Billion by the end of 2013, up from $2.3 Billion in 2010; remodeling, beautification and standardization of airports across the Country; arresting the outbreak of the deadly and highly contagious Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in record time; transforming the agricultural sector making Nigeria to reduce its food imports over 40% as of 2013, moving the country closer to self sufficiency in Agriculture; making Nigeria the world’s largest producer of Cassava with an output of over 45Million metric tons in 2014 according to the food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO); improvement in Economic indices- in October 2011 international Ratings agency, Fitch Rating revised Nigeria’s Outlook upwards from Negative to Stable among other achievements but his government has been marred and over shadowed by the high level of corruption and insecurity which have led to gross incompetence and failure of his government since his achievements are not commensurate to the resources claimed to have been used.
The issue of corruption has placed Nigeria in a very tight situation because corruption leads to bad governance, insecurity, high rate of unemployment, poor infrastructure, lack of quality education, poor salaries among others.
When Jonathan was sworn in on 6 May 2010 as the President of Nigeria, he cited anti-corruption, power and electoral reforms as focuses of his administration. But his administration has rather promoted corruption than curbed it. The basic problem Jonathan has is corruption which has neutralized his achievements and made most Nigerians to have ambivalent feelings toward his Transformation Agenda.
The Malabu Oil deal corruption is one of the issues that has questioned Jonathan’s anti-corruption competency. According to The Economist of 15 June 2013, In 2011 Goodluck Jonathan’s government facilitated the transfer of payment of $1.1Billion to a fake company set up by a controversial former Petroleum Minister under Sani Abasha’s corrupt regime, Dan Etete. The fake company, Malabu Oil and Gas was set up in 1998 by Etete using a false identity so as to award himself a lucrative Oil block, OPL245, for which he paid only $2million of the $20million legally required by the State. At the time of Jonathan’s government helping to facilitate the transfer of payment from shell and Eni to the fake company, Etete was already a convicted felon of money laundering in France. The Economist further says that only $800million out of the $1.1billon meant for Malabu Oil and Gas was even remitted by the Nigerian government.
The Nigerian Attorney General, Mohammed Bello Adoke, who signed the documents involved in facilitating the payments, denied the rest was shared by public officials.
The transfer to convicted Felon, Etete, only came to public light when a Russian lawyer that claimed to have helped Malabu negotiate a deal with the Jonathan’s government sued in New York for a $66Million unpaid commission. Both Shell and Eni as of September 2014 were under investigation for corruption by the UK and Italian authorities for the incidence.
The way which Jonathan handled the corruption act of the erstwhile Minister of Aviation Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah who bought 2 BMW bullet proof cars at the rate of N255miillion upset many Nigerians.
According to Punch, February 27, 2013, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina was accused of spending up to N1billion to carry out biometric verification for retirees, both in Nigeria and abroad. On the whole, Maina allegedly misappropriated about N195billion, according to the Senate Pension Probe Committee headed by Aloysius Etuk and Kabiru Gaya. This resulted in extreme difficulties in getting money to pay thousands of pensioners their due.
Lamido sanusi was suspended by Jonathan and later replaced as the Central Bank Governor for leaking information that about $20billion of petrodollars were missing from the coffers of Nigeria. And this act made most Nigerians to lost faith in Jonathan’s government in effectively fighting corruption.
Premium Times of March 24, 2014 reports that the Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke was accused by Federal lawmakers of squandering N10billion to charter and maintain private jet for her personal use. She was accused of spending about N130Million Naira monthly to maintain the aircraft, solely for her personal needs and those of her immediate family.
Samuel Adejare, the lawmaker who raised the matter made it explicitly clear that there was irrefutable evidence showing that the financing for the Challenger 850 aircraft was drawn from government funds.
According to Mr. Adejare, the estimated N10billion would be “a tip of the iceberg” as further investigation would show the minister spent far higher.
As a result of many cases of high level of corruption in the Jonathan government, the United States Government in 2013 indicted the President Goodluck Jonathan led Federal Government of massive and widespread corruption.
According to the United States Department of State, government officials and agencies frequently engage in corrupt practices with impunity.
The former United States’ Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton in a public interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, lambasted Nigerian government saying: “They have squandered their oil wealth, they have allowed corruption to fester and now they are losing control of parts of their territory because they wouldn’t make hard choices”. According to her, President Goodluck Jonathan led government is indirectly aiding corruption to worsen the nation’s many problems.
It is evident that high level of corruption flows in Jonathan government like moving water. This is where Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) is better than President Jonathan. Although Buhari also is not free from corruption since no human being is corrupt-free. But Buhari has been known to have the will to fight corruption and reduce its negative impact and his level of corruption can never be equated with Jonathan since he is far better than Jonathan in this regard.
Most Nigerians turned their backs on President Jonathan and voted against him because his government failed to live up to the expectations of Nigerians.
Buhari should learn great lesions from Jonathan’s mistake and should never allow all these happen in his government. If Buhari must succeed as a good leader, he must put the interests of Nigerians above that of himself, his family, his party and his friends.