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Author Name: abiodun KOMOLAFE
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Nigeria: President Goodluck Jonathan as victim of good luck
Author: abiodun KOMOLAFE | September 24, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan is a victim of good luck. Therefore, those who are accusing this poor man of classic incompetence, especially, in restoring Nigeria to the path of glory, are only being unfair to him. On the other hand, that Jonathan has not even the faintest idea of how to turn around the compelling tragedies that have become characteristic of this funny and contradictorily interesting country is no longer the issue. What remains to be addressed is how innocent Nigerians will not suffer unjustly from a president’s sheer visionlessness. Not that alone, that the president’s paladins of pleasure-seeking and crocodile tears-shedding lieutenants who, in their basically selfish nature, are repellently unpresidential in the discharge of their duties is no longer contestable. Little wonder their principal claims to be world’s “most criticized president.” I am not a fan of President Jonathan and I don’t envy him either. But I honestly pity this president who has been condemned to searching – and, rightly, too - for solutions to problems he “did not create.” I pity him because, as a bloody zoologist whose professional destiny is tied to the kingdom of pests and rodents, dealing with human beings and their consciousness, especially, under “very sad and unusual circumstances”, is not as easy and as straightforward as one might conjecture. What more? Jonathan was obviously unprepared for higher responsibilities as at the time fate thrust on him the priceless opportunity of running the affairs of a country as diverse as Nigeria. Little wonder he continues to behave – and, truly, too – as if he has something to hide. From economic stagnation, to endemic corruption; from conditions of rancor, to cultures of violence; from acts of kidnapping, to out-and-out terrorism; and, certainly, with others still in their various stages of gestation, much as Jonathan may have to congratulate himself for providing first-rate government, especially, going by his being Nigeria’s first doctorate degree holder to occupy the office of the Nigerian president; and the first Niger Deltan to so do, that Nigeria under his firm grip is headed somewhere is no longer naysaying. Where dear country is headed or how soon this tension-soaked fifty something year-old infant is destined to access her fated destination is what now worries lovers of good governance. But how did we get here in the first place? Why has Nigeria become one big racket where people opportunistically search for charades that only stagger their imagination? How come we are everywhere but nowhere in particular and why is it that what ordinarily get others into trouble elsewhere are things that sinisterly amuse our world? Why is our politics scanty? Why is it rich in crass class opportunism and puerile religiosity but bereft of the essentials of knowledge, leadership and togetherness? If politics is a product of “elite consensus which provides the framework for peace and stability”, why do we play politics only to spite the polity and why has our system become so bastardized that even those we look up to as leaders are now apostles of pettiness, artificialities and superficialities? As earlier stated, I do not envy Jonathan because he is a poor student of history. As a Christian, he ought to have learnt some significant lessons from great kings like Herod the Great (37BC to 4BC), Ahaz the son of Jotham, Ahab the son of Omri; Rehoboam the son of Naamah; and Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus Augustus, the Roman emperor who actively partook of the Roma-Jewish war of AD66-70: how kingdoms under them fared and how history credited their era. As an international figure, lives, times and travails of rulers who missed one-in-a-lifetime opportunities of having their names etched in gold ought to have helped him define not only the relationship between power and powder but also the transience of existence. Napoleon, for his insatiable lust for power; Joseph Stalin, in whose credit record has the largest death toll in war history; Pol Pot whose ‘Transformation’ transformed into disaster; Louis XIV who failed to lead France out of corruption and economic mess; The-sheep-in-wolf’s-clothing Chiang Kai-shek who embraced nationalism in the daytime but killed protesters in the nighttime; Franklin Pierce, for his ineffectiveness and indecisiveness; Richard Nixon, of Watergate fame; and John Norquist, that American Mayor who failed woefully in mayoral responsibilities, Thees are some of the world leaders who, for reasons not far from personal, dared providence, jettisoned the very essence of purposeful leadership and paid dearly for it. Why did Robert Mugabe start as a “hero in the minds of many Africans” only to turn into a behemoth in the twilight of his sojourn on earth? Where is Laurent Desire Kabila and why did Muammar Gaddafi have to end that way? As a student of contemporary Nigerian history, the crafty Yakubu Gowon, the erratic Ibrahim Babangida, the tormenter Sani Abacha, even the cocky Olusegun Obasanjo, Jonathan’s political lord and master, are examples of how not to be a hero. An informed Jonathan should have known that leadership is not only about those who dream dreams but also – and, in particular, too – those who are able to interpret dreams and actualize visions; that, but for fate which conferred heroism on Murtala Muhammad, Muhammadu Buhari and Abdusalami Abubakar, their sins would probably have remained unforgiven. In the words of Henry Kissinger, “the task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” In other words, a good leader need not pontificate about Transformation. Rather, he should be honest, efficient, excitingly futuristic and capable of creating confidence, especially in the area of developing the leadership qualities necessary for success. A leader worth his calling does not necessarily have to “follow where the path may lead.” Rather, he should strive to go “where there is no path and leave a trail.” In the eyes of a good leader, even “when nothing is sure, everything is possible.” Not one skilled in the jauntiness of leadership by permutations and combinations, if a leader once had “no shoes to wear”, now that he has, he need not limit his interventions to the protracted tantrums of once being in one’s shoes but must strive to teach others how to make their own shoes. One fundamental feature of a weak leader is (his) woolliness. Another is bewilderment. A weak leader lives in fear and “always feels like the prey in the jungle”, with “a tendency to cry on other people's shoulders about how overwhelmed and overloaded they are with work and responsibilities.” He always strives to avoid differences of opinion or potential conflicts. Contrariwise, good leaders “understand what is happening, size up the situation, put themselves in the right position to respond, prepare, and then act at the proper time.” Unlike weak leaders who “solve the wrong problems in the wrong way”, good leaders are “sure of their direction and they act boldly.” And herein lies my fears. So far, Jonathan has not demonstrated that he is in control or that he is on top of the myriad of avertible challenges ravaging our landscape. Since he is unsure of whom he is, he is at a loss on how to successfully steer the ship of the Nigerian state. Like Bernard Montgomery, we have a president who with displays outright timidity when aggressiveness is needed; and “too aggressive when caution would have been more advisable.” In fairness to him, Jonathan may not necessarily be a bad leader but, like Gunichi Mikawa, he is certainly one with bad timing. That is why he continues to rock the boat instead of rocking the road. In his book, ‘Poem for Adults’, Adam Wazyk wrote: “When the vultures of abstraction pick out our brains, when students are enclosed in text-books without windows, when language is reduced to thirty incantations, when the lamp of imagination is extinguished, when good people from the moon deny us our taste, then truly oblivion is dangerously near." Let us admit that President Jonathan didn’t create those problems Nigerians now want him to fix, he is no doubt part of Nigeria’s problems. This he surely knows! Do we need to say more on his achievements so far in office? Economic Indices, of course, speak volume. Between May 2011 and May 2012, Nigeria’s inflation figure rose from 11.3 to 12.9. Though Nigeria is Africa’s biggest nation and largest source market, she is now ranked 116th out of 156 countries on the Economic Freedom Index for 2012, a tragic decline from last year’s. Even, Rwanda, a country that is just smarting out of a genocidal war experience is freer than dear country. Conveniently, she is now world’s 14th Failed State, edging out countries like Burundi, East Timor and Democratic Republic of Congo. As we speak, oil accounts for more than 97% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange revenues. With over 50% of Nigerians living below poverty line and with over 70% of her population actually living on less than 1dollar per day, Jonathan presides over 75% illiterates. And, in the village of the blind, one-eyed is king! Little wonder Nigeria has become such fertile soil for “a few” who “wallow in unbelievable wealth and spend what should be for all of us so recklessly.” Even as Jonathan continues to service the lifestyles of the principalities and powers that litter and loiter around the corridors of power, his indifference to the plight of the common man, the demonstrable wasteful attitude and uncommon hideousness remain unmatched. Unfortunately, one principal difference between Pharaoh’s Egypt and Jonathan’s Nigeria is that, in Egypt, Israelites were tortured by strangers – a different race; but, in our case, Nigerians are colonizing Nigerians. The saddest part is that, while the president still remains grossly clueless on how to successfully govern a country as diverse as Nigeria, efforts are already in top gear to represent this failing president for re-election, come 2015. And that is where the problem lies! Let’s pray this good luck would not turn into a catastrophe we’ll all have to live with! May God save us from ourselves! Komolafe writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State (ijebujesa {at} ABIODUN KOMOLAFE, 020, OKENISA STRET, PO BOX 153, IJEBU-JESA, OSUN STATE.

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