Nigeria Matters

A President and his good Intentions

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”….Samuel Johnson

Our long nightmare has just begun. But no one had any inkling that dreams will be truncated midstream. It all started in May 29, 2011; that sunny day in Eagles Square when President Goodluck Jonathan took the oath of office; on that day, millions of ordinary Nigerians invested their hopes in his Presidency. They had earlier demonstrated this optimism by voting en masse in the Presidential election of that year-some even died in the course of the elections; amidst the violence, entrenched interests and resistance that heralded his emergence. But a year on and two years into a cumulative Presidency that began in 2010 is a catalogue of woes and litany of failed dreams. The prevailing events in our country, the failings of this government the docility of a commander-in-chief and the alleged “good intentions” not backed by action, has turned dreams to nightmare; hopes to despair and citizens enthusiasm to apathy. The expectations of millions in a President whom they thought will turn their fortunes around has become misplaced delusion-a dream deferred. How did we get to this sorry pass? Let’s look back in time.

In the run-up to the elections that heralded this administration, candidate Jonathan, now President Goodluck Jonathan as the flag bearer of his party, PDP, was viewed by Nigerians as a man who will ensure a complete break from a forgotten past; a past in which their lives was traumatized by inept, selfish and corrupt leadership perpetuated by buccaneer politicians. Nigerians, being incurable optimists they are were ready to look forward to a better tomorrow. Perhaps, they thought, the man who promised to break from the status quo and do things differently in Abuja could take them to the Promised Land. President Jonathan’s campaign strategists’ seized the moment, capitalizing on the mass hysteria of a redeeming candidate. They branded their man as the “breath of fresh air”. The slogan worked like magic. Nigerians hoped against hope. Perhaps this is the light at the end of the tunnel; the long sought opportunity to transform our nation. Nigerians were also waiting for direction after the wasted years of Yardua’s administration. The President’s Minority credentials helped his cause. It added to the nation’s sympathy. For once, in a country used to the overbearing dictatorship of oligarchs’ majority tribes, a President from the minority was a triumph to the agitations of ethnic minorities-Jonathan became the symbol of their yearnings. He will understand the suffering of impoverished masses-having been a symbol of poverty himself. This is, in addition, to his academic qualification- a PhD president is expected to be cerebral. The support for him also doubled with the previous antics of the cabal in Yardua’s government who refused to crown him as the President. The President thus swept into power, in a landslide which many saw as a victory for a new order. How wrong? It is no longer news that since his assumption, President Jonathan who came in a groundswell of mass endorsement and popularity is presently presiding over a divided country wrecked by deepening corruption, poverty, massive discontent, insecurity and a government lacking in capacity to tackle a nation in steady decline.

This President increasingly appears to be at a point between a reluctant leader and a confounded one. All we hear is his good intentions. Isn’t it ironical that a president who enjoyed the goodwill of ordinary Nigerians on being elected has become an object of derision? While our country hangs precariously on the precipice, the president give excuses; blaming everybody but himself. His spin doctors kept repeating the well-worn lines; the President is man of good intentions. Pray! What are good intentions without the leadership to back it up? Will good intentions stem the widespread corruption that has become endemic in this government? Will good intentions stop insecurity? Will good intentions stop widespread poverty? It is sad that the President and his men do not understand the mood of the nation. Does it not surprise them that the President has lost so much goodwill since coming to power? How come a President who was much loved by the people has lost the goodwill of the same public who voted for him? Who do they blame for the low opinion of the President? Is it enough to blame the civil society, the press and the opposition for the President’s poor rating? Isn’t it uncharitable and mischievous to blame the civil society, the press and the opposition for the president’s woes? Are they not the same people that ensured justice was done when the President was being harangued and denied his rights by the cabal? Is it not the Press and the opposition that fought entrenched interest who did not want the President to contest the elections that brought him into power?

Does the President expect the Fourth Estate, opposition and civil society to shut their eyes to his failings as a non-performing leader? Does he expect not to be criticized by the opposition and the Nigerian people when he has not shown the leadership expected of him? Is this the President they voted for? The President recently called the press “politicized”. Really? So the press who ensured that a victimized Vice-President Jonathan is sworn in as President has suddenly become the enemy? How convenient? It was also disheartening listening to the President at the conference of the Nigerian Bar Association. The President said he is the most criticized president in the whole world! He also said he is not the cause of our country’s problems-which means he should not be held responsible for it. How sad coming from a President! Nigerians elected the President not to bellyache and whimper at every opportunity. Nigerians elected a leader to solve their problems. When the President throws up his hands in frustration at every opportunity what does he expect of the general populace? Criticism is an integral part of a democratic society. It beggars belief that the President continues to complain of being criticized. There is a saying: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. The job of a President is not for the faint-hearted. Under President Jonathan’s watch, the ship of state continues to drift at a frightening pace. The President response to national issues is at best mediocre. In the beginning, he “outsourced” his government to plethora of Committees many of which reports are gathering dust. The Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido is up to his own devices-single-handedly proposing a five thousand Naira note. How come the President has not said anything about this? During the crisis that followed the removal of the fuel subsidy, the president allowed his ministers to pull the wool over his eyes. The power sector is still jinxed. The President admitted to having Boko Haram in his government. But he has not deemed it necessary to expose them. Now the sect is poised to bring down his government and turn our country into another Somalia. Maybe the President really means well. But good intentions are not enough. That is why Nigerians are demanding that the President show some balls; for in the words of President Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, the bucks’ stops at his table.

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