Robert Greene, in “The 48 Laws of Power” counsels that we should associate with the “fortunate” and avoid the “unlucky”. But this admonition does not apply to President Goodluck Jonathan who, right from birth, was not only destined to be lucky but christened goodluck. When the name goodluck first came to national limelight, many Nigerians given to beliefs saw in it the endowments of the gods. Talk about his scintillating story of having no shoes, poverty giving way to prominence and how he had spent his years moving meteorically from grass to grace.
Those who envied or wanted to be like him cannot be faulted. With the level of disorientation and deprivation in the land, who will not cling to the fortunes conferred by good luck rather than good and reasonable works? Therefore, the fad was that his mysterious rise from obscurity to international limelight could only have been bestowed by his talisman-like name. But we forget the saying that ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison.’ Jonathan’s good luck is not transferable as many had wished. Granted, Jonathan’s good luck has brought him fortune and fame – even if negatively – but Nigerians who see in him the exemplar of what they wish for themselves have been walloped by the very opposite of a good name. Two coinages in his 2011 campaign posters came to mind as I wrote this piece – “I assure you of fresh air in Nigeria, vote for me” and “Fellow Nigerians, we need a breath of fresh air in Nigeria”. Today, it is most evident that we were either wrong in imputing divinity to his presidential ticket or misled in our estimation of the man. It is a most bizarre commentary that a man who has been given so much is leaving with so little or nothing to retain or sustain his ‘good’ name in the hearts of the people.
I don’t need to ask how Jonathan will be remembered. He met us high but left us dry. Some of his ‘laudable achievements’ include but not limited to the fact that he met the national debt at $26bn but is leaving it at over $60bn; Excess Crude account before GEJ was $20bn, today it is about $2bn. Unemployment rate was about 11.8% before GEJ, he is leaving it at 24%. The Naira/Dollar rate before GEJ was N119 but he is leaving it at over N200. Poverty level before GEJ was 54%, today it is over 71%. Recurrent Expenditure before GEJ was 62%, today it is 86% and with over N1trillion deficit 2015 budget.
Besides, the price of petrol was N65 when GEJ assumed office. Today, the official price of fuel is N87 down from N97 a few months ago. He met the nation’s electricity generating capacity at 3,800 megawatts in 2011. The generating capacity as he leaves office is down to 1,327 megawatts with over $50b in tax payers’ money squandered with impunity. He met the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a flourishing national party, he is leaving it in disarray and highly balkanised regional party. He met the country at peace, but he is leaving it steeply divided along ethnic and religious cleavages and in deep crisis. Under his watch, the North-East geopolitical zone was almost excised out of Nigeria. The over 200 Chibok girls still in captivity after over 406 days of their kidnap would continue to remain a sour taste in our national psyche as Jonathan vacates the villa. He met the economy at its shining best, he is leaving it hazy and parlous.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) recently summed up Jonathan’s parting gifts to Nigerians and I cannot agree less. According to the party, Jonathan has not only broken the hearts of Nigerians but put the economy on reverse gear. The APC said: “Today, Nigerians are roaming the streets, jerry cans in hand, searching for everything from kerosene to fuel to diesel to power their homes, keep their vehicles on the road and keep their businesses going. They are paying as much as N300 per litre for fuel, if at all they can get it. Yet their government is not saying a word about the situation.”
The party added: “They (Jonathan’s administration) say they are in office till May 29th, but they do not care how workers in 18 states, who are owed a total of N300 billion in salaries under their watch, or federal workers who are owed N400 billion, will be paid. Yet they are running a budget of N1 trillion deficit. They have deliberately stopped meeting their obligations to oil marketers, which is now around 200 billion Naira, hence no one is lifting petroleum products anymore. If the current energy crisis is not solved soonest, the telecommunications sector could even be grounded in a matter of days as service providers will have neither electricity nor fuel to power their base stations. Of course the aviation sector has already been left comatose by the fuel crisis. The whole scenario reeks of sabotage!”
On his part, Tatalo Alamu, writing under the topic “The autumn of the young patriarch” in his last Sunday column in The Nation Newspaper, had this to say of the locust and checkered Jonathan administration in the last six years: “Nevertheless, we must return an interim verdict on the Jonathan years, and it is as damning in its dismal details as it is as disagreeable and even disgraceful in its essence. Never in the history of Nigeria has there been a more divisive and polarising president. Never has such incompetence combined with cluelessness and such in- your-face impunity coupled with sheer vindictive malice. Jonathan leaves behind a country that is so badly distorted politically, economically and spiritually that it will amount to a wry understatement to conclude that the country is in the grip of a deep systemic rot. It is much worse.” So much for a President whose ascendancy was heralded with great expectation!
What worries me is the miasma of his reign which now lingers in the minds of the world as he exits. He is leaving unworthy footprints on the sands of time which may emasculate the noble political ambition of other Niger Deltans in future. Will his ineptness not now be used to judge emerging Niger Delta leaders who may wish to take a shot at the presidency in future? Opportunity, they say, comes but once. Niger Deltans thought they found in Jonathan a saviour and deliverer from the many years of neglect, environmental degradation and marginalisation. But all that is vain now. His act and art in the last four years make it imperative for them to look for another messiah. Jonathan is an opportunity gained and lost. He failed to acquit himself in the true character of a Niger Deltan scion which has shining examples in the likes of late Ken Saro-Wiwa and Isaac Adaka Boro. Let me say that Jonathan’s inglorious reign is at best an exception rather than the rule of the sterner stuff that Niger Deltans are made of.
What will be in Jonathan’s hand over notes? I am just being curious. I don’t know the contents of the hand over notes Jonathan will give to the incoming President, Muhammadu Buhari on May 29 (I hear it is over 700 pages of absolute dirt you may say) but I wager that they would be scanty in worth and large in vain hubris in view of the total dearth of concrete achievements to warrant copious and painstaking details from those given to self adulation. Where will Jonathan start from? To find flesh for a report that promises to be bulky in trivialities and dry in essence, he may decide to start from the sudden demise of his principal – late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua – and possibly how power was entrusted upon him absolutely unprepared.
Thereafter, he will talk about his ‘Deformation Agenda’, which in essence entails how he brought darkness rather than light, sickness rather than health, hunger rather than abundance, bad governance rather than good governance and unemployment rather than provide jobs. Finally, he may further provide theoretical basis for his definition of stealing as different from corruption, why he shied away from confronting the Boko Haram insurgents for six years and how he silenced them in six weeks to allow for elections, how he emerged the weakest among the four presidents that ruled his administration and what accounts for his ruination of the economy. He may also wish to include the amount of dollars he doled out for his failed reelection bid, the whereabouts of the $15m South African arms snafu. Again, he may likely talk about how he intends to revive the PDP after assuming the chairmanship of its Board of Trustees (BoT).
As a doctorate degree holder, he may proceed to lecture the incoming President, Muhammadu Buhari on how to build on his ‘solid economic foundation’, establish universities in each of the 774 local governments in the country if he hopes to improve on his towering legacy in the education sector, how to break labour agitations and uprising by accusing them of sabotage and treason, how to silence dissenting academic unions by making promises not to be fulfilled, how to revitalise the railway system by buying obsolete coaches from China and India, how to protect corrupt officials by saying that no money is missing and why he should never believe that 276 girls were actually kidnapped from Chibok in one fell swoop by Boko Haram.
I believe he will tell Buhari how the refineries are working efficiently and why he should never allow major oil marketers to defraud him with fraudulent claims because the production from our refineries is enough for local consumption. He will provide pictorial annexes detailing the four greenfield refineries he proposed and tell Buhari to build them if he wishes to export fuel to neigbouring countries. He may also like to extol the wisdom and beauty of the YOUWIN Programme and how 80 per cent of Nigerian youths are today gainfully employed. What about his investment drive? He may talk about how South Africans have taken over our economy while they are busy decimating Nigerians in their home country through xenophobic attacks.
The list is endless. My only prayer is that he finds competent aides to help him put his laudable thoughts together, and I hope Buhari will find the thesis worthwhile to devote his precious time to study it. For me, I can only say thank God the hand over is Friday, after which Buhari may rest awhile before commencing his onerous task of restoring the glory of this country once more. Be that as it may, Nigerians must firmly resolve to say NEVER AGAIN to such high level buffoonery, crass incompetence and corruption in our corridor of power.