Jonathan on back foot over missing girls

2014-05-14 15:32
Goodluck Jonathan (File: AP)

Goodluck Jonathan (File: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lagos - Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan faces an uncertain political future after attracting a torrent of criticism over his handling of the mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram extremists.

Jonathan was already on the back foot even before Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from the remote north-eastern town of Chibok in April, sparking a global social media campaign and international outrage.

His People's Democratic Party (PDP) has been hit by mass defections, eroding his power base and parliamentary majority and strengthening the hand of the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

The 56-year-old Jonathan was still expected to declare his candidacy for next year's elections and seek a second term in office, but with anger growing over the government's lack of response in the first weeks after the kidnapping, some commentators say his political stock has been irreparably damaged.

Dapo Thomas, a political commentator from Lagos state university, called for Jonathan to step down.

"In a sane society, Jonathan should have resigned or [been] impeached," he told AFP.

"In South Korea, the prime minister had to resign because of a ferry accident that claimed hundreds of lives.

"But in Nigeria, where politicians lack morality and integrity, more than 200 girls were kidnapped and the president is acting as if nothing has happened."

Domestic factors

Nigeria is almost equally split between a Muslim majority north and predominantly Christian south, with an unwritten rule that presidential candidates rotate between the two regions.

Jonathan is a southern Christian and stepped up from vice-president in 2010 after his predecessor Umaru Yar'Adua, a northern Muslim, fell ill and later died.

It has been claimed that he promised privately to serve only one term after winning the last election in 2011.

Critics claim he has done little to improve life in the north, where poverty, poor services and mass unemployment are seen as a factor in fuelling the five-year Boko Haram insurgency.

Some attribute the government's lack of response to the kidnapping as a reflection of his indifference to the region and the lack of values in Nigerian politics.

Olatunji Dare, a popular columnist with independent daily The Nation, said Jonathan "had proved unequal to the task".

"No matter how this crisis is resolved, Dr Jonathan is unlikely to emerge as a president who can be trusted to lead Nigeria through the challenges that lie ahead," he wrote in Tuesday's edition.

"It would be selfish and unpatriotic of him to seek to continue... If the ruling PDP loves and cares about Nigeria, it should urge Dr Jonathan not to seek another term. If he refuses, it should reject him decisively."

Rallying call

Thomas described the latest Boko Haram video, which showed about 130 of the 223 girls still missing, as an indictment on Jonathan and his acceptance of international support an embarrassment.

The invitation to US, British, French and Israeli teams to assist Nigeria's military in the rescue effort was "a shame on Nigeria, which claims to be the giant of Africa", he added.

"Jonathan is a disgrace. He has no reason to remain in office and if he decides to seek a second term he will not get 20 percent of the votes," he said.

Others have argued that Jonathan was right to accept foreign assistance and seek talks with Boko Haram.

In the complicated, internecine world of Nigerian politics, nothing is guaranteed and observers have cautioned that Jonathan could yet emerge from the crisis favourably, taking credit in the event of a rescue and shifting blame if the girls are not found.

Niyi Akinasso, a columnist with the Punch newspaper, also criticised Jonathan's response to the abduction but said domestic politics should be put to one side to concentrate on the search.

"It is hoped that participating Nigerian security agents would learn something useful from the experience," he said.

"Whatever the case is, however, we must now rally round our president to complement international efforts to find and rescue the girls."
Read more on:    boko haram  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  nigeria kidnappings  |  abductions  |  west africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike

Watch this insane drift contest with four-times dirt-track World champion Karl Maier riding a speedway bike against a BMW M235i.

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.