Opportunity for President Jonathan to Lead

2015-02-27 08:32

So close to the Presidential elections, concerns continue to arise over President Jonathan still being recognized as a suitable candidate to govern the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If not for the mere reason that he has failed to improve the economic state of the country much in the past four years, then by virtue of the fact that he has shown no progress in containing the security threat in Nigeria.

We know that subsequent to the abduction of 200 Chibok girls in northeast Nigeria, the country has encountered several attacks by Boko Haram and other terrorist organisations. We know that the insurgency instigated by Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, has escalated to a point of virtual autocracy- whether or not it is indeed true that Boko Haram has infiltrated President Jonathan’s cabinet. We also know of the coercion of children to detonate suicide vests in concentrated areas of predominantly non-Islamic states.

While it is commendable that President Jonathan has issued statements to the press expressing his efforts to redress these injustices, we also know that he’s fallen short of fulfilling these duties to the country, much less his electoral promises. So how is it, really, that he is still leading in the polls for the Nigeria elections 2015?

In a preceding post I wrote just under a year ago, President Jonathan accounted for his inability to retrieve the 200 missing Chibok girls, by stating that the area in which these girls were supposedly held captive was that of a high-risk one. He then committed to recruiting, training and deploying additional armed forces to the Sambisa Forest- a Boko Haram hideout where the girls were believed to be held. The President expressed the extent to which he deemed this necessary, considering that the military had been left underfunded for the past two decades, and in consequence, been characterised as an unprogressive response unit in terms of skill development. Yet to the best of my knowledge, there have been no further updates or insight into his progress. Instead, almost a year in and we continue to hear how “there is hope the over 200 schoolgirls abducted from their hostel in Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State will be rescued.

From a risk reduction perspective, it would seem to me that President Jonathan's lack of consistency in his duties to social welfare has contributed significantly to the deterioration of Nigeria's living conditions. That is- considering that Boko Haram has been a consistent threat, one would expect that he would have reviewed national security management, crisis management, national security operations and preparedness measures or strategies. These are measures he should have taken all during his term of office, to equip the military with the skills needed to counter Boko Haram’s attempt to subjugate Nigeria.

What I also find particularly disconcerting is the alleged disappearance of $50billion worth of oil subsidies, as well as $20billion of national money- neither of which he was able to account for when asked by former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mallam Lamido Sanusi Lamido. Instead, he stated that in the event that such incidents of theft occur in countries like the U.S., it is more likely that they would know how to settle the matter- which is to a large extent, true- but inexcusable regarding his shortcomings.

The U.S does not have the solutions to all our (Africa) problems but it's become quite apparent that the prevailing narrative that they do, belies the actual reality. The reality that- although the U.S. may aid Africa in getting to a point, we are not their responsibility. In effect, it should be President Jonathan who carries his duty holistically and takes responsibility for the decisions he makes on behalf of Nigerian citizens- as he pledged to do before the world when he initially accepted his title as President.

To elaborate further on that point- and I stand corrected- but at present, although Nigeria's current petroleum refining capacity is approximately 445 000 barrels per day, the products thereof are either unavailable or costly to most Nigerians, resulting in almost all the oil extracted by multinational companies being refined overseas. In fact according to Dr. Chika Onyeni, author of the controversial Capitalist Nigger - Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, yet when they need oil, they employ European tankers to extract it for them and have them use their refineries before exporting it back to Africa; when they need military equipment- they import that too; when they don’t have homes- they get someone to employ them to build their own homes, much like in South Africa.

Generally in both countries, we could simply go through the trouble of finding out how exactly we could go about doing all these things for ourselves. Instead we choose to conveniently attribute our problems to an incompetent government we love to hate.

In the same way, it would seem that President Jonathan relies too heavily on foreign aid and not enough on improving the emergency operations within his borders- utilising his own country’s resources and skilled labour. His country is in the midst of one of the greatest national crisis since the doomed session of Biafra, yet he remains concerned with formal declarations for re-election as President- a position demanding the kind of respect his lack of leadership has not afforded him. A blatant example would be an incident where he couldn't even postpone his campaigning at a PDP rally within hours of suicide bombings in Abuja. To further reaffirm his disinterest in showing leadership, he then declined an invitation to attend an African Union Summit to which he was recently invited- where "... discussions on terrorist group Boko Haram feature high on the agenda". Again- so that he could continue touring Nigeria "... to campaign ahead of the country's elections."

If President Jonathan really wanted to implement change in the management of his country, its resources and all the duties that come with being the ruler of a nation, he would make use of all the assistance made readily available to him by the United Nations (UN)- initially made to create structures that aid in regulating conflict and ensuring the peaceful livelihood of all nations. In fact, the sole reason the UN Development Programme came to exist in Nigeria in the first place, was so it could provide capacity building and policy development support to the Federal Government of Nigeria in areas of governance, peace building, inclusive growth and sustainable development- shortly after Nigeria established independence.

In light of my observations, I struggle to see how Nigerians have still not reconsidered the presidential candidate to whom they wish to allocate their democratic vote. Sure, they may be subjected to Muhammadu Buhamari- the only other opposition leader whose party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), is dominant enough to produce a presidential candidate. Even then, it stands to reason that President Jonathan should not be re-elected. If not for the mere reason that he has not served Nigeria well at all, then by virtue of the fact that withdrawing from these elections would serve as an opportunity for him to show leadership to his country at least once, as he would be making a decision that is in the social interest.

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