Jan 16, 2012 – One Thing President Jonathan Has Lost Is His Goodwill
If you walk the streets of Lagos or ply the alleys of Potiskum or peer into rooms in Aba today, one thing will riff through conversations: how did Jonathan happen? naijagists.com
Yet, a year ago, if you walked similar routes and crannies of the nation, the question would have been cast in a syntactic reverse: why and how could Jonathan not happen?
That is one of the ironies and lessons of democracy. The mob, often enthralled by superficial fancies, does not transcend the rhetoric and fanfare of the day. Swayed by the waves of democratic rituals, they soak in campaign slogans, the appeal to sectional flatteries, the dance of ideals, the grandiloquent promise of inclusion in government this time around.
Very quickly, the people realise that elections are not always about the people. Like Thomas Jefferson wrote on the early turbulence and quicksand of American politics, the only times people participate in government is the election day. He was even generous.
As we have seen in the case of President Goodluck Jonathan, the people did not choose who they wanted. They chose the guy they were conned to love. I hinted at this many times on this page before the election. I received torrents of flaks for that.
But it is not a time to look back in anger. It is time to press forward in wisdom. But as wisdom goes, Jonathan is trying to convince those who say he is soft and unwise. But as the fuel subsidy crisis deepens, no one is crediting him with wisdom. Rather he is drifting deeper in the opposite direction.
Nigerians should learn to leap after looking on election day. Tragic as it may sound, we brought Jonathan on ourselves. We brought the hike in fuel price. We brought the Boko Haram escalation without hope. We brought the needless imbroglio in Bayelsa. We embroiled Jos and environs in their panic of butchery. We brought the ongoing strike over oil subsidy and the trillions of Naira we are losing in the nation, and the death toll and paralysis.
We brought on ourselves the ineptitude of Jonathan and his coteries of incompetent advisers, like Nigeria’s two unpopular women, Alison Diezani- Madueke and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
If there is a good thing about this, it is that Jonathan will not have another opportunity at the polls to fool Nigerians. He fooled enough of the people last time. He will not kick us around again with his shoeless feet. Not since the days of Abacha has one man been so unpopular. But Abacha did not rise to power on the people’s mandate. Jonathan apparently did and that is why it hurts the more.
Many looked at his visage and they saw a meek man. I wrote that he was a deceptively gentle man and called him His Excellency the snake. He struck us, fangs and all, on New Year’s Day and the people now know that we voted a sly monster in office. He is the example of the cliché about a wolf in sheep’s clothing or what Shakespeare called “wolfish ravening lamb.”
He has no vision. He has no compassion. He has no finesse.
One thing Jonathan has lost is his goodwill.
Who would have thought that Jonathan would trigger riots and shutdowns across the country, including the Niger Delta and even in southeastern Nigeria, where he allegedly polled superlative votes in the near 100 percentiles?
When a bad leader loses, the people gain. What Jonathan has lost is not only popularity, but also a sense of innocence. He deflowered himself in public. That is serious. He was regarded as a man with a common touch. It is one of the illusions of our contemporary history. He has been in political life all these years and no one has articulated what was common in his life as adviser to the governor, deputy governor, governor and vice-president. Suddenly, he became a presidential hopeful and he was a shoeless boy.
During the French revolution, philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau proclaimed: “Force the people to be free.” An ironic injunction. I am not sure the people are free yet, in spite of the rage and paralysis in the country. But I like to believe we are gaining in wisdom. We are unlearning the illusion of rulers. Never again shall we vote a man based on the softness of his smile or the gentility of his physiognomy. But let us work on ideas and background.
Another thing we have gained – or should gain – is that it does not pay to vote on the basis of where we come from. Jonathan was a shabby representative of the south. Many voted him in because they wanted a southerner. Now they have one and they are spewing him out like poison. When he was presented as a vice-presidential pick, Chief E.K. Clark said he was not in the first 11 of the Niger Delta titans. But the same Clark wallowed in dishonour and stoked ethnic flames in the days of zoning debate. He defended Jonathan as if he was God’s gift to Nigeria. He spoke recently defending Jonathan without the wisdom of age. He belongs to Jonathan’s crowd of unpopular cretins.
The other reason Jonathan became president was that he was a Christian. I am a Christian. I did not vote for him. I wrote that on this column the Monday after he won. He was endorsed by the major evangelicals of the day. When they did not mention him directly, they urged their adherents to vote according to their faith. He paid visits to them.
I wonder why many of them did not prophesy that he would cripple the nation. I have hardly heard any of the evangelicals play Jeremiah or Jonah since this crisis began. The pulpits were quiet at the time of writing. I hope the prophets will now tell their “anointed” to do the people no harm.
The people now know that we have to prove all things and hold fast to that which is good. Jonathan did not show fruits for good leadership and we voted for him. Isaiah wrote: “The leaders of these people cause them to err and they that are led of them are destroyed.” Even if the wicked are in power, may the people not perish.
The next few days are uncertain. It is the people versus Jonathan and Jonathan does not want to yield.
It is still too early to say how far Nigerians would endure and fight. Some are describing the people’s ferment as a revolution. I am glad that it has united Nigerians beyond tribe and faith, but that is because we are focused on fuel price alone. The fundamental questions that led our depraved political class to impose the hardship have not come under any form of open systematic scrutiny.
But it is fine to see an air of revolution, even if only what we have at the moment is a resistance to a policy. Revolutions, like the French or the Arab Spring in Tunisia, exploded on a seemingly innocuous idea. The fervour of the Nigerian people is to be admired. I want us to fight the good fight of faith. Jonathan’s apologists are on their arrogant roll.
One of them is Atedo Peterside, a blue blood in a depraved royalty, who claimed that Lagos State benefits substantially from fuel subsidy. Is the so-called subsidy about a state or about a class of people who happen to operate in Lagos and elsewhere, especially in Abuja? He is a divisive person. He is trying to prime the state for emergency and play down the fact that the cabal fattening on the so-called subsidy come from all over the country. They are backed by Abuja and Jonathan who would not punish them but the masses of Nigeria.
What we want in Nigeria is development, not greed. Jonathan should address the corruption in the oil sector and leave fuel price at N65 per litre. By the suffering of the past week, the hunger and carnage on the streets, the people are subsidising President Jonathan’s ineptitude.