It was a total shock to some Nigerians when the immediate ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan, was recently branded “ineffectual buffoon” by a reputable foreign magazine—The Economist. Others, however, did not find any misdeed in the assertion of ineffectuality brought to bear by the magazine. This piece is geared in the direction of whether there is validity or not in such a categorization which brought the reputation of Mr. Jonathan to the mud. Although there are conflicting reports as to the veracity or origin of that article, but what is sacrosanct is that, the public reputation of Mr. Jonathan was severely damaged. And what could be responsible for such contempt?
Jonathan was not the main subject of the article, instead, a reference or an aside that took shine off the main theme because of the magnitude of corruption and impunity that took centre-stage during his presidential term. Mr. Jonathan lost the 2015 presidential election to General Muhammadu Buhari after serious outcry by Nigerians for a change in regime. Jonathan, in the eyes of most Nigerians was considered promising when he became the substantive president of Nigeria. Nigerians have longed for a president of his calibre, but sometimes, having all the academic qualifications may be a less determinant of how a presidential candidate would fare if elected.
That was the case of Jonathan—a former university lecturer, who was highly praised as the saviour of Nigeria after decades of having less educated heads of government. No sooner had he assumed the responsibility of being a president, he succumbed to the whims of some powerful sacred cows; the vibrant, brainy, and educated Mr. Jonathan was caught up in the interest and counsel of the political class that brought him to power.
Jonathan was a child of necessity that Nigerians need to advance from the ruins of past administrations before him. He did give some spring of hope which Nigerians clamoured for, but sooner than expected, he conceded to the notions of the political cabal within and outside his government—a fatal misjudgment of partnership which flawed his good intention and further jeopardised his initial goodwill with Nigerians. Jonathan became ineffectual when it was obvious that members of his cabinet and some strange unofficial advisers began to dictate to him on core government policies. No matter the influence of his political allies, as a president, his responsibility is to Nigerians and not to some few elements that may have in one way or the other contributed to his accession.
After his exit from the seat of power, the brunt of his ineffectiveness is what Nigerians are now grappling with. All across the public sphere, there is a serious disaffection with the way he carelessly messed up the fortune of Nigeria within the space of five years. The fortune of Nigeria in this context is the collective wealth Nigeria needed to advance beyond her present plight of economic downturn. Jonathan span of government saw the best opportunity in crude oil sale, and having a robust external reserve left by his predecessors. It would have been a jolly atmosphere for Nigerians if Jonathan had meticulously exploited this opportunity.
Notwithstanding, before Jonathan was elected as the president of Nigeria in 2011, he was the acting president in place of the ailing late Umar Yar’Adua and thus he had his preparatory ground to becoming a full fledge president which Nigerians gladly obliged him. The campaign for his second term in office is an insubordination having served for five years and his previous experience as the vice president without achieving the transformation agenda which he promised. This inability to effectively utilize a once-in-a-life-time opportunity makes him an obvious ineffectual president.
Jonathan brought shame to Nigeria by his lack of capacity and authority. It was very depressing to watch on CNN the way the Nigerian government was mocked and discredited because of the endemic corruption which bedeviled the country during the administration of Jonathan. Corruption became an all-comers affair. Anybody can just swindle Nigerians to the tune of billions (million is now stale) without proper follow-up to unravel such malfeasance.
The big revenue Nigeria recorded and the external reserve meant for the proverbial ‘rainy days’ soon vanished into thin air because somebody was not performing his job as the president. For the record, Nigeria could have been in serious economic recession by now if Jonathan had won the 2015 presidential election. How the nation’s number one citizen slept off on his duty, allowing some corrupt fellows to drain the wealth of this country is incomprehensible.
One of such outrageous fraud is the current case involving Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel in the army and former national security adviser to Jonathan, who, on his own accord became a money dispensing machine, distributing money meant for security of Nigeria to Jonathan’s political cohorts without recourse to due process and accountability. It is an act of incompetence for Jonathan to claim innocence as to how those monies were spent. Somebody was spending raw cash (money meant for arms procurement) in the interest of his re-election and he claims to be unaware of the purpose of the money or where the money was gotten from.
It is not possible that Jonathan in all sense of seriousness will be oblivious of how Dasuki squandered money meant to buy arms and munitions after spending N3 trillion in 3 years to combat insecurity with little success, and the loan of $1 billion dollars presented to the Senate to further prosecute the war against insurgency. How can you have advisors and ministers working in your cabinet, and, they are not responsible or answerable to you? What bit of irresponsibility is bigger than that as a president? His ineffectiveness is a big cost to Nigerians and this is causing a lot of misfortune viz. non-payment of salaries, abandoned projects, budget deficit, credit crunch, ‘growth recession,’ etc.
Back in 2011, Nigerians voted Jonathan to power to solve the numerous problems confronting the country, but he allowed that opportunity to be wasted. Someone who was enjoying the goodwill of almost everybody in the country fell from grace to grass and became a subject of ridicule among foreigners, let alone, Nigerians. How did his goodwill fade out overnight? His ineffectuality or ineptitude caused it. Hence, it is not a surprise that an international print medium will call him “ineffectual buffoon.” He sold himself out to such name-calling! And, looking at his many flaws, justifying such depiction is not invalid.
It is very sardonic and ludicrous for an outsider (The Economist) to be able to see the level of ‘stinking’ corruption perpetrated during Jonathan’s administration—a pointer to his reckless stewardship. The extent of stench oozing out as a result of corruption is hard to come by as to how a promising, golden, anointed child fumbled and tumbled as the president of the most populous black nation in the world. This show of irresponsibility and lack of ownership to the seat of power when he was the president further emphasize the disdain of the outside world that African countries are mostly corrupt and are incapable of having a sane society where things work.
Feel free to drop your comment or rejoinder.
Mr_Odunayo Bankole is a multimedia professional. His brand of journalism is both liberal and conservative. A broadcast major, he is very passionate about online journalism and digital media. Feedback—firstname.lastname@example.org