Posted by Chris Okotie | 16 July 2013 | 5,510 times
The dogmas of quiet past are insufficient to the stormy present —Abraham Lincoln.
President Goodluck Jonathan appears to have a natural propensity for courting controversies; this trait became noticeable from his first major political assignment as the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, to his choice as late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s vice, and his controversial appointment via the Senate’s Doctrine of the Necessity as Acting President in the wake of his boss’ terminal illness.
At the behest of well meaning Nigerians across the political spectrum, he virtually stormed into power at the demise of President Yar’Adua to the consternation of an ambitious northern cabal. And when it was time to elect a new President, his controversial decision to run against the grain of PDP’ zoning arrangement overheated the polity to a boiling point. Somehow, he managed to weather this storm, not necessarily because of his political savvy, but purely out of the peoples’ desire to let sleeping dogs lie.
Many still believe that his controversial victory at the highly contested polls actually set the stage for other issues that have now polarized the polity. Not long after he gained a substantive Presidential mandate in 2011, Jonathan, instead of making moves to heal the wounds of his stormy election, flew a kite about tenure elongation of the tenures for President and Governors to a six-year non-renewable term.
This was at a time when the northern elites were still nursing the wounds of their loss of the zoning slot which yielded the nomination and subsequent election of Mr. Jonathan on the PDP platform.
Ever since, his unguarded utterances, poor timing response to crisis, needless grandstanding over public declaration of his assets, remember his “I don’t Give a Damn” retort to this harmless request; the frequent blabs of his wife; First Lady Dame Patience; corruption scandals, not to forget the ill-timed subsidy removal on January 1’ 2012; all these combined, in case he doesn’t know, to make Jonathan ‘the most criticized President”, to use his words.
His latest public relations fiasco is his meddlesomeness in the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) election. The big perception problem he has created for himself and, unfortunately, the country ahead of 2015 is more severe than it seems at the moment. Not known to be a skilled crisis manager like President Olusegun Obasanjo, and with Boko Haram and other governance challenges, his Transformation Agenda which is running on low current like the ebbing power generation, Mr. Jonathan has his hands full.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, has embarked on a controversial National Good Governance Tour at a time when low governance impact is clearly in evidence, everywhere you go, apologies to MTN. You cannot go on a road show to sell a bad product. Nobody needs a Brand marketer to tell us that. With his growing list of failed election promises, the most obvious of which is failure to provide stable power supply; the Good Governance Tour is no more than a social jamboree and a huge waste of public funds.
The tour, even if conceived with the best of intentions, is poorly executed. Since no man can be a judge in his own case, it is ridiculous for the PDP Administration to expect anyone to take it seriously. A project assessment tour of this magnitude ought to involve all stakeholders, including civil society, the opposition parties, project management expects, and Labour. The Assessment should have formed the basis of the mid-term report of President Jonathan and other Governors elected in 2011.That would have been a more credible report than the anthology of inflated platitudes that the President put together as Mid-term Report.
This is another missed opportunity for the President to show us how he could run an all-inclusive system that may inspire the governors. Jonathan should be the one giving us the template for transparency, open system of administration and self- accounting, representative democracy. Instead, he has literarily set his new agenda on 2015 presidential election, pitching himself against the NGF and the northern power brokers once again. We deserve some respite from Mr. Jonathan’s dangerous politics which breeds hatred, division and permanent heating of the polity.
It is to the President’s discredit that two years after his re-election, the campaigns have not ceased, largely because of his ambition and poor relational skills. Just recently, he missed a rare opportunity to speak at the African Union, AU’s Golden Jubilee, for some curious, unconvincing alibi. That was a platform he could have used to try to brush up the battered image of the nation after a string of policy blunders, especially his controversial pardon of his convicted former boss, ex-Governor D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa state who is still wanted for corruption charges abroad.
A President who is consistently having brushes with associates as regularly as he commits gaffes in public inadvertently creates a very serious perception problem, not just for himself and his party; but for the nation he governs. Jonathan gives his bellicose opponents more than enough material in their relentless media skirmishes with his aides. And each time, the No.1 citizen often worse for it.
What all these suggest is that all is not well with the President’s inner circle. It is either he is not getting quality advice or he does not listen when given the right one. Whatever the case, Mr. Jonathan enough of this charade; do what you were elected to do: Govern.
•Rev. Chris Okotie, a Pastor- Politician, wrote from Lagos. He can be reached via 08078421451 (sms only), Okotie@revchrisokotie.com, twitter @Revchrisokotie.
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