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A year of wasted goodwill, dashed hopes, missed chances
year of wasted goodwill, dashed hopes, missed chances .When President Goodluck Jonathan ascended the presidential throne on May 29, 2011, many of his compatriots thought that the first man to come into office with a doctorate degree and one who had been deputy governor, governor, vice president and acting president and who obtained about 60 per cent of the votes from all parts of the country had everything to succeed. One year after, he seems to have frittered away much of the goodwill, writes Group Political Editor BOLADE OMONIJO.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was presented as the most experienced person ever to present himself for election as Nigeria’s President. Even before he was handed the Peoples Democratic Party’s flag for the 2011 presidential race, it was obvious to all political analysts and historians that he would run. His ascension to the throne, first as Acting President in February 2010 and subsequent inauguration as President following the death of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua had pointed the race in the direction of Jonathan. He went into the contest for the PDP ticket as incumbent and, try as his opponents did, they could not match the naira and political fire power of the presidency.
He ran. He won. In a most dramatic fashion. He was the clear favourite of the vast majority of voters in 17 of the 18 states in the South. Only in Osun State did he lose to the Action Congress of Nigeria’s candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. Even then, he made more than the mandatory 25 per cent of the votes. His main challenger in that race, the Congress for Progressive Change candidate Maj- Gen. Muhammadu Buhari could not muster 25 per cent of the votes in any of the Southern states.
In the Northcentral, the CPC candidate only won the endorsement of a sizeable proportion of the electorate in Niger and Nasarawa states. He had a poor showing in the four others.
However, the result from the far Northeast and Northwest states showed that Gen. Buhari is a Northern phenomenon. Whereas, relying mostly on the power of incumbency, the PDP mustered more than 25 per cent of the votes in all the states and was a close second in almost all, the CPC showed class and demonstrated that if only it could put its house in order, it might have turned the table against the ruling party.
Post-election violence rocked the North
No sooner was Dr. Goodluck Jonathan announced winner of the April 2011 presidential poll than the hot heads and rough necks in the North take to the fury, destroying everything in sight like the hurricane would do in the United States. Lives were lost and property torched as young men vented their anger on public property. The security situation in the country has since remained precarious. The Boko Haram phenomenon that led to suicide bombing at the Police Headquarters in Abuja, the United Nations House also in the capital city and the unprecedented coordinated attacks in Kano city showed the impotence of the security forces and demonstrated just how soft the country’s underbelly is.
The National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi, caused a stir recently when he traced the dreaded Boko Haram attacks to the PDP primaries that saw President Jonathan triumph over prominent Northerners like General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. He suggested that the Northern elite remained bitter over the transfer of power to the South and encouraged the development of the Boko Haram monster.
In acknowledgement of the implications of the development, President Jonathan voted about 1 trillion Naira for the security agencies in the 2012 budget. Besides, on December 31 last year, he clamped a state of emergency on 15 local government areas with the military taking control of movement and activities in the areas located in Borno, Yobe, Niger and Plateau States. Rather than the measure curtailing the spread of the vicious attacks, they have become more deadly in the states affected and others including Adamawa, Taraba, Kano and Kaduna, among others.
PDP and internal democracy
Whereas it is not stated in the party’s constitution, the President is conventionally regarded as the leader of the ruling party. At different points, President Jonathan has said he, as a democrat, would leave the running of the party to officials elected for the purpose. This has, however, worked in the breach. On a number of occasions, the President had spearheaded moves to get the constitution amended in such a way that the influence of the governors would be whittled down. He has largely failed, whether in respect of the PDP constitution or the supreme law of Nigeria. Recently, at the party’s National Executive Council meeting, he attempted to resuscitate the move to dilute the powers of the governors by seeking to bring in Senators and House of Representatives members from the state. It was stoutly resisted and blocked by the governors and their cronies in the NEC.
Governance suffered greatly
In the first 365 days of President Jonathan as the elected leader, very little was achieved in raising the quality of lives of the citizens or giving hope. There is hardly a better way to evaluate the performance of a government that holds it by its promises. At inauguration on May 29 last year, President Jonathan promised Nigerians heaven on earth.
One year after, has Jonathan passed the leadership test? Only PDP partisans would probably score the administration high. The revelations at the public hearings by the National Assembly that exposed sordid deeds of the executive agencies and the lack of will by the President to ensure that culprits are punished shows the administration either has no mission or lacks what it takes to drive the mission.
The PDP national convention that produced a new set of national officials led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur was another minus. It attested to the utter lack of internal democracy in the ruling party. The argument that other parties are not better run is hardly consoling. The role of the President in ensuring that only a national chairman that he had endorsed emerged at the end of the exercise was a pointer that more trouble lays ahead.
2015: Will Jonathan run?
This is one question on the lips of political analysts. The foremost cheerleader and self-appointed campaign manager for the Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Chief Edwin Clark, has been campaigning that the President is not only eligible for another term in office but would actually be flying the PDP flag.
The ruling party is already divided along lines similar to the period leading to 2011. Southsouth political activists want another term for a President presiding over a troubled country, but Northern hawks would not wait for at least his midterm to see the turn of events before returning a verdict. The North wants Jonathan out in 2015.
Buhari has warned that the country would not tolerate a rigged election.
Will a President whose party has been the beneficiary of the rot in the election machinery allow a thorough reform of the process?
Interesting times lie ahead.
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