Sharing my thoughts and putting my message accross
I heaved a huge sigh of relief when the latest of the annual World Economic Forum drew to a close in the Swiss Alpine municipality of Davos a few days ago. I was relieved because our President this time, did not subject us to another round of shame on CNN before the gaze of the whole wild world. After all, last year marked the peak of national embarrassment when pictures of President Goodluck Jonathan doing a roadshow interview on Christiane Amanpour showed him trembling in stage fright and divulging wrong information on the state of the Nigerian power sector.
This segment alone, in President Jonathan’s long chain of negative personal image, is sufficient to drown any hope of political resurrection from the abyss of Nigeria’s traditional graveyard for political correctness. Yet the reasons for President Jonathan’s perfect blend into Nigeria’s sordidly scary political tradition are countless. From personal incompetence despite high educational qualification through amateurish attempt to play the dirty game of politics without the requisite experience and adequate godfather(s) in the background (an indispensable prerequisite in Nigerian politics) up until ideological and programmatic bankruptcy, you name it!
While Nigerians have been waiting for the messianic instance of political redemption since time immemorial, curative analyses have for too long, been focussing on educational qualification as the bane and jinx of leadership failure all through the years. After all, no non-military university graduate has ever held real power in the history of Nigeria until Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The failure of the late President’s government that apparently focused disproportionately, on returning Nigeria’s power base to the geographical north of the country was soon followed by that of Goodluck Jonathan – a holder of the highest academic degree possible at student level – that is now suspiciously focused on ethnic clienteles as the “Minimah”ization of the military seems to suggest.
Today, our minds have been disabused of this grievously erroneous impression that we have nurtured all through the years believing that academic degrees will always make a better leader and political redeemer of individuals. Indeed, the long catalog of failures that currently weighs so strongly on the government of President Jonathan not the least because of the high expectations occasioned by his high academic qualification but also in the aftermath of dismal and inexcusable lapses in performance, has not only awoken Nigerians to the sober reality but is also enough to circumscribe the scope of any President’s ambitions.
Alas, there is a sizeable number of discerning and highly learned Nigerians who sincerely have a huge problem accepting any status quo that may facilitate the displacement or removal of President Jonathan from office. Understandably too!
This is not based on the simple fact alone that there is yet no credible replacement in sight for the incumbent President less than 12 months to the next election. No. It is not based on the fact alone that the main opposition party with the most promising prospect of eventually replacing the current ruling party has no promising blueprint in the form of a party or an ideological manifesto to offer the electorates. No. It is based on the simple fact that the elite class is still fanning the traditional embers of regional relevance in determining the ruler of the country.
The mind-boggling and deep-seated shame of backwardness, the demeaning realization that Nigeria has been left far behind by peers at independence do not in the least, seem to matter to this shameless and mindless class in any way. The political class seems chronically blind to the anachronistic evolvement of countries like South Korea, Malaysia, which gained independence in 1957, Indonesia, which was formally recognized as independent in 1962 or Singapore in 1965. What all these countries have in common is that as at 1960 when Nigeria gained her independence, none of them could boast of the resources that were available to Nigeria. When mention is made of the pace of neighboring Ghana’s breathtaking advancement, Nigerians are quick to point to the minute geographical and populational size of this neighbor. Then however, they lose sight of China that is multifold the size of Nigeria. As at 1960, China too, was an agriculture-based economy and did not have the resources that were available to Nigeria. Experts looked on to Nigeria then, as the prospective giant of Africa and the only government that began to sail in calm waters after the political turbulence of the civil war was truly on the right path. Successive governments came on board and messed up the collective destiny of a promising nation.
While no destitution seems tragic enough to shock this political class to the point of waking it up from a long-drawn slumber, well-meaning observers keep clamoring for the days, in which meritocracy will come halfway close to playing its rightful role in the political psyche of leading Nigerian politicians. Rather than looking for a credible, qualified, achieving, capable, determined, more presentable and confident leader to replace President Goodluck Jonathan, who has proven not worthy of the words “good luck” for the destiny of Nigeria, the emphasis still remains placed on shifting power (back) to the North. The crucial question begging for an answer is the developmental relevance of the region of origin of any given leader if the good of the nation is truly of paramount importance.
While the psychological importance of calming frayed nerves in the aftermath of the turbulence and upheaval that trailed the death of President Yar’Adua and the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan cannot be over-emphasized, the crucial question asking “when will Nigerians concentrate on taking the nation forward and leaving divisions behind” will forever persist. In the midst of all these, Northern leaders are yet swearing that power must return to the region. Ordinarily, this should not be a problem to any discerning mind as long as the region also has highly capable leadership potentials. Yet the divisive nature of this insistence remains at the core of maneuvers that will determine the future of Nigeria.
Well-meaning observers and critics that I have spoken to recently and who live in Nigeria and watch events at closer range than myself all agree on one thing: President Jonathan has not proven worthy of leading a country as complex as Nigeria. Yet closer interaction with some Northerners at various levels – from political elite to clerical and field activities – reportedly betrays what many consider as ‘pure arrogance’ oozing out of the body and oral languages of our northern brothers and sisters.
Nuhu Ribadu won the hearts and mind of Nigerians (North and South) with his bold and maximum utilization of the powers granted him by the authority of the day within the limited scope allowed and fought corruption hands down. Nasir El-Rufai – even though tainted by charges of nepotism and self-serving implementation of policies in his efforts to sanitize the capital territory – is held in high esteem by Nigerians (North and South) for the boldness with which he focused on a line of action. Many Southerners (excluding myself) will have no problem with former General Muhammadu Buhari becoming President of Nigeria because of the gains Nigeria made under his combined leadership with Tunde Idiagbon in his military days as Head of State. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has won the heart of many Southerners for the boldness with which he speaks the bitter truth no matter whose ox is gored
Yet, none of these respectable individuals ever try to make himself cladded in the robe of broad acceptability across regional boundaries when it comes to choosing a President. None has ever attempted the game of regional neutrality even if it was not meant as such.
It is no secret today that Nigeria suffered its prime drift into developmental reverse gear under the watch and proactive contribution of northern-led military governments. It does not take a northern or southern mindset to discern this simple reality. All it takes is a simple sense of patriotism. Yet no single northerner of substance has ever summoned the courage to appreciate or even own up to this major failure as a minimum prerequisite for superficial neutrality or patriotism. On the contrary, Nuhu Ribadu explicitly wooed Northern leaders for acceptance as a consensus candidate while running as ACN’s alibi presidential candidate rather than appealing for broad-based national acceptability. Muhammadu Buhari concentrated on the northern region while hunting for votes for the Presidency and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi often deliberately provoked antagonistic southern sentiments with controversial policies as Governor of the Central Bank. The demonstrative readiness to stand before Nigerians and simply express those symbolic and magical words of regret – not even apology – for the inexcusable catastrophes of those leaders past would have long sparked a wave of cross-regional sympathies and killed the unfortunate trend of religious-tribal suspicions.
Yet Northern leaders continue to tread the failed trail of division that will lead the country nowhere counting basically on public resentment against the incumbent President. A quiet policy-resolve to drive rapprochement and the spirit of brotherly reconciliation does not seem to strike a nerve with northern leaders. The so-called “Traitors” of the North collaborating with the incumbent President for his re-election do not even pretend to be patriotic because their self-serving motives glitter too bright on the political show-glass.
If, in spite of near-unanimity over the inadequacy of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as President of Nigeria, he still goes ahead to win reelection in 2015, none but the Northern elite – ostensibly the self-styled Northern Elders Forum – will have itself to blame all the way down the line for inordinate selfishness, inadequacies, wrong alternatives in terms of persons and policies – short: poor strategies.
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