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Published On: Fri, May 9th, 2014

Not even those named after luck…

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By Abayomi Ogunwale

A cursory look at the map however, does very little justice to the political dynamics which preceded the 2011 general elections. Agreed, there were irregularities in the process, but President Goodluck Jonathan did deserve that electoral victory. By putting himself up for elections however, against the spirit of an intra-party zoning agreement which he had assented to, Jonathan lost every claim to any moral victory that the election might have generated. His ‘remarkable’ inability to manage the fallout of that election and unite a nation, fractured by a tense campaign, based on ethnic and religious sentiments, has become his main undoing; this enduring legacy of betrayed confidence.

President Jonathan is that egg that will never become a rooster, a worm trapped in transition, never to become a butterfly. He won a presidential election, but lacked the social capital, wisdom and block of character from which a good leader could have been hewn. With a coterie of sycophantic advisers, parasitic hangers-on, and malevolent manipulators, he is a perpetual victim of his own lack of self-confidence. His advisers also understand the limits of his leadership credentials, and they feed on his malignant ambition, sometimes to the detriment of his legacy, and often for self-serving ends.

This lack of confidence explains his inability to quickly discard the contentious garments of a political aspirant for the nobler and more conciliatory adornment of a statesman. He took the oaths of the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but deep down within him, he remained an insecure, President-wannabe-upstart, who had just stumbled out of nondescript anonymity. He just didn’t know when to stop campaigning, and start leading a nation in dire need of purposeful leadership.

Against this background, we can understand his clannishness, and his unflinching affection for every endeavor that favors his re-election ambition. Without the handicap of this blind ambition, he may have comprehended better, and much earlier, the dangers which the Boko Haram sect posed to the peaceful, even if sometimes difficult, Nigerian life. Unfortunately for us, the man in whom we had reposed our confidence could not see behind the hue of his own power-lust. Every act of terrorism was promptly disregarded as actions from a faceless ‘Northern’ opposition to his purposeless leadership; and greedy advisers appealed to his insecurities and his hunger for power, telling him only the things that could make him dance, while terrorists invaded the country and carted away our perception of peace.

Despite my optimism, a part of me fears that it he has responded too late to the plight of the girls who were kidnapped from the Government College in Chibok. It is almost three weeks, and there are multiple pockets of disconcerting denials coming from inner government circles that, the girls are far away from our porous borders. One needs only to read comments from the President’s spokesmen and allies to understand that, this government does not believe that the girls were actually kidnapped. By the time the realization fully dawns, one hopes it would not be too late to effect any worthwhile rescue.

In a cruel twist of fate, it is this particular failure that may doom the Jonathan Presidency; the one mistake that he might ultimately wish that he did not make. We have come to terms with his incompetence. We understand the limitations of his verbal and analytic abilities; we can even relate with his easy relationship with corruption. He could keep shielding Diezani, or in fact, pardon Ibori and every criminal in Kirikiri, and we won’t be surprised. But this; this nonchalance to the plight of young, innocent Nigerian girls may drive an eternal wedge between him and the Nigerian populace. Nobody recovers from that kind of mortal blow. Not even those named after Luck.


Abayomi Ogunwale is at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas. USA.


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