The Jonathan finale: No fuel, electricity, a diminished PDP

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NIGERIA will usher in President Muhammadu Buhari tomorrow. Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration should potentially, open up new vistas of development for our country. And if the new administration stays true to promises made during the campaign that preceded the elections, we should see some positive changes in the general situation in our country.

There was no denying the fact that most Nigerians who voted Buhari saw in the man, his lifestyle and avowed commitment to fight corruption amongst other promises, someone who could provide the leadership for the process of change that Nigerians believe was essential to arrest the drift that we have witnessed under President Goodluck Jonathan.

Yet, it is also part of the contradictions of contemporary Nigeria, that Buhari will inherit power at a time when Nigeria’s indices have worsened and the resources available to drive the process of change have drastically reduced. Buhari is about to inherit presidency at a moment of incredible national downturn.


A man carries jerrycans to search for fuel in Lagos, on May 21, 2015. Long queues formed at petrol stations across oil-rich Nigeria on May 21 following a row over subsidy payment to petrol importers as well as sale of government oil blocks to private investors, union officials said. AFP PHOTO

If ever there was an indication of how broken the country became, under President Jonathan, the fuel and power crises of the past week in Nigeria, confirm just how problematic the situation is today in Nigeria.

A man carries jerrycans to search for fuel in Lagos, on May 21, 2015. Long queues formed at petrol stations across oil-rich Nigeria on May 21 following a row over subsidy payment to petrol importers as well as sale of government oil blocks to private investors, union officials said. AFP PHOTO

All over the country, exasperated citizens were practically turned destitute as we all confronted the unique saga of Africa’s largest oil producing country, which has been manipulated into a situation where we have become dependent on a cabal of oil importers for our fuel needs. And as these problems have deepened on the eve of exit by the Jonathan administration, we were also able to appreciate just what a lame duck administration resembles.

Things appear contrived to go worse on the eve of a handover of power to the incoming administration. It is also looking like it has been programmed to ensure that the incoming administration will never enjoy a honeymoon with the Nigerian people. Buhari will have to hit the ground running to be able to convince the Nigerian people that he was adequately prepared for power.

It is the backdrop of the rot in practically every sector of our national life, that makes me worry forMuhammadu Buhari. His tolerance will be tested as he discovers that the Nigeria of 2015 is dramatically different in every manner, from the Nigeria of 1983.

Heist and barefaced theft

Today, heist and barefaced theft have become central to the governance process in our country. This problem does not only reside with the PDP; there are also individuals at the top echelons of the APC too, that ordinarily wouldn’t or shouldn’t have been seen in the Buhari camp at all. In politics, individuals will carry baggage we might not want to be seen with, but whose presence had contributed to victory.

Dr. AbubakarAliagan is a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Ilorin and he also presents a widely popular programme weekly on Radio Nigeria, in the Ilorin area. A few weeks ago, he drew analogy from religion to describe the Nigerian situation. Aliagan said we have elected an incorruptible ‘Imam’, but the line behind him at prayer has too many compromised individuals.

He was asking how Buhari would be able to carry out change when there are too many controversial individuals in his camp. Given what we have all gone through this past week, with fuel and electricity supply, that analogy has become even more poignant. Who are the individuals that will be recruited in the process of national reconstruction that we all envisage for the next four years.

It is the backdrop of a week of difficulty that has made me re-examine the Goodluck Jonathan years. In June 2012, I had participated in the PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT during which we examined several aspects of national development. When I asked why the President refused to publicly declare his asset, he answered me that he didn’t give a damn what people felt about his refusal.

The outlandish answer would become one of the defining phrases of the Jonathan presidency and one that would haunt him through his tenure. But I was not really surprised about the general pattern of leadership which the president presented. My first ever encounter with Goodluck Jonathan was towards the end of 2009; he was vice president and had led a delegation to attend a Nigerian Awards ceremony in South Africa. It was also my first opportunity to see at close quarter the ‘cluelessness’ that became first nature with the man who became Nigeria’s president a few months down the line.

Nigeria’s leadership recruitment process promoted Goodluck Jonathan beyond his competence and our country suffered the consequences in the five years that he ruled us. It was therefore no surprise that we arrived at the sorry pass he would exit from by tomorrow. If these are the worst of times, and I think they are, Nigeria faces the very serious task of ensuring that we are not brought through this same route again.

Jonathan’s leadership style

President Jonathan has not only become casualty of his style of leadership in power, by losing the last election, he also exposed the underbelly of the largest vote rigging political machinery in Africa, the PDP. Those who used to arrogantly boast that they would rule this land for 60 years managed 16, during which they instituted a kleptocracy, the type of which Africa has never encountered.

While electoral manipulation took them to dizzying heights of irresponsibility in the management of Nigeria, their loss of power has seen them turn against themselves. Party National Chairman, AdamuMuazzu, who was named the “game changer”, soon after he inherited the whited sepulcher of the PDP, literally ran for dear life, when a PDP lynch mob, decided it was the end of the road for him.

Even the colonial era policeman, Chief Tony Anenih, the party’s ‘Fixer-in-Chief’, also bit the bullet. There was no political Viagra he could have ingested to raise an expired political manhood! So thoroughly beaten was Goodluck Jonathan, that he simultaneously shrunk his party into a pale shadow of its old boastful self; it will take a miracle or a monumental loss of face by the APC, for the PDP to rediscover anything close to the arrogant, hegemonic dominance that it enjoyed over the past sixteen years!

Tomorrow beckons

The finale for President Jonathan has not been a merciful one. What Nigerians are likely to remember of his time in power look likely to be the more negative side. The deprivations of the past week, when petroleum products disappear from the pumps, leading to the disruption of economic and social life for millions, just underlines why Nigerians voted for the change that Muhammadu Buhari promised.

This is the dawn of a new era in Nigeria and the hope invested in the process that will be underway from tomorrow is very high indeed. We have experienced the worst of times over the past five years; that is why Muhammadu Buhari needs a reminder that in voting for him, while rejecting the incumbent president and his political party, Nigerians have also seen the tremendous possibilities they can bring about with their votes. If the change slogan leads to a turn for the better, then Buhari’s place in our history as leader for the process of change will be secure.

The obverse is to be visited the fate of President Jonathan. There can be no hiding place anymore for those who rule Nigeria. Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat at the polls by Muhammadu Buhari has firmly instituted people power in our country! As Muhammadu Buhari assumes power tomorrow we can only wish him the very best, over the next four years, as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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