By Abu Baba
I take a cursory look at the recent developments in the country and I found myself asking – what a ‘Good Man’ was Mr. President. I asked this question based on the general presumption by many that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, now referred to as GEJ, is naturally a good man.
This therefore, implies that the actions and inactions of the government, which just winded up on May 29, that led to rejection of GEJ and the umbrella party at the April polls were the failures of his appointees.
Indeed, some of us felt Jonathan deserved a second term given the robust picture painted by some ministers, especially the former Minister of Finance, who also co-ordinated the economy.
Towards the election, however, gory pictures of the economy started appearing and claims became clearly opposite to realities on the ground. Nothing seemed to be working and the President, it seemed, lacked the capacity to make anything work. It was a total abdication of responsibility.
After the election emerged even more worrisome realities about Nigeria and its leadership. Hurried change of leadership of several government organs, inability of Jonathan’s men to come open with the transition committee, the increasing debt revelations, inability of government at all levels to pay salary and then the fuel subsidy palaver and consequent return of queues at fuel stations were signposts of incompetent leadership. It made me question the more – ‘Is Jonathan really a good man?’
What a leader runs down his nation to the point that aviation industries were closing shop, radio stations were shutting down and government parastatals were cutting down work hours because of fuel, which Nigeria produces in large quantity!
Or, like some people opined, GEJ was punishing Nigerians for rejecting him at the pools. After all, an IG had fallen and Buruji Kashamu may also be on the way to USA any moment from now.
And, I ask again, why surround himself with people that, put in a mild way, have questionable characters? Towards the election, I addressed an audience where I explained why PDP in Lagos may not get my vote during the gubernatorial election. It was simply because of the questionable characters that surrounded the candidate.
I said “I have a compound of my own and needed a guard. Two were presented to me with different backgrounds and experiences. One comes from the home of renowned guards reputed for performance.
The other had no previous experience of the job and in addition, his sponsors are renowned burglars and pick-pockets in the community. Which of the two should I employ! Unless I want to be unfair to my family and myself, my choice is clear – indeed, as clear as Seven-Up.”
That was my perception of the two parties and their candidates. If GEJ were the good man we thought him to be, why did he surround himself with questionable characters all over the country?
Not that he did not know them because many Nigerians and the international community were not silent at the criminalisation of political appointees, he was aware. When known thugs emerged as ministers and party leaders under his watch, his own level of morality became questionable.
But GEJ may still be a good man. It has always been an undisputed opinion of mine that if you are not a mediocre, but you are surrounded by ‘mediocres’ and you tolerate their mediocrity, eventually they will rub off on you and increase your own mediocrity.
After all, Yorubas would say “bi ewe ba pe lara ose, a a dose’’ (this literarily means when a leave-let stays long with a soap, it eventually becomes soap).
By the same token, if you fail to lift up the weaklings around you, they will reduce your strength and morale. And, because you have to live with them, they turn you too, into a weakling like them.
Jonathan played along – for too long, with people of doubtful character. It got to the point that he lost control and became insulated from the people who accepted his pitiful story of a man from humble background.
The good man in him faded and he became, unfortunately, a leader disarmed of authority and control. The sense of responsibility was taken away from him and each time he looked more as a leader beclouded from the realities around him. In that way, the nation became rudderless.
The events of this past week even revealed the weakness of GEJ the more and posed more questions about his personality and morality. God help Nigeria as the reign of the criminals seem to come to termination.
Abu Baba is an author and Public Affairs Analyst. He can be reached via email@example.com