A Measure Of The President’s Cluelessness, By Azubuike Ishiekwene

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Azubuike Ishiekwene

Azubuike Ishiekwene

We’re fighting two wars now. There is the war on Boko Haram and the war for re-election. The government has decided that re-election is more important so it is lining up everything to bring back President Goodluck Jonathan while the country wades through its deadliest strife yet after the civil war.

After months of indecision Jonathan finally decided on November 11 that he is standing re-election, despite failing the nation on the war with Boko Haram. Ok, he didn’t put it so starkly. He called for one minute’s silence for the Potiskum dead, after which we were supposed to move on?

He reminded us of improvements in infrastructure, citing electricity, roads, railway, water supply and schools. He did not leave out the revolutionary changes in agriculture, which have turned mobile phones to munchies.

There’s no point splitting hairs over what Jonathan has done in his last five years as president. We’re losing our country and losing our future not because of what he has done, but precisely because of what he has failed to do and proved incapable of doing.

It’s not about tracks, turbines or terminals as such. The first and last purpose of government is to keep its citizens safe and secure. This government has long stopped pretending that it’s up to the job. Worse still, as Tompolo’s disruption of Jonathan’s planned visit to the Ogidigben power plant project has shown the government cannot even protect its own principal officers, including the president, from the thuggery of its own armed gangs.

In the weeks leading to his declaration and the days after, I was not amused by how many foreign journalists predicted that Jonathan would brush aside his incompetence and the loss of roughly one-third of the country to clinch a second term. An article by Reuters spoke about “Jonathan’s robust position in spite of the scandals and failings which have rocked his government.”

They cannot write about their own countries this way.

Wasn’t the Democratic Party written off for dead even before the midterm elections despite the economic recovery under Barack Obama because America was perceived to be “losing its place” in the world? Yet these folks think that we’re such a bunch of yam heads we have our choices made for us, regardless of what we have been through.

Can we reclaim our country?

It is a measure of the president’s cluelessness that the most single important account of his stewardship in the last five years – his declaration speech – contained only three out of 112 paragraphs of what he intended to do to reclaim the country from Boko Haram. In 2011 when Jonathan was first elected, Boko Haram was at its infancy. It was sworn to its oath of bloodletting all right, but it depended largely on bows and arrows to carry out sporadic attacks in few far-flung border towns and promptly retreated like the vagabonds they are.

After the election during which he performed poorly and the violence that followed in many parts of the north, however, Jonathan felt justified to let the north roast “in its own fire.” He mistook the embarrassing silence of the northern elite as proof of complicity until the UN building and Madalla church bombings happened.

From there, it’s been downhill.

Where a handful were killed in 2011, hundreds have been killed since then and hundreds of thousands displaced, with no respect for faith or ethnicity. Scores of children have been murdered in schools with Buni Yadi, Benisheik, Mamugu, Mubi and Gujba ranking among the cruelest. As Jonathan was declaring his intention to seek re-election, the 200+ Chibok girls were still unaccounted for over 200 days after they were abducted.

Where Boko Haram had no tract of land in 2011, it now controls about 16 local governments, home to over two million people, and a landmass larger than Northern Ireland.

Are we going to gloss over the 3,000 dead, the pain of the grieving families, the misery of the wounded and the displaced, and the memories of the missing girls and our brave but poorly equipped soldiers to vote again for Jonathan next year? Are we going to reward the empty promises of the military chiefs about the recovery of the girls or the false hope of a ceasefire with Boko Haram tweeted by the military on October 17, by returning Jonathan to Aso Rock?

It would be unfair to say that the president has not tried to tackle Boko Haram. Events in the Sahel, long years of neglect of the military and – worst of all – his unbelief combined to weaken him. Yet even if we were to forgive his past, we cannot confer on him a future that he has not earned.

Jonathan’s November 11 declaration speech said embarrassingly little about the two demons that have afflicted his administration the most – how to deal with Boko Haram and tackle corruption. It’s not that he didn’t know what to say. After five years in office, he has come to terms with his lack of capacity to mean and do what he says.

That doesn’t automatically confer an advantage on the opposition, whose capacity to score own goals is only matched by the arrogance of the ruling party. The All Progressives Congress may yet hand victory to Jonathan if it fails to produce a candidate that will inspire.

Former President Obasanjo may be right afterall: it’s do or die.

Why Is The IG Doing This To Himself?

I believe IG Suleiman Abba is a good guy. I have met him and I’m convinced he wants to serve. But now I’m confused. He has made such a hack of himself in the last two weeks or so, I’m thinking he has a mojo problem. He can’t seem to say ‘No’, even if it means hugging the transformer to please his bosses in Aso Rock. At a time when the public is still outraged that he withdrew the police aides of Speaker Aminu Tambuwal (on the orders of President Jonathan), policemen yesterday teargased the speaker and locked him out of the National Assembly.

He had reconvened the House in response to the president’s request to extend the state of emergency in the north east. The game plan, however, was to use the police to lock the speaker and his supporters out and forge numbers to impeach him.

At about the same time, this sort of nonsense was also playing out in Ekiti where seven out of the 26 members of the state House of Assembly met on Governor Ayo Fayose’s orders – with full police protection – and claimed they had impeached the speaker. Jonathan’s government is playing with fire and IG Abba must know that he’s feeding the flame.

Views expressed are solely author’s


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