One Year After - The Jonathan Presidency Through the Lenses of the Diasporans


Next Tuesday, President Goodluck Jonathan-the man with many firsts: first Nigerian President with a PhD, first Niger-Delta man to be massively elected the President of Nigeria; first president in Nigerian modern history to have transitioned from deputy governor to governor, to vice president to acting president and then substantive president, and finally getting elected as his own man in a truly nationally projected mandate, would have served twelve months in office.

What has the verdict been? Has President Jonathan fulfilled the hopes massively entrusted in him by the Nigerian people? Has he engendered a new governance culture or is the country stuck in the rot? Has he given Nigerians a sense of élan and dash or are the collective destinies of Nigerians subsumed by realties that are as daunting as they are confounding? Can Nigeria ever find its mooring under President Jonathan or are we condemned to living our lives in a slightly improved Hobessian state of nature where though there is government, but the general optics suggests a nasty, brutish environment? Put simply, has President Jonathan earned the confidence of Nigerians as he gets set to enter into the second round of his presidency?
The above were some of the questions a group of Diasporans had asked themselves two weeks ago in New York, before I took a quick trip to Nigeria, where I am currently, to observe the celebrations marking the Democracy week. To the majority of Nigerians in the Diaspora, President Jonathan is not to be blamed for what is currently going on in the country, but that the systemic rot has been a festering sore. " Even though I am inclined to blame President Jonathan for a number of ills that currently afflict the nation, I am very sympathetic to him" Dr Kingsley- a Cornel University-Ithaca, New York had opined." I mean, look at the level of rot that the country had descended over the decades-do you think Jonathan can wave a magic wand and in one fell swoop, correct all the ills? It's like what the Republicans here expect of Obama to do: to get American economy that was driven aground by the Republican's catechism of less taxes, zero regulation and tax cuts for the rich. Obama has been trying to move the car from the swamp, and it has not been a jolly good ride so far. It will take time for things to get to where there are supposed to be. I agree with the other levels of analysis which may posit that once a pot has been broken, you own the contents, but Nigeria has been broken for decades and no one owned the contents. I believe with time, Nigerian will reach that tipping point where certain best practices in governance are all but articles of faith" Dr Kinsley had contended.
“I think Dr. Kinsley is defending the indefensible" Chioma- a Registered nurse had chimed in. "the first rule of government is the preservation of lives and property, that’s why government was established- the whole concept of the social contract; you give up a part of your rights and government in turn provides you with the protection and security of your person and property. Do you honestly think we do have that in Nigeria of today given the threat that Boko Haram presents? I think government has failed in this regard and it is very sad. I was in Nigeria about a month ago, and each time I went to a place where we had a large gathering of people, I literally had my heart in my hands. How can Nigerians continue to live like that? The president should do all he possibly can, to destroy this threat-whatever means necessary" Chioma had stated.
"I think Chioma you have forgotten to add another dimension to the whole insecurity issue." Taju a car dealer from Brooklyn had joined in " have you ever considred the political connotations of Boko Haram? Was Boko Haram a potent force before the decision by President Jonathon to run for office? No, it was not. As long as certain parts of the country believe that if they failed at the voting booth, they can employ violence to sow fear and deepen our discord, we have a long way to go in forging a national consensus on issues-politics, economy etc. I think Nigerians should be invested in the whole nation and stop putting accent on regions. The moment Nigerians from other parts accept the fact that every Nigerian is constitutionally free to aspire to the highest position in the land if he or she had the requisite qualifications, and that elections should not be seen as blood sport but a contest of ideas, then we may begin to see a new set of approach to solving our problems."
To Sanusi- a pharmacist who visited New York from Dearborn , Michigan , President Jonathan should take the generator barons headlong. "I can assure you that if the generator barons whose unethical and unpatriotic acts have helped make us a laughing stock among even our less endowed fellow African countries is made to understand that government is aware of their nefarious tendencies, we may begin to see some measure of stability in electricity. When some one had invested billions of naira importing generators, do you think he or she will be happy if the whole nation is lit up by PHCN?  Of course, he won’t like such to happen. The erratic supply of electricity is, the better it would be for him to sell the generators and make his profit. It is a huge problem that may not be solved by one man's presidency. It will be a gradual process, painful as it is been to admit." Sanusi had stated.
Corruption was also seen as a major issue that Jonathan should train his searchlight on. “Don't get me wrong, corruption has been a major issue that even the advanced and mature democracies like the United States  had had to deal with over time" Engineer Akpan of Ronkonkoma. Long Island , New York had stated. "Here in New York , there was a period a certain man by name Boss Tweed of the infamous Tammany Hall singlehandedly ensured the election of governors, members of the state legislature, the judges and the majors. They elected officials were all beholden unto him. This went on for decades until the system corrected itself and he was put away in shame. I believe that Nigeria is making baby steps efforts in tackling corruption and hopefully, someday, we, may have a nation where even though corruption may not be totally eliminated, but would be greatly reduced and elected officials will be more-people centric in their initiatives."
In spite of some of the above unsantized look at the state of our nation, President Jonathan was also massively praised especially in the manner he handled the South African diplomatic row. "That was a golden moment-a proud moment for me as a patriotic Nigerian. I love the fact that South African was made to eat the humble pie and apologized for the ill-treatment they were always meting out to Nigerians. The invocation of the principle of reciprocal treatment was a great and commendable thing." Dr. Tunde of New Rochelle , New York had chimed in.
What do you think readers? Let’s have your opinion.
By Udoh Ekerete

No comments