Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan is a walking target; the fact that he wears a big cowboy hat doesn’t help make things any easier. Everybody, everywhere wants a shot at Mr. President. In fact it has become popular culture to take a shot at the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
There is not one single President of Nigeria that served for over a year that is loved by the Nigerian people. The reason is simple, Nigeria has so many developmental challenges, and there is poverty in the land fueled by decades of corruption in government. So whomever is at the head of the government at the Federal level is the easiest target for the people.
In Nigeria these days, if you’re angry at your wife at home, you’re most likely to take it out on President Jonathan. No matter the grievance you have, President Jonathan is an available target. Nigerians have such a short term memory that it’s amazing we have forgotten that this is the same man they collectively rallied round in 2009/2010 when he refused to step into the role of a then ailing President Yar’adua. Jonathan is the first President, Nigerians truly put into office.
I remember the 2011 elections, then so many people said “I’m not voting for PDP, I’m voting Jonathan”. I wasn’t deceived, I voted for Muhammadu Buhari. I wanted him to bring an end to corruption in Nigeria brought about by PDP. I liked Jonathan’s credentials but the muck of PDP was too much too bare. Obasanjo’s PDP had shown disdain for rule of law, whilst embracing corruption and electoral flaws. However most Nigerians then felt Goodluck Jonathan was the new cool and voted him in after friending him on Facebook enmasse. Many of these same Nigerians have since had a change of heart. Now they no longer want Goodluck. Only God knows what they want.
Someone recently told me they could not support Goodluck Jonathan, and I asked why? The person could not give a single reason. I think there are no other people in the world like Nigerians when it comes to the bandwagon effect.
Here is how wisegeek.org defines the Bandwagon Effect
The bandwagon effect is an observed social behavior in which people tend to go along with what others do or think without considering their actions. The likelihood of this is greatly increased as more and more people adopt an idea or behavior; this has led to the pejorative description “herd effect” in reference to this interesting behavioral phenomenon. It can be seen at almost all levels of human interaction, and being aware of its influence may help individuals make calculated decisions that are based on their beliefs and values rather than the temptation to go along with a group.
I know for a fact many people voted for Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 because they believed he was a quasi-Messiah sent by God to rescue Nigeria from itself. The storyline then was “from assistant headboy to headboy, from deputy governor to Governor, from vice President to President. Surely the hand of God must be at work. He is divinely meant to be our leader.” The word-of-mouth Public Relations Goodluck Jonathan had up to the 2011 election was such that Mr. President would probably not even have had to spend N1 campaigning. Even the leader of the opposition Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is rumored to have encouraged his followers to vote GEJ in 2011.
Fastforward to 2014, where if you tell people you support Goodluck Jonathan, then there will be sighs and chants of “cluelessness” and other unsavoury insults mentioned to throw his administration under the bus, and if you’re unluck you will also be disparaged for supporting the man social media would like to fancy as Public Enemy #1.
This is because certain elements on Social Media have made it the noveau cool to be a Jonathan basher. And many Nigerians due to the prevalence of the bandwagon effect on our society have adopted the trend and some are following it blindly. Nobody wants to risk a more logical approach to evaluating the performance of the President as that would go against the basic tenet of the bandwagon philosophy. Rule number one being, ‘never question the bandwagon, simply ride ontop of it and use it to seek acceptance from your peer group’.
President Jonathan would do well to ignore the ‘children of anger’ as those of us in the know have monikered them. If President Jonathan were to reduce the fuel price to 0 today, there would still be some people in the pockets of some opposition somewhere that would find a reason to rubbish the President’s initiative.
I had my eyes glued to the President during his last Presidential Media Chat and I saw a man hard at work to make Nigeria a better place, but weary, weary from all the hatred and distrust his own people harbor for him. Weary but resolute. President Jonathan is like the underappreciated Father who continues to labour for a family that does not appreciate or love him. Personally I’m convinced it is his strong faith and soft spoken nature that have allowed him to deal with the vast amount of haterade being consumed by the people. Surely the President knows there is no messiah anywhere, anytime that was embraced by his own people for a protracted period of time. It is the nature of the enemy to ensure that the Messiah is vilified. We remember what the Sanhedrin Council filled with Pharisees and Sadducees did to Jesus.
Even when Jesus healed the sick or resurrected the dead, they found fault with him. What many of us now revere as Holy scripture, that is Goodluck Jonathan’s reality. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Never before in the history of Nigeria have people given less of a damn.
The Goodluck Jonathan administration has recorded more developmental milestones that other governments combined in the last 30 years, and it seems Nigerians do not give a damn. The reason the landmark achievements do not get much Press is because Boko Haram has been a trending topic ever since he got sworn in as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Northern Establishment swore that he would not know peace for one day in office for daring to run for the Presidency when it should have been their turn.
The alliance between Northern interests and South Western think tank capability under the aegis of the Opposition has made the past four years of his Presidency a very bumpy ride. President Jonathan can hardly sneeze without certain interests misconstruing it to mean something negative and dire for Nigerians.
A healthy opposition is great for our nascent democracy, but what kind of opposition throws the blame of an insurgency on the President who is more affected than any other Nigerian. I think the President is a decent man who mourns the loss of the life of any single Nigerian. Is this not the same man who adopted several children and substituted their loss with his responsibility, and still continues to do so until this day. Surely such a man understands the meaning of empathy.
Many opposition figures have to find something they do not like about Jonathan, several opposition figures ridicule his attending Sunday church services and say a leader should not flaunt his religion. But these same men and women, surely they are religious people.
It is amusing to hear Governor Fashola remember to admonish those Lagosians clamouring for a Christian president are doing Good Governance a disservice, but forgetting that he himself fails to tell his colleagues in the APC that his leadership and developmental credential are paramount in his party and by his own moral compass, he should be the candidate of the APC for the 2015 elections.
President Jonathan is the kind of man who leaves Abuja to come and inaugurate the most important infrastructure project in the South West in the company of an opposition Governor. A friend of progress anywhere, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, all smiles, even ensured he was sturdy as he hanged off the side of the JB road roller as President Jonathan took the wheel, guided by a company official, his face with the business as usual expression. The man truly wants to transform every area of Nigeria, hence the term ‘Transformation Agenda’.
He flagged off the reconstruction of the Lagos Ibadan Expressway, a project past leaders like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (who happens to be from the SW region) did not see the need to accomplish, even though this route is one of the most impressive economic corridors in all of Africa.
Power may not have improved dramatically overnight, but what do you expect to happen when you have infrastructure that has been derelict for over 50 years? It would be a Herculean task even for Christ to get power working in Nigeria overnight. President Goodluck Jonathan has put in measures so that power failure becomes a thing of the past. As I type this piece, I say with all integrity that it is with power supplied by the Eko Distribution Company.
Whilst I may not have 24 hours power supply yet, I know the situation is light years better than under Obasanjo or Babangida’s regimes/tenures.
If Nigerians decide to hop off the bandwagon for one second and recognize the fact that President Goodluck Jonathan is trying much harder than several administrations before him. His profound respect for the rule of law, electoral transparency, and even bothering to talk to the media about issues are factors Nigerians need not take for granted. They forget what was commonplace in the days of series of cabals, when CNN itself did not dare venture…
Many Nigerians are embracing a defeatist mentality, which goes like this –“if we let the Northern establishment have their way at the polls in 2015, then they will call off their Boko Haram dogs and the bloodshed and carnage will stop.”
Needless to say, we are not supposed to be on that bandwagon. Nigeria can burn a while if it must, but justice needs to be done, so that when we rebuild from the ashes, we would have created an Utopia worthy of the black race. We will do a disservice to generations unborn to continue to cower at the sight of the wrath of those few that seek to make Nigeria ungovernable in order to make the many suffer for a popular decision reached in 2011.
Despite 30 years in leadership, the Northern establishment has not developed anything in the North with exception of angry hearts and minds ripe for recruitment into Boko Haram flanks. How can they continue to claim birthright to lead a complex country like Nigeria if they have proven they cannot restore sanity to their own region? Instead of politicking, there should be a meeting of the minds on how to partner with the Center and the Foreign Advisers on how to end Boko Haram. But Nigerians have no such luck, we are instead confronted with a who is who of power grabber politicians who only want to jostle for a seat the National CONFAB will hopefully make less important.