Few things are as riling as the thought of Mr. Goodluck Jonathan being officially listed as one of the men who ever ruled this great nation of wonderful people.
Can you, in all sincerity, stand the portrait of Mr. Jonathan competing for space on walls of the presidential villa alongside those of clearheaded leaders such as Muhammadu Buhari and Murtala Muhammad among others? The mere thought can make any right thinking individual to throw up.
Let’s get this clear from the onset! This is not meant to be a signal to anyone to contemplate the mind-bending action of Rivers state caretaker governor, Nyesom Wike, who was caught on camera, few hours after his inauguration, standing on a chair, hammer and nail in hand, as he hanged the picture of an impostor in his office! Without having to resort to Mr. Wike’s Orubebean tactics, there is the satisfaction in the realization that history books will place Mr. Jonathan where he rightly belongs: in the low league of phoney opportunists!
Early last year, eyes got red, mouths foamed and index fingers wagged menacingly when Mr. Jonathan, was described as a kindergarten president! For that apt description, Chief Bisi Akande, then pro tem national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was called names for insulting the former president. Some fawners even claimed Chief Akande denigrated the office of president and promptly called for his arrest!
One thing Mr. Jonathan and the groveling leeches around him never denied is that, for the better part of his better-forgotten reign, adjectives such as misfit, weakling, incompetent, unserious, fumbling, insincere, low-performing were aptly employed by Nigerians, including prominent members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, to assess him. Kindergarten presidency was just another adjective in the neology of the era. Hardly surprising that few weeks into the Buhari presidency, fawning hosanna and alleluia singers of the Jonathan era openly admit there is a world of difference between a cart and race horse!
Kindergarten is a school or class for children, aged four to six, before they proceed to formal schooling. It is where the rudiments of early education are learnt. It does not matter how you view it, but the kindergarten is certainly not the place for people with academic doctorate degrees in their pocket. If it is true that Mr. Jonathan possesses a doctorate degree, he qualifies to be the only Nigerian leader to be educated to that level. Pity is, the experience of the Jonathan presidency has shown that acquisition of strings of academic degrees does not automatically translate into sound sense of judgement. Hasn’t Mr. Jonathan done more than enough to prove Chief Akande right?
May be Mr. Jonathan failed because he inherited a patently corrupt and ravaged economy. Of course, the country he inherited had decayed and decaying infrastructure, undergoing a dubious privatization policy and was being torn apart by insurgency and criminal kidnapping gangs. But Mr. Jonathan knew what he was going into when he made an unsolicited vow to transform the country when he claimed a dubious victory in 2011. It did not take long for Nigerians to discover that the nasal, dewy-eyed and semi-coherent man they elected president was incapable of transforming even himself!
The battle-cry of Mr. Jonathan’s handlers was that his first name was the magic Nigeria needed. And the handlers succeeded because many Nigerians assumed that luck was all the former president needs to transform Nigeria. It is beyond doubt that Mr. Jonathan is a lucky man. At least, there is no better way to explain his fairy tale and meteoric rise to the top! He was always the man at the right place and was prepared to employ mischief as he did when, as deputy governor in his native Bayelsa state, he spilled the beans on his larcenous boss, Diepreye Alamiesiegha! But, luck, like every other thing has its limitations especially when it comes to leadership. Effective leaders prepare for office; they do not rely on luck!
Mr. Jonathan may not look and sound sharp but, when it mattered most, he was sharp enough to know what to do to save his skin. The former president was alive to the fact that his conduct and that of his close confidants, including his wife, especially in the last days of his reign made it imperative for Mr. Jonathan to ensure a smooth handover. For instance, it was convenient for Mr. Jonathan to look the other way as his handlers threatened war if he was not re-elected. Not even a whimper in the form of condemnation came from the former president when brigands from the Niger delta area, at the behest of supposed elders, held the nation by its jugular. The man some starry-eyed fans suggested should be awarded the Nobel Prize for peace saw nothing wrong when his wife waddled round the country to preach her hate sermons.
There is joy in the realization that Nigerians believe they made the right choice when they voted for the competent and clearheaded duo of Muhammadu Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo. It would have been a worse hellhole scenario had Nigerians repeated the 2011 mistake when, for very curious and untenable reasons, many voted for Mr. Jonathan who symbolized a patently incompetent and reluctant horse in the misplaced belief that his first name was the magic needed to make things work. After the self-imposed and avoidable miasma of the past sixteen years, especially the type that pervaded the Jonathan era, the election of a visionary leadership has proved to be a welcome balm on the country’s jaded nerves.
It beats the imagination that a 72-year old man we were told never attended school has, in just one hundred days, surpassed what a much younger man and supposed holder of a doctorate degree could ever have dreamt of achieving in more than 2000 days! It is just a hundred days into the Buhari presidency but, judged by where Nigerians are coming from, it already looks like it is a hundred years of good governance!
Abdulrazaq Magaji is based in Abuja and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.