T he greatest character flaw of Nigerian politicians is that
they always think there would be no tomorrow. Similarly, they
fail to grasp that nothing flies like time. And that no condition
is permanent. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was the worst student in
the under-estimation of how times fly. So when his eight years
at Aso Rock flew away like a rocket, he resorted to illegal
means in his evil bid to extend his tenure as president. Even if
he had succeeded, he would still not have been president today.
Obasanjo’s parting gift to Nigeria was President Goodluck
Jonathan. Unfortunately, he, like his benefactor, failed to
realize that one of the certainties of life is that tomorrow will
dawn. At the midnight of his presidency, he has also figured
out that he has not used his time maximally, as president of
the Republic, to serve the interest of ordinary Nigerians, who
entrusted him with leadership.
In Nigeria of my time, Jonathan is the only man that ascended
the presidency on popular acclamation. Nigerians connected
massively with his humility then and the touching story of his
shoeless childhood. More than ever in the history of our nation,
the commonplace people had genuinely hoped for a new
beginning and a new Nigeria, where they could pursue a
dignified life, as citizens of a major oil exporter.
The saddest thing about Nigeria is that it is the only country,
where the citizens needlessly suffer in the midst of plenty, due
to the treacherous callousness of the ruling class.
Jonathan had promised to end that in his promise of “a
breadth of fresh air.” It resonated well and the people trusted
that he will change once and for all the way business is done at
the top of government.
Unfortunately, once he secured power, he turned his coat and
began to serve only the interest of the rich. Naturally,
Nigerians got disappointed – this writer as well.
As another political tomorrow is about to dawn and because
Jonathan failed to see tomorrow, he is now desperately doing
everything to win back the minds of estranged Nigerian voters.
Normally, no serious president could have the effrontery to
ask the electorate for reelection when over 200 Nigerian girls
remain unaccounted for. The Chibok school girls continue to
languish in the captivity of Boko Haram. This is why Jonathan is
doing all within his means, including secretly negotiating with
Boko Haram without telling Nigerians, to secure the release of
those girls and also to improve on the security situation in the
In his almost six years presidency, nothing has given him
sleepless nights like the abduction of the Chibok girls. He is
quite aware that it will go a long way in defining his days as
If he had done the right things; changed Nigeria as he had
promised and served the interest of the people, as he should
have done, things would have been different. His political life
would not have depended on the Chibok outcome.
The truth remains that this president cannot be blamed for
Boko Haram. Before Jonathan, there was Boko Haram. However,
if the security situation in the country is anything to go by,
Boko Haram, which was once a toothless bulldog, has turned
into a monster of mass destruction under his watch.
Jonathan could certainly be blamed for not taking drastic and
decisive measures to check the growth of the terror group.
At the twilight of his first tenure in office, there is nothing
memorable he has given to Nigerians or the nation. Jonathan
failed on his promise. After six years, there is still no light,
water, good roads. Unemployment, especially among the Youth,
has worsened. In fact, young Nigerians of the future
generation died while scampering for an unattractive
Immigration job they never would have gotten any way.
The disappointment about Jonathan’s presidency is widespread
and intense. But somehow he thinks that Nigerians could forget
and forgive him if he brought back the Chibok girls alive and if
he ended the Boko Haram insurgency.
It was pitiable to watch the government declare a unilateral
ceasefire, which collapsed within hours as an unimpressed Boko
Haram ransacked another village in the North East. If two
parties have been at war, one party can not hurriedly mount
the platform to announce a ceasefire without the presence and
expression of consent of the other party.
It shows the helplessness of our military in confronting Boko
Haram, which they had once boasted to crush. The group are
now being begged to embrace peace (because election is
It further underlines the desperation of this government to
secure a closure to the Chibok national embarrassment before
the elections in January.
As the military announced the unilateral ceasefire, Nigerians
were also told that the Chibok girls are on their way back
home. As I write, that has not happened. Therefore, if
Jonathan wanted to turn the untold ordeal of those girls into a
political gain, his calculations must have backfired.
I will leave it to Nigerians to reach the decision if they could
trust Jonathan again, should he secure the release of the #
But if the girls are eventually freed, they would not be coming
back the same girls who went into captivity. Their lives would
surely never be the same again. So, it is certainly a wrong
premise for Jonathan to anchor his reelection bid. His greatest
undoing is that he failed to realize that his time as president
and commander-in-chief is limited. Jonathan, like all others
before him, failed to see and think about tomorrow.
The writer is Charles Ofoji. Email him at checkpointcharley@