Okay, I strongly supported President Goodluck Jonathan in the last election, even though I’m not a PDP member, and I have condemned and continue to condemn the present attempt to vilify him or make him a scapegoat for the supposed failure of his administration. I do admit he has a lot to be blamed for, but I just don’t think the present occupiers of Aso Rock should use him as an excuse for their own scandalous failures still dangerously unfolding. I believe Jonathan, like other previous heads of state and presidents, has done his bit while in office and must be allowed to go anywhere he wants freely and contributes to national development and discourse as he deems fit.
I have watched him traverse the world since he left office, and I was convinced that he was doing this to garner support for his newly-established Goodluck Jonathan Foundation. I have also accepted the fact that he was being welcomed, hosted and given all manner of awards here and there abroad as a natural result of the commendable thing he did by handing over power the manner he did after the election of last year. Now, here is my problem: How long is he going to be globetrotting for? How can he be globetrotting now even more than he did while in office? What exactly is the purpose of all this? Apart from the work he did on behalf of the Commonwealth in Tanzania, I haven’t seen much of a benefit Goodluck Jonathan has brought to Nigeria or Africa with all these travels all over meeting with nondescript people here and there.
When I saw him return to Nigeria recently after the falsehood that he was seeking exile abroad, I was happy. But just as we were welcoming him home, he was out again and now is in London! I have just read the speech he delivered there, and I’m wondering what that is all about.
Who doubted his Nigerianness? Of what value is that Bloomberg appearance or that speech? Of what value is a speech that’s just a list of what he achieved while in government? How is that useful for where we are now as a nation?
Here is what I think: Jonathan is still a prisoner to some of those who advised him wrongly while he was President, people who couldn’t sell his achievements properly to the Nigerian people, people who sat there complacently and watched the APC take power without providing Nigerians a better alternative in terms of ideas of government. These are people who allowed the opposition then to define Jonathan so badly that such a negative definition was enough to turn the election against him. These people are at it again. They are telling Jonathan that running around the world like some quixotic statesman is the way to go! No, it’s not! Enough of this crap!
Jonathan should return to Nigeria and join hands with the President Muhammadu Buhari government, the Nigerian civil society, and fellow citizens to save us from where we are now. Everyone knows Nigeria is in dire straits right now, and he and his administration contributed to that state as much as bad policies from the present government too. His Goodluck Jonathan Foundation will not get the legitimacy it needs from outside. It is the people of Nigeria he is working for, not foreign media consultants, events organisers or PR gurus. He should come down home to Otuoke, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Abuja or Lagos and Nigerians at home will always find him something to do to keep him busy! Jonathan should know that apart from President Muhammadu Buhari, he is the singular most important factor in Nigerian politics right now. Of course, I’m aware that President Buhari consulted with him on his brief return recently, but that is not enough. He needs to sit down in Nigeria and help fashion out solutions to many of the problems we have on the ground. For instance, the Niger Delta is today back under the grip of militancy. He was a principal figure in ending it the first time as part of the Yar’Adua government. He should once again deploy that skill now and make himself a bridge between the government and the militants. I know the problem of the Niger Delta and its relationship with political leaders at the top from elsewhere, I know the age-old story of injustice, environmental despoliation, inequity and all that; but Jonathan was there for five years and couldn’t change much. Nonetheless, there must be something he knows and that he has learnt in that period that will be useful for Nigeria now. Let him begin to work with those he can work with to make sure the tension there is de-escalated. He can’t credibly do that from London. He has to be on the ground.
Of course, I know some supposed Jonathan supporters will attack me for this, but I really don’t care. They cannot be bigger supporters of Jonathan than me. But I do not only support him; I wish him well, and it’s only someone that wishes you well that will tell you the truth, especially the truth you do not want to hear. Jonathan is still relatively a young man and has a lot to contribute to Nigeria and Africa. As president and national leader, he has garnered a lot of goodwill and a lot of enemies as well. The enemies, he cannot do much about, but the goodwill he can fritter away on these meaningless junkets. He should be in Nigeria consulting with young people and our future leaders and help fashion a future that is worthwhile for them. We know Nigeria is a leadership graveyard, but all past and present leaders cannot just go about acting like bums and expect us to be happy. For our sake, Jonathan has to be different. Enough of the wakabout!