AT about 10am on Thursday, May 6th 2010, barely thirteen hours after late President Umaru Yarâ€™ Adua exited from this mortal plane, former Acting President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn_in as the fourteenth President of Nigeria.
Thus continued his string of, some say, divinely inspired good fortune in politics, which has seen him rise rapidly from the position of deputy governor to President of Nigeria in four years, without even standing for election to test his personal popularity. This goes to justify the old scriptural adage that says the race is neither for the swift nor the battle for the strong.
Having climbed to the highest position in Nigeria, Jonathan has become the first Nigerian of South_South extraction to emerge as the nationâ€™s number one citizen. The historical import of this should not be lost on him. It imposes a special onus on him to prove that the nation has missed a lot by having a preponderance of its leaders in 50 years coming from a particular section of Nigeria.
Jonathan is in a position to make Nigerians look in the direction of his part of the country any time it is in need of being rescued from tight situations such as the one she finds herself in now. The time is short, and the usual honeymoon will be even shorter.
In the thirteen months that he has to provide Nigeria leadership, President Jonathan has the challenge of firming up the peace process in the Niger Delta which came about as a result of the amnesty programme pioneered by the late President Yarâ€™ Adua. Being from the Niger Delta, and with people from that area being in top positions in his government, no excuse can be allowed to draw back the hands of the clock.
Rather, all the post_amnesty programmes that have already been articulated must now be fast tracked to ensure speedy development of the area and the enhancement of job prospects for the youth.
The power sector is one area that succeeding regimes have tackled with various degrees of failure. In constituting the new federal cabinet, Dr Jonathan has taken direct charge of the power sector. He has taken the challenge into his own hands.
We are expecting rapid results. Let the next hot season not come with the nation still in darkness or intermittent power supply. If there are cliques that have been working against the interest of Nigeria in the power sector, President Jonathan should write his name in gold by dismantling them. The nationâ€™s security and economy depend on improved power supply because it will occasion massive creation of job opportunities.
The electoral reform is another area the new President must invest a lot of his youthful energy on. Let the emergence of the next crop of leaders at all levels be cited as one of the great legacies of the Jonathan era. The importance of a credible electoral process cannot be over_emphasised because it is the foundation of regimes as it defines the very nature and character of government.
As a step towards achieving this, Jonathan must be very careful in choosing the next Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as well as replace the 36 state Resident Electoral Commissioners with more credible people because they are the engine room determining the credibility or otherwise of elections.
Management of his own political ambition and agenda is one of the great tasks before President Jonathan. Understandably, he is going through enormous pressure by contending political forces to run for president in 2011 or to stand by the PDP zoning arrangement which demands that the North should produce the next president.
Some of the prominent Nigerians who are very close to him, such as former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief E. K. Clark are involved in this. He should study the situation carefully and know what is best for this nation and himself.
He should not allow other people to goad him into taking actions that will plunge the nation into another crisis or jeopardise the success of the 2011 general elections.
President Jonathan should nudge his ministers into action, adopting zero tolerance for lack of performance and corruption.