By Douglas Anele
On a cool Friday evening, a few days after President Goodluck Jonathan had unilaterally proposed a name-change for the University of Lagos, I went to the Senior Staff Club to relax a little after spending over six hours working on a research paper I was writing.
As I entered, someone was speaking in an angry loud voice: “I regret queuing in the sun to vote for Jonathan! Can you imagine? Jonathan is busy chasing shadows changing the name of a university while very serious issues were yet to be properly addressed by his government.
Let something push him to seek for second term in 2015. I will do my best to ensure that he is humiliated!” The vehemence with which the discontented man voiced his profound disappointment over Jonathan’s lack luster performance is quite understandable.
Since Goodluck Jonathan became President after the death of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, there is no discernible genuine progress in any aspect of our national life, contrary to the platitudes regurgitated from time to time by the President h
imself and his court jesters.
To compound the problem, Mr. President has not manifested the level of seriousness, determination and urgency required to deal with the challenges of nation-building, especially sickening corruption among the “high and mighty.” He is yet to lead by example in terms of transparency, zero tolerance for corruption, and genuine patriotism anchored on a profound understanding of the concept of servant-leadership.
Meanwhile, although Reuben Abati is singing an entirely different song now after being invited to join the presidential makosa dance, his allegation that Mr. President hit the ground dancing instead of hitting the ground running has been amply corroborated – in fact Jonathan is still dancing.
Jonathan’s poor record and demonstrable inability to deal decisively with parasitic corrupt cabals sucking the country dry vindicate maverick Prof. Tam David-West who, right from the start, declared him unfit to rule Nigeria at this time. Even so, most Nigerians who gave Mr. President the benefit of doubt are now cynical and disillusioned with him.
The wide gap between the highfalutin rhetoric of President Jonathan and his actual performance is remarkable: it is reminiscent of retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s era when grandiloquent speeches were routinely used to mesmerise Nigerians.
Some people might think that the speechwriters for Jonathan are doing a fantastic job for their master. But I see the issue differently: by repeatedly making empty promises, President Jonathan is losing the trust, confidence and goodwill of Nigerians and the support of sincere well-wishers embarrassed by his terrible errors of judgment, despite the fact that some prominent sycophants from the south-south talk as if he is the messiah who would transform the country.
Now, if anybody is still hoping that President Goodluck Jonathan can turn Nigeria around as he promised on May 29, 2011, I believe his latest comments on assets declaration have blown such expectation into smithereens. President Jonathan, during his Media Chat on Sunday June 24, when questioned as to why he was yet to declare his assets publicly, blurted out: “I don’t give a damn about that.
The law is clear about it and so making it public is no issue and I will not play into the hands of people. I have nothing to hide. I declared assets publicly under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua because he did it, but it is not proper. I could be investigated when I leave office.
You don’t need to publicly declare it and it is a matter of principle. It is not the President declaring assets that will change the country.” Now, frankly speaking, such arrogant ill-tempered response to an issue of grave importance is a public relations disaster for this administration, because it portrays the President in bad light
It is astonishing that Jonathan sees public declaration of assets merely from a legal perspective even when, by his own admission, his immediate predecessor led by example on this issue. Going by provisions of the Fifth Schedule, Part 1, of the 1999 Constitution, it is not mandatory for any public official to declare his or her assets publicly.
But then, leadership transcends legalism. A genuine leader must be willing to go beyond the letter of extant laws and do the right thing to set a good example for others to follow. Transparency, accountability and humility are the moral imperatives of responsible leadership.
But in the reckoning of our President, it is not proper to be transparent and accountable to millions of Nigerians who voted him into office. What a shame! To worsen matters, he claims he has nothing to hide and that public declaration of assets by a sitting President will not change the country.
These assertions, in my view, conclusively prove that President Jonathan does not really understand what is expected of a leader in a corruption-infested country like Nigeria. Of course Jonathan is hiding something. I strongly believe that a forensic audit of his assets from when he was Vice President to this time would reveal extraordinary quantum leap in the value of his possessions.
Moreover, by suggesting that public declaration of his assets would not change the country, Jonathan unwittingly dissociated himself from the sound moral standard which enjoins leadership by example. The shibboleth that he could be investigated after leaving office is thoroughly dishonest; otherwise Mr. President should have gone ahead to mention at least one former head of state who has been successfully investigated and dealt with since independence.
Obviously he cannot, because all of them are “untouchable sacred cows” inspite of the heinous crimes they committed against our people. From the foregoing, President Jonathan deserves an ‘F’ in my score-sheet for his imperious stance on public asset declaration by political office holders.
Therefore, I advise those who still see him as the messiah that would liberate Nigerians from poverty, suffering,disillusionment and premature death to wake up and face the truth. With him in power Nigeria will continue to totter and stumble. The real messiah, the original messiah for our bastardised country, is yet to emerge.