By Douglas Anele
The title of our discourse today reminds me of some lectures in mathematics which I had while in secondary school. I was in Form Three when my mathematics teacher explained to the class Pythagoras theorem concerning right-angled triangles.
Specifically, he tried to establish, with the aid of diagrams, that in a right-angled triangle the square on the hypotenuse side is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. At the end of the proof, my teacher wrote “Q.E.D.,” an abbreviation for the Latin expression quod erat demonstrandum. Q.E.D. is usually written after a mathematical theorem has been proved successfully.
Now, when Goodluck Jonathan became President after the demise of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, many Nigerians, including some Ijaw leaders and prominent members of the clergy, interpreted the situation from a religious perspective. In other words, they saw Jonathan’s meteoric political rise from an obscure lecturer to the president of Nigeria as the handiwork of providence, the culmination of a divine plan to shift power to the south-south. In fact, a few vociferous Ijaw irredentists even suggested that God used the situation to ensure that the south-south where the bulk of our oil revenue is derived produced Nigeria’s leader for the first time.
From the above it follows that (a) God deliberately eliminated Yar’Adua to make way for Jonathan to become President, (b) whatever happens during Jonathan’s presidency is divinely ordained. I am very sure that Yar’Adua’s family will never endorse proposition (a) because it means that the late president was a mere pawn in the chess game played by an inconsiderate deity unperturbed by the emotional distress and anguish his death would cause. Moreover, for millions of Nigerians living in grinding poverty, it is thoroughly wicked to even suggest that their plight is part of a divine plot to make Jonathan president.
Of course, theological interpretation of Jonathan’s presidency is an instantiation of the general fallacy of non causa pro causa, that is, the error of misidentifying the real causes of phenomena. To really understand scientifically the emergence of political leaders in any given society at a specific point in time, one needs to critically dissect the complex dialectical interplay of institutional and idiosyncratic factors which determine the nature and structure of political power.
On the emergence of Jonathan as president, for example, the key to grasping it lies in rigorous investigation of both the emergence and evolution of ruling power blocks in Nigeria and the character of individuals and institutions that determine how and to whom economic and political power is allocated among competing interests especially since May 29, 1999.
Such a concrete scientific analysis, by revealing the human and institutional variables that made Jonathan’s presidency possible would simultaneously reveal the poverty of theological mystifications proffered by intellectually lazy commentators. Certainly, Nigeria has not recorded significant progress in critical areas of national development under President Jonathan. Thus sycophants who naively thought that his name, “Goodluck,” would automatically bring “good luck” to the country, if they are honest, should by now be asking themselves serious questions about what luck has to do with good leadership, considering that things are falling apart in several aspects of our national life.
Probably, “luck” plays some part in determining the life experiences and achievements of prepared individuals. However, in matters concerning efficient, productive and responsible political leadership “good luck” is irrelevant. Top class leadership is a matter of vision, deep thinking, strategic planning and unwavering selfless determination to implement well-thought out policies for the common good. A transformational leader must inspire and perspire: he or she must inspire compatriots to do great deeds and work extra hard for meaningful positive impact on the masses.
President Jonathan is yet to make good his promise to transform Nigeria. Like previous rulers he makes fine speeches but falls far short on actual performance. Of course Nigerians understand the enormity of problems facing whoever leads them at any point in time. But nobody forced Jonathan into politics; in any case he voluntarily offered to be elected President. Now that his wish has been fulfilled, Mr. President must be prepared to take responsibility for not performing well.
His factotums and spin doctors can use all sorts of immunising stratagems to shield him from legitimate criticism. Still, Nigerians must continue to demand good leadership from their President, and be prepared to act decisively against him if things continue to deteriorate. Consider the state of Nigerian sports after Jonathan came to power: generally no genuine improvement has been recorded in that area.
Indeed the just concluded Olympics Games in London are a sad reminder that Nigeria is just “ordinary body without engine.” Although the federal government spent almost two billion naira for the event none of our athletes won a medal.
As usual, commentators have identified the usual reasons for our embarrassing performance. The major point that emerges from the discussion is that, aside from the personal shortcomings of Nigerian athletes, our extremely poor showing in London 2012 is a paradigm manifestation of the all-pervading leadership kwashiorkor which has virtually crippled the country.
Sports in Nigeria, just like other aspects of our national life, are administered by selfish intellectually myopic individuals motivated only by what they and their cronies can get from the system. Expectedly the usual hypocritical “sound and fury” from top government officials anytime we perform badly in international sports has begun.
A few weeks from now when the matter might have faded from people’s consciousness everybody would go back to business as usual. All the officials responsible for sports, beginning with the sports minister, will retain their positions because everything in Nigeria is the “will of God” or happens by the “special grace of Allah.”
In any case, President Jonathan is not really keen to hold his subordinates accountable for non-performance. Uche Chukwumerije, one of the “senatorial pigs” in the Animal Farm, Nigeria, accurately describes our situation in a newspaper report: “[Objective assessment] of role performance is never done in Nigeria.
When you finish whatever you are doing, you go behind and bribe one official or the other and criticise or politicise it with one person who is your brother or sister from the same tribe.” Nigeria’s disastrous performance is an apt Q.E.D. for the proof that the “Goodluck” in Goodluck Jonathan cannot contribute anything to our developmental efforts, that the semantics of a president’s name is completely irrelevant to a country’s achievement, or lack of it, in any area of human endeavour.