By Hakeem Baba Ahmad
“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” - Gore Vidal.
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan says 2013 will be the year of his greatest impact. Most Nigerians will hope so. Leaders of the opposition and skeptics who hope he will disappoint again will pay for their hostility with higher costs for diesel for their generators, higher costs to protect and secure life and limbs, and uncertainties over whether a President who performs badly all through his four year s will allow a free and fair election to determine his fate in 2015. If 2013 will be the year President Jonathan will affect our lives most, what factors will be in play in shaping it?
The President’s character will be a major factor in terms of what he does in 2013. It cannot escape him that the vast majority of Nigerians are resigned to his rating as the least effective Nigerian leader, and their levels of cynicism over his capacity to alter it are alarming. He could transform his persona and generate new levels of personal courage, commitment and zeal to deal more decisively with many problems threatening to swamp the nation. If he can do that, he will then focus on overhauling his decision-making machinery. Key Ministers involved in managing the economy and infrastructure are now serious liabilities. Many others are content to just tag along without adding value to the quality of governance. He has too many powerful people without specific responsibilities but massive influence over decisions and policies.
Some of these are what Alhaji Asari Dokubo recently lashed out at. The President needs to clean up his Augean Stable which is now a veritable source of corruption, tardiness and incompetence. If he does not do this, he will achieve even less in 2013 than he did since 2011.It is also important that he evaluates his position in relation to running again in 2015. The more he keep the nation guessing, the more he will attract latent and active hostility and opposition from members of his own party, especially governors from the north nursing ambitions; South-east politicians and an opposition receiving a major boost to merge from his perceived ambition. The President’s best bet is to renounce any ambition to run in 2015, and make that decision public. He can then tackle serious problems with a single-minded devotion, and step on toes which will otherwise hide behind his ambition.
Governors will constitute a major influence in shaping 2013. Together, they can frustrate the President’s plans on Sovereign Wealth Fund and other key policy instruments around the economy, and possibly around constitutional amendments. They have many sources of conflicts among them, principally around resource allocation and constitutional amendments. These will reduce their potency as a group, but only slightly. Some PDP governors among them have presidential ambitions, and if they can lean on each other and trade favours, they will be the most decisive influence in determining the outcome of the fight for the PDP flag. They are likely to be influential in determining President Jonathan’s plans towards 2015 which will have to be made clearer in 2013.
The opposition will be influential in 2013, provided current talks end up producing a genuine merger, and leaders that can threaten the PDP and Jonathan’s ambitions. Sticking points in negotiations such as who will emerge leader and flag bearer in 2015 will be difficult to resolve, but if they go beyond 2013, they are unlikely to result in any serious challenge to the PDP’s dominance.
4.Insecurity and Crime threats to national security from the
insurgency of JASLIWAJ (Boko Haram) are likely to continue to challenge the nation. If the administration sustains its current basic strategy of deploying large numbers of security personnel around locations and highways in 2013, it will expose them to more localised hostility, with little impact over the capacity of the insurgency to continue to threaten citizens and the state. If, on the other hand, government undertakes a radical review of its strategy with focus on intelligence gathering as well as involvement of communities in managing the crisis, it could substantially limit the capacity of the insurgency to wage war in 2013. Review of strategies may include tapping into communities to build bridges with the insurgency, and engaging it in discussions within the year.
Serious crimes such as kidnapping, crude theft, armed robbery and piracy will most likely escalate in 2013, unless the administration addresses major weaknesses in its law and order assets, particularly the police. Substantial part of this asset has been compromised by corruption and chronic incompetence, and violent crimes are feeding off its weaknesses at alarming rates. Small arms availability is now a bigger threat than even the Boko Haram insurgency. Unless major steps are taken to restructure the nation’s policing capacity and improve discipline and professionalism, life for most citizens will become even more insecure in 2013. The military is being stressed and exposed to dangerous levels, and the year will likely highlight the impact of this exposure.
The image of the administration as weak when it comes to dealing with corruption will be made worse unless genuine results show in the efforts to prosecute subsidy and pension scams and other reported cases of corruption around official circles. The perception is that the administration harbours too many untouchables with powerful positions and intimate relationships with the presidency. Of all the issues which the President needs to stamp his authority on, none is more important than dealing with run-away corruption. 2013 will be decisive in this respect, because 2014 will be a campaign year, and tills will be seriously raided for resources to prosecute the 2015 elections, whether Jonathan is a candidate or not.
2013 is likely to witness more frictions between the presidency and the legislature, particularly the Representatives. Disputes over budget performance and implementation, the P.I.B, constitutional amendments and corruption will pitch the executive against the legislature in more noisy and untidy disputes. As the year runs out, political ambitions will tamper with these quarrels, and both sides may sheath swords or raise voices over the accumulation of resources for campaigns, or in deference to considerable muscles of the party and governors.
The administration has been fighting a losing war with the Nigerian media. Its perception of being assessed by a biased and intrinsically-hostile media may make it less-disposed towards improving its own image, or performance. A marked improvement in performance in the first half of 2013, though unlikely, will alter the manner the media portrays the administration. Failure to do so will leave the administration even more poorly-assessed by the nation’s media.
2012 was a bad year for millions of citizens affected by the floods. It was only a matter of good fortune that massive losses were not compounded by severe food shortages. The nation cannot pay the same price for another disaster in 2013.
9.The Super Eagles
If the Super Eagles wins the Africa Cup
of Nations in South Africa in 2013, they will redress the alarming decline and waste which is now a feature of the nation’s sporting fortunes. If they fail, as the nation’s Olympic Team did to justify the huge cost of supporting their campaigns, more and more Nigerians will write off our sporting legacies in 2013. HAPPY NEW YEAR