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MR. President: It’s what you do

By Kunle Oyatomi
We are already in the critical stage of the election year when people make up their minds to contest or not. It usually is a period of great distraction for those who want to perform, and of course a time for absenteeism by unscrupulous political office holders.

For Mr. President the ball game is pretty much different, he can neither afford to be distracted nor does he have the scope for any kind of “luxury”. Every moment of his time counts to determine his political future.

The controversy which surrounds the Presidency of this country will not go away. And to all purpose and intent, Goodluck Jonathan is being sucked into the fray. The circumstances of his rise to power weren’t the easiest, but at least he berthed.

The argument about his right to participate in the next electoral process is already losing steam. At least we are all persuaded that the constitution doesn’t take away his right to do so. The decision will be his, not anyone else’s. But the critical catch here is that only Mr. President can stop himself by what he does. And time is a dominant factor in this exercise.

Time is running so fast, Jonathan will have to run faster to beat it. Yet he has a handful of “hot potatoes” to deliver in the shortest possible time. So, it is not what you say, Mr. President, but what you do that will make the difference.

The pressure under which Mr President will operate is very high. From all sectors of our socio-political and economic life the expectations for performance by Mr. President are equally very high; so, what does he do? The position in which Mr. President finds himself at this moment is not the most enviable; but the challenges it presents are equally not insurmountable.

They also present an unusual scale on which we can weigh and assess the President’s abilities, capabilities and resilience to perform successfully as a “people’s President” of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Let it be made absolutely clear that nobody is expecting Mr. President to perform magic. He did not create the current conditions of collapse; but we expect him to demonstrate a clear, appreciable and action-related grasp of the situation by moving in the right direction to straighten things up. There are a number of issues Jonathan cannot afford to handle shoddily:

•Comprehensive and generally acceptable reform of the electoral process is the most delicate and important issue that (if not properly addressed) could diminish Mr. President on the scale of TRUST. If we cannot trust him on this issue, it is unlikely that he will sustain public trust on the others.

•The courage and the firmness he would need to deliver on electoral reforms shall be discernible from the quality of the character he would appoint as the new Chairman of INEC.

•We want to see tangible evidence on ground that Mr. President is capable of making the difference on stable electricity supply in this country. We know he cannot fix it perfectly in the next year or two; but if he stamps his feet on the ground, and summons the courage to smash the evil cabal that prevents the energy sector of the economy from functioning, he can considerably improve the power sector from the supply and in the next couple of months. With that he can win our TRUST.

•And, if between now and the next couple of months he accelerates and intensifies his administration’s anti-corruption drive to bring to justice the so-called “untouchables” who live in the luxury of filthy riches, he will be making a powerful statement that Nigerians will understand.

•If Mr. President can also fast-track movements on the Niger Delta situation, so that everybody can nod his/her head in approval that his administration is making progress in addressing the monumental injustice inherent in the region’s crises, then Nigerians can have cause to cheer and say, “with Jonathan, there is reason to hope.” Then, and only then is when our trust should be given without reservations.

The point I am making is that we must see action, action and action again. Thus far, there have been some actions; and we can also see the slow hands of the bureaucracy pulling the breaks as usual. If it becomes necessary, Mr. President can go round the bureaucracy to get things done. He will get public sympathy. The forces that are afraid of positive change are hard at work to make Jonathan fail.

They are the powerful and privileged ones in society. Jonathan must disengage with these people, and he has the powers to do so.  Those who profit from making our critical institutions dysfunctional must be brought to their knees quickly.

Those who prevent infrastructural development in this country should be kept in check. It doesn’t take too much to get things done in this country; it only takes a leader with courage, steam, determination and a ruthless will to make a difference in service to our people.

Already fraudsters have begun to cash in on the possibility of a Jonathan ticket. You know, those guys are always one step ahead of society. They read the horizon pretty faster than ourselves. So when they move, you guess there’s something rewarding to play for.

And it is quite understandable if the Presidency distances itself from the unofficial movements around that probable ticket. What is not in doubt though is that if Jonathan makes himself relevant by his actions, and wins trust from the public, his approval ratings in the next 100 days could well put the ticket on his laps.
And thereafter, we can put the nonsense of zoning behind us.

Most Nigerians are coming to appreciate the fact that significant departure from the norm of our past attitude toward public affairs will characterise the next political dispensation. In that atmosphere there will be little or no room for mediocres, fraudsters and unserious politicians.


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