His story was like a fairy tale, a stuff of fiction. His meteoric ascension to the highest office in the land without as much as lifting a finger, had the workings of divinity. He had everything on his side; age, sterling academic qualification and the sympathy of the masses. His gentle disposition, humane personality and humble beginning, garnered him a groundswell of goodwill. That was four years ago!
Today, President Jonathan no longer seems like the breath of fresh air many people thought he was. That is not to say that he is no longer popular. He is still popular but his actions and inactions have depleted his bank of goodwill so much so that there are chances he may not win the next election.
My task in this article is to attempt to diagnose the cause(s) why our President whose popularity in the past was only bettered by President Obama, now finds himself grappling to save a job Nigerians handed him on a platter.
President Jonathan rode to power on the back of a civil movement. When the cabal held our nation in the jugular and relegated Vice President Jonathan to a lame duck, it was the civil society organizations that rallied Nigerians to demand for the right thing to be done. But when in January 2012, President Jonathan withdrew fuel subsidy without proper consultation, it was the same activists that besieged the streets to protest that ill conceived policy. For me, that was when he started squandering his goodwill. So many other flip flops like granting pardon to a convicted ex governor would further make him even more unpopular.
Once the President ascended to power, he became somewhat removed from reality. His kits and kin cocooned him from the masses and gave him so many wrong advices. He acquired new friends; jet trotting billionaires and ex militants. The likes of Asari, Clark and Akpabio waged war against anybody that criticized their President. Even the voices of reason were shouted down, a party that once boasted of having the capacity to settle their differences, nearly imploded and some of their heavyweights have since pitched their tents with the opposition and are helping the General stage a formidable combat in the upcoming election.
The insurgency we are now witnessing wouldn’t have escalated if President Jonathan had taken decisive actions early enough. He was made to believe people were against his government. Before he realized the enormity of what his government was facing, he had already alienated the people of that region and terribly embarrassed his government before the international community, thousands of lives have been wiped off and territories lost to insurgents.
The handling of the kidnapped Chibok girls saga, his insensitivity in embarking on a campaign hours after the bombing of innocent citizens, his refusal to visit Chibok but at the same time going to synagogue to commiserate with T.B Joshua, made him look like a weak and callous leader incapable of empathy.
If his performance in security is woeful, his handling of corruption is even more damning. I was shocked when the President in a fit of anger thundered “I don’t give a damn”, when he was asked what he feels Nigerians will think over his refusal to declare his assets. In another occasion, he dazed Nigerians by saying “stealing is not corruption”. It became one scandal after another; Fuel subsidy fraud, Stella Oduah’s car scam, pension scam, recruitment scam, $20m missing fund.
In all these scandals nobody has gone down for it. It is bad enough that he is seen as being reluctant to fight corruption; it became worse when at every turn he started rationalizing it, the recent one, being his recent comment in Enugu where he pilloried Buhari for jailing Nwobodo for stealing small money.
President Jonathan should blame himself for the turn in his fortunes. He had the opportunity to send the General on a definite retirement, but instead his failings has rejuvenated the frail General and today his chances seem bright. An older Buhari now has a broader appeal and even if he fails to be fourth time lucky, I am sure President Jonathan doesn’t sleep easy these days.
VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE SOLELY AUTHOR’S.