For what it’s worth, President Jonathan is my friend (thanks to facebook). I’m not friends with any of the other leading candidates in this year’s polls. In April, however, my vote would not be going to my friend. Nigerians are desperate for something Goodluck can’t bring –a change of the old order. Four more years of President Jonathan would be four years of more of the same. Here are four reasons why.
1. To change the old order is to challenge those who benefit from it.
President Jonathan has not challenged them; he has revived them. Under his watch, we’ve seen senile veterans quit retirement and begin to call the shots again (read Obasanjo and Anenih). We’ve seen ineffective state governors ramrod their way through the PDP primaries. He shocked us by sending a representative to the scandalous homecoming of the unrepentant ex-convict, Bode George, and confounded us by withdrawing (or about to withdraw) corruption cases against the Vaswani brothers, Kenny Martins, Julius Berger, Nasir El-Rufai and the Minister of State for Health, Suleiman Bello. In short, under this president, the old guards have waxed stronger and laughed the loudest, an anomaly bound to continue if he wins in April.
2. To change the old order is to accept responsibility and hold people responsible.
In a facebook note entitled “tangible reasons to wish you a merry Christmas,” President Jonathan scored himself high on security because according to him, “while there was tension in some parts of the North last Christmas, this Christmas those tensions have eased.” That note, as it turned out, arrived too early, just 48hours before the 2010 Christmas Eve bomb blast which maimed and killed scores of Nigerians in Jos and Maiduguri. Arrests were made as usual; nothing came out of it as usual. Unlike the way he tried to lap up the credit a few days prior, President Jonathan did not take the blame for the security lapses. Nobody was queried or fired. And the security situation continues to worsen. He has not taken responsibility for the roads he’s not constructing or for the non-improvement in power supply under his watch as de facto power minister. Neither has he fired any among his bunch of idling ministers and advisers. Yet the wheels of development appear to be clanging to an inevitable halt.
3. To change the old order is to wholly embrace the new.
“Rather than say the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, I am more comfortable in saying that they are the leaders of today and tomorrow,” said President Jonathan in another one of his notes. Yet he declined the invitation by an umbrella youth coalition–WHAT ABOUT US?–to come address youth issues in a debate to be anchored by the award winning Chimamanda Adichie. In fact, he consistently exhibits an inexplicable distaste for debates and intellectual jousts. In February, a group launched an online campaign in which they asked Nigerians to flood President Jonathan’s facebook page with questions on why it seemed nothing was being done to check the recurring senseless killings in Jos. About two hours into the campaign, the page was blocked and made inaccessible for comments, the same page on which the president had previously declared that “opinions on issues, policy and governance can be expressed in an unedited, uncensored way by citizens.” It is clear that President Jonathan is only comfortable in a selective, half-hearted embrace of the new. That’s why he chooses ‘D’banj’ over ‘What about us?’ That’s why he exalts social media only when it is used to proclaim him as Nigeria’s long awaited messiah. That’s why he’s not the kind of president Nigeria needs in 2011.
4. To change the old order is to always put Nigeria first.
Any man who seeks to lead this nation must put Nigeria first, over the generator lobby, the toothpick lobby, the rickety car lobby, the multinational firms lobby, the Iranian lobby and so on. He must put Nigeria first over political party or political ambition. President Jonathan puts Nigeria first only sometimes. He has listened to the governors’ forum and stripped the excess crude account from over $10billion to less than $500million, but has refused to listen to his advisory committee’s recommendation that the government’s over-bloated bureaucracy be stripped to reduce the recurrent expenditure. He looks the other way as illegality is perpetuated in Ogun, where minority rule prevails in the state assembly. Putting Nigeria first is more than writing it on the walls of facebook or reciting prepared speeches. President Jonathan doesn’t seem to understand that, or as some people argue, he’s too weak to be strong for Nigeria.
Being a Southern Christian doesn’t disqualify President Jonathan. Neither does his being married to a dame who speaks damn poor grammar nor his membership of the PDP for that matter. What disqualifies him, in my opinion, is that he hasn’t shown himself to represent the break from the past that Nigerians yearn for. So, for all those who keep asking, “No, I would not vote for Goodluck.”