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Wednesday, 14 September 2011 / Opeyemi Agbaje

 

 

I voted for President Goodluck Jonathan, privately supported him, publicly advocated support for him on facebook, and to friends, strategic groups and stakeholders I had access to; and endorsed him on this page. I didn’t do this because of a personal relationship (I’ve never met him); not because (as often happens here) I was paid to do so (I’ve never received payment to endorse or support any public officer, candidate or political party, including Jonathan); not because of ethnic or regional affiliation (I’m neither Ijaw nor “South-South”); and not because I requested or was promised any appointment or patronage (I was not). And I am certainly not a PDP member or supporter! In short, I am one of many Nigerians who “voted Jonathan and not PDP” as I wrote in my endorsement because “I regard Jonathan as the candidate of national unity, a federation of co-equal nationalities and national integration, freedom and openness, power sector reform, education and critical infrastructure”.

 

And if the election were repeated today, with exactly the same candidates and electoral mathematics, I would vote the same way! Jonathan’s minuses were evident before the elections (and I was clear that we “independents” who supported him would have to “police” him to ensure he didn’t fail!), but those of his principal opponents were also starkly apparent! However in the last 100 days, my emotions have ranged from surprise-when the president mentioned at his pre-inauguration lecture that four years was not enough to achieve transformation; alarm-at the worsening security situation in the country; confusion-when the president appeared to agree with Vice-President Sambo’s view that privatisation had failed; shock-when the president said after the police headquarters bombing that terrorism is a global phenomenon that could happen anywhere; bewilderment-when he began his “campaign” for an extended single tenure; anger-when the president after the UN bombing said maybe its our turn to experience terrorism; sadness-at the resumed killings in Jos; and thankfully hope-at the presence in the cabinet and economic team of a core of reformist-minded ministers.

 

The most evident character attribute on display has been a certain naïveté about the reality of politics and power, especially in a context of having displaced hegemonic elements with a publicly-expressed stake in his failure. This trait has been displayed in the manner the regime lost the speakership office to anti-regime forces; in cabinet composition where he ceded power over many nominations to state governors; and in the choice of “dialogue” as initial preferred means of resolving the “Boko Haram” bombings. In a sense, the president has allowed some sort of power vacuum and as nature abhors such, all sorts of characters-corrupt politicians, perennial power mongers, ethnic chauvinists and regional jingoists, feudalists and wards of the prebendal state, contractors and rent-seekers, civil servants, closet Jihadists and even his political adversaries (who may already have thoroughly infiltrated his inner circle) have sought to fill the gap!

 

The biggest significant policy and leadership gap in the last one hundred days is that President Jonathan has not articulated and communicated a grand vision and direction for Nigeria and (until the last few days) yet to provide policy content to his “transformation agenda” with the consequence that the words “transformation agenda of Mr President” remained an undecipherable mantra! What kind of country does Jonathan want to create? What does he want to “transform”? What does he think is wrong with Nigeria? What does he want to change? Does he want accommodation with Nigeria as it is, or does he really want to change it? How will he “transform” Nigeria? When? How will he measure success?

 

Let me summarise what I think has not gone well so far-non-articulation of a clear and compelling vision and non-definition of the “transformation agenda”; squandering of goodwill over the extended tenure distraction; often inexplicable display of insufficient presidential firmness and conviction; initial confounding response to the Boko Haram bombings and other cases of terror and insecurity; the naivety with which the zoning matter was handled and the subsequent displacement of the South-West from national leadership; the questionable quality of some critical personal and regime appointments; unduly large composition of the National Economic Management Team (NEMT)-when there were twenty-eight persons, I worried that it better resembled a “consultative forum” rather than an economic “management” team, and more members have since been added; the Petroleum Industry Bill is yet to re-appear in parliament; resumption of violence in Jos, with seeming connivance of some military and security officials; most importantly action was slow to commence on substantive policy and governance challenges of the Nigerian nation.

 

But the outlook may be more encouraging! The cabinet has a small core of strong reformers-Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Akinwunmi Adesina, Barth Nnaji and Olusegun Aganga in charge of critical portfolios-finance, agriculture, power, and trade and investment; while NEMT composition is bloated, the real work may get done by the more-focused implementation team; Ambassador Ashiru is very strong in foreign affairs and I strongly support the recognition of the Libyan Transitional National Council as a bold and proactive measure consistent with Nigeria’s interests and values; Finally the power sector road map is proceeding in spite of all obstacles. I expect the next 100 days to have many more positives!!!

 

 

Source: opeyemi agbaje blogspot

 

 

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