BACKLASH: Let’s Move Beyond Jonathan

Abraham Ogbodo CopyPRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari is beginning to sound like a broken record. Since his inauguration more than three weeks ago, he has maintained one line: The race isn’t a 100-metre dash and time is required to finish well. He is talking as if he only knew about the marathon race ahead after May 29, and now asking for permission to reorder his projections. Even the dullest of Nigerians must have heard enough of the President’s plea for patience to instinctively grant him the understanding he is seeking so desperately.

But the conversation has still not moved forward. In fact, it is degenerating into lamentation and a blame game, which are far more dangerous.

For instance, the President is saying that his inability to name a cabinet after three weeks is caused by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to cooperate with the committee headed by 85-year old Ahmed Joda that he, Buhari constituted to design a blueprint to change Nigeria.

This lack of cooperation, according to the President, caused the committee to submit its report late and that this lateness is delaying the prompt implementation of government’s programmes, including, perhaps, the appointment of a federal cabinet and other officers of government.

Since Nigerians have pledged to be patient with Buhari, they are not going to probe to know the truth of the matter. I can only add that the man had all the time and opportunity to prepare for this assignment. He ruled Nigeria between January 1, 1984 and August 27, 1985 as a military head of state and regarding his re-incarnation on May 29, 2015 in a democratic garb, he had worked at it since 2003, when he debuted as a presidential aspirant in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic.

And so, inventing one reason after another for his lack of movement after 23 days belies his robust pedigree. Maybe in the burning passion to re-incarnate and save Nigeria from itself, the President did not do proper profiling to reconcile his patriotism with his readiness (in terms of what is required) to take on the big task. The job requires speed and accuracy in spite of all the real and imagined challenges. This constant reference to what Jonathan did or failed to do at every turn as reason for the current standstill is not going to help matters.
His old age has just been added to the list of limiting factors. Nigerians knew Buhari’s age before they voted for him.

The narrative as scripted by the then APC opposition does not require new facts. Nigerians voted out Jonathan for all the reasons Buhari is giving for not being able to move an inch forward. Just in case we have forgotten or Buhari and the APC are pretending to forget, Goodluck Jonathan was sacked from Aso Rock Villa for being clueless; not knowing what to do and at what time to do what he should do. He was voted out for being so low in macro-economic management, thereby allowing the national economy to trip into a free fall. He was rejected for allowing crooks in the name of ministers, special advisers, family members, oil marketers and so on to empty the national treasury. He was voted out for not securing Nigerians against terrorists.

Mercifully, the times ended on May 29 when Jonathan left Abuja for Otuoke, after which expectations started mounting for a new narrative. Something like ‘Boko Haram terror ends as military sacks last stronghold;’ ‘corrupt past government officials in EFCC net;’ stolen money tracked and recovered from foreign banks;’ ‘Naira makes dramatic recovery; exchanges 50 to USD;’ ‘blackout to end in two weeks as electricity generation peaks at record 10,000 megawatts’ and such other stuff that will signal a clear departure from the nightmares of the Jonathan years.

Unfortunately, Jonathan is still so much in the tale. This is not too good. It will help if President Buhari can stop lamenting the misdeeds of Jonathan and go ahead to create his own good deeds. The book of lamentation closed with Jonathan and we should be taking readings from the book of revelation a month or so after the ordination of the new priest. That is the meaning of change. Or does Buhari want us to recall Jonathan from retirement in Otuoke to correct all previous mistakes before he, Buhari, can move on with good governance?

The United States of America was at its lowest point since the Great Depression of the 1930s when President Barack Obama assumed tenancy of the White House in 2008. Everything, from the banks, stock market, mortgage, industry and the currency, was down. Unemployment rate had climbed up to double digit, the highest since 1983. The Dow Jones had lost about 34 percent of its value and the about $17 trillion GDP US economy had shrunk by more than 30 percent.

In the face of these challenges, Obama did not spend all the time lamenting the policies of the previous Republican government, which had shifted considerable attention from domestic issues in pursuit of external wars; nor did he dwell endlessly on the inappropriateness of an untainted free market operation, usually a cherished Republican ideal, that spinned the economy out of control.

There was work to do and the man simply rolled back his sleeves and began earnestly. And because he had placed his hand effectively on the handle from day one, when time came for mandate renewal after four years, Americans told him to continue. One voter from Iowa, one of the so-called swing states in American presidential election, said he was voting Democrat because Obama had intervened positively to save his (voter’s) job at General Motors. “That guy gave me back my job and I’m giving his back to him” the voter said.

The star shines only when it is dark enough. If leadership is all about riding the tide of goodness and not about creating gains where there are pains, then just anybody can aspire to become a great leader.

Today, the objective conditions are about the same when Buhari seized power in a military coup from President Shehu Shagari in 1983. Governments at the state level have failed in their primary obligations of paying salaries to keep the bureaucracy of government running. The Federal Government to which the states are turning for help is equally fiscally challenged even as prospects of increased earnings from the oil sector look gloomier with the unpredictability of the international market.

This calls for deeper creativity and not lamentation or buck passing. The governors are asking for bailouts from the centre as if their respective states have become failed businesses that must be nationalised to avoid further ugly consequences. It should be noted that when Obama handed down his bailout which amounted to almost one trillion dollars from the Federal Reserve, it was not to some prodigal state governors.

He did to save General Motors, insurance giant, AIG and other key players in the US economy from going under to precipitate a crisis that would have proved far more difficult to manage.

Buhari’s famed integrity without new possibilities in this new age will amount to a failed mission. And he has in the current situation an opportunity to do something drastic to permanently close the book of lamentation in Nigeria.

In answering these clarion calls for bailouts, therefore, he should look far beyond servicing the greed of reckless and visionless state governors to tackling the fault lines of a federation that breathes entirely from the centre. Since the therapy called ‘restructuring’ appears eternally offensive to certain quarters, hence it has not been applied to the perennial Nigerian ailment, Buhari should find another drug or combination of drugs to deliver the cure he has envisaged. After all, ACT (Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy) was adopted when malaria became resistant to chloroquine. This is another beautiful meaning of change!

  • miko


  • cdo

    Excellent piece. Captures what’s on the mind of many.

  • PMB will leave everlasting legacy if he put his effort in restructuring Nigeria. Restructuring back to true federal system is the only way forward. It will return Nigeria to the competitive spirit of the 60’s. Nigeria will be made to live under their means. The oil rent of Niger delta that is fueling the corruption will be a thing of the past. The love for country and patriotism will genuinely return . The benefit of true federal republic of Nigeria will reawake the giant Nigeria is. I can go on and on. But Can PMB do it? The answer is no. He is a scion of Hausa-Fulani oligarchy that is profiting from the rope sided unitary system we operate. I have my doubts that he has the capacity to do so. Time will tell.

  • Chigoziem

    You know the folklore about the tortoise in a cesspit for 16 long years, that started complaining of the stink the day salvation came? That’s the best way I can describe this narrative. If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail. The culture of ad hockery will always land our bum and head where our feet were before. Mr Ogbodo said speed and accuracy is required in solving the myriad problems cluelessness brought our way in nearly 6 years of the last government, yet in the same breathe, he is comfortable upbraiding Buhari for not making known his working team in barely 21days of his four year term. Hard to reconcile! He captures precisely the challenges we are facing, and sees no need for great circumspection in choosing the men and women of quality that would unburden us, and put us on the solid path of progress.
    I am happy Mr Ogbodo mentioned the Obama example, and the turnaround he brought to America. What I am not sure he found time to do, was to study the principles that underpinned that success. We voted for change, and we expect change, not at the speed of light. We will wait for this change. We can’t be selfish about it. If all that Buhari does is lay a solid foundation, Nigerians will be happy- this generation and the next! This nation has had enough of shifting sands plans and developments. We need a change that will endure.

    • Uche Peter Akabude

      PMB may have been sworn in on May 29, but he has had almost three months (March 23 when he won the election) to put together a befitting team. I should assume he was fully aware of the challenges facing the nation. I should also assume he had fashioned out ways of going about solving them. My fear now is that the man probably didn’t have a blueprint for the second assumption. Little wonder his electioneering campaigns, like those of Jonathan, were lacking grossly in direction, though full of promises.

      • Idris Ademola

        If you can remember March 28 (not March 23), why blame another?

  • Joe Obi

    Fantastic piece, and one of your most insightful, Ogbodo. Let us all continue to insist that President Buhari keep his eyes firmly on the ball, looking forward and striving to score his own goals, instead of the present penchant to find faults with the defenders and goalkeepers who let in goals from the other end of the pitch. We must join efforts in averting the tragedy that is PMB by helping him and the APC to help themselves, and by extension our dear nation. Surely, as you declared, the chapter of Lamentation ought to be finally closed by now. More ink to your pen, Ogbodo. Joe Obi

  • Vincent Bamigboye

    Brilliant piece Mr Ogbodo. However I beg to disagree.It is always easy for Nigerians to compare our country to USA. US has over 200 years of democracy, strong institutions and advanced technology in her favour. What do we have? I’m not defending Buhari at all. Obama threw in a salvaging package of a trillion dollars and he was sure that the institutions will make sure that it would work and it did! Throw in a billion dollars into Nigerian Banks and they will export it to foreign economies before night falls with the aid of the Civil Servants and thieving politicians! Mind you, they will purchase our best SANs and Court Judges when arrested. Buhari’s Govt is 23 days old! Arh! One can understand our impatience having been subjected the a nightmarish 6-year. Pls give the man time. My suggestion is a honeymoon period of 6 months. Not too much to ask. Thanks

    • 100%Black


      • Dr. Uche Okoye

        When someone has researched and put up a good piece, all you can say is “rubbish” without espantiating. It tells volume of your dull brain.

    • Abraham

      did you actually say honeymoon? wao

  • Bartholomew Ohaka

    Extinct APC cannot be a cure for Nigerian malaria. PMB leadership is yet another dummy the SW installed using their potent media power to paint GEJ black and wrest power from him in order to entrench themselves at the center. PMB has already publicly confessed that not much should be expected from him because he is too old and weak. That’s a real fact and he should have mentioned that during the campaign. Nigerian voters have been robbed again!!!

  • Mazi JO

    The continuity co-efficient is in the works as we proceed. APC is a new kid in the block. I hope the Party is not being overwhelmed by the monumental task ahead. The President’s moves and utterances this initially underscore the slowly unfolding election’s ‘change’ optimism. We will have patience with him given the changing Democratic atmosphere which is different from his experience as a military Head of Government. What we will be afraid of is the Party big wigs who seem to be wallowing still in the euphoria of election victory. It was obvious they were so concentrated in winning that they forgot there should be a team to advance their planks in the first 100days of governance. However we have just seen a month gone from the hundred days and two more to go. It isn’t too late but I hope the enthusiasm by Nigerians in registering their mandate in this democratic exercise should be ridden by the President and his much expected selection of strategic cabinet officials. But again, we should hold our fire and have the President, APC, the majority they wield, give the Nation a new direction. Well intended and cautiously well timed piece. I hope the people involved are listening.

  • moses

    the facts is that Buhari came to power true tribalism and religion bet how long will the North keep holding other people for a ransom in Nigeria if this North is not ready to move forward let them allow other people to move forward Am feed up with this people in this country,

  • Abubakar Abba

    Mr ogbodo I strongly believe that you are too sentiment in you piece but let me remind you that you cannot correct without relating to the previous errors, but let me ask did Jonathan did the errors or not if yes then anyone has the right to voice out even if he is your brother. Pls be very wise and make use of your old age smartly.

    • ay

      comment from an illiterate

      • Marvelous

        Unintelligent reaction

    • Wilson Nakpoberuo

      You have said nothing. You went for the messenger rather than the message. Smh.

  • Prophetess Kerriann Campbell

    The problem with you Nigerians is that you people hates TRUTH. What do you expect President Buhari to do come and lie unto those who voted for him. They all campaigned on the believe that Nigeria is RICH and even though the World Bank graded Nigeria as being POOR there are many of you who disbelief such report. Yet now the President comes and see that his promises cannot be make as what he think and asking for patience you there being as the NIGERIAN that you are. You are showing the Kings that make you and displaying the devils that are within you. He was a MILITARY LEADER and now he is a DEMOCRATIC LEADER I am sure it is two different teaching. Just as how Christians cannot accept Jesus Christ as the Son of man who saves instead they lives in the lies and unbelief that CHANGE can be given in Salvation is the same you are there defending the wickedness that former President Goodluck Jonathan left Nigeria within, yes your HERO left a mess that going to take years to fix. Nigeria is POOR amongst all the ones who are travelling to other countries and coming back with exorbitant prices she is POOR. Now the current administration see the trap they set themselves they must take time to come out of it or becomes another Nigerian as YOU, Good for nothing. Hugs

    • iyke@E=mc2

      @ My sister Prophetess, Okonjo Iwala at some point told Nigerians to get prepared for the tough days ahead long before the election but APC lead men said we makes billion per day from oil s no worries. Do you know that Nigeria have struggled on how to sale it’s oil since July 2014 when the US abandoned Nigeria’s oil to bring Jonathan down ? They sabotaged every single move the man made in other to rubbish him. It is very easy to be an opposition. After employing directors of all parastatals to sabotage the then president in other turn Nigerians against him i wonder how the same people can be probed after delivering their messages accordingly.

  • Emmanuel Bamidele Abayomi

    GMB is an imposition on Nigeria, a fraud

  • Ifiok

    APC e-rats were looking for change and that is the change. Good for them. Now they are finding it difficult to believe the scene that is playing out. The so called magician is a fraud, and they have no clue on how to defend any actions from the magician.