Mar 19

Goodluck Jonathan, others and debate – opinion By Olatunji Ariyomo

Author: Editor/ comments: 4/ Blog Categories: Uncategorized

On debate: It is my opinion that what you say or what comes out of your mouth matters.

The holy book says ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’. The reason for a debate is to enable voters:

(1) assess candidates as peers

(2) have their words on record

(3) listen to the content of their heart from what comes out of their mouth (Ref: Bible).

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

Thus, I believe debate matters and as Ken Saro-Wiwa junior (Mr. President’s SA on International Affairs) said in today’s edition of 234Next newspaper, there should be a debate involving all presidential candidates. I have listened to Buhari and Ribadu often. I do not believe they would pose serious threat to Jonathan debate wise. Buhari is not a gifted speaker while though Ribadu is articulate and can speak passionately but the content is often not extraordinary. But from the comments of others on this Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, he actually could ruffle feathers and that is the advantage of spontaneity in democracy – the type that brought Obama to the White House. Were yesterday’s debate to have been in the US, it could prove to be a game changer but this is Nigeria.

I have interacted with the grassroot and Jonathan still appears strongly as the candidate with the upper hand in April. As I said on Dapo Oshewa’s wall, Buhari’s Achilles’ heel would eventually be his abandoning a Bola Tinubu who could do a serious political ‘rofo rofo’. Tinubu was actually a political ‘weapon of mass destruction’ against the PDP in the South West but Buhari missed that fact which I think is another landmark of ‘luck’ that came the way of Jonathan. April 2011 will prove my analysis right or wrong. It is my projection that the ACN under Tinubu would be on a successful rampage in the South West which would create a solid rallying and galvanizing momentum for a Buhari/Tinubu ticket in the South West. Combining this with a solid presence and popularity Buahri has in the North would give his ticket a sort of national outlook and a strong footing to challenge the PDP.  This would not be now that it is clearer that Tinubu would not be on that ticket.

On Jonathan, there are certain qualities in him that I admire chief amongst which is his legendary calm and humility and his well-known capacity to overcome the temptation to easily descend upon members of the opposition – clamping those who have possible or suspected graft cases in jail using anti-corruption fights as good excuse. If they say it is election period, he could easily respond by using Ribadu’s well tested and highly successful argument that they should point to one person clamped in jail who did not do the crime! Jonathan does also defer to the people. I fear a president who will take a position and the rest of the country says they don’t like it but will stick to his gun because he wants to prove, like Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, that he is strong. But people change, don’t they? Jonathan’s major negative (again just my opinion) is my assessment of his individual capability to lead and deliver at a very precarious time and in a very tricky situation of present day Nigeria. I may be wrong. My hope is that by some miracle, Jonathan would assemble a sincere team that can really work and not selfish, business-as-usual people, or just bench warmers at Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings. That will require a miracle though but isn’t that the story of Goodluck Jonathan himself so far?

With regard to Nuhu Ribadu, he is a great guy and I admire him. I strongly believe as most Nigerians would do, that he has the highest capacity (rivalled only by Buhari) to fight corruption. Personally though, I prefer a leader that would prevent and inhibit an environment that would allow corruption to prosper on an equal opportunity basis to the one that can only fight corruption. Fighting corruption is good but preventing it is better. In his case, I have said this often that any time I listened to him, I do not come off with the satisfactory feeling that he understands how to solve the specifics of Nigeria’s myriads of developmental problems. He is an effective Corruption Fighter and a sharp witted person who possesses excellent diplomatic acumen as well as an immense energy. Unlike when I listened to Nasir El Rufai on national development, the latter appears better grounded (to me) on the specifics (drilled down) that constitute the core obstacles to our national development as well as having demonstrable capability to lead actual national development. I however don’t think El Rufai is supporting Jonathan any longer.

Muhammadu Buhari’s team in 1984 (I was just getting to secondary school then) brought discipline to Nigeria. My impression of him was that he was a good looking Head of State and that the actual job of leadership was that of Tunde Idiagbon. Even at that, Buhari was still considerably a huge success as a military leader with a remarkable and uncommon pristine reputation. But I am a little bit confused that he never joined us to agitate against the annulment of the June 12 election (for which I had my experience in detention “as Nigeria’s military junta’s prisoner of war” in 1993) and that he was in fact morally comfortable with and did serve the dreaded Abacha as his PTF Chairman. Mrs. Bike Akinduro in Ondo State became a hero for having the strength to reject Abacha’s appointment about that same time. As I have stated earlier, the crowning of Buhari would have been a fait acompli if he had picked Tinubu as his running mate. As that prospect seems to fade, so is the chance of Buhari to secure another large base outside his immediate area come April election. Of course, this are just my projections.

Governor Shekarau argued for the right of the state (government) to set moral codes and socially acceptable choices for the people and he had no qualms about these “his high moral codes and standards” being codified into law and enforced by a quasi police unit (I was under the impression that the Nigerian constitution did not allow for a state or community police until I saw him on the debate promoting the hisbah in Kano State). My reservation about this is the ignorance feigned of the plurality of the Nigerian State – her multi-religious, multi-ethnic and social diversities and the fact that ‘morality’ and ‘moral code’ by definition can be quite subjective depending on the dominant perspective of morality acceptable to the enforcers. For instance, there has been reports that women were flogged for wearing trousers while people who drink or sell anything alcoholic are in trouble. Hence, though Shekarau has unquestionable oratory, his prospect as the number one citizen of Nigeria is justifiably unsettling.

So back to Jonathan, very many things favour Jonathan but critics also have asserted that governance under his watch is lethargic. Jonathan can shake it, but that will require a surgical operation to do away with those who are mentally and administratively unfit to lead any of his critical teams to accomplish success in the following areas:

(1) Energy (this includes electricity and the efficient development of our oil and gas sector for sustainable national development)
(2) Infrastructure
(3) Lasting electoral reform
(4) Lasting political reform (note that both 3 & 4 are distinct. 4 in my opinion will address the question of Nigeria and equity. Shall we continue to pretend we are a nation or actively enact political reforms that will grant true equal opportunity citizenship to all Nigerians?)
(5) Agriculture and food production
(6) Lasting Economic Reform with target on Industry (diversify economy, promote technology and the commercialization of technology as well as equity in accessing economic resources to reduce corruption and over concentration of national wealth in the hands of a few at the expense of the majority), and;
(7) Security.

Solutions – to desired Economic Growth for the nation to attain modernization and ultimately yield high quality of life as well as improved standard of living for the Nigerian person irrespective of his geography of birth, religion or social class, massive reduction in unemployment level and successfully confronting the ever present Niger-Delta question and the unrest in several parts of the country – will gain traction from the success of 1 to 7.

Finally, Nigerians wishing to see Goodluck Jonathan in a debate with others may still have the chance as I have read that there will be one on March 29 2011 – that is if Buhari and others do not also stay away in retaliation.

Olatunji Ariyomo is an engineer.

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  • Aidamenbor

    If am asked to marry these candidate from what have heard and seen,1.Goodluck as president 2.Buhari as Inspector General of Police or INEC boss 3.Ribadu as EFCC chairman or IGP 4 shekerau as MInister of Power 5.Pat Utomi should lead the Economic Team while 6.Dele Momodu shd be the Minister for Commerce.

  • steve ayode

    i totally agree with you on your assessment of the four presidential candidate and am surprise though because we seems to be thinking alike on this after the debate. however let me mention here that Bike Akinduro never rejected a ministerial offer but an offer to be a member of the then federal electoral body ie today’s INEC.

  • steve bayode

    i totally agree with you on your assessment of the four presidential candidate and am surprised though because we seems to be thinking alike on this. however let me mention here that Bike Akinduro never rejected a ministerial offer but offer to be member of the then federal electoral body ie today’s INEC,

  • steve bayode

    i totally agree with you on your assessment of the four presidential candidate and am surprised though because we seems to be thinking alike on this. however let me mention here that Bike Akinduro never rejected a ministerial offer but offer to be a member of the then federal electoral body ie today’s INEC,

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