By Egbelo Ntebri Edward
In 2011, when it was affirmed that Goodluck Jonathan was to champion the affairs of Nigeria, there was a natural feeling of hope and optimism in the air. Many Nigerians believed that he was certainly going to consolidate on the legendary achievements of his late boss President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Goodluck Jonathan understood what was expected of him and immediately built a resilient team of economic experts to manage the country’s growing economy. We surely remember Akinwunmi Adesina who is an international agriculture development expert recognized by the Ban Ki-Moon led United Nations. Yes! We remember the famous Okonjo Iweala who graduated with an AB from Harvard University. Of course we remember the intelligent product of Oxford University, Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga. History will be unfair not to remember Omobola Olubusola Johnson, the brilliant product of University of Manchester/Kings College London. Jonathan knew that considering the unfortunate situation that ended the progressive tenure of his boss, there were lots of actions to be put in place to achieve the beautiful plans of Yar’Adua.
It is important to note that Yar’Adua/Jonathan implemented the 18,000 naira National Minimum wage against the previous 7,500. The welfare of workers was of more value to him than any other business of government at that time. Jonathan met a Police force that was struggling to crawl, he immediately ordered the promotion of more police officers as started by his boss. This laudable action was to boost the morale of the policemen. It will be arrogant of any Nigerian to see Jonathan as a sectional leader. Jonathan made many Nigerians in the business community billionaires. Remember how Alhaji Aliko Dagote rose through ranks, what about Folorunsho Alakija who rose to the rank of the richest black woman in the world. You can’t have billionaires in an economy that is not business friendly. The likes of Dangote and Alakija built confidence in the minds of foreign investors to do business in Nigeria. One cannot forget how Innoson Nigeria Limited Expanded from just producing motorcycles to producing cars in Nigeria. Chief Dr. Innocent Ifediaso will be forever grateful to Jonathan. In other to boost production and support Innosons Motors, Jonathan made sure newly promoted Directors and Permanent Secretaries in Federal Ministries/Parastatals drove Innoson cars. Businesses were thriving beautifully well in Nigeria. It was no magic that Nigeria was the biggest economy in Africa and among the top 20 fastest growing economies in the world. It was evidently clear that there was a business revolution in Nigeria admist the distraction of insurgency in the North. Western countries like the US, UK and France were scared of the rapid development in Nigeria.
No doubt, Jonathan’s administration had challenges, but the challenges were not weighty enough to sour the economic turn-around. The Jonathan administration had internal problems that were not properly managed, but this issues were inconsequential. The problems the Jonathan led administration had were politically induced. The judiciary in Nigeria enjoyed her independence under Jonathan. If not for the Judiciary Kayode Fayemi won’t be remembered as a former governor of Ekiti State. There was some level of decency in INEC, opposition parties won elections peacefully in Nigeria. Opposition states received full support from the Federal Government. Jonathan embraced all his perceived political enemies. Remember how Jonathan intervened in the Tambuwal issue when Tambuwal defected to the APC. Many thought Tambuwal will be impeached many wanted him impeached for betraying the PDP, but Jonathan was not that type of president that promotes political vendetta.
When Jonathan was betrayed in the polls and Buhari was announced winner of the 2015 presidential election, Jonathan opened a new page of a better Nigeria by making an uncommon phone call to congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. In that patriotic spirit of one Nigeria, Jonathan new the importance of that call, the called eased tensions across the world. But the man Buhari had a different perception about leadership.
There were lots of hope that Buhari was definitely going to consolidate on Jonathan’s achievement and continue from where Jonathan stopped with a different political approach. Many believed that Nigeria needed a strong hearted President but never considered the consequences of having a military bred president. Jonathan was not a weak president, Jonathan was a warm hearted president. Jonathan’s kind heartedness was interpreted to be weakness. Buhari came in with a style that looks more like that of a dictator. He started like a captain without a cabin crew. The appointment of Ministers was like another tough election for him. Buhari ruled Nigeria for six months with his political associates, close friends and family members whom he appointed. Buhari left an impression in the mind of his appointees that any member of the PDP is a devil and an enemy. I remember when the present Minister of Niger- Delta, Pastor Uguru Usani Uguru was asked if he once had dealings with the PDP and he responded with “God forbid”. President Buhari left the main business of government to seek international sympathy for Nigeria. I remember when he said Nigeria is fantastically corrupt. The strong and vibrant Nigeria everybody once knew is now perceived to be a weak country breeding corrupt leaders. Maybe he forgot that no right thinking foreign investor would want to do business with a country that has an overwhelming population of corrupt leaders. Gradually investors are leaving, businesses not performing upto par, there is famine in the land, there is untold hardship. Buhari’s administration fights alledged corrupt individuals on newspapers. Judges are not left out as victims on what is believed to be a witch hunt on opposition voices. There are calls for secession by different ethnic groups considering the struggling condition Nigeria is faced with. Opposition voices are threatened with night outs in DSS detention camps.
Our President is sick and we must pray for his quick recovery, but we must not forget how we got to where we are. I remember clearly when President Buhari slummed during his presidential campaign rally in Calabar, there were calls for his state of health to be made public, but the then desperate opposition saw it as a mere distraction by those they saw as enemies of Buhari. When asked by journalists on his state of health, Buhari boastfully said he is in good shape and can jog round a football field 10 times.
The truth is, Nigerians were desperate to see a different style of leadership and it landed us to economic recession, hunger, starvation, untold hardship, unemployment and regret.
We once had a good president, and his name is Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
God bless Goodluck Ebele Jonathan!
God bless President Muhammadu Buhari!!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Egbelo Ntebri Edward writes in from Cross Rivers State