Time to Break the Chain
It was not exactly a change of political baton. The man who brought the nation’s baton of political authority to Eagle Square, venue of the May 29, 2011, Presidential inauguration, was also the one who went away with it at the end of the historic ceremony. That was President Goodluck Jonathan. You can say it was a Jonathan-to-Jonathan changeover but the event was no less significant. The baton Jonathan received that day was the symbol of his first real mandate, since becoming a politician, to govern.
Before now, Jonathan had been deputy governor and governor of his Bayelsa home state and later the country’s vice-president. Those were no less important political assignments. But in all of the elections that earned him those positions, Jonathan was not the principal issue. He was only a “co-traveller.” That is what makes his April 16, 2011 presidential election victory even more significant. He was the candidate this time around, the man who sought for the votes of Nigerians and was given. That makes all the difference.
Voting for the purpose of choosing a leader is for the voter an investment of sort. Returns are expected at the end of the day. In this case, Nigerians expect good governance from the new helmsman at the Presidency, that is, a government that is responsive to their yearnings for the good things of life, things like regular electricity, good roads, schools and hospitals that are functional, and above, a government that can guarantee safety of lives and property.
By choosing Jonathan over and above the other contestants in the presidential election, Nigerians have invested all their political capital on him, hoping to receive commensurate dividends at the end of his mandatory four years. The question is, what will the Nigerian electorate reap at the end of the day? Is it profit or loss? Will Jonathan end up being a good political investment for Nigerians or a liability? That question will be answered in the months and years ahead.
But so far, Jonathan has left no one in doubt that he knows to where he is taking the country. From all he had been saying, he knows where the country is at the moment and where it should be in the next four years. He has assured all of us that he is here on a restitution mission. His public utterances during the campaigns and after his election, all point in that direction and it is not difficult to tell that the man we have chosen to lead us seems to have already identified the path that we must take in order to get to that land of promise which, for more than 50 years of our independence, has remained only but an unfulfilled aspiration. He has assured us that he will remove all those obstacles that have impeded our efforts all these years and frustrated our dreams. He will continue the fight against corruption, improve access to quality medical care for all Nigerians, make electricity supply more regular, pay greater attention to education and make the public transportation system more efficient and affordable.
The road to this land of promise is long and tedious. Can Jonathan get the nation to that destination in four years? Certainly, no. The work that is to be done is huge. And that is because of the level of rot that the nation’s infrastructure had suffered all through many years of neglect. What he can do, and should do, in the time available to him, is to put the nation firmly on the track that leads to this land of fulfilment. Even that will take a lot of self-discipline, hard work and patriotism to achieve, all of which, I believe, the President has in abundance. What he must do is to distance himself from political stock brokers and charlatans who are ever present in the corridors of power and whose mission, always, is to manipulate the system to the advantage of a few but highly placed individuals. They are always at work, trying all available tricks to ensure that the game is played by their own rules, ensuring that the old order of looting public funds and taking them abroad to develop other economies does not change.
Such people are the reason for the poor state of development of the nation today. They are the reason why electricity power supply is, till today, epileptic. They are responsible for the poor state of our roads and near-absence of a rail transport system. They are the cause of all our frustrations as a nation and as a people. It is never in their interest that Nigeria develops because the weaker the system, the better for their economic interests. Jonathan must avoid such people like a plague that they are if he must succeed. It will take a fierce, even bloody, battle to change this old and familiar order, but it is a battle the President must fight and win, otherwise, Nigeria is not going anywhere.
Nigerians acted wisely with their choice of Jonathan for this job at this point in time. The support they gave through their votes is the source of the mandate he will be exercising in the next four years. A few years ago, it was unthinkable that a young Ijaw man from one of the rural interiors of the country could become the president of this country whose political structure was designed, from the very beginning, to fit only a tripod formed by the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Today, that political algebra has changed with the election of Jonathan and this is good for the country. It is now the turn of Jonathan to prove to all of us that we made no mistake in voting massively for him.
The masses of our people have, for too long, been in chains, chained away from the abundance of the nation’s wealth. This must now give way. Jonathan should come all out and fight the battle to free Nigerians from this chain of denial and deprivation. The time to do so is now.