BY DAN ONWUKWE
He chose this year. We didn’t choose it for him. He sees this year as a defining moment; a year like no other, a year to prove critics wrong, a year to either remain relevant or lead without followership. He says 2013 is the year his government policies will begin to yield dividends.
For him, it is the year he expects to move from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’. He is not deluded by the fact that his performance has remained abysmal. It is also not lost on him that he has disappointed many. He acknowledges the fact of the mounting doubts about his ability to govern Nigeria.
It is instructive to recall that when President Jonathan chose the platform of the 52nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) last August in Abuja to make those declarative statements, he surely wanted to be taken seriously and be judged by what he said. After all, the standard he sent for himself was high. He had at that august meeting of lawyers described himself as the “most criticized President in the world”. But, he gleefully said, by the time 2013 runs its full course, his critics would have cause to change their minds and see him as the “most praised President”.
What, one may ask, gave the President this optimism? Is it based on concrete evidence, or is he deluded by wishful thinking? According to him, his administration is working “very hard to stabilize power, working very hard to resurface our roads, working very hard to bring reasonable control over the security challenges”. It is not easy, he told his audience at NBA conference on August 27,2012.
It has become customary and sounds as boring as hell listening to President Jonathan drop promises of hope. In his Christmas message to the nation last week, he regurgitated almost the same issues he would make a difference. He listed public infrastructure, roads,railways and airport transportation, healthcare,education, security as well as tackle the intractable power sector conundrum. And now, 2013 is here.How prepared is the President in delivering on his promise? Leadership involves preparation.
The presidency brings no special gift of prophecy or foresight. Politicians seek power to accomplish goals. Interestingly,power reveals.Some seek power to achieve larger ends,in the interest of society.Some just to dominate others.It is not exactly clear to me why Jonathan sought power. I am also not sure if the President has convinced himself what he wants to do with the power that he has.
He is at best ambivalent. Whether he admits it or not, Jonathan Presidency is yet to establish a great enough sense of urgency in addressing issues in its transformation agenda. Talk is always cheap.Walking the talk makes the difference. Nothing derails a government like having a President who abandons the promise that ought to define his presidecy and his legacy.It is not unkind to say that Jonathan’s government has not worked hard enough toward meeting the desired goals that will make Nigerians shade their doubts about his style of governance. No full commitment to delivering on his promises.
Rather, it seems the President is overwhelmed by the burden of expectations. The power to achieve result has always been there for any president to use. In that regard, President Jonathan has no reason to continue to wobble. Leadership is all about responsibility and been responsive to the expectations of the people. It must be said that as ambitious and desirable the president’s promises appear, there is no concrete evidence on ground that these promises stand a good chance of being actualised this year.
What for instance, is on ground that the power sector will improve anytime soon, or that the insecurity in the land will be under firm control? Or that the transportation system, especially our roads that have become more of death-traps will get the deserved attention beyond the perfunctory resurfacing? Standard of education has continued to fall. None of our higher institutions is ranked among the first 100 in Africa. Indeed, little on ground to justify the President’s optimism. Two years in office is sufficient time to articulate a comprehensive programme of action. It is more like one step forward, several steps backward. Nigerians deserve more than they are currently getting.
As the New Year begins today,the clock is ticking on the areas the President has given his word. The power sector remains the engine room that can galvanize other sectors of the economy. Despite huge investment in the sector, government is far from generating its targeted mega watts for 2012. Maybe, there’s a magic-wand. At the moment, small-scale businesses such as barbing salons are running on generating sets and their owners are not breaking. Big industries are operating 24 hours on gensets.
The toll on the economy is incalculable. I believe Nigerians, even the President’s most incurable critics his promises actualized. Or perhaps President Jonathan has declared victory for himself too soon. Happy New, Mr. President. The moment beckons.