By Godwin Nzeakah
In a country like Nigeria that finds it impossible to separate politics from religion, it is equally impossible to avoid taking almost undue notice of the views of clerics. One such cleric in the country today is his Lordship Buba Lamido, the Bishop of Wusasa Diocese of the Anglican Communion.
Asked recently by a journalist whether President Goodluck Jonathan could win the 2015 election, if at last he decides to contest, his Lordship said Jonathan “is a good man surrounded by bad people”, adding, “if Jonathan will listen to himself and work on his own ideas without listening to bad advice and does great things before 2015 then he will win, because Nigerian government is nobody’s birthright. Everybody has the right to vote and be voted for.”
This remark, coming as it is from a diocesan Bishop, hardly invites argument as to whether it reflects the views of His Lordship’s Wusasa flock as a veritable microcosm of the church at large. That is not the point. The point is that religion and politics being Siamese twins of sorts, ought to be seen as a symbiotic relationship for the benefit and betterment of Nigerians in particular and mankind in general.
That was why in the second republic, Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, a prominent northern politician and founder of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), who controlled North-east politics those days, preached and practiced politics without bitterness—politics of live and let live which was what Bishop Lamido was alluding to when he talked of every Nigerian having the right to vote and be voted for. Interestingly Bishop Lamido hinged his prediction about Jonathan on the possibility of great achievements before 2014.
Unfortunately, however, his Lordship did not explain what he meant by “great things”. But without prejudice to any list of great and lofty things his Lordship may have in mind, even though Nigeria has a host of problems calling for solutions three of them, to my mind, seem paramount, and the achievement of just one of them could make Jonathan a great president. Apart from the issue of insecurity which Boko Haram has come to worsen, the main problems confronting Jonathan are: unemployment, endemic corruption and erratic power.
In fact, if the man will forget all the jarring jargon about 7-point, 5-point or 2-point agenda and focus attention on solving just one of these problems say, electricity, for instance, between now and 2014 he would have achieved the greatest of the great things and thus endeared himself to Nigerians forever. I say so because electricity is the life-blood of any economy and therefore of central importance in the development of any nation.
Once you solve the problem of irregular or erratic power you have half-solved the problem of unemployment and dealt a serious blow to those aspects of the corruption index that require digital solution e.g. voter registration, personnel audit, national census etc. Other things being equal, with regular and cheap electricity, existing industries will operate at full capacity and thus provide more jobs; new industries will also spring up along side cottage industries and ancillary business enterprises.
With a booming economy providing steady job opportunities, crime and unemployment levels will go down drastically while the standard of living will rise. Thus the greatest of the great things that Bishop Buba Lamido has been harping on could take the form of solving the electricity problem which has left Nigeria’s economy in the doldrums for decades. Fortunately for Jonathan, the industry is said to have achieved an output of more than 4,200 MW in the last one year or so, up from 1,800 MW inherited from the Obasanjo/Yar’ Adua regime.
Logically, if in less than two years the administration has been able to achieve more than 2000MW, then between now and April 2014 when President Jonathan would clock three years in office he should be able to make another 2000 MW or more which, when added to the existing 4200 MW may ensure the minimum of about 7000MW plus needed for Nigerians to savour what a situation of uninterrupted light would look like when it ultimately comes.
This is no impossible feat. Even though many Nigerians believe that the Jonathan administration has been very sluggish, it would have all the same recorded modest achievements in the past few years if the man had had less daunting challenges to tackle from day one of his presidency—challenges that may even increase in leaps and bounds once it becomes quite clear, as it is bound to, that he is the man to beat in the 2015 contest.
Although I am hardly enamoured of his style, for three major reasons I have never felt for a moment that Jonathan will shrink back from a second term even in the face of unprecedented criticisms and even provocations. One, if the man had a negative attitude to 2015 he wouldn’t wait till 2014 to announce it. Two, Jonathan comes from a geopolitical zone and the presidency, being a once-in-a-blue-moon zonal benefit, no zone would like to have its turn or tenure abridged unconstitutionally.
Three, legacy is very important; even though in the words of Paul Eldridge “with the stones cast at them geniuses build new roads”, the volume of pebbles in form of savage criticisms and crippling challenges that have come Jonathan’s way since he assumed office have rather made it practically impossible for him to leave any indelible mark yet. Therefore, he probably badly needs another term to do so
. In fact, it would appear that the man has only taken the last 22 months or so to study the presidential terrain, master the weather under a situation akin to battle inoculation from which a stoic and more mature president with a skin as thick as that of an elephant seems to be emerging; and doing so with a great lesson for those who care to learn that peace does not mean to be in a place where there is neither noise nor trouble nor hard work: peace means to be in the midst of those terrible things and yet be calm—be yourself.
As an intellectual, Jonathan must have also learned from Albert Einstein that every great story on the planet happened when someone decided not to give up but kept going, no matter what. In other words, those expecting him to terminate the journey very soon should either think twice or gird their loins as certain developments of recent tend to confirm. For example, a year ago neither Dr. Rueben Abati nor the TMG (Transition Monitoring Group) would have been so enthusiastic, and so ruthless in tackling the president’s real and perceived enemies the way they did recently, firing salvos and indiscriminately shelling enemy camps from Abuja and Lagos simultaneously.
Why have the president’s men so suddenly found their claws, guts, fangs and all? Why have they become so galvanized, so venturesome and so daring? With or without “great things” the answers, my Lord Bishop, as Bob Dylan would say, aren’t blowing in the air. Nzeakah writes from Ota, Ogun State.