Nigeria’s outgoing president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had no good luck this time around. Many political strategists and analysts knew it too well that he’d not survive in the just ended general elections in which he’s defeated by former military ruler, Gen Mohammad Ashraf Buhari. This was the fourth times for Buhari to have taken a shot on presidency. Buhari garnered 15.4 million votes against 13.3 million that Jonathan got. After the results were announced, Jonathan conceded defeat and he congratulated Buhari.
Due to what’s been going on under Jonathan –any politician, even scraggy one –would have taken him down easily. Two things seem to attract, and worry voters in the just ended Nigerian general elections, security and corruption. As Nigerians went to polls, they were not sure if the elections would be peacefully and free and fair thanks to oft-disruptions by Boko Haram. As if this wasn’t enough, Jonathan went to elections with allegations of corruption hovering over his head. In spite of normal and endemic corruption allegations involving government officials–which are a normal thing in Nigeria–former Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanussi, the current emir of Kano, dropped a bombshell alleging that over $ 20Bn was missing from the treasury. This dinting revelation really hit Jonathan had. Ironically, Jonathan’s government didn’t mount any defence. Nor did it offer any expiations save to fire Lamido. Circumstantially, this was construed by the electorate as being genuine and true allegation that the government was behind this mammoth theft.
If there’s the straw that broke the camel’s back is none other than Boko Haram’s oft-gains and assaults culminating in abducting 276 school girls from Chibok High school a year ago. Many thought the government would bring them back timely to no avail despite Jonathan’s empty promises of doing so. To add salt to injury, Jonathan made a goof by negotiating with what seemed to be bogus Boko Haram to end up being duped and shamed. He made a mistake of announcing the deal even before knowing the authenticity and gravity of those he’s negotiating with. Failure to return the girls left Jonathan more humiliated and vulnerable than any causes for his loss. This attests to the fact that conflict worries almost everybody and it has devastating results to politicians who tend to ignore it because it doesn’t affect them directly. Underscoring this, Buhari had this message for Boko Haram, “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will. We shall spare no effort until we defeat terrorism.”
One can say that Jonathan’s style of leadership was hands-off while Buhari’s is expected to be tough hands-on thanks to the style he displayed when he was president 1983-85 when he introduced many measures such as stopping the government from borrowing, increasing interest rates, reducing the balance of payment deficit and many more. One analyst was quoted as saying that Nigerians need a tough fella who can instil discipline into the institutions. Buhari is remembered for his disciplinary behaviour whereby he used to punish soldiers who used to go to work late or ordering the whacking those who jumped lines on bus stands.
Jonathan predicaments were not only internal but also external. The fall of oil price in the international market also contributed to his defeat. The petrodollar his government used to rake in dwindled so as to affect government business that had already crippled by endemic corruption and Boko Haram attacks. Nigeria depends on oil cripplingly. It has nary diversified her economy to avoid depending on oil. Ironically, in spite of being an oil producing country, oil price is in Nigeria is higher than some countries that do not produce oil. For, Nigeria, oil is like a curse thanks to mega corruption whereby many barrels of oil are stolen daily. Nigeria is among most corrupt countries in Africa. Timipre slyva former Baylesa governor said that under Jonathan corruption became a culture of Nigeria.
Another weakness for Jonathan was the failure for Nigeria’s army to root out Boko Haram out till the coming of militaries from neighbouring countries that turned the waves against Boko Haram. Such successes unearthed the weakness of Nigeria government and army altogether. Looking at how Boko Haram used to make Nigeria its backyard, the coming of troops from Benin, Cameroon Chad and Niger to turn things around did demolish Jonathan politically portraying Nigerian army to be weak and ill equipped. For common Nigerians such gains were attributed to foreigners but not Nigerian army.
Buhari won’t repeat Jonathan’s mistakes. Being a soldier and a former rule –at least with something to show on his CV–will he he’s likely to become another Obasanjo.
Twitter is now full of messages of youth saying that if the Buhari government repeats the same mistake Jonathan’s committed it will go come next elections. Buhari seems to understand this well. For, he was quoted as saying “Mistakes will be made but we shall never take you for granted. Our errors shall be one of compassion and not to punish you.”
Knowing the lassitude and polarizing nature of campaigns, Buhari came with a conciliatory note saying, “You are all my people and I shall treat everyone as my own. I shall work for those who voted for me, those who voted against me and even for those who did not vote at all.” This means that politicking and bickering are now over. People need to go back to work so that the country can move forward. Again, thanks to long time corruption and pitiable social services, Nigerians seem to have put much expectation on Buhari. Will he change the corrupt system or being corrupted by the system he not new to?
Again, the just sacrilegious attack on Kenya by al-Shabaab should awaken politicians to underscore the danger insecurity poses not to the plebs but to their power.