Jonathan: Time to hit the ground running

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Nigeria has emerged from the 2011 election period. It may seem ordinary, but it is a feat in both the Nigerian and pan- African contexts. Within the local and larger African contexts, elections have also held the key to peace or anarchy. 

In Nigeria, reference can be made to the December 1964 federal parliamentary election, which had to drag to March 1965 in Lagos, and the Eastern Region as a result of boycotts, and to November 1965 in Western Nigeria, claiming over 2,000 lives in the region as a result of riots and protests. As recent as 1993, the nation was engulfed in a conflagration that began with the annulment of the outcome of that year’s presidential election, which raged throughout the year, and continued to spread inter-ethnic distrust, and ill-feelings, that only abated with the 1999 presidential election that produced Olusegun Obasanjo. Within the Sub-Saharan Africa, general elections have continuously drawn countries to the brink of civil war, and stand as the prime cause of societal upheavals.

Given the circumstances surrounding the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan, first as Acting President, and his emergence, by default, as president on May 5, last year, it was convenient for those, who were opposed to his 2011 presidency quest to campaign that the president has hardly prepared for the task of national leadership of the country. 

This line of campaign was pervasive during the struggle for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). And during the presidential campaign, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan’s main rival on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), also made references to his experience as a former military governor, Minister of Petroleum, Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), military Head of State, and the fact that he was contesting the presidency for the third consecutive time.

In  2011 general elections, Jonathan faced wide-ranging stiff oppositions of diverse colourations, the proportion of which no incumbent, seeking re-election had witnessed in Nigeria’s democratic experience. That the president, finally triumphed on April 16, had nothing to do with luck, betoken by his first name.  Rather, what preceded Jonathan in the electoral field were the leadership outcomes Nigerians have seen in the past one-year, with his government.  He won an overwhelming electoral mandate. And it follows that such a trust must beget responsiveness from the mandated. It places a huge demand of service delivery to the people. “We would never let you down,” which was one of the lines that gave Jonathan’s campaign messages a punch, must be a guide on the path of the president and the vice, now that the battle is won. As a reward to the electorates, the president’s actions should be guided by a hunger to do what is good and profitable to the majority of the people. 

He must also be led by a sense of fairness to all, equality of rights, and equity in the dispensing of the commonwealth. Four years may be a short span in the life of a government, and a nation, so vastly challenged by basic civic amenities, high cost of living, and bad governance, but the will to make a change, can bring about a whole world of difference between now and 2015. The stocktaking begins for the electorates, right as the president takes a new oath of office, and is sworn-in on May 29. His political opponents would also be watching keenly. At the risk of sounding rash, many of them, he knows, would wish and pray that he fails, because Jonathan’s failure would be their political gain. 

The times, therefore, call for Jonathan to remember his campaign promises to the people. Only a leader, who stole electoral mandate, can afford to beg-off on his campaign promises and service delivery to the electorates.  The president entered into a compact with Nigerians during the campaigns. 

On April 16, the people fulfilled their part by giving their electoral mandate to him. Jonathan has four years to deliver on his own part, which is service delivery. But his time starts now.  

Jonathan must be alive to the social compact he entered with the youths and the unemployed of this country, to create jobs and give them jobs for their votes. 

Tony Egbulefu

Journalist/public commentator, Abuja.

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