My Transition Hours: Goodluck Jonathan’s Big Mistake

By Ikenga Chronicles November 23, 2018

–Kennedy Emetulu

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Mr Goodluck Jonathan, I love you, but whoever told you to put this part blaming Obama and Cameron and Western leaders for your electoral loss in your book does not love you. You have lost a little of your sheen as a statesman and as a leader.

Firstly, you are refusing to take responsibility by blaming others. This is a version of what Buhari is doing today by perennially blaming you for the failure of his government. Your time out should have been spent reflecting deeply on what you did wrong, not on what others did wrong because you cannot control the actions of others. You are naturally a humble and decent man, but this is not the impression you give when you blame others for your own failures.

Secondly no foreign leader should have any kind of influence over your people or over our elections. The fact that you can blame Obama for using one phrase “next chapter” for your loss means you did not have the love of your people. It means your people trusted Obama more than you and that is an indictment of your leadership. A leader who has lost his people to a foreign leader does not deserve to lead his people.

Thirdly, this is not how to build bridges. You are young and still valuable to Nigeria nationally and internationally. You cannot afford to openly fight world leaders of Obama and Cameron’s stature because they have bigger reaches than you and they and/or their followers can never forgive you for this gaffe. Your assessment is clearly wrong because you have pointed to nothing they actually did to undermine you. All you have said is that they seem to be supporting your opponent, yet we saw that Obama and the Democrats did not give Buhari any preferential treatment when he visited the US after the election. In fact, they mocked him and Senator Leahy of the Leahy Amendment fame excoriated him openly for thinking that the US would be giving him arms against the rule just because he asked.

Fourthly, you had a poor representation in Western capitals to the extent that you allowed the then opposition to run rings round you abroad. Imagine how you allowed some of those Northern governors to sell their false narrative about Boko Haram in Washington. Did you remember the diplomatic fiasco that attended Mrs Clinton visit to Nigeria as US Secretary of State in August 2012 when you were trying to use the excuse of a visit to Jamaica to avoid meeting her because of the pressure you were under over Boko Haram? Imagine how you humiliated your own National Security Adviser, General Azazi in Washington by blocking him from addressing the press (after he’d made a good preparatory pitch) while sending your Ambassador, the late Professor Adefuye to go make a case for not declaring Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO). How did you think the Western powers were going to be looking at you when you and your officials were acting that bad right in front of them? How did you think they were going to be looking at you when your Foreign Ministry had no idea what was happening in Washington? To cap it all, General Azazi returned only to be killed in a questionable air accident. Throughout the Congressional hearing, only Ayo Oritsejafor, a pastor, was there making your case or the case that you should have made which was not even the case your Ambassador was making! You sat there and let grass grow on your head and here you are blaming Obama and Cameron.

Fifthly as a corollary to the above, your account about them not believing you when you postponed the election shows clearly you didn’t have good representation in Washington or London. How can you decide to postpone the election for good reasons only to go ahead and do so unilaterally without putting your international partners in confidence first when you know that you were under information attack by the opposition and their foreign backers? Why did you have to wait for them to read it in the news and call you to speak about it first? All you needed to do after you’ve reached the decision with your security chiefs was consult with them first, show them the evidence and let them make suggestions which ultimately would have been supportive of what you actually decided to do because no world leader would advise you to go ahead with a national election when all constituencies `are not secured. The mere fact that you consulted them and made them part of the decision would have given them confidence enough on the project and they would have been the ones defending that decision. The fact that almost all living former Nigerian leaders were there when the decision was taken was irrelevant because all of them answer to foreign masters! International diplomacy requires more than an insular vision. If you cannot win the confidence of your international partners, you are a sitting duck. If there is any consolation, Buhari is worse than you in this regard. I just hope Atiku Abubakar is taking notes.

Sixthly, you were right about fake news and foreign media experts helping the then opposition, but you had your own foreign experts too. The difference is that theirs delivered and yours did not. Yours couldn’t because your officials who were supposed to coordinate with them were greedily pocketing the money for media business and snoozing away. You had great achievements that you couldn’t sell to Nigerians because those who were supposed to publicise them pocketed the money. Party leaders that should have kept their doors open for constituents to come in for consultations and direction took the money, locked up their houses and went on holidays. You also did not protect the national interest in the face of the onslaught by foreign media professionals working for the opposition. Yes, you were great with freedom and it was good you didn’t clamp down on the opposition even with their excesses, but that does not mean you should have allowed David Axelrod’s AKPD, for instance, to come into Nigeria and work directly in Nigeria when they aren’t registered to do business in Nigeria. True, the then APC consulted them and that was legitimate, but they should have worked from their US base, not move to Nigeria and work in Nigeria for the then opposition when they were not registered to do business in Nigeria. That was your own mistake and the opposition gladly cashed in on it.

Finally, the contradiction is obvious when you accuse the PDP governors who decamped of costing you the election because they were blinded by ambition. That is more like the truth because you lost the election through acts of betrayal by your party men and women and people you trusted. Of course, there were also such issues as your body language regarding corruption, your inability or unwillingness to remove questionable Ministers like Diezani and your treatment of security issues as though they were political issues. You were timid and accepting of all things, trying to be all things to everybody, thinking that not making enemies is the key to political success. You were good with getting the right people together to craft policies, but bad with implementation because you tended to listen to too many people and in the end looked indecisive. Of course, you were also fought by the industrial-military complex but they won only because you were not courageous enough to stand up to them and their demands.

Mr President, I know I’ve said a lot about this gaffe, but it’s not a great minus. We all make mistakes. In the course of your discussions about the book in the following days, weeks and months, try to underplay this blame game against international personages. Focus more on the mistakes you made as a leader and a party man with a view to offering lessons in how not to make them to your party’s presidential candidate and your party. Decent Nigerians are looking forward to your party taking over the government at the centre and we hope you will be part of that future. We need you to be making friends for Nigeria internationally, not dishing out blames abroad.

Well done, Mr President. I’ve not read the book yet, but I believe it would be a good addition to our collections of great books. May your wisdom never diminish in Jesus’ Name! Amen!

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