By: Okanga Agila
Former President Goodluck Jonathan seems to have broken his long silence since eviction from Aso Rock Villa last year.He has been quiet,watching in utter surprise the demystification and unveiling of the plague of his six-year reign of Nigeria’s ruination in all sectors by the APC- led government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Had the former President been silent to his grave, after supervising the castration of Nigeria,his beloved country,which he now claims unfounded love,he would have easily passed as a nice gentleman cum African leader whose silence is really golden.
But Jonathan is not contented that his wife and Nigeria’s former imperial first Lady, Mrs. Dame Patience Jonathan has not assaulted and insulted the sensibilities of Nigerians enough; so he must add to it.
His wife shocked Nigerians by admitting the millions of idle US Dollars found in bank accounts linked to her in 2016 were meant for her foreign medical treatment in 2013.Only a fool would think Jonathan is prodded by his wife to suddenly become chatty.
That former President Jonathan,as a sitting President meekly conceded defeat to his opposition winner of the 2015 presidential polls, President Buhari without protestations was not a preconceived decision.It was a circumstantial act ennobled by World Leaders and leaders of Foreign Election Observer Missions who pressured him to accept defeat.
His original intention was to scuttle full announcement of the Presidential election results,as his principal agent and former Minister for Niger Delta Affairs,Godsday Orubebe hinted by his actions in full glare of blistering media cameras.
But today and out of office,Jonathan speaks to the world or the international community, which is privy to this information haughtily as a mark of his political maturity and rare gesture to deepen democracy.
In January 2016,when Jonathan received the Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference Award in Atlanta,USA, he proudly alluded to this act as his demonstration “….through action that nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian.”
Months later,in June 6, 2016,in a speech at the Bloomberg Studios in London,Jonathan re-echoed the same feeling more pungently;
“Some may think it is ironic that perhaps my proudest achievement was not winning the 2015 Presidential Election.”
From this standpoint of self-glorification, Jonathan is unashamedly attempting to recast a fresh narrative of the success of his administration, which Nigerians did not feel or experienced.
Again,in October 2016 Ex-President Jonathan delivered a speech on the promotion of youth entrepreneurship in Africa at Oxford Union. He dubiously seized the audience to trumpet his initiation of youth empowerment schemes, which in reality existed only in shadows and at best,served as conduit pipes for siphoning public funds by his trusted acolytes.
Away from the confines of office,Jonathan believes a nation’s citizenry,particularly,the youth can only create wealth if properly educated, “… because the richest people today are those who develop ideas and commercialize them. Viable ideas can only come from educated minds,and money pursues ideas.”
But Jonathan was one Nigerian leader who hated funding and promotion of education as President.United Nations has stipulated a devotion of 26 percent of annual budgets of developing countries to education.But under the ignominious Jonathan administration,education ministry would always peg the least in budgetary allocation.
Indeed,it is under his presidency that ASUU embarked on one of the longest strikes in the country’s history,lasting for six months,over the implementation of the FGN/ASUU agreement of 2009.His late boss, President Umaru Yar’Adua initiated it and he inherited.
So,what was the wisdom in establishing the politically distributed 12 fresh conventional universities when it was clear from the grumbling of ASUU that existing ones could not be properly funded and lacked qualified teaching staff?
Former President Jonathan spoke about schemes he initiated to get youth busy and gainfully employed. Citing examples,he mentioned Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria “YouWIN; ”the Youth Employment in Agriculture Program [YEAP] under his Agricultural Transformation Agenda, but conveniently refused to make any reference to the employees of SURE-P, which he refused pay or had their salary fund mortgaged to party bigwigs for his re-election campaigns. There were scores of protests from SURE-P labourers for months of unpaid stipends on assumption of office by President Buhari.
In any case,the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the National Planning Commission’s (NPC) official figures posted astronomical rise in unemployment figures under the infamous Jonathan Presidency.
In a 2011 Performance Monitoring Report on Government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) both the NBS and NPC alerted Nigerians to a frightening unemployment rate thus;
“In 2011, Nigeria’s unemployment rose to 23.9 percent compared with 21.1 percent in 2010.” This was further corroborated in June by the World Bank’s Nigeria Economic Report, which disclosed a worsening unemployment rate from “12% of the working population in 2006 to 24% in 2011.”
And until he was forced out of office,he left the burden for the incoming government.So,unless Jonathan tackled the unemployment crisis in the moon,Nigerians never felt any respite under him and sounding sanctimonious as he did at the Oxford Union only reminds Nigerians of the Immigration recruitment tragedy which caused the death of 19 applicants in stampedes at various centers as 120,000 unemployed youths scrambled for 4,500 vacancies.
In a plain and undisguised falsehood, Jonathan claimed that his administration witnessed “… unprecedented economic growth for Nigeria.”
“Under my watch,Nigeria was projected by CNN Money to be the third fastest growing economy in the world for the year 2015 and rated as the largest economy in Africa and the 23rd in the world by the World Bank and the IMF,with a GDP above half a Trillion US dollars,” he intoned.
But in practical terms what beneficial memories has the hoopla about Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa brought to Nigerians? Nothing positive! The Jonathan government left months of unpaid salaries even to federal workers and government could not pay local contractors debts which piled over a trillion naira despite the “unprecedented economic growth?”
With no intention to malign,but to say the least,Jonathan wasted his breathe and energy speaking to the wrong audience,as they heard, but never believed him. So,he was unnecessarily mouthy and in the wrong place.Sometimes, silence is more golden, as nothing in his speech strikes like a philosophical statement from a leader.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.