Thursday, 12 November 2015



President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is the first sitting president in Nigeria to be voted out from office since the country's independence in 1960. Mixed reactions trailed  the outcome  of Nigeria's 2015 presidential election as expected. For some, it was unthinkable for a sitting or incumbent president to lose an election to the opposition. For, others, the loss of the election by Dr Jonathan was not a surprise. To persons in this  school of thought, the failure or inability ofJonathan's government to fix the plethora of social, economic and political woes and challenges bedeviling Nigeria is more than enough reason to be voted out of office.

Government has many  functions and responsibilities. These functions and responsibilities can be reduced to two: protection of lives and property of citizens of state and ensuring  of their welfare. Everything a government does comes under these two functions and responsibilities. Any government that fails to live up to expectations as far as these two things are concerned does not deserves to remain in office. This is the thrust of Social Contract, between  persons in government and citizens of the state.

Many local and foreign political analysts and commentators have advanced various reasons behind the defeat of Dr Jonathan by General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in the Nigeria 2015  presidential election. As to be expected, many of these analysts and commentators are of the view that the inability of Dr Jonathan to provide solutions to the myriad of problems plaguing Nigeria was the chief reason for his political fall. To some of them, the determination of the North to take back power, having lost it , following President Yar'Adua's death in May 2010 is the cardinal factor behind his defeat at the polls. There is no argument that the two reasons provided above contributed in no small measure to the political demise of President Jonathan. In the remaining part of this article, I take a critical look at these two factors that have been advanced by political experts as reasons for Jonathan's defeat and conclude with my own view as to why he lost the election.

It has been noted earlier in this piece, that the essence of government in a state is to ensure the security and welfare of citizens of the state. The Theory of Social Contract as propounded by Thomas Hobbs, a British political philosopher, has it that persons in government, are in a social contract with citizens of the state. According to Hobbs, government officials hold power in trust on behalf of citizens of the state. This implies that the consent to govern a state comes from the citizens and state officials should use power to harness and deploy state resources for the welfare and benefit of every citizen. Hobbs further opines that any government that fails to take care of the security and welfare of its citizens does not deserve to remain in power and should be  dismantled or uprooted  from power by citizens of the state.

To start my analysis, the problems and challenges bedeviling Nigeria are almost as old as the country herself. At the return of democracy in 1999, Nigerians were full of hope and expectations that all the countries woes under the military would soon be a thing of the past and that the country would be a better place for every Nigerian. General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd), who was the first democratically elected  president of Nigeria, spent eight whooping years in power (1999-2007). H e was the first president to govern Nigeria under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Opinions differ regarding the achievements of Obasanjo as president of Nigeria for eight years. However, at the end of his tenure in 2007, the major challenges facing Nigeria: unemployment, insecurity (especially in the Niger Delta then), corruption, weak economy, energy and power sector challenge and so on, were still there.

General Obasanjo was succeeded by late President Yar'Adua, another leader produced by the PDP. Yar' Adua's government was short-lived as the wicked hand of death took him from mother earth.  Before his death however, late President Yar'Adua had the Seven Points Agenda as the cardinal state policy and road map for the development of Nigeria. During his short stay of about three years in power, Yar'Adua succeeded in instituting an electoral reform committee to reform and overhaul  Nigeria's electoral system in order to bring about the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. He also reduced the pump price of petrol from N70 to N65 and created the Niger Delta Ministry and initiated an amnesty program for former fighters in the Niger Delta region, with a view to bringing an end to the crisis in the Niger Delta and as well as bring development to the region, while also ensuring that there is lasting peace in the region for conducive atmosphere for oil production upon which  Nigeria's economy depends, to take place uninterrupted and undisturbed.

Dr Goodluck Jonathan formally became the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 6th, 2010, following the formal announcement of the the death of his boss, Alhaji Musa Yar'Adua.

The circumstances behind the emergence of Jonathan as the president of Nigeria and the consideration that he was from an humble background made the expectations of Nigerians from him to be very high. As it were, he came to power at a time Nigeria was facing numerous challenges in every facet of the country's national life and many Nigerians had expected him to proffer solutions to most, if not all the daunting challenges facing the country.

Amongst the monstrous challenges plaguing Nigeria then (and even now) were/are insecurity (especially the menace of Boko Haram), unemployment, poor state of economy,  corruption on the part of state officials, challenges in power and energy sectors and so on. It is no longer news that president Jonathan has not been able, in the last five years to fix all these aforementioned challenges facing Nigeria.

Dr Jonathan's actions and in-actions regarding various national issues contributed to the failure of his administration. Chief amongst these were his inability to defeat Boko Haram, the kidnap of Chibok school girls, the Nigeria Immigration saga that led to the death of about twenty Nigerian job seekers and so on. To be fair to Jonathan, he put in efforts at fixing some of these challenges, but, his inability to fix them did not go down well with Nigerians and made many to vote against him in the last presidential election. I shall turn to the second factor, the resolve of Northerners to take power back.

It is not arguable that the North was instrumental to the emergence of General Olusegun Obasanjo as the president of Nigeria in 1999. As stated above, Obasanjo spent eight years in power. Under the zoning formula of the Peoples Democratic Party, a Northerner was supposed to spend eight years as president of Nigeria to balance the dynamics of ethnic and regional politics in Nigeria. It has also been noted above that President Yar'Adua, the Northerner who succeeded Obasanjo in 2007, died in 2010 in office. As required by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, Yar'Adua was succeed by his then vice president, Dr Jonathan, a Southerner. The emergence of Jonathan as the president of Nigeria, as a consequence of Yar'Adua's death did not go augur well with the North. I do not intend to undertake a chronicle of the political  drama that played out in the Nigerian power arena during Yar'Adua illness and even after his death as that is known to even a casual observer of Nigerian politics. However, it is well known that the North felt short-challenged by the non adherence to PDP zoning arrangement, following the death of their kinsman and the the rise of Jonathan to the office of the number citizen of Nigeria. This was the beginning of Jonathan's political problem which largely culminated in his defeat in the last presidential election in Nigeria.

To buttress the point above, some northern leaders did everything possible to undermine Jonathan's person as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria. This can be found in the hostile and unfriendly attitude and posture of some of them towards him. Most  notable act of aggression from the North was the threat by some northern leaders to make Nigeria ungovernable for Jonathan. It is believed also that the memo released by the impeached governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako,  was a handiwork of the entire North and that it was an indication of the non acceptance of Jonathan's government and show of hostility by the North to him.

To add salt to injury, Dr Jonathan, whom the core North sees as a USURPER, enjoying a mandate supposedly meant for the North, indicated his interest to contest in the 2015 presidential election with a view to be re-elected as president by Nigerians. This decision by Jonathan,  was to the North, the last straw that broke the camel's back.

The presidential election had come and gone. The election saw the defeat of Jonathan and the emergence of Buhari as the president elect of Nigeria. The question now is: Was Jonathan a scapegoat of PDP's 16-year misrule or victim of North's resolve to take power back?

Watch out for an answer to this question in part 2 of this article.

I wrote this article on 22, May 2015 and published it on my Google Plus account.

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