The Cost of being Goodluck Jonathan

The Cost of being Goodluck Jonathan
December 30 11:34 2015

By Abdulrahman Abdulraheem

By polling 12,853,162 votes to his main challenger, retired General Muhammadu Buhari’s 15,424,921 votes in the historic March 28 general elections, Goodluck Jonathan has entered the history books as the first sitting President to lose re-election in Nigeria. This is because Nigeria’s first Executive President, Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won his re-election in 1983. Also, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won his bid for second term in 2003.

He didn’t stop there; he also became the first President under whose watch a ruling party lost the presidency, the majority seats in the National Assembly and majority of states.

But how did this happen? How did a man whose meteoric rise from obscurity to prominence was the envy of the world in 2011 suddenly crash like a pack of badly arranged cards? How did a man whose campaign of ‘I had no shoes’ drew tears from the eyes of Nigerians across the country suddenly lost all that sympathy within a space of four years? How did a man whose brilliant fresh air campaign won him election indisputably in 2011 squander all that goodwill within four years? How did he lose to a man whom Nigerians had rejected for three consecutive times? How did a large behemoth, the PDP suddenly lose steam and subsequently lose election to an opposition party which only came on board a year before the general elections?

Several factors were responsible for the PDP’s capitulation on March 28 and April 11.

This piece captures Jonathan’s mistakes and those of the people around him. It also exposes some of his undoing including the ones that are not known to the general public which defined his stewardship and played some roles in his fall from power. The piece also captures the pulses of the people.


As acting president, Jonathan had inherited a saddle which was being steadied by his boss and predecessor Yar’adua. Take, for example, the raging militancy in the Niger Delta. By means of same suave shuffles which culminated in the Amnesty Programme, Umaru Musa Yar’aua had largely quietened the storm in that region, a feat made all the more remarkable by his predecessor’s (Chief Olusegun Obasanjo) abysmal failure to overcome the militants despite his seeming bluster and strong-arm tactics.

In the same vein, Yar’adua had all but brought the then fledging Boko Haram insurgency to its knee, as typified by his government’s well documented crack down on the radical gang at the tail end of 2009. Even the hitherto comatose economy was showing encouraging signs of revival largely on account of Yar’adua’s prudent and accountable management style.

In other words, between the turbulent last years of the Obasanjo administration and the first two years of Yar’adua’s government, the ship of state had been comparatively steadied for a smooth take-off of the Jonathan administration. As if that was not fortunate enough, the price of crude oil – Nigeria’s major export and cash cow – began a steady rise in the international market, thereby making unprecedented amount of dollars available to the government. Talk of enjoying good luck as epitomized by the then new president’s name.

Unfortunately, that promising beginning never materialized into the reality that had beckoned so tantalizingly. Like a ship that had become rudderless, the Jonathan administration lurched into a cycle of what the then coach of Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets, Fanny Amun, famously called “wobbling and fumbling.” This much became evident as Jonathan battled to win the 2011 presidential poll, and the series of compromises and sundry desperate manoeuvres by Jonathan in his bid to win that poll by all means, laid the foundation of what would thenceforth define his presidency: corruption, incompetence and executive rascality.


First, Jonathan’s campaign message in 2011 was focused and issues-based. Though many Nigerians were already tired of his party, they did not yearn for change then because they saw a new person who was campaigning with “fresh air” mantra and everybody fell in love with that. While a former President had declared an election as a do-or-die affair, Jonathan insisted that his election was not worth “the blood of any Nigerian.”

He said he attended schools without shoes and he successfully placed all Nigerians from poor homes on the same level with him. He made Nigerians think they were comrades in-arms. They reasoned that since he felt the same pains while growing up, he would alleviate their sufferings, hence they voted for him massively.

Fast-forward to 2015 and you will see a totally different scenario. His campaign message this time was anything but focused, issue-based. At most rallies, he appeared jittery, lacking self-confidence and speaking as if he was angry. This was in contrast to 2011, when he addressed his supporters at rallies from a position of strength.

This time, he spoke as if he had already lost the election. While some of the party bigwigs at his rallies were busy abusing Buhari and not saying anything to endear the PDP to the electorate, Jonathan was busy reading coup speeches and accusing his opponent of not buying any rifle when he was Head of State.

At the Enugu rally, Jonathan also said Nigerians should not vote for his opponent because he was too old to even remember his phone number. That is not how to campaign! It didn’t sell!

Jonathan tried to court the youth by saying he had built new federal universities without explaining what that policy added to the education sector in terms of quality. He either forgot or did not know that no Nigerian university was on the list of the best 1,000 in the world.

He tried to appeal to the women by saying he had appointed more female ministers without explaining how that had affected the plight of millions of Nigerian women who were grappling with poverty and hunger while solidarising with the poor Chibok parents whose children were still under Boko Haram captivity at the time Jonathan campaign train had hit the roads.

Another factor that aided Jonathan’s victory in 2011 was ethno-religious sentiments. Christians both in the north and south saw him as the face of their faith and rejected his main opponent who was carrying the baggage of Islamic fanatic. Even in churches, prayers were offered for Jonathan. Pastors were openly telling their members to vote Jonathan en-masse. Jonathan’s strategists got everything right in 2011, during the electioneering; the image of where he knelt before famous General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, went viral. People were almost moved to tears by his show of ‘humility’ and ‘Godliness.’ He won the election comfortably.

But in 2015, Jonathan had become so unpopular that no pastor could risk the wrath of the people to begin to campaign for him openly. Even Pastor Adeboye denied him another opportunity to kneel before him. The man was playing neutral and this could be because of the Osinbajo factor. Anyway, Yoruba people were generally eager to vote out Jonathan this time because since they couldn’t get the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives which the PDP zoned to the west as a result of some internal contradictions within the party, and Jonathan failed to compensate them with any ‘serious’ position in his cabinet.

He still gave the key positions like Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff, Minister of Finance and Minister of Petroleum Resources to the south-south, south-east (Jones Arogbofa only became Chief of Staff when Mike Oghiadhome was sacked late in the life of the administration). And, again, former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu played a fast one on everybody by imposing Pastor Yemi Osinbajo as Buhari’s running mate. That was the killer blow and no matter how many obas and baales and even babalawops who collected dollars from him in the south-west, he was going to lose the zone.

Most churches played neutral while the ones which still got involved in Jonathan’s campaign did it secretly that they didn’t achieve the desired result. A good number of Christians who voted Jonathan in 2011, voted Buhari in 2015. They were tired of voting on the same line without results. They were disappointed with Jonathan’s performance.

The third factor was that in 2011, Jonathan never had an opponent with national appeal. That was why he won easily. This time, Buhari had extended his tentacles beyond his traditional stronghold of north-west and north-east.

Another factor was the south-west and middle-belt zones which both changed the game for Jonathan in 2011. He needed the two zones to emerge victorious because south-south and south-east were his strongholds, while the north-east and north-west rooted for Buhari. Unfortunately for him, for some miscalculations the two zones went for Buhari in 2015.

There seems to be some people who have constituted themselves into principalities and powers who sit somewhere and decide who rules Nigeria. These people were behind him in 2011, but in 2015, they backed Buhari. We shall return to this point later.


Another big factor that swayed victory from Jonathan was his performance which most Nigerians considered to be below average. Judging by the key issues or areas of performance that dominated the campaigns – security, corruption, jobs, power, infrastructure – it was obvious that most Nigerians did not think Jonathan was deserving of a second term in office.

On security, the Boko Haram crisis proved to be the Achilles heels of the Jonathan administration. When he took over, Boko Haram militants were still at the level of hit and run. While they continued to grow in membership, reach, resources and all that, Jonathan did little to cut them to size and allowed his associates and wife to sustain a narrative which says that northerners merely started terrorism to fight his administration. According to them, some northern leaders threatened to make the country ungovernable if Jonathan won the 2011 election. What Jonathan and his people didn’t realise was that they were not voted into office to do something else, but to make the country governable. Jonathan was chasing shadows, globetrotting, attending conferences and workshops on terrorism and other matters while Boko Haram terrorists developed wings and started seizing villages and towns. There was a time the size of Nigerian soil under their command was the size of some European countries. They even started seizing weapons from army barracks and thus rendered our once envied Nigerian Army so impotent. The world knew there was so much corruption and sabotage in the Boko Haram matter, but Jonathan chose to look the other way.

Jonathan’s predecessor, the Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, offered no excuses when he was confronted with the challenge of militancy in the Niger Delta. He did the needful. While it’s proper to argue that militancy in the Niger Delta was not as cumbersome as the insurgency in the north, we can also recall that the Late Yar’adua ordered full military action on the insurgents in the early days and successfully arrested its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, killed a lot of them while others ran far away from our borders. If such tough measures had been consistently adopted up till Jonathan’s time, the sect would not have grown into the monster it later became. But Jonathan had said at several forums including a meeting in Namibia that he treated the sect with kid gloves and that was why the insurgents grew under his watch. How can a commander-in-chief be so careless about national security? Little wonder then that Nigerians did not give him the chance to continue in office.

The Chibok abduction saga was the biggest incident that exposed the mediocrity that surrounded Jonathan’s government. If truly his enemies planned the incident to bring his government down, they really succeeded and he must accept the blame. The mismanagement of the Chibok affair by Jonathan and his team of incompetent aides caused them a lot of votes at the polls.

At the beginning, Jonathan did not take prompt action on the incident. His reaction to the abduction of the school girls was that of doubt or apathy or both. The incident occurred on the same day Nyanya, an Abuja suburb experienced the first bomb blast which killed over 100 Nigerians. But on the following day, Jonathan was in Kano to attend a needless rally where he was said to have danced. It took the activities of the BringBackOurGirls campaigners to force him to acknowledge the incident and even after then it was one error after another. Before then, there was the slaughter of at least 45 school children in Buni-Yadi in Yobe state by the same sect and this never received any form of serious reaction from the Presidency. If not for BringBackOurGirls campaigners, the Chibok abduction would have also been swept under the carpet like many abductions before and after it.

The whole world got to know that there was one community called Chibok in Nigeria. World leaders and celebrities took time to condemn the abduction and demand the release of the girls. The failure of the Nigerian government to protect its most vulnerable citizens was the topic of discussion in the US Congress and Senate and many other lawmaking bodies across the globe. Presidential hopeful and former First Lady, Senator Hilary Clinton, took a swipe at Jonathan. Former Presidential candidate, John McCain, scornfully called him “some guy called Jonathan.” He also said If he was US President, he wouldn’t wait for the approval of a “non- existent Nigerian government” before venturing into a rescue mission to save the girls.

Financial Times, New York Times, The Sun, The Guardian and other famous media houses across the world took their turn to tear Jonathan to pieces with thunderous editorials about the incompetence of his administration. That was the extent to which Jonathan’s failure brought global ridicule to the country.

And when he decided to visit the town to empathise with the people, his advance team was already on ground in Maiduguri while the story had leaked to the press that he was going to Chibok. He changed his mind, probably for some security reasons and because he felt Nigerians would accuse him of over-protecting himself, the Presidency lied to Nigerians that Jonathan never intended to visit Chibok in the first place. That was a lie which also sent a wrong signal that Jonathan did not care for the girls in the first place. The Presidency should have told the public that it planned the Chibok visit but had to put it on hold for some logistic reasons, with a firm promise to visit soon. This would have sent the signal to Nigerians that Jonathan cared.

Jonathan had to be literally ‘scolded’ by the teenage activist from Pakistan, Malala Housafzai, before even thinking of meeting the parents at all. On the day he hosted the parents and some of the girls who escaped, another scandal broke out, this time reportedly perpetrated by his point man on Chibok, Dr Doyin Okupe. The sum of N100 million was reportedly given to the parents as bribe and the scandal broke out because some elders were reported to be trying to short-change the parents. This scandal gave out Jonathan as a leader who loved throwing money at every problem.

According to one of Jonathan’s fiercest critics, former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Jonathan has redefined empathy by inviting the Chibok parents to the Presidential Villa rather than visiting them in Chibok. This, according to Fashola, was like calling a bereaved neighbour on phone and saying, “hello neighbour! I learnt you lost your child; come to my house let me commiserate with you” instead of visiting the neighbour to empathise with him or her.

And yet another scandal, the phantom peace deal with Boko Haram which was gleefully announced by the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, and brokered by the Principal Secretary to President, Ambassador Hassan Tukur. At the end of the day, it turned out to be a scam as the sect not only denied the agreement, it also launched deadlier attacks on Nigerians. The Federal Government was conned into parting with a huge some of money and Jonathan did not punish or fire anybody for taking the whole nation for granted.

After abandoning the war front for so long, Jonathan eventually paid a belated visit to Maiduguri on Armed Forces Remembrance Day last year when campaign for second term had already started. After the postponement of the elections, he also visited the troops in the north-east to boost their morale. These were the things Nigerians expected him to do several months earlier. He did them at a time Nigerians felt he was only looking to neutralise the hatred he had garnered for himself in the minds of the north-east people and to get some votes. Meanwhile he still avoided Chibok community like a plague.

Jonathan actually adopted a ‘siddon look’ approach (apologies to Late Cisero of Esa – Oke, Chief Bola Ige, SAN) to the issue of terrorism, giving the military hierarchy huge sums of money without bothering to ask if the monies were getting to where they needed to get to and if they were achieving results for the country. He only started taking serious action on the insurgents when his second term ambition faced serious threat and security issue was one of the main reasons Nigerians were determined to sack him. That was why he ‘crushed’ the terrorists within six weeks. As far as most northerners and even other Nigerians were concerned, it was all Nollywood drama. The voters in the north still did what they thought was the needful on March 28.

On the issue of corruption, Jonathan’s record in the area of dealing with this monster was woeful in the opinion of many Nigerians. Corruption is one single problem which has dealt a heavy blow on Nigeria’s progress over the decades and Nigerians are so passionate about it. But rather than fight it, Jonathan was only romancing it. In this area, Jonathan made a false start by suddenly implementing a hundred percent fuel subsidy removal and provoking crises all over the country. When the protests died down with the partial implementation of the policy, the Federal Government set up Subsidy Re-investment and Programme and also the Nuhu Ribadu Investigative Committee on Subsidy Fraud.

Nuhu Ribadu, a known anti- corruption Czar, submitted his report and told State House Correspondents that the rot in the system was massive, giving the impression that a lot of highly-placed Nigerians would be dealt with, going by his recommendations. He challenged Jonathan to summon the boldness to implement the recommendations if he was truly sincere in fighting corruption. On the day of submission, former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and member of the committee, Steven Oronsaye, tried to act some drama to rubbish the report but Jonathan accepted it and promised to implement it. It was not implemented.

Jonathan whom Nigerians had voted for en-masse on the basis of pledging to offer fresh air started getting things wrong as soon he took oath of office. Since his predecessor had declared his asset publicly and made his deputy to also do so then, Nigerians felt the standard had been set and they expected Jonathan to also do so as President in order to send the signal to everyone that transparency and zero tolerance for corruption would be his watchword. Aside Jonathan’s refusal to do so, he also used a gutter language on national television to dismiss the legitimate demand of those who voted him into office, saying “I don’t give a damn.” That was the beginning of the disconnect between Nigerians and the Jonathan they loved and voted en-masse. Two reasons were suspected for Jonathan’s stubborn refusal to yield to pressure on this issue. One, he or his wife or both of them may have illegally acquired wealth within the last time he was forced to declare his asset publicly as Vice President and wouldn’t want Nigerians to ask relevant questions. Two, he or his wife or both of them may have plans to acquire a lot as President and First Lady. His argument that the law did not mandate him to declare his assets publicly did not sell because the law he was making reference to will not be there to cast vote for him for a second term in office. The people he was telling that he doesn’t “give a damn” about their demand will decide his fate on elections day.

Jonathan actually had a huge reputation for not implementing reports of committees. He wasted tax payers’ money in setting up committees whose report he was never going to implement. There was another committee on harmonisation of MDAs headed by Steven Oronsaye which made far-reaching recommendations on how duplication of functions and reduction in wastage in the civil service could be curbed. Even the TY Danjuma committee on the stabilisation of the polity he set up, the recommendations of the committee never saw the light of the day.

In spite of all the hype made about the national conference, Jonathan did not do anything about the report, not even issue a white paper on it six months after the report was given to him. He waited till campaign time and he was using the report to blackmail the southwest into voting for him. In fact, he and his lieutenants said Yoruba people must vote for him first before the confab report is implemented. The question on the lips of learned minds was that how come the report which Jonathan had said would be beneficial to the whole country suddenly become a kind of carrot used in wooing only the Yoruba? Jonathan, by his conduct and that of his lieutenants, gave the impression that some of his actions were not altruistic. The confab report was used to get a fraudulent endorsement from Afenifere, the Yoruba socio-cultural group which was actually living on lost, past glory. The few octogenarians who sat in a small room in Akure to announce the endorsement and gave Jonathan impression that he would win in the southwest did not even deliver their home base of Ondo state to him. A lot of people saw through all the gimmick and voted against him.

Jonathan allowed oil theft in the Niger Delta to go on unhindered, looking the other way and Nigeria kept on losing billions of dollars on a daily basis. His associates were allegedly behind it. They were allowed to have a free reign.

At this point, if there was any doubt as to where Jobathan stood on corruption, his refusal to take serious action on his corrupt ministers cleared all the doubts. Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke (his Minister of Petroleum Resources), Stella Oduah (his Minister of Aviation), Mr. Abba Moro (his Minister of Interior) and many others soiled their hands on many occasions and Jonathan just carried on as if all was well. He didn’t know a day like March 28, 2015 would come.

For Alison-Madueke, it was scandal after scandal, but under the protection of her boss, she carried on with all the arrogance and impunity at her disposal. She even ignored summons from the National Assembly and was adequately protected by the Presidency. As for Oduah, her armoured car scandal almost caused another massive protest across the country. The outrage was massive. A serious President would have fired her first to save the image of the administration and investigate later whether she should be jailed or not. But no, Jonathan merely set up a panel headed by former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, to investigate her and up till now the recommendations have not been made public. Oduah only resigned from the cabinet when Jonathan asked ministers who had political ambitions to leave. And what did he do again? He allowed his party to nominate her as a senatorial candidate. Now, she is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria courtesy of Mr. Jonathan.

Jonathan did not fire Mr. Moro and the Nigeria Immigration Service boss, Mr. David Parradang, for the immigration recruitment scam in which thousands of job-seekers were extorted and some of them were killed in over-crowded stadia across the country due to the negligence of the two men. Even the promise he made to the family members of the victims went unfulfilled for over a year. The promise was only fulfilled a few days to election and it was seen as one of those last-minute desperate moves which Jonathan used the six-week postponement to make.

In the last two years, many Nigerians were jobless, some left school without jobs while some lost their jobs as businesses were folding due to harsh economic conditions. Though, some gains were made in the economy in terms of its size and the foreign investments that reportedly came in, in the final analysis, it was all paper progress as the poor masses did not really feel the impact. There was so much hype about millions of jobs created and lots of progress made due to reforms in agriculture, automobile sectors etc and the Diaspora trio of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (his Minister of Finance), Olusegun Aganga (his Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment) and Dr Akinwunmi Adesina (his Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development) were always ready to bamboozle Nigerians with fantastic figures and infectious accents. But Nigerians did not take the decision they took on March 28 on the basis of these beautiful figures, they took the decision on the basis of their personal situations.

The administration did well in improving infrastructure for the aviation sector and fixing some major federal highways that had been death traps for years as well as trying to restore the glory of rail transport, but all these pale into insignificance compared to the fact that the Jonathan-led government could not give Nigerians stable power supply. All these talks of successful privatisation, building of new power plants and refurbishing of old ones did not sell. All Nigerians wanted was stable power. They didn’t get it.

The APC machinery played a smart one on everyone here. Since everyone knew it would be unfair to lay the blame of darkness solely on Jonathan’s administration, the APC did a profiling of the entire PDP and successfully convinced Nigerians that it was unwise to vote a party which had failed to give them power for 16 years. Nigerians felt it was time to try another party.


Some political pundits are of the opinion that Jonathan’s second term ambition had no foundation and no building could stand without foundation. This is because when he sought the mandate of Nigerians in 2011, the massive structure of the Peoples Democratic Party was behind him and it provided for him good umbrella which made up for the fact that he was relatively new in national politics.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was pivotal to his emergence as PDP candidate ahead of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and his victory at the election. The PDP governors Chief Obasanjo used for Jonathan in 2011 were also on their second term and they did that with the mindset that they had been able to extract a gentleman agreement from Jonathan that he would serve for one term and go home. So, if he did his one term, all of them would be eligible to become President in 2015 and will just choose one person among themselves to fly the PDP ticket. These governors include but not limited to Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (Sokoto), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Katsina), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Sule Lamido (Jigawa).

In fact, the plan was that Sule Lamido was the choice of Obasanjo to take over from Jonathan with Rotimi Amaechi as his deputy. It was so real that each time they attend governor’s meeting in the State House, when Lamido enters the meeting venue, the PDP governors would rise and call him the next President of Nigeria. The whole plan was, however, scuttled when Jonathan began to show interest in second term and the governors led by Obasanjo were also giving him subtle warnings that it was not in the grand plan for him to stay in office beyond 2015.

When it was obvious that Jonathan meant business and that Obasanjo and the governors too would not bulge, the battle started with the Presidency making an attempt to reduce the influence of Amaechi among the governors by one, creating the PDP Governors’ Forum with Akpabio who had fallen in line with Jonathan as the Chairman and two, trying to impose a weak, old Jonah Jang (Plateau) as the Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum instead of a young, vibrant and rebellious Amaechi. Actually, it was only Amaechi who did not join Jonathan on the other side among south-south governors. It was at this point that Jonathan made the mistake of dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines, the party and the Governors’ Forum to achieve his political ambition. It should have occurred to him that he needed the unity of the country, party and Governors’ Forum to win the election in 2011.

Meanwhile, while all these were happening, the sentiments on the streets across the north and south-west were in favour of the dissident governors led by Amaechi. It was only the south-south and south-east that Jonathan had the support of the people.

When the G7 issue came up and no agreement on peace was achieved despite several meetings held, the governors had to defect to the All Progressives Congress which was waiting to take advantage of the crack of the behemoth called PDP. Only Lamido (Jigawa) whose son had massive case of fraud at the EFCC and Babangida Aliyu (Niger) opted to remain in the PDP while Amaechi (Rivers), Nyako (Adamawa), Kwankwaso (Kano), Wamakko (Sokoto), and Ahmed (Kwara) joined the APC and that was the beginning of the destruction of PDP. There were however strong suspicions that even Lamido, Aliyu and the other PDP governors from the north like Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Katsina), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) etc only stayed back in the PDP to protect their own interest and scuttle Jonathan’s re-election bid from within. The fact that they didn’t join their colleagues in APC didn’t mean that they had forgiven Jonathan for insisting on contesting in 2015. Shema tried to lobby to replace Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo in Jonathan’s team as his own consolation but Jonathan rejected him and so he was said not to be committed to Jonathan’s second term ambition. It may not have been mere coincidences that two of the places that the Jonathan’s campaign team was stoned were Shema’s and Yuguda’s domains. The latter even came out to say no one should blame APC for the embarrassment and that it was a PDP affair.

Closely related to this point was the fact that both in politics and outside it, all the key politicians the Jonathan administration battled with managed to have the people on their side and it swayed some votes towards Jonathan’s opponent. People like former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who is now Emir of Kano, and the former Speaker of the House of Representatives who is now Governor of Sokoto, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, managed to sustain a narrative in the social and conventional media and even on the streets that they were the victims while Jonathan was the oppressor. It didn’t matter to most voters if these ‘victims’ were not also perfect.

While fighting needless battles, key national institutions like the State Secret Service, Police and even the Army were compromised and even corrupted under the Jonathan administration. They lost their sense of fairness and neutrality. Out of sheer over zealousness and sycophancy, the heads of these institutions constituted law unto themselves. The then Police boss, Suleiman Abba assumed the role of Chief Justice of the Federation by declaring the seat of the then Speaker vacant when he defected to APC while the spokesperson of the Department of State Service, Marilyn Ogar assumed the role of government propagandist or PDP mouthpiece, lambasting those behind the legitimate BringBackOurGirls campaign and engaging the APC spokesman in a needless war of words. By getting so involved in politics, these institutions merely made themselves objects of ridicule in the polity.

Other institutions that were corrupted by Jonathan were religious and traditional institutions. Nigerians were made to believe that Jonathan doled out billions of naira to traditional rulers and leaders of churches and mosques to get their support for the election. This did not win more votes for him, rather it made the image of a corrupt President stuck in the minds of Nigerians. One unfortunate thing for Jonathan was that because people already had a negative mindset about him due to the fact that he had not succeeded in dealing with the problems of corruption and insecurity, they found it easy to believe every negative story about him whether true, false or exaggerated and this affected the voting pattern on March 28.


It is often said that when a river forgets its source, it begins to dry off. In 2011, Jonathan’s campaign was on the platform of fresh air which in the interpretation of most Nigerians was a radical departure from the status quo and a clean break from the ugly past. Even though the PDP structure was still very much intact, many Nigerians actually supported Jonathan because they saw something in him which was different from the things that had characterised the activities of his party since 1999. That was why some people who had been fierce critics of the PDP did not think twice before jumping on the Jonathan bandwagon as they claimed they were not supporting the party but the candidate.

So, as soon as Jonathan began to exhibit the same traits that the party had been known for just after his oath of office, Nigerians were no doubt disappointed. Just after he settled down into office, he began to strategise for re-election and that made him to open his arms to all sorts of characters whose image and antecedents did not do his image any good. He began to romance the people who represented the dirty past, people whose record of public service is anything but decent.

Chief Tony Anenih whose nick name, ‘Mr fix it’ sounds more like a man notorious for rigging election was the first person Jonathan brought from the cooler Obasanjo had kept him. Aside imposing him as the party’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Jonathan gave him another unofficial appointment which was to be going round the north to seek the support of key stakeholders and leaders for his second term bid. The question then was did Tony Anenih have the credibility to even convince the people of Edo state to support Jonathan? Anenih’s choice was the beginning of failure for Jonathan.

Any keen follower of politics will consider Tony Anenih a saint compared to the next set of persons Jonathan started bringing on board. The prime suspect in the celebrated Bola Ige murder case, Senator Iyiola Omisore became Jonathan’s associate and in no time he became the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Osun State. His suspected accomplice and notorious political thug, Abduljelil Adesiyan became a member of the Federal Executive Council. Jonathan is probably the only President in the world who will appoint a man who had been locked up for political thuggery many times and who had a case of high profile murder hanging on his neck as Minister of Police Affairs!

No one can blame Jonathan for associating with Ayo Fayose. The man was more popular in his state than Omisore and Adesiyan and again he had gone round to apologise for his past misdeeds, saying if his people elect him again, he would avoid all the childish things he said and did during his first missionary journey. Now that Ayo Fayose is back as governor, whether he has fulfilled this promise is a story for another day. His involvement in the campaign, the death-wish adverts and all that however made Jonathan more unpopular especially in the north.

Jonathan did not only welcome suspected Boko Haram founder, Ali Modu Sheriff into the PDP, he started romancing him publicly and took pictures with him in local and international fora. Meanwhile, it was the presence of Ali Modu Sheriff in the APC that gave PDP the reason to sustain the narrative that the opposition party was a terrorists’ party which may be behind the Boko Haram menace. Why do you then admit such a man into your party just because you think he can win Borno state for you? One famous writer said a statesman thinks of the next generation while a politician thinks of the next election. Jonathan had suddenly degenerated. Desperation was pushing him too far.

Femi Fani-Kayode was another inconsistent character who lacked any form of credibility. He had made a ‘hero’ out of himself, abusing Jonathan in his articles often posted on online platforms. Few weeks after he delivered a scathing criticism of Jonathan and called him “a President without balls,” FFK as he is famously called became the spokesman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation. This sort of bizarre transformation can only happen in an organisation headed by Goodluck Jonathan. At a time, it was looking like even if the devil had met Jonathan and told him he would deliver block votes for him from hell fire to boost his chances, he would have welcomed him with open arms. The desperation was too much.

While the APC was equally guilty of accepting defectors from the ruling party, it was smart enough to be attracting serious people. While the APC was busy getting governors and former national chairmen from the PDP into its fold, PDP was attracting miscreants and charlatans with no political, economic and electoral value into the party.

The relationship between Jonathan and OPC duo of Gani Adams and Frederick Faseun, Tompolo, Ateke Tom, Asari Dokubo and other people whose stock in trade was lawlessness went beyond politics. Jonathan also gave ‘juicy’ and sensitive security-based contracts to these people. With the support of Jonathan’s conspiratorial silence, these people were even threatening to bring down the country if he lost the election. Each time any of the opposition figures made any hate or inciting comment, Jonathan waited till the next service, in any of the Abuja churches to give the person a strong rebuke. But when his wife or any of the party bigwigs made similar comments, he just maintained his silence.

Buruji Kashamu is also one of those politicians from the southwest whose allegedly unclean records ensured Jonathan lost the zone and lost the sympathy of most Nigerians. Like former President Olusegun Obasanjo kept on saying, Kashamu was wanted in the United States for alleged drug-related offences but instead of Jonathan to hand him over to the US, he was made leader of the PDP in the southwest and later Senatorial candidate of the party for Ogun East. Obasanjo kept on saying he won’t accept an alleged drug peddler as his leader but Jonathan turned the deaf ear.

Each time Obasanjo criticized Jonathan on issues relating to corruption, governance and morality, his aides were always coming out to attack the former president, saying he was even more corrupt as if that was a good reason to allow too many unsavory things surround the Jonathan administration. Public sympathy was always with Obasanjo not because he was a saint but because Jonathan had wined and dined with too many people who could not be said to have integrity and good name. Obasanjo eventually left the party for Kashamu but the results of March 28 elections vindicated him. Kashamu was one of those burdens which made Jonathan lose election even though they were meant to do the opposite.

PDP leader in Lagos, Olabode George can be best described as a failed politician who has consistently played second fiddle to APC leader, Bola Tinubu since 1999. In fact, he had hardly delivered his polling unit and ward to his party since the beginning of his political career. His integrity was not helped by the fact that he was jailed for the famous scandal that rocked the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), even though the Supreme Court has since reversed the judgement. Relying on Bode George to win Lagos for you is like taking the same drug that has failed to cure an illness after many attempts.

Former governor of Bayelsa, DSP Alamieyeseigha had the reputation of a kleptomaniac and renowned fugitive who by virtue of being an ex-convict was not eligible to seek any political office in the country. But early in the administration of Jonathan when Nigerians were expecting him to fight corruption, he granted state pardon to Alamieyeseigha who was his former boss. While many Nigerians saw this as an act of impunity which will only encourage corruption, the man eventually became the PDP leader in Bayelsa and was one of the key actors in his campaign for second term.

Jonathan was in the wrong company of tainted individuals like Edwin Clark and other politicians who have no electoral value.


Jonathan, his aides and the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party were actually too comfortable and too complacent. They thought since the PDP had been in power for 16 years, they would continue to have their way with federal resources at their disposal. They didn’t do any serious work to win the election. In fact, the presidential aides, strategists and leaders of the party went to sleep while APC had a strong team which worked for 24 hours. APC worked harder because they were desperate to grab power while PDP thought power could never leave them.

For example, PDP thinkers and Jonathan aides slept off and allowed the APC to push the issues of security and corruption to the front burner as the two main campaign issues. This put the PDP at a disadvantage because these were two areas where Jonathan’s abysmal performance was not debatable. Buhari on the contrary had the pedigree of an incorruptible man while he had dealt with local insurgents decisively in his military career on many occasions.

Rather than seizing the initiative and starting its own narrative early which will focus on the areas where its candidate had performed, PDP allowed the APC to dictate the issues, the tone and flow of the campaign.

And when the PDP saw that the opposition party had succeeded in inciting voters against it, it had to play catch-up and in doing that, it abandoned the issues that will favour Jonathan but concentrated on pulling Buhari down by all means. They brought the issues of age, certificate, illness etc. The PDP wasted lots of money to sponsor poorly scripted documentaries on Buhari without knowing they were merely campaigning for him by portraying Buhari as a no-nonsense military man who had no tolerance for graft, filth or any form of indecency. Nigerians knew Jonathan had failed to jail his thieving ministers but here was a Buhari who, according to the documentaries, jailed people who stole very little. Nigerians saw Buhari as the leader they needed at the time. By reminding Nigerians that Buhari had executed drug peddlers, Nigerians or better put his supporters were more encouraged to vote for him. The PDP saw that the documentary was doing its campaign no good but it continued to run it.

Towards the end of the campaign, the Buhari documentary stopped and that of Bola Ahmed Tinubu started. They claimed Tinubu owned almost everything in Lagos. And when Nigerians checked and discovered that Tinubu was not on the ballot as he was not contesting for any position under the platform of APC, they ignored the documentaries. The PDP was merely chasing shadows, leaving the substance.


If there is one area Jonathan really shot himself in the foot, it’s his disregard and scorn for the media. Rather than engage the media in a proactive way to boost the image of his administration, Jonathan and his team of incompetent aides kept on deceiving themselves that Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other APC stalwarts had bought the media and that was why the Nigerian media was very critical of the administration. It is one thing for someone to lie to himself, it becomes worse when he begins to believe in his own lie. This defeatist and simplistic point that the media belonged to the opposition did not allow Jonathan, his party and campaign team to do what they needed to do.

It would be recalled that Jonathan had lost the respect of the international community and global media due to the way and manner he and his aides mishandled the abducted Chibok girls issue. From that point, New York Times became so critical of his administration and when it was time for Nigerians to vote, the respected newspaper endorsed Muhammadu Buhari and urged Nigerians to vote Jonathan out. The New York Times wrote in a famous editorial in February that “a formal dictator is better than a failed President.” So, if Bola Ahmed Tinubu and co bought over the entire media in Nigeria, did they also buy over New York Times and other media outlets across the world? Some people were just looking for excuses for their ineptitude.

Jonathan kept on making schoolboy errors on almost everything. He could not do even the most basic thing a leader should do and his people wanted the media to clap for a government which could not protect school girls and take a step as simple as making a government official pay for crimes against the state. In demonising the media and trying to paint a false impression that journalists hated Jonathan, people who believe in that lie forgot that Nigerian media, by its nature and tradition has never been friendly to a sitting government. From colonial days to military days and even to Obasanjo and Yar’adua regimes, there was never a time the media romanced any incumbent administration. The duty of the media is always to set agenda, inform people and hold government accountable, not to sing the praises of a fumbling and wobbling government.

Jonathan made matters worse for himself. In his outings, he never acknowledged the media while observing protocol. Jonathan and his people had an anti-media policy. Every structure Jonathan built in the Villa, he made sure there was no provision for journalists to cover assignments and do their jobs effectively. Jonathan worked with a team of journalists in the State House and he never cared about them. He never knew anyone of them not even the few government journalists who travelled with him in the same presidential jet to all the places he had to go. Jonathan never held any informal interaction with members of the State House Press Corps within all the years he spent in the villa.

Of all the presidents who had lived in that Villa, it was only Jonathan who never knew his Chief Photographer, neither by face nor name. The first one collapsed in his presence one day and Jonathan asked his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati who the man was. The second one who later worked with Jonathan had spent more time with him than his family – office, banquet, convoy, council chambers, residence, private visit, presidential jet, local trips, foreign trips etc- for up to three years and Jonathan never cared to even know his name or know him by face. In one of the trips to Europe, the Chief Photographer was called in to snap Jonathan and his host leader only for him to call the man and say “photographer, how do we get the picture?” The Chief Photographer felt like crying that his president did not even know him after all the years. Jonathan thought it was one street photographer that was called to take the picture. He didn’t know it was his own Chief Photographer who practically live all his life with him.

Jonathan’s official cameraman (usually from NTA), who worked with him for up to six years as both Vice President and President was among the first set of persons the man would see when he woke up and among the last he would see when he went to bed but he never knew him. Jonathan treated journalists with disdain and he also had this unique quality of always talking too much and talking himself into trouble. And when he sees the dailies the next day, he begins to accuse the media of deliberately misquoting him to achieve certain sinister motives. He didn’t realise it was self indictment for him to say the journalists assigned to cover him were deliberately working against him.

There was a particular correspondent of one of the most popular dailies in the country who had volunteered to be the stand-up comedian at a Christmas ceremony involving Abuja residents led by his Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Mohammed, and the President, his wife , Vice President and his wife in the villa. The guy performed so brilliantly that even Jonathan gave him a standing ovation. Everyone expected Jonathan to have at least picked the correspondent’s face on that Christmas Day. But fast forward to a month later, this same correspondent was among the journalists who followed Jonathan to an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where a Nigerian child was said to be waiting outside the main hall ready to interview Jonathan. Immediately Jonathan emerged from the hall, the first person he saw was this correspondent whose brilliant performance on the Christmas Day had earned him the comical title of ‘Special Adviser on Comedy to the President.’ The Correspondent was standing with other Nigerian contingents, including Dr Reuben Abati. Immediately, Jonathan saw the Correspondent and to the shock of everyone standing at the entrance, he grabbed him and asked: “Are you the father?” Dr Abati had to quickly explain to his boss that the man he grabbed was not the father of the girl who was to interview him but one of the journalists who came with him all the way from State House, Abuja, to cover the summit.

In another foreign trip, Jonathan was fielding questions from journalists who attended the summit from across the world and one of the State House journalists who followed him to the country stood up to ask Jonathan a question. In answering the question, Jonathan told the lady “If you have been to Abuja before or if you have visited our Presidential villa in Abuja…” The lady was embarrassed just like some of the other journalists on the entourage of the Nigerian President were. This underscored the fact that Jonathan did not know his reporters by name or face.

Jonathan never bothered to create any bond with his press corps on one hand and the larger media community on the other. His spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati did absolutely nothing to help him close any of these two huge gaps. In fact, journalists, both the reporters in the villa and editors and station managers in the offices did not even know who was worse between Jonathan and his spokesman in terms of interpersonal skills and media relations capability. By his own nature, Dr Reuben Abati only helped to widen the gulf. This went a long way to affect his media coverage negatively.

While it was bad enough that columnists, editors, station managers, feature writers etc who were far away from the Presidential Villa were always publishing indicting stories and opinionated articles about the administration owing to the observed lapses in the system and Dr Abati’s zero knowledge of media relations, it was worse that members of the State House Press Corps were even doing worse damage to Jonathan’s image than ‘outsiders.’

Dr Abati was (and is still) a cerebral and celebrated writer no doubt, but when it comes to media relations, he is a rare combination of ignorance and arrogance. For example, Dr Abati’s boss was reputed for committing major gaffes in his public outings, especially when he had to speak without a prepared speech. So, instead of Dr Abati to guide the reporters, he would just raise his shoulder and walk away. And when bad stories come out, he begins to insult journalists. Even the few occasions that he managed to realise there was potential bad angle, he would issue threats and talk down on reporters as if a headmaster is barking orders at primary school pupils. At the slightest provocation, he deployed words like ‘Imbeciles,’ ‘illiterates,’ ‘carpenters’ and ‘bricklayers’ to describe journalists covering his boss.

Dr Abati was so incompetent that even reporters working under his nose wrote terrible things about his boss, even during campaigns. If reporters who see Jonathan everyday and interact with his aides every minute could write bad stories about the man, one could just imagine what other journalists who were never close to the Villa were writing to damage the second term chances of Jonathan. They wrote the kind of negative stories that when people read, they believe Jonathan should not have been President in the first place.

Even when Jonathan moved round the country to commission projects and even during campaign rallies, the journalists on ground in each of the states had no reason to write nice features or good stories about him due to Dr Abati’s inability to carry out the simplest of all tasks, which is to relate with people who were not as privileged as he was in the most humble and productive manner.

That was why every discerning person knew that it was the height of falsehood for anyone to say the opposition had bought over the media. This is because in terms of relating and carrying the media along, opposition leadership and its media team were the direct opposite of Dr Abati and his boss. People say Jonathan was a good man but that it was the incompetence of his aides that failed him. It was a personal failure on his part not to know that some of his aides were unwittingly working for the opposition. If there was any of Jonathan’s aides who should not have lasted three months on the job, it was Dr Abati. But trust Jonathan, in his trademark negligence and knack for romancing mediocrity, he left Dr Abati on the job to finish the damage he started. The mistake Dr Abati and other unworthy aides like him kept on making was that aside the collateral damage the media he failed to court did to his principal’s second term ambition in terms of writing things which incited readers against Jonathan, some of the journalists (within the Villa and outside it) that he insulted, snubbed or ignored or failed to pick their calls or failed to build a relationship with them on behalf of his boss also had Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

Dr Abati’s incompetence necessitated the creation of another office and the appointment of a certain Dr Doyin Okupe as Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs. Like Dr Abati, Dr Okupe was not also a proper journalist who understood professional media relations and news judgement. Dr Okupe was however far better than Dr Abati in terms of relating with people and he successfully neutralised or reduced the anger journalists had towards Jonathan within the tiny section of media that he controlled. But the fact that the two men refused to work together reduced their effectiveness. Rather than see each other as colleagues or partners in progress, they saw each other as competitors or rivals. Rather than being proactive, they were always waiting for the spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Lai Mohammed to fire their boss first. And after most Nigerians had bought into anything the cerebral and efficient APC mouthpiece had told them, whether true or false, Dr Okupe and Dr Abati would now start falling on themselves to react and the next day, you see characters like Mr. Labaran Maku (former Minister of Information) and Ahmed Gukak (former Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters) also reacting. So, you see four people reacting to one man and this sent the impression that the Presidency was in disarray.

Dr Okupe also later became another public relations disaster to Jonathan. His involvement with the Chibok saga was a fiasco. His needless battles with Obiageli Ezekwesili was an own goal. There was a time Dr Okupe was always in the news for all the wrong reasons, he was either saying people should call him bastard if APC lasted a year or organizing protests to counter the legitimate message of the BringBackOurGirls campaigners. He was also involved in the N100 million Chibok bribery saga. He was behind the BringBackJonathan campaign carried out on the same ground used by the Chibok protesters. Most Nigerians saw this move as the height of callousness and insensitivity. He won more enemies for his boss than friends. Jonathan’s media team was a mess.

It is easy to heap all the blames on Dr Abati and Dr Okupe. Their boss was not any better and that may be the reason they kept their jobs until Nigerians sacked all of them on March 28. Jonathan’s body language was that of someone who saw media practitioners as unnecessary irritants who were always there to expose his tracks and criticise his poor performance in certain areas. He never took time to do an introspection to ask himself if he was doing his job as expected and if he had built a good relationship with members of his own press corps.

The State House beat is a 24-hour beat, on a typical day, journalists will resume by 9am and after moving from one part of the Villa to another and sometimes one part of Abuja to another with the President without a break, Jonathan will come out of a nocturnal meeting by 2am the following morning and see the same journalists who had been with him for around 17 hours sitting or dozing off on the ground and he won’t even say ‘hello’ to them. He won’t even stand for a second to chat with them and encourage them. He will just walk away. Journalists in the Villa did not see Jonathan as a man who had the human kindness and charisma to be a leader. This reflected largely in the kind of stories that emanated from that sensitive beat.

If there was any doubt regarding the utter contempt with which the Presidency under Jonathan held the media, the man removed the doubt himself on a certain day Nollywood leaders visited him. Right in front of cameras, Jonathan, while explaining his love for Nigerian movies, delved into a needless comparison because he wanted to spite the press. He said to push through the gains of his Transformation Agenda to the public, he always preferred to go through Nollywood rather than through the media because journalists were fond of making empty noises. He said as far as he was concerned, he could do without media while he couldn’t work as President without Nollywood. He even pointed to his Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku who was seated beside him and accuse him of always making noise in the media without effect. He concluded by saying generally, the film industry is more useful to any nation than media. Everybody in the press corps was livid, having confirmed their worst fear that a President who they worked for from morning till night had no regard for the press in a democracy! Mr. Labaran Maku spent hours, almost going on his knees to beg journalists not to take Jonathan’s comment personal but the damage had been done and the relationship between Jonathan and his press corps had hit an all-time low. The truth, which is contrary to Jonathan’s self-confessed ignorance and naivety was that the media worked for him for free without even “thank you” while the film industry did nothing for him and got so much money from him.

After hearing this unbelievable outburst from the President of the so-called Giant of Africa, a man who by his position should know better, the words of former US President, Thomas Jefferson came to mind. He said if he were to choose between the media and government, he would rather go for the former. The Nigerian constitution even mentioned the media as having a huge role to play in the country while the media is generally known as the fourth estate of the realm in a democracy. If Jonathan didn’t know this basic fact that a primary school pupil should know, is it the complicated details about micro or macro economics, statistics or movement of artillery/troops that he would know?

To digress a bit, Jonathan took his Nollywood obsession to campaign period and spent huge sums of money to mobilise actors, actresses and singers to support his re-election. His strategists were too daft to realise that he merely concentrated all his time, energy and resources to mobilise the south-south and south-east sections of Nollywood and sports industry whereas these two zones were already his traditional stronghold where he didn’t need to spend a dime to win. Jonathan and his strategists ignored Kannywood which is the Hausa section of Nollywood and abandoned the Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP) which is the Yoruba section of Nollywood. As we have now seen, the tiny section of Nollywood and sports personalities he wasted huge sums of money to mobilise were not able to save him from an embarrassing defeat.


With the way Jonathan allowed his ministers to get away with anything and the way he allowed his wife to run a parallel government, he cut the picture of a weakling.

Jonathan wanted to appear like Mr Nice Guy to all and sundry but succeeded only in having things rough for himself. Jonathan is probably the only President in the world that allowed his ministers to come into the Council Chambers when he is already presiding over a session as serious as the Federal Executive Council meeting. Doing that would only make the minister take you for granted. If they can be late to a meeting where the fate of 170 million Nigerians are decided, then they are not worthy of such positions and it’s bad for a leader to entertain such indiscipline. Ministers come late and you welcome them with smile, when you give them deadline, they won’t obey. When you give them assignments, they will do shoddy jobs and lie that everything is okay because they know you won’t bother to cross check.

This lack of strong moral principles on the part of Jonathan were not known to the public but the results were seen in the level of goals and targets that were achieved. Jonathan was trying to protect under-performing, corrupt ministers from judgment but he pronounced judgment on himself by seeking re-election having failed to take the most simple step of scolding people who were failing him and firing them when necessary. The same man who didn’t sack non performing, corrupt ministers sacked one of his most performing ministers, Bolaji Abdullahi and the former head of SURE-P, Martin Luther Agwai for political reasons. This did not do his image any good.

Even the ministers acknowledged during the valedictory Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that Jonathan didn’t deem it necessary to scold them. In fact, one of the ministers said Jonathan actually covered their excesses. And that tells you the level of indiscipline during his administration, and they exhibited that at the valedictory FEC session.

The special FEC session wasn’t qualitative. It only provided platform for the former Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim and the former ministers to commend Jonathan for his leadership style and contributions to the development of the country and its peoples. Not too bad you say? All well and good. Except that they all over-did the praises and commendation to the extent that even the president himself said their comments were exaggerated. Yes, Jonathan was bored and tired of the rhetorics that he had to adjourn the meeting for five minutes to enable the ministers to make their speeches shorter.

It is not bad to commend Jonathan and show appreciation as his appointee. But, alas, none of the ministers spoke about his or her competence, performance, service to the people and how they have helped to get the president re-elected. It was that bad. All of the ministers dwelled on how the president helped them by making them ministers and some funny and ridiculous claims. They couldn’t say anything about how they themselves helped – or rather should have helped – their benefactor. In fact, their remarks clearly indicate that they were liabilities to the president and parasites to the nation.

That, at any rate, wasn’t very surprising, given that each and all of them failed Jonathan woefully recently. None of them delivered their wards, local governments and states, especially those in the North. And even in the southern part of the country, especially states in South-east and South-south where the president won, he didn’t get votes on the basis of the political strength, political relevance or competence of the ministers or his political aides. As many political analysts have pointed out, if those lieutenants had been competent, the story of Jonathan’s re-election bid would have been different today. Talk about wobbling and fumbling aides and ministers who couldn’t get their acts right even on the last day of their tenure. They performed abysmally even on the day which their benefactor needed their moral support most. But Jonathan didn’t bother about these excess luggages.

And it so happened that even in cases where evidences of glaring corruption were established against his lieutenants (notably the then Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah and the Petroleum Minister, Alison Madueke who allegedly squandered billions of tax-payers’ money on hiring of private jets) Jonathan, saw no evil, let alone acted. Not even when the then Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria revealed that $20 billion was missing from NNPC’s account – Jonathan did absolutely nothing aside from unceremoniously removing the whistle–blower

A particularly not–so-helpful example was the large swath of lands near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport which Jonathan allegedly grabbed for himself and on which he later established his controversial farm. The land which is said to be the size of several football fields combined, had originally been reserved for an aviation–related project. Critics have held it up as a living example of abuse of office, even as they wondered from where Jonathan obtained the funds for such an industrial–scale project. In the same vein, the twin two-storey houses built recently in Jonathan’s family compound in Bayelsa State has been keeping tongues wagging, with many wondering how it was possible for someone who could not afford shoes yesterday, to afford to build such imposing mansions barely a few years after serving as president.

Again, Jonathan gave his wife too much powers. He allowed her to be summoning people into her office and making mockery of the whole Chibok abduction saga on camera at a time he was also investigating and acting on the matter. It was as if we had two Presidents. The things the woman had done in the past and gotten away with emboldened her to go round the country to incite violence, make hate-filled statements and do ethnic profiling about the people of the north during campaign. There was no one to call her to order.

So, putting the above together, where was the foundation for Jonathan’s re-election? Nowhere! Based on the above analysis, it would be right to say that Muhammadu Buhari did not win this election, Jonathan lost it. He didn’t even lose it to Buhari. He lost it to himself.


Despite these short comings, it remains on record that Jonathan sparkled in a number of areas. Ask millions of Nigerians, for example, and they would confess their admiration over the way and manner the railways transport sub-sector was revived by the administration. Under Jonathan’s watch, Nigeria’s national sports teams also shone in several continental and international competitions, even as the economy was “rebased” as the largest economy on the African continent – far ahead of even South Africa.

Arguably, Jonathan’s most memorable intervention is in the electoral arena starting with the appointment of Professor Attahiru Jega as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the introduction of some electoral reforms, Jonathan largely kept his promise to inject a breath of fresh air into the system.

He brought in an incorruptible, uncompromising and extremely honest man to oversee the activities of the Independent National Electoral Commission. He didn’t stop there, he gave Jega all the support he wanted in terms of political will and finances. He gave full backing to Jega’s card reader innovation and resisted all the pressure mounted on him by his party to stop Jega from conducting the election when it was obvious that the former ASUU boss was not ready to play ball. The icing on the cake of all this was the president’s selfless decision to let the peoples vote count by congratulating the winner of the March 28 presidential poll, Muhammadu Buhari even before INEC had finished counting the votes. It was a remarkable display of statesmanship by Jonathan to deepen democracy and to ensure that the country remains peaceful and united.

This singular act has earned him a global status of Peace Ambassador. History will however be kind to him as the first civilian leader in the country’s history to really care about sanitising the electoral process and conducting credible elections even at the expense of his personal gains.