Read this Financial Times [FT] article on Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan defies critics ahead of Nigeria polls

Nigeria’s embattled president has insisted that rescheduled polls will go ahead on time and that should he be defeated, he would like to be remembered for insisting they were free and fair.

In a rare interview at State House in Lagos, the former colonial seat of government, Goodluck Jonathan conceded that opinion polls show him running “neck and neck” with his main rival, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, in elections delayed by six weeks to March 28 on security grounds.

 The campaign comes against a backdrop of regional and ethnic tension, brutal atrocities carried out by Boko Haram extremists and with Africa’s largest economy battered by the falling price of oil. Nigeria has been on a knife edge since the electoral commission announced the postponement, under pressure from security chiefs, with opposition activists portraying this as the desperate act of a ruling party on the skids.

In one particularly stinging rebuke, Olusegun Obasanjo, former president, accused Mr Jonathan of seeking to remain in his seat by “hook or crook” in the style of Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of Ivory Coast, whose refusal to concede in elections sparked a civil war.

It is hard to reconcile Mr Jonathan’s good-natured air with the malevolent intent his detractors now assign him. Until the price of oil crashed last year, he presided over a period of great optimism about Nigeria’s economic potential. But his presidency has also been dogged by crises, and a tendency to gaffes has reinforced elite prejudices about his humble origins in the Niger delta creeks.

He declines to respond directly to accusations by Mr Obasanjo, his one time mentor whom he calls a “father”. But the reference to Ivory Coast rankles, given the continental lead he took in 2011 in standing up to Mr Gbagbo.

“I have a reputation within Africa as one person who stands for credible elections and who believes leaders must respect their constitutional provisions on term limits. That’s what I want to leave behind,” he says, adding he will happily retreat to his village should he lose.

He is less sure his opponents will do the same. Gen Buhari’s campaign to restore morale to Nigeria’s army and crush corruption, has gathered momentum. Anything but opposition victory would be the result of foul play, his supporters claim.

Elections in Africa’s most populous nation have never been for the faint-hearted. A poll delay raises fears of army meddling but many look to a former general for what they need

“Why must you feel that if you lose somebody rigged you out, but if you win there is no rigging,” says Mr Jonathan, who believes the tide will turn back in his favour in the next few weeks.

He also believes that Boko Haram extremists had planned a string of attacks on cities across Nigeria’s north to disrupt polling on February 14, the original date of the elections. The delay would allow the army time to pin down the terrorist group and retake a swath of territory in the remote northeast where they have attempted to carve out a strict Islamic state.

“We have to degrade them to a level where they will not cause problems on the day,” Mr Jonathan says. “I am very hopeful that all the territories under Boko Haram will be taken before the election, but even if we don’t take over all the territories, Boko Haram will not have that capacity to come and cause a crisis.”

Mr Jonathan is the son of a fisherman from the oil-producing Niger delta. He originally rose up the ladder of Nigerian politics with circumstance, and later Mr Obasanjo, assisting at every turn. Perceived as a loyal understudy when vice-president, he found himself at the top when his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office in 2010.

Opinion in Nigeria was kinder to him then and he won the 2011 poll convincingly. Recently, he has been defined more by what is missing than what his government has put in place — the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram last year and billions of dollars in oil revenues that the former central bank governor alleged were unaccounted for.

I have a reputation within Africa as one person who stands for credible elections and who believes leaders must respect their constitutional provisions on term limits– Goodluck Jonathan

Mr Jonathan cites a long list of government achievements: rebuilding the railways, restoring the road network, investing in education and presiding over a boom in agricultural production.

“Probably my means of communicating what the government has done to the public is weak,” he says, adding “that is one area I will look at properly” should he win a second term.

Partisan politics had stalled landmark legislation, he adds, in particular reforms aimed at opening up and commercialising the state oil company. This would he implies, have answered many of the questions about how Nigeria manages revenues from oil.

“The national assembly became so polarised, the divisions between the parties became so sharp, that the national interest was thrown overboard.”

Is he afraid Gen Buhari, who in his previous incarnation as military ruler in the 1980s threw businessmen and politicians suspected of fraud into jail, would come after some members of his government should he win?

“No,” Mr Jonathan says. “I am not worried . . . A military regime can set up kangaroo courts and tell them what to do. In a civilian dispensation there are limits.”

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From humble origins

Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was born in 1957 to a family of canoe makers in the remote village of Otuoke, the year after oil was discovered nearby in the Niger delta.

After stints as a customs officer, an education inspector and a lecturer, he studied for a doctorate in zoology in Port Harcourt, and worked for the regional environmental and development agency.

Mr Jonathan became deputy-governor of Bayelsa state in 1999, when the military handed power back to civilians. He took over as governor in 2005 when his predecessor was impeached after being charged with money laundering in the UK.

Handpicked to run as vice-president in Nigeria’s 2007 elections, he became president when his predecessor, Umaru Yar’Adua died in office in 2010. Mr Jonathan won elections a year later and is now seeking a second term.

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4 thoughts on “Read this Financial Times [FT] article on Goodluck Jonathan

  1. INEC did great dis-service and injustice to Nigerians by stating that the shift in election dates was due to security reasons. All the facts that emerge show that there were, at least, five other reasons why INEC had no choice but to postpone the elections. By claiming that it was only security reasons, INEC gave the impression that the federal government shifted the elections for selfish reasons.

    First, INEC was not ready, period! Over sixty percent of permanent voter cards had not been distributed to voters across the country, Was INEC ready by disenfranchising more than half of the voters. Second, the part-time employees to engaged during the elections had not been fully trained in the use of the voters’ register and the newly introduced card readers for the elections. Can you imagine the nuisance elections would have turned to in a society that gets restive during elections?

    Three, some of the voters cards were yet to be delivered to Nigeria as at 7th February; one week to the first election. Does that show that INEC was truly ready? Four, in the same vein, election materials had not been moved to state-capital offices from where they will be taken by car, speed boat or helicopters to various central units of constituencies all over Nigeria. And INEC says it was ready for the elections? Who is fooling who? Five, the electorates had not been enlightened on the use of the newly introduced card readers. Imagine the confusion, ,arguments and even fighting that would have followed when they are confronted with it. Yet, in apparent lazy-thinking, INEC insists it was ready.

    In fact, the shift in elections is a blessing for INEC. President Jonathan has promised to go and live in his village if he loses the election. I believe him. But Buhari has not found the decency of saying same. Either of them will lose in a free and fair election. I pray they are as patriotic as I think they are.


  2. There is no point wasting time to join issues with olatayo because it’s obvious that he’s writing from a point of ignorance, youthful exuberance, poor parental upbringing and baseless bitter hatred for Mr President. Otherwise, a reasonable, responsible and well-brought-up young man, who hopes to be a future leader will not rise up and make such unguarded utterances about not just an elder, but the president of his own motherland. That shows how unrefined he is. By his name, I guess he is a Yoruba man. Unfortunately, by his statements, he hasn’t the slightest tint of Yoruba blood in him who are known for their respect for elders.
    My contribution is just a piece of advice for olatayo.
    If he hopes to be a leader I future, he must tame his tongue. Like the police would say, what he says today might be used against him tomorrow.
    If he hopes to get respect from subordinates, he must learn to respect those above him.
    Seeking relevance his own style could be self-destructive.
    If he has decided not to respect the person of Mr President, he, at list should respect the office and stop running it down or destruction awaits him.



    If u wants to achieve something you find a way and if u don’t, you will find an excuse. And we’re all utterly sick of hearing these excuses from politicians and big business about how they cannot tackle poverty and diseases or feed their people.

    Let Jonathan find a way to the security of this country.Nigerian army has never be in a great mess like what Jonathan has brought to them ‘’Dorobombing” we are all in hardship. Increment of fuel price and duty rate. What have we done to Mr. President? He has never delivered any good thing than hardship, man without benefit of good surprise..

    I wonder why we nigerian vote someone like that in as a president in the first instance…Someone that knew nothing about technology not to talk of office management…someone that cannot take decision on his own unless he got the source from others….Lets take Olusegun Obasango as an example during Ife-Modakeke war….after asking both city to stop war they moved on killing each other and he used his most tricky military tactics to tackle the situation and till today nothing of such has been heard about the two cities.

    The Islamic Madness we have in Nigeria has been going on for the past 4yrs now and thousand has been killed in the process but to the week and un-experience dubious president we have, they are still killing today.

    There was a national strike in 2012 due to subsidy removal and till now we are yet to see what they did with the money they embessled during the process but all we see is political Bla Bla.

    In 2014 about 280 girls was abducted at chibbok in the Northan side of Nigeria by the group of terrorist called Boko Harram and till today the girls has not been found we even heard they are in sambisa forest and they are leaving fine and healthy.

    We here stories about how they bomb Military base and killed a lot of soldiers in Nigeria. My question is this, does that mean that we don’t have enough military power to face this insurgency? no we don’t have enough military power to face them but we have enough to face Ekiti State Gubernatorial Election in 2014 where about 3000 military personnel were deployed to Ekiti state to un-seat Fayemi.

    Let us take a look at what Baba Olusegun Obasanjo and Alhaji Umar MusaYar’adua did during their regime. Baba Obasanjo delivered minimum wages‘’increment of salary” and it was during his tenure that telecommunication came to Nigeria. Yar’dua was the only president we ever had that reverse the price of fuel. Kudos to them. Baba Obasanjo and Alhaji Musa Yar’dua are men with benefit of good surprise. Where is Ebele taking us to? Dorokilling…….. Yar’adua is late but his legacy remains. Appearances can be deceptive. And it is the duty of people in Mr President position to channel the future towards something brighter not dorodulling. Waiting Jonathan won go do for second time…………………dorofailure, dorobloodshedding and dorostealing.

    That name Goodluck, is an Irony to people that have focus, we are not talking about political parties here. Let’s face reality. Youth of this country, take a glance at what FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI said, we fear to fight for freedom and liberty because we don’t want to die. When are we not going to die? Remember, death is inevitable..

    Cedis is the second lowest currency in the world spent in Ghana but to day cedis has rise up to a standard in the world due to revolution…had it been that the youth there are afraid to die Ghana will still be in the dust till today…The only source we have in Nigeria is crude oil…America has crude oil and they still have it in reserve but enjoying on our own…I pity the future of our youth….is there going to be any Nigeria in the next 60yrs?

    My fellow youth, arise let us fight for free and fairer Nigeria. Let’s be united in our efforts. Division and lack of trust will destroy us. The only way for us to make peace is through sacrifice. I think we have freedom of speech let Goodluck come out to defend himself, I will open book for him. Na wa yo president we have ooooo E gba waoooooooooooo.

    When Jonathan wants to achieve increment of fuel price and duty rate there is no excuse but on security there are a lot of trivial excuses, we should be very careful of this Mr. President. Madmen and women were singing Ebele must go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, because he can never defend the poor and the fatherless, man without benefit of good surprise. Youth, what are we singing? Stop eating your future because of money. Vote for the right person.
    i rest my case here
    yours faithfully
    kiss me quick………………………….watch out for season two


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