It’s been a tough campaign season for President Goodluck E. Jonathan. From defending his administration’s below par approach towards the rescue effort of the Chibok girls to politicising the country’s military to his tongue-in-cheek about what constitutes corruption, a trifecta of embarrassing scandals and controversies could give the president a sleepless night for many weeks to come. The situation could get a lot worse if President Jonathan doesn’t take charge right now, come out in front of the public strongly, and, to quote an apocryphal parlance, say, “I am the president, the buck stops with me.” He needs to correct some impression gotten from Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, the media director of his reelection campaign office, on some burning issues. He doesn’t need to announce Fani-Kayode’s resignation. He doesn’t need to feebly terminate his employment. All he needs to do is to let the country know that he’s the civil, thick-skinned president he’d become largely known for. Fani-Kayode has become a poster boy for all that bilious campaigns represent. This week alone, he’d narrated how Alhaji Lai Mohammed goes about in diapers and called Bola Tinubu a dirty hag with unpleasantly oozing mouth. These are unacceptable. Over the past 7 weeks, the sun had not successfully set without Fani-Kayode churning out rabid vituperation.
Since first coming into national limelight in 2007, President Jonathan has stayed above the fray, letting others do his fighting for him. His decision to keep most of his political battles at arm’s length has prevented him from intimately showing us what he’s made of. Can Jonathan, who was elected into office in 2011 based largely on his humble background, convince the public to trust that he really feels okay being insulted because we’re in a democracy? This is the time for him to display his mettle on this matter.
History suggests that it’s not too late for Mr. Jonathan to dictate his legacy. But in order for the man to live up to his slogan of “fresh air,” the president must maintain his candor. And to quote his other iconic phrase, “transformation,” he must prove to Nigerians that he’s the quiet, unassuming executive that his media adviser, Reuben Abati, and political adviser, Doyin Okupe, have consistently painted him to be. These snide remarks from his subordinates only betray the president’s disposition to absorb abuses. His campaign must be focused on adult messaging. Regardless of which side of the political aisle one belongs in this election season, you’d be hard pressed to support Fani-Kayode’s untoward rhetorics. And time is of essence for the president to re-direct things.