By Samuel Ogundipe
“Governance,” said outgoing-President Goodluck E. Jonathan, “is a serious business.” If this statement is a corollary of the Nigerian presidency, then President-elect Muhammadu Buhari must acquiesce.
When the Senate invoked the ‘doctrine of necessity’, an extra-constitutional edict that raised more question then than it answered, to elevate an unassuming Jonathan to the position of the President and Commander-in-Chief, the PDP had a combined 345 seats in the National Assembly and controls 28 of the 36 states of the federation. Children born then have now left kindergarten for primary school. Babatunde ‘Baba Suwe’ Omidina was still an icon of innocuous family comedies untainted by drug-related offenses. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Prince Buruji Kashamu were still ensconced in slobbering political love affairs. Olamide Adedeji was just like every other Olamide in your neighbourhood.
You get the picture — that was a really, really long time ago.
For five years, president Jonathan has pleaded with Nigerians to be patient while he worked to stabilise the country’s socio-economic status after a terrible political crisis that preceded his emergence. At first, it seemed like a reasonable request. A year later, he stood for and won election into a full four-year term.
From a fuel subsidy removal that halted the nation’s economic activities for the first week of 2012; to a terror scourge that climaxed at the annexation of some of Nigeria’s settlements by an Islamist group, the pleas for patience and understanding became the running gag of Jonathan administration.
But then, he was still making these pleas as he returned to the electorate for a full second four-year term.
Perhaps the tasks of ending terrorism and alleviating poverty were beyond anyone’s power. But the verdict of the voters has made it clear that they were beyond Jonathan’s.
After 5 years of excuse-making, and as his administration unfurls yet another banner to mark its 4th anniversary of ‘transformation’ agenda, Nigerians were convinced that they need a new hand to steer a turbulent time.
They elected General Muhammadu Buhari amid widespread disillusionment with Jonathan. That frustration was only for 4 years, or five years, depends on whom you ask.
Since becoming the president-elect, Buhari had overtly and consistently informed Nigerians of the need to be patient with him, making, amongst other supposed impediments, the falling prices of crude oil his number one alibi. Perception is reality.
Goodluck Jonathan may have bequeathed an unreeved economic rope on Buhari, as every preceding administration usually does, but this point will not sink with Nigerians after a very short time.
When his administration inevitably begins blaming Jonathan for whatever public backlash it receives at the start of his administration, Buhari must remember this passage from Ernest Hemingway. In “The Sun Also Rises,” one character asks, “How did you go bankrupt?” and another responds: “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”