The other day I read tweets from a beloved sister online where she took us down memory lane on how General Buhari’s economic policies in 1984/85 ruined her father’s thriving business. Guess what? In 2015, this same sister was one of Buhari’s staunchest supporters, although right now she has evolved (or is still evolving) into one of Buhari’s strongest critics. Still in 2015, I got blocked on Twitter by another lovely lady after I tried to make sense out of her intense love for then Presidential candidate Buhari. You see, similar to the first sister, this other lady’s father was illegally imprisoned by General Buhari in 1984/85, but in 2015 she was (I think) one of his campaign photographers and followed him to many rallies.
Today, both ladies, like most Buhari fans, are disappointed at President Buhari’s ineptitude yet proclaim to whoever cares to listen that they still have no regrets voting for him…and that former President Goodluck Jonathan was not an option. Many have attributed this awkward scenario to a variant of the Stockholm syndrome, but for me, na Witchcraft I go call am.
Was President Goodluck Jonathan that bad?
On several occasions, I have reviewed Goodluck Jonathan’s five years in office and tried my best to objectively assess his successes and failures. The area most people including fans agree on is that President Jonathan failed in curbing Boko Haram activities which peaked during his tenure. Perhaps Jonathan’s inexperience in Military issues may have counted against him, but let’s not forget that Nigeria as a country was also inexperienced in battling Terrorism. President Goodluck Jonathan in spite of this was the one that set up Nigeria’s first Anti-Terrorism or Counter-Terrorism structures which the Buhari government inherited. Boko Haram in Jonathan’s era was heavily politicized by the then opposition party (APC) and their supporters. Successful Terrorists attacks during Jonathan’s tenure were inwardly celebrated by APC and their supporters with outward shedding of crocodile tears.
In the tail end of his administration, President Goodluck Jonathan took advantage of postponed February 14th 2015 elections to initiate a putsch against Boko Haram; this singular move incapacitated the Terrorists severely. Credit must however be given to President Buhari for building on this momentum and hitting Boko Haram hard, but it is not yet Uhuru. The Buhari government seems to have invested more in media blackouts on Boko Haram atrocities rather than on weapons and catering for Internally Displaced citizens.
On the economic front, President Jonathan’s tenure was one of Nigeria’s most prosperous era in recent memory save for the 1970s Oil boom period. Jonathan’s era, though critics claim was backed by higher crude oil prices, witnessed immense growth in Nigeria’s non-oil sectors. Nigeria witnessed a boom in Tech start-ups, Mobile business, Agriculture, Vehicle manufacturing or assembling and Entertainment, just to mention a few. Nigeria experienced a major flood disaster in 2012/2013 destroying many farmlands, yet food supply was not affected and prices remained stable.
President Jonathan’s tenure also gave Nigerians unprecedented freedom of expression which was ultimately used against Goodluck Jonathan himself and perhaps contributed to his loss at the 2015 polls.
Today’s Nigeria under President Buhari is currently in a recession, inflation is at 17%, job losses have been monumental, the economy is stagnant, investors are fleeing, Aviation sector is struggling, poverty is on the rise and freedom of expression is threatened. President Buhari’s response to most of these challenges is to lead the unhealthiest Blame Game in Nigeria’s history. President Buhari, his cronies, appointees and supporters have found solace in blaming former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for most of Nigeria’s current economic woes.
This Buhari blame game has become a kind of opium drug being fed to disillusioned Nigerians regularly. Whenever a new series of Buhari failures surface, the next move is for one of his appointees or agencies to announce unverifiable sensational news of a discovery or recovery of stolen funds by Jonathan’s administration. Since the ruling All Progressive Congress now has a firm grip on the once vibrant Lagos media axis, these often false reports are injected into select Television, Radio and Print media outlets. Most times, Buhari Government agencies never substantiate these claims directly rather they forward it to the press as “from unknown sources.” When the we-have-caught-another-Jonathan-thief news gets out, gullible Nigerians put aside their current sufferings, rain curses on the previous administration for ‘looting us dry’, commend Buhari’s anti-corruption war and then life goes on. Few days later, these stories die off naturally, no arrests or prosecutions, but as soon as Buhari’s popularity dips again, a new loot discovery story is thrown out there and the cycle continues.
This is Nigeria’s reality and there seems to be no end in sight. Recently, the dwindling potency of Buhari governments’ blame game strategy has inspired his team to push forward a national orientation gimmick tagged, ‘Change Begins With Me.’ This is Buhari basically telling Nigerians including his supporters that we as citizens are responsible for our country’s predicament. Meanwhile, Buhari and his party’s campaign winning slogan that got him elected in 2015 was ‘Change’ accompanied by wonderful promises. It’s like a fake Pastor or Prophet inviting desperate individuals to his church and after endless months of prayer and fasting declares, “Your miracle is not forthcoming because you do not have faith.”
Critics have rightfully or wrongfully accused former President Goodluck Jonathan of encouraging corruption, but when compared to current levels of brazen corruption taking place right under Buhari’s nose, it becomes obvious that most of Jonathan’s (allegedly) corrupt cronies were learners. Goodluck Jonathan fought a more effective anti-corruption war by applying modern technology, data verification and electronic payment systems into Government transactions, thereby blocking loopholes. Unfortunately most Nigerians prefer dramatic anti-corruption wars where thieves are caught and humiliated publicly or possibly lynched on National television with or without a fair trial – President Buhari is giving them a semblance that.
I doubt if there’s any nation right now where a segment of her population due to political affiliation is hell bent on erasing or denying a former President’s achievements while elevating his weaknesses to ridiculous heights – this is the sad story of Buhari and his supporters versus former President Goodluck Jonathan. The good news here is that as recession bites harder, more and more Nigerians will increasingly become tired of Buhari’s blame games. Unfortunately for the Buhari administration, former President Goodluck Jonathan has continued to attract global and local admiration. It seems Buhari’s blame game may have even succeeded in further cementing the name ‘Goodluck Jonathan’ into the Nigerian consciousness; this may prompt some of Jonathan’s harshest critics to perhaps take a second look at his legacies.