I read today’s piece in the Sun Newspaper by Reuben Abati titled: THE JONATHAN THEY DON’T KNOW. (Link is: https://sunnewsonline.com/new/opinion/abati-the-jonathan-they-dont-know). As official spokesmen go; Abati has done a bland job of promoting his boss and his administration. But clearly what is good for GEJ is not necessarily good for Nigeria. I am surprised at the naivety or deliberate misdirection of Abati in his article. In the world of real politics; Presidents wins or loses elections not because of what they do right per se; but the significance of what they do wrong or don’t do at all.
That is why the famous Clinton cliché comes to mind with regards to American politics. He said: It’s the Economy stupid. What that simply means is that if the nation’s economy is bad and people are in pain; it does not matter how many wars you won as president; how many women you appoint into your cabinet or how many hours a day you work; you will NOT win an election and you will not be popular with the electorate. So rather than Abati telling us all this good things about his boss; why does he not tell us what he has done on the salient issues to Nigerians; Unemployment; Collapsing Infrastructure, Corruption, Government waste; Inefficient public services and so on.
I agree that sometimes the critics of Jonathan’s administration try to portray him as a man that has never done any good at all for the nation. That will not be true and I am not in that category. Nobody can be a hundred per cent bad; we all have some good in us. Also nobody has a monopoly of knowledge. Hence the issue is not whether GEJ has done some good for the nation since his assent into office; but the vital consideration is what has he done on the Major issues affecting Nigerians and is the country heading in the right direction.
So this administration will be judged by how well it performs on the main issues affecting ordinary Nigerians and not by many of the banal statistics and credits that Abati seek to amplify. We care less how many times the President eats if he creates an economy that allows Nigerians to put food on their own family table. Nigerians don’t care about how many megawatts of power you generate; they will only judge by how regular their power supply is. And if this administration has fixed the power sector; Abati will not need to say so; Nigerians will know for themselves in their daily living.
There is a Presidential election in the USA in November this year and despite many of the excellent things Obama administration has done for the USA; he risks losing that election simply because of the bad economic climate in the country. So Obama is not being judged by the many good things he has done; but by his perceived inability to fix the American Economy. This is the real politics Dr Abati. Your boss will not be evaluated by Nigerians based on many of those things you stated; but by the basic human need for economic progress, survival and advancement. So, based on the major issues topmost on the problem list for Nigerians; GEJ administration is not performing; although he may be performing well in other subsidiary areas.
Some of the things Abati stated in his article are laughable if not ridiculous. Abati stated for instance that: “He (the President) knows Nigerians want infrastructure. That is why he is telling Bi-Courtney to fix Lagos-Ibadan Expressway or get out”. What a joke. This is the President of the Republic we are talking about. He is “Telling” a Bi-Courtney….. after many years of inactivity. A better leader would have sacked the buggers and allow new people to get on with it. After all, Bi-Courtney has breached their contractual timeline by many years. Abati makes his boss sound like an adviser rather an the all-powerful Executive President. Abati further stated; “That is why he has directed the relevant agencies to get corrupt persons to answer for their misdeeds”.
So where is the proof or outcome of these directives? How many have been arrested? How many cases has prosecution started? It’s all talk, talk and talk. We know the president can talk, but can he act? That is what Abati failed woefully to demonstrate in his piece. Showing us a president that can talk is not good enough; we need one that can act. Abati defended his boss by saying he does not eat much and does not get drunk. But what did GEJ need feeding allocation of almost N1Billion for in his 2012 budget. I know this was latter cut to over N700Million after many outcries. So the facts do not support Abati’s assertions.
But for all of us; Nigeria is what matters. Not GEJ or anybody else. So it is in our interest to help the nation succeed and not be blinded by partisan curtains. I believe the best way Abati can represent his boss is for him to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis of this administration. An opposition will be more credible if it credits the government with some of the things they have got right; while still criticising them for what they have not done or got wrong. In the same way, a Spokesman for the President will be more credible if he does not insult our intelligence by making GEJ sound like the best thing since slice bread; but admit his mistakes, errors, corrective measures and of course successes as well. This will create more credibility for his views.
Finally, from my analysis, Abati and company are not using the right strategy to convey the message of their government in a vertically and horizontally complex media and communication landscape like Nigeria. It has already been said that politicians campaign in Poetry but govern in Prose. In an attempt to win the last election, GEJ promised the earth to everybody; now he is in power his performance is not meeting the expectations he helped to create. There are clear strategies to fix this imbalance and I will write about this in a future article. Not because I am a particular fan of GEJ; but I am a lover of Nigeria and will like to see this nation move forward for all our sakes. But in the meantime the spin-doctor should avoid spinning himself out of relevance.