The President of the Federal Republic, Doctor Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is certainly feeling the heat. Who would not in a complex polity as Nigeria with myriads of problems and contending forces? And when you throw in the Boko Haram challenge, rumblings from different ethnic nationalities angling for bigger pie from the national cake and the antics of political actors whose eyes are fixated on the 2015 Presidential race into the mix , then it is obvious that leading such a country cannot be a tea party even in the best of times. And this certainly is not the best of times for Nigeria and the current leader certainly has his hands full.
Recently Dr Jonathan complained about the way and manner his countrymen and women have continued to “pummel” his person and administration via scathing criticisms. The President feels that most of his critics are hitting below the belt and going beyond acceptable rules of engagement in their assessment of his person and his administration.
We don’t know how the measurement was done, but Dr Jonathan also declared himself the most criticized president in the world. I feel for the President. After all he is human. From the standpoint of Dr Jonathan, he is giving the task of transforming Nigeria his best shot and he is disturbed that some of his countrymen rather than saluting his tenacity of purpose and appreciate the effort he is applying to the difficult task and job they are in a way undercutting him through their “biased” criticisms.
This piece is not about who is right between Mr. President and his critics. It is about the gains from the exchange that is going on. The entire episode is a positive development for all of us. For one, it underscores the fact that we are in a democracy and people have the right to air their opinions and they have been doing so. The object of the attacks also has the right to call attention to any uncivilized criticism of his person without resorting to strong arm tactic as seen during the years of dictatorship. Mr. President has also shown himself to be a thoroughbred democrat. None of his critics has been hounded on the streets or thrown behind bars. The President’s equanimity in expressing his displeasure about the antics and unfair tactics of his critics is also commendable.
The episode also shows that this is not a president that is not in tune with what is happening Around him. Nigerians, Goodluck Jonathan is not deaf to criticisms.Our criticisms and objections to his programs and policies get to him and in a way he is aware of what Nigerians think about his administration and his style of governance. He is also working to make amends, correct obvious lapses and deliver to our satisfaction. The President said during a visit to Onitsha, Anambra State, that his critics and the generality of Nigerians should be patient with his administration. He also reaffirmed his determination to deliver on the promise to transform Nigeria. And he is actually walking his talk. Jonathan was in Onitsha to commission a N4.6Billion port complex in the commercial city which is in tandem with the plan to build an integrated transport system that will link airports, seaports and the rail systems across the country. That project which his administration delivered in Onitsha is reassuring and is actually one of the ways the president should be answering his critics; through verifiable projects and policies that will transform society and change the lives of the people for better. The
President is positive that Nigerians will see more fruits from the programs and policies of his administration in the days and months ahead.
While we acknowledge that some of the president’s critics are simply throwing mud with a view to scoring cheap political points, some others mean well for Mr. President and the polity. What the President should constantly do is to separate the wheat from the chaff. The president, through his relevant officials, should collate the criticisms and take appropriate action when and where necessary so that some of the critics may be won over through constructive social reengineering. The gains so far achieved in the power, agricultural, ICT, and education sectors should be sustained.
The ongoing effort targeted at building a new crop of young entrepreneurs through the granting of seed money to qualified young Nigerians to start their businesses should be painstakingly managed in order for its overall objective of creating sustainable employment generation to be realized. It is through such positive interventions that the President can correctly answer his critics.
And for the critics, they have a right to criticize Mr. President. They have a right to point out what is wrong in the polity and inherent flaws in the policies and projects of the administration. However they don’t have any right to demean the person and the office of the president. Resorting to gutter language and using derogatory terms against the person and office of the president is hitting below the belt and a disservice to the nation. Criticisms that whip up ethnic sentiments and create tension in the polity or lower the standing of Mr. President in the estimation of right thinking Nigerians and foreigners should belong to the past. Criticism, if it is to be meaningful, must be devoid of bitterness and odium.
Whatever the tactics of his traducers, Dr Jonathan should see the many criticisms against his administration, especially those that are not personal and are constructive, as a wakeup call. He should be more tenacious about his transformation agenda. He should keep his eye on the ball and posterity in focus. Luckily for Mr. President, posterity will not record the shenanigans of those who unjustly assail him. Unfair criticisms against his person or his administration will also not make it into the history books. What the history books will record are the fruits and failures of his administration. He should therefore continue to give the job he is elected to do his best shot.
Mr. President you need the criticisms sir.
Adelaja Adebanjo contributed this piece from Ijebu Ode and be reached via