26th July, 2011
Events of the past few weeks after the April general elections have clearly shown that the country is in dire need of a strong and effective leadership to address the numerous challenges confronting it. These challenges range from insecurity, hopelessness caused by massive unemployment, infrastructure deficit, high poverty rate to natural disasters threatening to consume the country.
Buffeted on all fronts by these challenges, Nigerians are now asking whether the countryâ€™s current leadership can tackle these challenges. There is a general feeling among the populace that President Goodluck Jonathan has not provided or demonstrated the necessary political will to solve these problems. Not a few observers of the current scenario unfolding in the country believe that the president is weak in his handling of these challenges.
Take the issue of insecurity in the country posed by Boko Haram. Now, hardly does a week passes without the dreaded Islamic fundamentalist group bombing one section of Maiduguri or the other, leaving many casualties in its trail. Last weekend, at least nine residents of the Borno State capital were killed when adherents of Boko Haram threw an improvised explosive device, IED, into a crowded market. Three of the soldiers deployed to the town to keep the peace were also wounded.
Last weekendâ€™s attack was just one in a series of attacks carried out by the group in the northern part of the country, including Abuja, the federal capital.
Even though the president has deployed troops to the troubled city to contain the Boko Haram uprising, critics described his decision as untidy and late. They argued that the security forces should have gathered enough intelligence about the activities and leaders of the group before unleashing the army on them. This shoddy deployment of troops to Maiduguri has given rise to human rights abuses by the soldiers and this has further painted the country black in the eyes of the international community.
For instance, Amnesty International has accused the soldiers of killing innocent residents and called for an inquiry into the activities of the soldiers deployed to the troubled city.
We agree with the critics because like they say, a stitch in time saves nine. If President Jonathan had been proactive in his handling of the Boko Haram threat, those killed would not have died. President Jonathanâ€™s slow approach to handling issues of national concern are now becoming embarassing and taking a huge toll on governance. We dare say this has the capacity to retard the countryâ€™s progress, if not quickly addressed.
Perhaps taking advantage of the weak leadership, various groups have threatened to unleash violence on the country. One of them, the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria at the weekend said it was ready to go to war with opponents of the controversial Islamic banking while a Christian militia group in the north, Akhwat Akwop, also distributed leaflets in Kaduna, threatening to attack members of the Boko Haram sect.
The president also failed to address the floods which ravaged Lagos and killed many residents until the opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria chastised him for being uncaring and insensitive to the plight of Lagosians.
All these point to failure of governance and ineffective leadership. What it shows is that the governed no longer have confidence in the leadership of the country and are ready to defend their interest themselves. This is a dangerous trend that must be arrested quickly.
This is why we are calling on President Jonathan to shed his toga of sluggishness and provide leadership at this crucial time in the nationâ€™s development. There is need for him to be firm and decisive on issues bordering on the wellbeing of the nation.
After spending more than a month to bring back most of his old ministers, it is our contention that the president has wasted enough time already and it is time for him to move swiftly and address the various challenges confronting the country. The president should stamp his authority now.