Yet any hope that President Goodluck Jonathan, would grow to loosen up and proceed to engage with the people is a forlorn hope and the simple reason for this is the overwhelming insecurity that now cast a pall over the country. Indeed ever since the bombing of Eagle Square last year which, in a sense foreshadowed the incessant reign of terror of bomb blasts, the president has taken steps to cut back drastically on his public outings. For instance, the October 1st National Day celebration last year was held in the inner recesses of the Aso Rock in the presidential villa, thereby removing the official commemoration of the occasion from the view of Nigerians to whom the yearly parades have become a much relished spectacle.
Of all the cities Boko Haram has visited its vicious anger against, Maiduguri has remained the most traumatized, and no day passes without lives being lost and limbs broken, all of which combine to portray the residents—indigenes and all, who have continued to bear their ordeal with equanimity—as some of the most courageous Nigerians ever. This being so one would have expected that President Jonathan would find time, even against all odds to make an unannounced whistle- stop visit to the city to pay homage to the fortitude of the good people of Maiduguri who have continued to be traumatized by the mindless violence that has gripped the land. Let’s quickly add though that the president paid a visit to Kano in the aftermath of the horrendous bombing attacks on the city, which indeed further underscores the need to pay a visit to Maiduguri. Not doing so would seem as if the city, its people and indeed the whole of the north-east region have become anathema, hence left to stew in their juice, as it were.
The president’s Easter homily to the nation is a studied attempt at reinforcing the need to forge united front in the nation. It urged Nigerians not to succumb to ‘’hopelessness and despair’’. As a country whose people are adherents of the two major religions he said, Nigerians should endeavour to ‘’retain deep faith in our shared vision of greatness and continuously renew our determination to achieve our potentials through total commitment and dedication to the fulfillment of our national aspiration.’’ Replete with phrases like ‘’setting aside our differences,’’’’ working together as one people’’ and ‘’fostering peace, harmony and security,’’ the sermon struck an appropriate note of not giving in to divisiveness, hopelessness and chaos, even at these times when the objective situation on the ground could very well make such negative tendencies happen. It should be said that the president has clearly taken note of the not so favourable reactions an earlier utterance elicited. It portrayed him as helpless, clueless when he expressed the utter anguish the nation is going through. This time around he came across not as one wringing his hands in self –pity but as one embodying the leadership willing to wage the necessary battle against the myriad challenges facing the country.
Still –and the president himself would be the first to grant that all the entreaties contained in the Easter sermon would remain meaningless unless concretely acted out. Nigerians have continued to rail against the ever galloping incidence of corruption in the country as every day brings its own outrageous and outlandish revelations of public officers heedlessly perpetuating the odious attitude. Yet it seems the public institutions charged with combating them have all run out of steam or worse still, their officials have chosen to join in partaking in the loot. Indeed it will not be out of the mark to state that these organs have become a huge joke, as the Halliburton case illustrates because the freeing of the suspects is proof that the corruption crusade is hogwash, capable of encouraging other people to do even worse.
President Goodluck Jonathan must know that the buck, as they say, stops on his desk. Does he want to go down as having done nothing at all to fight corruption because under his watch all we see are plain rogues walking away scot free with contemptuous grins on their faces? The outrage of Nigerians on the matter should be concretely made to count for something by making the anti-corruption outfits do their work as they should. And that is helping to put the felons behind bars.
A corollary to this is that there is a certain paucity of policy initiatives from government. It is as if all its energy is targeted at fighting Boko Haram. If this does not change this government would go down as one that was circumscribed by Boko Haram to the exclusion of other matters. Yet the crying need to improve the social and economic conditions existing calls for novel and alternative approaches to grappling with challenges being faced. Sadly few such approaches are right now being propagated as way to surmount these challenges.