Friday, April 16, 2010

Nigeria's acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, spent part of this week in Washington, DC at the invitation of President Obama. The invitation was to attend a Nuclear Summit and give the leader face time with America's president.

While in the US, Jonathan gave an interview to Christiane Amanpour. Below are a few excerpts. I am very happy that Jonathan took the time to clarify that the violence in Jos is not simply a religious issue as I continue to find the foreign media's simplification of that regional problem disturbing. Might I confess that I like how he handled the questions. He was calm, confident and to the point, unlike some other now-former political figures who have left much to be desired when being interviewed in the international press. He was diplomatic when responding to sensitive questions about Yar'Adua's absence and failure to meet with politicians. Again, I am impressed by the way he handled himself.

However, despite the promises he made, one cannot help but wonder how exactly he plans to accomplish the goals he has publicly set out for his administration. Those details would go a long way to give Nigerians confidence that there is a direct and plausible path towards government-instituted progress, particularly considering the challenges the nation and its people face. Failure to share those details will reinforce the impression that many have that Goodluck Jonathan is no different than his predecessor and the many other Nigerian leaders that promised everything only to deliver nothing.

Jonathan must also be reminded that following Yar'Adua's example of giving important interviews to the foreign press instead of speaking to the Nigerian people, is misguided. The acting President's aspirations, be they to create improvements or potentially run for political office in the future, will be aided by expressing key ideas about Nigeria to Nigerians first. That will go a long way to reinforce that his priorities are in line with the citizens he represents and not international interests.

Despite any missteps, all well-meaning Nigerians and others wish Jonathan and his cabinet the best. However, neither he or Nigeria's other powerful figures can ignore that the people are no longer as patient as they have been in the past. Consequently, Jonathan needs to spend every waking moment making sure the promises he has made, happen.

Hattip to Webround

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cpafrica said...

I too felt Goodluck Jonathan held his own in a calm, confident manner. Was proud. All we can do is wait and see in the coming months if he will match the rhetoric he delivered both in the interview and in Washington in general. Fingers crossed and hoping :)

webround said...

Yes, you're right about giving interviews to the local media too, but sometimes the interview at the world stage is pretty important too. And truth be told, of late the Nigerian [print] press leaves a lot to be desired. You open up the newspapers and the English is horrible, the articles are riddled with grammatical and spelling errors that shows whoever wrote the article did not bother to use a spell checker. The media is also full of sensational journalism. You were right in saying that Jonathan was diplomatic in answering the question about Yardua but Punch newspapers had a headline - 'Family hiding Yardua from us, says Jonathan'. This was supposedly based on Jonathan's interview with Amanpour.

As he rightly point out, I do not believe much can be done in terms of power before the expiration of the current tenure but I believe he's right in saying that you don't need several years to be able to conduct an election that is at least 70% credible.


@ cpafrica: "All we can do is wait and see in the coming months if he will match the rhetoric he delivered both in the interview and in Washington in general. Fingers crossed and hoping.

Exactly. It is a waiting game and like you, I am hoping because the fact he said he wants to empower the necessary institutions versus the people in those institutions is a key ingredient for the success of democracy in Nigeria. Anyway, like you say, let's wait and see.

Thanks so much for staring the conversation.

@ webround: nice to see you. With regard to your response about speaking to the media, note I said "speak[] to the Nigerian people". I specifically termed the sentence that way partly because of the very valid concerns you raise. I do not believe that Jonathan needs to speak to Nigerians via local media, though that would of course be nice. The federal government has access to radio and television airwaves which could be used to give a short (or long) speech/talk about what main objectives he hopes to achieve.

I simply believe that Nigerian leaders must start to speak to the people, instead of forcing Nigerians to get pertinent news about their country from the foreign press. Obviously, the local press needs to step up. Your example of the Punch headline is damning.

Anyway, how are things? As I confessed, I was happy to see how well Jonathan did in the interview and of course happy to hear him express some of his goals for the administration. It is not easy being under the spotlight and I wish him the best of luck for Nigeria's sake.

mingus said...

I believe he did well also. For almost 4 yrs now we have not had an articulate voice to speak for Nigeria and Nigerians, all we have had is a seeming reluctance from the ailing leader to engage with the outside world. maybe that was due in part to his illness, that aside, we have to be able to involve and engage in world politics, and Jonathan seems to be able to do this. Impressive interview!

t said...

Talk is cheap. Still, I wish Jonathan the best. I wish him
1. good intentions and
2. Nigerian citizens that push him to accomplish electoral reform, electric power, ...

Chic Therapy said...

i googled up naija blogs and i found this page.Nice to know someone has a blog that deals with Nigerian political issues.

Anonymous said...

Yet to read the above post but, my first reaction is based on a discourse i had with a colleague.

How come when Yaradua granted an interview on BBC (& other foreign media stations) all hell is let lose, yet, Jonathan granted an interview with CNN and silence....

Hmm, funny but, seems to me that it has now been 'confirmed' Nigerian Media Stations are simply not at par with their foreign ones. Something needs to be done.

olusimeon said...

@ rethots.. i think it was just because that was a radio interview..from someone who we were not sure was alive..hence the apprehension..

Anonymous said...

It's really good to hear a Nigerian leader that seems to have an acute understanding of what needs to be done and a clear idea of how to do it. I hope he manages to achieve some of his benchmarks before the next election. I really like the way that he stressed the importance of the electoral institution rather than the person in charge; if he can manage to set INEC up to hold credible elections i think he will have done a lot.

Like you, i also liked how he addressed the Jos question. It's too easy and lazy to cast the problem as religious violence.I've been making the same point and now i can pull up the clip of the acting president saying exactly that to support me.

Whether he runs for the presidency or not, Goodluck Jonathan is one politician i'd like to see more of.


@ rethots: maybe you should have read the post as it in fact noted the problems that speaking to the foreign press before addressing Nigerians could create for Jonathan.

Consequently, I think it might be unfair to suggest that there was no reaction on that point. But going further, equating this interview with Yar'Adua's BBC interview (not sure which of the 2 main ones you are referring to) would be wrong.

On the 2 occasions that Yar'Adua gave an interview to the BBC they were done during key moments in the history and stability of the nation. The first was given when he was running for President and was rushed to Germany in 2007. We all know how tense election time is in Nigeria and can recall how dire things seemed when it was widely reported that he was dead. He then miraculously popped up to give an audio interview to the BBC's Hausa Service which broadcasts in Hausa and thus serves only a part of the Nigerian audience, in addition to being a foreign media outlet.

His second audio 'sighting' was when again, Nigerians were worried about the state of the nation's politics due to a sick President whose absence created a dangerous political vacuum and climate. Instead of speaking to the people via the many means afforded a President, be it audio or visual, this President again opted to speak to a segment of Nigerians via a foreign media outlet.

Compare that to Jonathan who was abroad, in Washington DC and allowed a foreign journalist to come and interview him during a period that is not as tense as those that preceded Yar'Adua's BBC interviews, the second of which was alleged to be a sham by a widely read and respected online publication. The only similarities between Jonathan and Yar'Adua on this matter are that they gave relevant information to the foreign press instead of discussing important matters with their constituents. But if one was to look further and take context into account, I find it hard to not see Yar'Adua's actions as a slap in the face to Nigerians that should not be tolerated. Couple with that the fact that Yar'Adua met with religious leaders but not political leaders and particularly those who have been 'elected' into office. The disrespect is rife and thus far, Jonathan's actions are yet to amount to such egregiousness. But if they ever do, I will be sure to call him out on it.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope all is well with you and yours.

Beauty said...

I loved the subliminal messages about "please send more cash" as we are trying to set up a fund in order to beef up security in the flash points. Debunking poor Jonathan by a world savvy CNN hack justifies the age old saying I would not repeat here. Its unfortunate to see that our best is not good enough. Ill prepared to sell his story in the middle of a hellish election year as the "evil genius" buys his way in. What will it take to educate our people?

beauty said...

ps I think the new NGN CURIOSITY sleek look is very nice.

RE - Entrepod said...

I think he did a wonderful job. I watched it today and he was good. he made me proud when he said that he was from the delta. never have we had a delta president in Nigeria. I hope that he runs and wins the full term as he seems to have things working in his favor. his explanation of the problems in Jos were clear. it is not religion, it's factionalism. no one has explained it as well as that before.

that's what the world needs to hear, is that internal politics within Nigeria is being sorted out by someone who is capable of NOT being a part of the barracks old boys club.

Goodluck Jonathon has the right name, and he's trying to do the job. that's something to be well proud of.

Excellent Post My Sister. we should send him our spray of prayers and support.

Anonymous said...

What've you done for me lately? That's the question Nigerians should be asking of any potential candidate for the presidency. Names like Duke (Cross River State), Fashola (Lagos State)spring to mind. Their slogans could easily be: Give me four years and I'll make Nigeria like Calabar or Lagos. Nigerians want action, and a resume pointing to a tangible, visible, achievement won't hurt. For Goodluck, make the lights stay on 24/7, there is affordable, plentiful gas (petrol), affordable, plentiful basic food stuff, reduction of crime, and clean streets. Good governance is the enemy of curruption. If these things are put in place within the year, then he should be a shoo-in.

Agbada-wearing, thieving old style politicians like Babangida should be laughed off the stage. It was his ilk who ushered in the currupt, descrepit mindset that perneates the Nigerian society today. The question today is not "if" a Nigerian politician will steal the country's money, but "how much" he or she will steal. Sad. Unfortunately IBB stands a good chance of winning if he runs. Money talks. Unless Goodluck makes good on his word to immunize the election commisiion from curruption, nothing will change.

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