As the screening of ministerial nominees for appointment into President Jonathan’s new cabinet gathers steam, all the relevant factors and forces responsible for the process are also taking shape. However, one of such developments has unfortunately not been so positive. It has to do with President Jonathan’s failure to keep his promise of constituting a Government of National Unity (GNU) in sync with his April 2011 pan-Nigerian electoral mandate.

Meeting with leaders of opposition political parties on June 28, 2011 in Abuja Jonathan said he was facing opposition from his ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the subject. “I am under intense pressure from my party, I am sorry about that,” Jonathan reportedly told Ondo and Anambra Governors, Mimiko and Obi respectively. Both governors’ parties, the Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had endorsed Jonathan as their presidential candidate during the April election.

Jonathan rode to power on the crest of a multi-party support given to him by Nigerians from all political persuasions. Buoyed by such support, he felt obliged to constitute a GNU that would be broadly representative of more political perspectives even though the three leading opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) opted against it.

Jonathan followed this promise shortly after his victory by asking Mimiko and Obi to forward nominees for his new cabinet only to backtrack on that commitment three days ago.

While I don’t endorse the idea of a GNU under normal circumstances, I think that when a leader commits to it, he should be decisive and honest enough to see the commitment through. I agree with an APGA chieftain who opined that: “[APGA] ought to have rejected the [GNU] offer to preserve the dignity of the party like the ACN and the CPC that [did so] from the outset.”

Reacting to Jonathan’s GNU u-turn, the LP National Chairman, Dan Nwanyanwu, said amongst other things that “It is the President himself that announced to the whole world that he would run a Government of National Unity…So, if he has decided on his own and his party (PDP) to withdraw from it, he is entitled to it. It is his own word against his own word.”

Seriously, this development depicts Jonathan once again as a president who lacks the will power to confront a political establishment whose best interest is not the greatest good for the greatest majority. The PDP’s June 15 executive meeting had kicked against Jonathan’s ministerial list because it was dominated by technocrats outside the party. To his credit, Jonathan made an effort to convince the PDP to accept his GNU agenda. At the June 15 meeting he had said: “I want to plead with you that I will not want to run a government of opposition party or main party. I want us to collectively run a Nigerian government, a government that will take the interests of the country at heart and work towards solving our problems…” More often, however, it takes great will, beyond words, to transform ideals into actions.

Jonathan’s lack of will power was also referred to recently on June 18, 2011 by a source close to World Bank Managing Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who stated that the former minister and technocrat might not take up a ministerial portfolio under Jonathan because she is not convinced of his determination to afford her the needed support to embark on drastic restructuring plans. “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala succeeded because of the support she got from former President Obasanjo. She has insisted that for every successful minister, there is always a determined and strong-willed President.”

Jonathan’s multi-party cabinet plan crashes
By Chiawo Nwankwo, June 29, 2011

Cabinet: Okonjo-Iweala snubs President
By Obiora Ifoh, June 18, 2011

Jonathan’s cabinet: Why opposition party members didn’t make list
By Peter Anosike, July 1, 2011


Posted September 28, 2011 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa

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