After observing a trend of major embarrassing and ridiculous foreign policy actions by President Goodluck Jonathan in the period leading up to January 2011, I wrote a damning piece entitled President Jonathan’s Foreign Policy Blunders which was published in the February 2011 issue of the prominent pan-African monthly, New African magazine. Vide

The blunders I cited, like for instance, when Jonathan naively announced, soon after the 2010 World Cup, that he was pulling Nigeria out of all FIFA engagements for two years, clearly violating an existing statute, only to disgracefully backtrack a few days later following a warning from FIFA, were so glaring that they didn’t need a rigorous political mind like mine to decipher.

For the benefit of the doubt, one would have said Jonathan was only a few months old in the presidency then and really was yet to master how to go about, especially, the tough domain of foreign policy.

Fast-forward to January 28, 2012. On this auspicious first day of the 18th Ordinary Session of the African Union assembly, credible news reports emerged from diverse local and international news agencies that President Goodluck Jonathan was going to bid for the one-year rotational African Union chairmanship – since the slot had been given to the West African region. Without thinking, I, like many other discerning Nigerians immediately picked holes with the idea and took turns to lambast Jonathan for it on twitter and otherwise. Jonathan must be a very clueless president indeed to have even given the idea a thought. Here’s why.

To begin with, Jonathan evidently has the most pressing domestic agenda in West Africa in 2012 if not beyond. From security to much-needed petroleum industry reforms, to combating extreme corruption to education, agriculture, infrastructure and others, Jonathan’s domestic plate is so full that only if he didn’t realise that it needs his total and squarely undivided attention, would he stupidly consider wanting to add some other post, especially one with foreign policy implications, even if it would be the largely ceremonial AU chairmanship.

Beyond that, only a naive President Jonathan would have thought that he was in the good books of his West African (ECOWAS) colleagues and had their support going into the contest. An Aso Villa source on Nigeria’s AU summit delegation said Jonathan made a last-minute thrust for the position but was ferociously opposed by Ghana and other West African leaders who preferred to queue behind Benin’s president and the eventual winner, Boni Yayi. “The president decided in the last minute to stand as a way of boosting our country’s profile but it turned out to be very damaging for our country’s reputation as tiny African countries rose against us. We felt ashamed,” the presidency source said.

Indeed, and as the presidency source also added, “The truth is that a lot of members believe President Jonathan’s chairmanship of ECOWAS has been anything but inspiring.” I fully concur. Recall that at the onset of Cote-d’Ivoire’s political stalemate, following the disputed 2010 presidential elections, Jonathan, as ECOWAS Chairman, singlehandedly and again naively committed himself to backing a military ousting of Gbagbo when African and even international bodies were still seeking diplomatic means to end the quandary. West Africa’s other powerhouse, Ghana, had notably opposed the military option.

Secondly, when the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that do not support gay rights coming as it were, on the heels of the passage of an anti-gay bill by Nigeria’s Senate, it was surprisingly Ghana’s President, Atta Mills, who, showing great regional leadership, spoke openly and boldly against the British threat, emphasising his country’s and Africa’s overwhelming opposition to homosexuality. Jonathan has never personally spoken on the issue.

In addition, Nigeria presently holds the ECOWAS chairmanship and also has the current Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament in the person of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu. It is only normal and fair that any other major regional responsibility should not be shouldered by yet another Nigerian. I just can’t fathom how President Jonathan and his advisers couldn’t see this.

Furthermore, on January 7, 2012, Jonathan, in an effort to commit his government to cut its hugely wasteful costs, announced that “overseas travels by all political office holders, including the President, should be reduced to the barest minimum…only trips that are absolutely necessary will be approved.” If Jonathan had won the AU chairmanship, he would have been forced to seriously act against that commitment and further strain an already capital-unfriendly budget as it would have required him to move around Africa more regularly than otherwise to preside over key AU functions. Mind you, the AU does not fund its ceremonial Chairman’s travels. This begs the question if Jonathan really knew what he was going into after all.

Thus, from the domestic, diplomatic, and moral standpoints, Jonathan was never going to qualify to earn West Africa’s 2012 AU Chairmanship slot. Not even an unconvincing reaction today by Jonathan’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, denying that Jonathan contested for the office can assuage the fact of the matter. Indeed, most of what this administration has treated Nigerians to in recent times, has comprised lies and counter-lies. In all, by being asked to back down by his fellow West African leaders after he uninstructedly indicated his interest in the AU Chairmanship, Jonathan and Nigeria became the subject of yet another diplomatic ridicule and deservingly suffered what would constitute good riddance to bad rubbish!


Posted January 30, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Aso Villa


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  1. LMFAO…if he was nt defeated, why didnt he withdraw his interest like Gambia did. Abati can say dat to his village people nt to we educated nigerians. Bunch of opportunists.

  2. Dis president is a DISGRACE

  3. MR PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN did not contest for the Chairman of African Union(AU) neither did he loose the seat. He was not even nominated for the post, according to him he wants to take soul responsibity of restoring peace and normalcy to Nigeria.

    He is the Ecowas chairman, then how do you expect him to take up another broader responsibility as big as handling Africa.

    Is not true! Do you want him to kick the bucket before his time or to be down with high BP taking care of Nigeria, west Africa and again Africa at large.

    God'swill Odilanma Lawrence
    • First point of correction, God’swill: You said GEJ wasn’t nominated for the post but you should know that the official Aso Rock statement says he was but rejected it. Lies! Secondly, I didn’t say GEJ contested. Mind you, I said he SOUGHT to contest. He was told to let go. There was no contest. The reports about the incident came from many local and international media outlets. No one could have framed up such a story against a clueless president. The statement by Abati refuting the truth of the incident is just to save face! If you trust this government and their numerous lies (see fuel subsidy probe; see wasteful spending by Aso Rock), you’ll have to think again.

  4. May God help nigerians, all i want from President Goodluck is Τ̅☺ state his agendas aπϑ Τ̅☺ focus on it knowing fully well that he meant well for Nigerians
    In that case he should initiate policies that will help unite Nigeria aπϑ all Africans Countries.
    If Goodluck should contest again he will win

  5. On the issue of AU chairmanship he can’t take ecowas aπϑ AU its not possible
    May God help nigerians, all i want from President Goodluck is Τ̅☺ state his agendas aπϑ Τ̅☺ focus on it knowing fully well that he meant well for Nigerians
    In that case he should initiate policies that will help unite Nigeria aπϑ all Africans Countries.
    If Goodluck should contest again he will win

  6. Jonathan’s Myopic vision n totalitarianism will soon make him A Hoist wit his own petard! Mark my word.

  7. I came here, hoping to find at least one “credible” source to negate my blind stance that Jonathan was not “disgraced” in the election since he did not participate in it. But I was disappointed.

    Forget this GEJ hate. What are your sources that Jonathan made a bid or even showed interest to contest in the election? “Credible news reports emerged from diverse local and international news agencies”? What happened to posting at least one link to such legion of credible sources? (Please, just don’t mention Sahara Reporters). How can a man loose an election he did not contest in? This is irresponsible journalism from a “rigorous political mind”, and I see now why professionals and intellectuals feared for the Future of the News.

    Jonathan s not the best man in the country. I am not one bit happy with his style or performance either. But I hate calumny, rumor mongering and lies. You have the platform to inform and educate people today. Report responsibly and in the interest of posterity.

    • Hi Mikel. Thanks for sharing your insightful comment.
      Let me begin by stating that I never said anywhere in my write-up that Jonathan lost an election. I said he SOUGHT to contest! Indeed, he showed an interest to contest. You asked for a link or two. Check these out:
      By the way, what made you think I would refer you to SaharaReporters? Please, you should learn to react maturely, without levying assumptions.

      My write-up is no calumny and neither is it rumour-mongering. I have said it before. Let me say it again: The presidency denied those reports only to save face. You’ll be very naive to trust the flimsy excuses of the Jonathan administration any time it is caught up in a trap of some misstep.

      Also, you wrongfully assumed that I hate Jonathan. I don’t. I simply dislike his very poor performance in governance and that doesn’t amount to me hating him.

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