What ‘good press’ in Nigeria means
By Don Baridam, PhD
Since the “BringBackOurGirls” protests started after we learnt that about 276 girls were abducted by the radical Islamic group called Boko Haram on April 14th, 2014, there is nothing that many commentators have not compared President Goodluck Jonathan to in this trial period of our history as a nation. There has been what I perceive as induced slams on the President. These slams are what is regarded these days in Nigeria as ‘good press’, especially by the opposition groups and some individuals.
Anything contrary and most appropriate is regarded as a ‘bad press’. Some have said that Mr. President is weak, clueless and runs no government. But in my own opinion, Jonathan for who he has always been is only demonstrating his true self: A man who is quiet, patient, tolerant, objective and unassuming. The President does not need to be boisterous in order to run his government, what people need to understand is his knack for productivity and appreciation for constructive suggestions/ criticisms.
Perhaps, what these agents of disinformation expect is a President that is high handed and autocratic but unfortunately these are undemocratic methods that would rather fuel unimaginable crisis in the country and not expected of a man with the qualities earlier mentioned.
While we are all bothered by the current trend of militant activities and insurgency threatening our existence as a nation, it would be foolhardy to expect our President to engage in war of words with any religious sect after all our forebears have done to keep Nigeria together irrespective of tribe and religious beliefs. The subtle but yet firm approach of the Jonathan administration in tackling the Boko Haram menace has not yet given us respite but clearly we can see that the notorious sect has succumbed to negotiations through kidnaps like the sad incident of our 276 girls.
To get to the root of our discontents as a people, Jonathan was able to put us together for a National Conference currently sitting in Abuja to address all our desires and misgivings. This in itself even in the face of criticisms is most welcome but the “good / bad press’’ issue would not give peace a chance. Criticism must be objective and constructive enough to prompt a sitting President to appreciate its value, however what we see in our dailies is completely at variance with progressive values. Politicians whether in a ruling party or not must desist from making inflammatory comments capable of causing problems that could ordinarily be contained.
Nigeria without doubt is becoming a great country under Jonathan’s transformation agenda with an unconfirmed population of about two hundred million people; it is noteworthy to know that most sectors of our economy have improved appreciably. The recent rating placing the Nigerian Economy as one of the top three largest economies in Africa, with an industrial/agricultural sector GDP of 32% and 30% growth rate even with all the threats of Boko Haram depicts the efficacy and savvy of the Jonathan team.
In the area of unemployment which appears to be one of the issues frequently raised and has lived with us through successive administrations, Jonathan by providing funds in agricultural and other sectors has now provided the platform for genuine investors that would provide a vast number of employment opportunities to Nigerians. The privatization of power is a major success of his administration. We must all agree that one of the leading deficiencies we have suffered for generations now has been the lack of adequate power supply. This new development, a problem that only Jonathan has been bold enough to tackle, in no distant future will serve as the spring board for millions of employment avenues as manufacturing and production would be quadrupled.
President Goodluck Jonathan needs our cooperation and understanding as this will enable him achieve the remaining part of his promises to our people. We have to use our collective abilities in a productive way that would ultimately bring an end to the culture of violence and negative publicity that is fast becoming a trade mark. While the world over is protesting with the slogan of BringBackOurGirls, let us also BringBackOurCoexistence.
Prof. Baridam was Vice-chancellor UNIPORT (2005-2010). He contributed this piece from Khana, Ogoni, Rivers State.