Thursday, February 11, 2010

The headline writes itself...

which must be why everyone is using the same one: Goodluck, Mr. Jonathan.

Mr. Goodluck Jonathan is now the acting president of Nigeria. Nigeria's president has been out of country the last three months in a Saudi Arabian hospital. The Constitution says he ought to have let the National Assembly know he would be indisposed and unable to govern so they could appoint a successor. He didn't. The National Assembly is only supposed to appoint a successor if they impeach the old one. They didn't. It's a bit of a rule of law mess.

Pres. Jonathan's story is quite interesting. A professor of zoology, he ran for state legislature, only to be chosen as the vice-governor. When the governor was impeached for corruption, he became governor. Two years later, he was selected to be the vice-president, and he is now president.

I recall watching an engaging interview with Nigeria's foreign minister (Ojo Maduekwe) on BBC's Hardtalk. The reporter kept trying to get him to say, "Yes, our country is in shambles and everyone is running around like a chicken with her head cut off because our leader isn't here." Instead he repeated how long he had worked with the former president and claimed that he was familiar with the president's views on foreign policy. They would stay the course until new instructions arrived.

I found myself wondering if an African journalist would quiz Hillary Clinton like that on foreign policy if (Heaven forbid) Pres. Obama were out of commission for a few months. Reviewers kept describing the foreign minister and uncomfortable and fumbling. I thought him professional in a very difficult situation and patient with a hostile interviewer. You can watch it for yourself here. It starts about -11:20 minutes (out of -14:50). Hat tip: Africa is a Country

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