"Goodluck Jonathan is as dour and uninspiring as everÔÇŽÔÇŽÔÇŽ-..."--- Pius Adesanmi
One has just read in the news that President Goodluck Jonathan has renamed the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan after the legendary sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. In the news item published by the NEXT newspaper of November 13, 2010, President Jonathan was reported to have "made the announcement during a visit to Ikenne home of the late politician as part of activities marking his 2-day official visit" to Ogun State.
It would amount to feigning ignorance to posit that one does not really know the objective of President Jonathan in embarking on this kind of pandering. It is one's assessment that this decision was a political move aimed at buying the hearts and the support of the people of the Southwest, the Yoruba people, to support his presidential bid in 2011 elections. Knowing how important the name Obafemi Awolowo and his memory are to the Yoruba people, President Jonathan obviously assumed right that this could give him some political leeway.
President Jonathan appropriated one's sympathy and support during his tribulations as the Vice President in the last days of President Umar Yar'Adua. It was very repugnant and nauseating how someone of his status could be treated in a very insulting and disrespectful way by a cabal who believed that Nigeria is their private property. Eventually, when he finally became THE PRESIDENT, one has been very reluctant to criticize him and hoping fervently that he would at least try to do things differently.
One was hoping that he would be a source of renewed hope to those of us who are tired of the arrangement called Nigeria and give us reasons to reconsider and believe. To this writer, his emergence was a point making to those who considered Nigeria as their "grandfather's estate" and a reason to tarry a little in the hope that may be, just may be, the political process, with him being an arrow head, would be able to cleanse itself as a prerequisite to cleansing the entire system. Nursing of this hope was not in oblivious of his trajectory from being the Deputy Governor in Bayelsa, the Governor of the same State, being briefly investigated for money laundering, becoming the Vice President to the point where he has become the President.
The nursing of this hope despite this trajectory, was predicated on how late General Murtala Ramat Muhammed who initially led a coup to propagate "interests of the North" eventually turned to "a born-again believer" in Nigeria as a country. Additionally, the way he made a turn from a corrupt military officer during the civil war to be an anti ÔÇô corruption crusader as a Head of State, to the point where he even had to be assassinated was also instructive in appropriation of this hope.
But so far, President Jonathan has succeeded to convey an array of confusing signals to those of us who have invested hope in his presidency. Corruption wise, his trajectory before he became the president was not reassuring and his actions since he became the president have been alarming and unsettling. It is this writer's view that President Jonathan's attitude to corruption has been frightening beyond initially anticipated. Obviously, his actions or decisions in regard to corruptibility and corruption which need not be rehashed here, have become indicative of his decisions in other areas of his governance and campaign as a presidential candidate for 2011 Elections.
It is this writer's assumption that the reason President Jonathan went to Ikenne in the first place was that he shared the philosophy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo both as a politician and as a leader. Without a doubt, President Jonathan's naming of a monument like the Liberty Stadium after Awolowo was a way of keeping alive the memory of Awolowo and probably because he (President Jonathan) believed in "Awolowo visions." President Jonathan was reported to have explained "the main ambition of Awolowo" as that meant "to improve the quality of life of Nigerians." President Jonathan also said inter alia:
"Chief Awolowo was a visionary leader. We will continue with his vision. We will continue with his dream to transform this great countryÔÇŽÔÇŽ."
Granted that Obafemi Awolowo was and still is an icon whose posthumous political goodwill could be appropriated by those who wish to do so, it should not be too much for such people, including President Jonathan, to at least show an inkling and a modicum of philosophical plagiarism in their governance as well as the way and manner they play their politics.
While, it seems that President Jonathan so far has only been able to pay lip service to "Awolowo visions" as he (President Jonathan) described it, his actions have been practically against the visions that he so eloquently eulogized. His appointment of Gbenga Daniel as his campaign coordinator in Ogun State is the greatest gaffe he has made since the declaration of his ambition as a presidential candidate for 2011 Elections. Gbenga Daniel has stood and fought against everything that could be described as "Awolowo vision" in Ogun State. In his eight years as the Governor of the unfortunate state, he has waged war against the people, depriving them of peace, tranquility, progress and communal harmony. He has been repeatedly accused and exposed by those who have worked with him as assassins' godfather.
Observers of Ogun State political terrain are aware of how Gbega Daniel has fought relentlessly, every cadre of the society, maiming numberless innocent citizens, disrespecting elders of different hue and clime, subverting laws and destabilizing orderliness. He allegedly sent his assassins after those he could not bought with lucre and unashamedly looted the state treasury. He introduced a new shameful interpretation of democracy where the minority has the power to upstage the majority. Like a relentless, furious mite, Gbenga Daniel has with confounding consistency, exerted unparalleled commitment and dedication to bring Ogun State to unmitigated mockery, ridicule and opprobrium.
This is the same Gbenga Daniel who brought the toxic Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida to contaminate the hallowed grounds of Abeokuta on his so-called birthday. This was in open disregard to the crimes that IBB committed during the Buhari- Idiagbon era when he (IBB) surreptitiously sent soldiers to ransack this same Ikenne home of Chief Awolowo in order to discredit the already discredited regime of deadly deaf duo to set the stage for his own coup of August 1985. This IBB was the same vermin that annulled the June 12 Elections that was won by a son of Abeokuta in M.K.O. Abiola.
President Jonathan's public endorsement of this kind of insensitive, arrogant, repulsive and shameless man as his coordinator in Ogun State showed that he (President Jonathan) has no respect for the people of Ogun State. This insensate relationship with Daniel seems tactless and thoughtless. It is like telling the people of Ogun State who are groaning under the yoke of a confused and psychologically challenged personality such as Gbenga Daniel to "go to hell." This action on the part of President Jonathan also shows that he has no good advisers around him who really wished him well. It is one thing to be "dour and uninspiring" as Pius Adesanmi described the President and it is another to convey an impression of political stupidity and dumbness to his increasingly dispirited and disenchanted well wishers.
Visiting Ikenne to pay homage to the matriarch and naming the Liberty Stadium after Chief Awolowo is a game that everyone understands that all political carpetbaggers play all of the time. It is not a new game. The God forsaken IBB played it before to wade off an onslaught of attack on his shenanigans as a military president. It worked only for a while before nemesis caught up with him. The people of the Southwest are not politically dumb and stupid and President Jonathan should not insult their intelligence. President Jonathan could not be romancing a malevolent person such as Gbenga Daniel on one hand and go on the roof tops to shout "Awo" and expect the Yoruba people to flock to him.
One could not in good conscience endorse a lot of mistakes and gaffes that President Jonathan has made since he became the president. But one is also not willing to discourage him from his ambition to rule Nigeria for the next four years or eight years depending on what he wants to do or how things turn out. This position is taken in lieu of the spirit of common ownership of the "estate" called Nigeria and in full cognizance of the horrid history of a particular oligarchy that has sought to monopolize its rulership since the flag independence. It is in this spirit that all of us have a rightful claim to the "estate" until we all know what to do with it. President Jonathan has not convinced the few of us who wish him well that he has what it takes to fashion the kind of change and the future we are anticipating.
When Gbenga Daniel was seen with IBB in Abeokuta, the world was not surprised per se. IBB has a reputation as an alleged murderer. This is not different from the image of Daniel as an alleged killer. They are birds of the same feather flocking together. But when President Jonathan chose to publicly frolic with Gbenga Daniel, some of us have begun to see and perceive him differently. Eulogizing Awolowo and sleeping in bed with Daniel are conflicting signals. And may be a message was being sent to the Yoruba people what kind of man Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is and will be, when he eventually grabs the handle of the sword. As a common Yoruba aphorism contends, "E je ki a ti bi isana, kiyesi oogun."
President Jonathan is behaving and acting as someone who does not comprehend what an "opportunity" means. He is acting as if he is oblivious of History. He appears blinded and bounded by the appurtenances of his present office. He is manifesting a blatant lack of understanding of the context in which he is operating. He seems incapable of overcoming a morbid myopia. His glaring but brawny inability to seize this moment and keep a date with History and Providence appears to be an unfolding tragedy.
One does not know if this is an accidental display of political naivety. Or it is just a gratuitous exudation of undue political sagacity. But without doubt, whatever the case is, there is need for an urgent realization of the fact that this kind of opportunity does not come all of the time. As things stand right now, President Jonathan, with his disconcerting conflicting signals, is aggressively disheartening his admirers and doggedly driving them into alternative political camps, few of which not unfortunately, are not unattractive, at least in the context of a Nigeria that is blatantly bursting at the seams.