“I reject my share of this national insult”- Wole Soyinka (2014)
Those were the words of the respected Nobel Laureate, as he rejected the Centenary Award that equally honored General Sani Abacha, the renowned murderer, kleptomaniac and deranged ruler that presided over the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians. Our President, not seeing fit to honor a playwright and freedom fighter like Ken Saro-Wiwa, proudly honored Abacha: so out of touch, yet to insensitive.
There is no doubt in my mind, that a sizeable proportion of people that stood in the sun in 2011 to cast their ballot- be they voters for the current president or not, are quite disappointed by the turn of event under the Jonathan Administration. And who won’t be? This was a man that imbued the hopes of many, an “at last” educated person from a minority ethnic stock sent to preside over the affairs of a majority hegemony that have defied all logic since 1960.
Every Nigerian should want the President to succeed, and why not? Even those of us, that did not cast our ballot for him, gave him some benefit of doubt as he took the oath of office on May 2011. It was a simple calculation – his success was our success. Our nation, that holds so much hope and promise since its amalgamation 100 years ago, may once again bear out the hopes of her citizens and shoulder the responsibility of leading the black race on the global stage as destiny had placed on her shoulders (or so, we thought).
We, as her citizens, may once again hold out our passports across world capitals with pride, and stand tall to our name as Nigerians; instead of filing them away in shame as socio-political conditions push millions of our countrymen into refugees in their own land. Alas, we hoped too early!
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s Achilles knees interestingly may not be for lack of achievement in areas his diminutive predecessors failed woefully. It may not be for lack of roads, gleaming airports or attempts made to fix our perennial power problem. Mr. Jonathan however will take home the “Oscars” for weak leadership and above all an utter lack of sophistication in governance. More than anything, these “intangibles” undermine nations and institutions, and can be more fatal than a symbolic strong leadership with no fundamental achievements. When push comes to shove, leadership is about what you project to your followership – confidence, integrity and a unified sense of purpose: and on these three counts our President has failed serially even if his army of cheerleaders insists nothing is wrong.
Indeed, of all failings - the current administration’s greatest negative has been their inability to read the mood of the nation. When the nation wants action, they present timidity. When we asked for a leader, we got a complainer-in-chief. When history beckoned to this President to lead us to confront the hydra-headed monster of terrorism, our nation got platitudes and hundreds of children and mothers have been slaughtered at his behest. While “Jonathanians” (his core loyalists) will want us to believe some grand conspiracy is behind the serial violence, and that the Nigerians living in the states somehow brought this on themselves, the public is increasingly insisting that they elected a commander-in-chief not a chief-mourner.
The President’s coterie of advisers and men he has chosen to surround himself with, of course have done him no favor either. This President has surrounded himself with some of the most dimwitted that you can find in this clime. Mostly shallow men, with very shallow mental affiliation: his coterie of bootlickers, sycophants and ‘yes-men’ clowning as advisors range from the apostate Abati, to the rehabilitated criminal called Asari Dokubo. Lest we forget the President’s chief advisors are jail birds Bode George and impeached Governor Alamieyeseigha; we now have certified criminals living in Aso Rock: not like the reputation of past occupants are any better of course.
His ministerial picks are bettered forgotten; mostly dead woods without portfolio that stand guard as foxes over the pen house. This is an open secret in Abuja. The stench of corruption over this Presidency, has taken on a toga of the fabled, “It is our time to chop” paradox, and it does not bode well for the generality of the country. And oh, the recently Petroleumgate cum Sanusi scandal is just a tip of the iceberg.
The height of the presidential cluelessness now pervading Nigeria of course is the rabid narrow mindedness of those now manning the wheels of our state. In their minds, a threat of withdrawal of security cover from the North East is okay since that part of the country did not vote for the President! Indeed, they’ve threatened to stop Lagos-Ibadan expressway as retribution, blurted treason over threats of impeachment – a case of foot-in-mouth disease if you ask me, cancelled routine meetings of the economic council because they’re outnumbered in the Governors’ council, and repeatedly heated up the polity while shaping presidential appointments with a bend so narrow, it makes our previous experience seem like rehearsals.
After all is said and done, this President might just be a man that has misjudged his place in history. He might be a man that has utterly confused leading with screws and spanners. Here was a man, installed by the masses but who abandoned them with his poor messaging, subpar selection of individuals that bear his message and an acute tone deafness that makes Queen Marie Antoinette of revolutionary France look like gentle old Mother Theresa.
Even as surely as we expect the President’s men to begin to deploy their bag of tricks as we march towards 2015, one things is needless to say: the serial escapism of the bunch, the lack of acute awareness of the feelings of the masses and the narrowing scope of the select team surrounding this presidency may be its ultimate undoing. Nigerians expect better from their President, and 2015 after all may be a game of expectations. The world around us is changing fast, and if anyone tells you they know what the future holds for this President and his men, tell them you have a bridge to sell them over the Benue.