It looked like a scene on a modern theater stage re-enacting a familiar but long-forgotten incident of the primordial days. A man from the world of modern civilization lost in the jungle and straying into a group of primitive, vicious and savage natives of an island never before discovered. He is encircled by the bewildered hunters, scantily dressed in straws knitted to cover the waist and down to the middle of the thigh. They chant war songs pointing their spears at their new captive from all directions in readiness for the next level â tie him to the stake and make him confess his mission.
No. This was neither a theater stage nor a movie scene. It was the President of modern-day Nigeria elegantly dressed and sitting humbly and quietly on a low-cut chair surrounded by traditional Chiefs that are of no political value to an imported system of constitutional democracy. Equally dressed in elegant and flowing attires, the Chiefs point some rods at him from all directions in a hierarchical symbol that leaves no one in doubt, who the boss is and who is at the mercy of who. Once again, it was the President of Nigeria consumed by the sweat of desperation hunting for votes and favor in a battle for his political life.
Stunned observers stand agape and ask themselves what this is all really about. Never in the history of this nation, which houses the highest population of black people all over the world, have symbolic appeals of weakness ever marked the strength of any sitting President who seeks to send a message of capability as a leader in the quest to be elected. After all, while a delicate balance between âhumilityâ and âstrengthâ is always struck through images to send citizens the message of a perfect blend of a servant-leader, care is always taken to avoid going to extremes.
In 2008, when the African spirit in President Barack Obama came out of him and he prostrated slightly before the elderly King Akihito of Japan while shaking hands, conservative America was up in arms. They cautioned the President reminding him that symbols mattered when a nation as great as America was being represented on the diplomatic stage. With time however President Obama has gained more self-confidence and is much more at home to the responsibilities of symbols in representing vast America.
Not so President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. After six years on the saddle of power and representation, he is still completely oblivious or has a complete misunderstanding of the significance of symbols and images. He has gradually transformed into the crawling President, who needs to fall on his knees wherever he goes for the purpose of sending a message across that he is a humble and DOWN to earth character. Unfortunately, the cumulative and long-term psychological impact of weakness and humiliation inherently symbolized by such acts seems to have been underrated, ignored or simply denied by the President and his handlers. Today, no one is in doubt, who the comical jester is.
Yet no one is surprised. How else could it be different in electoral campaigns that are not managed by people who shielded him from exposure four years ago? After all six years at the center of power have shown sufficient incompetence, ineptitude and sheer emptiness. These have all being the defining attributes for which the President is lying low rather than standing tall. He never hears the laughter. He never hears the mockery. His minders do not too. The doors are either closed when people laugh aloud or they hold their hands before their mouth and pretend to sneeze and cough. All in the hallowed lounge of the diplomatic edifice!
This is the President of Nigeria, who controls the largest economy in Africa. But no one foresaw the desperation. No observer saw it coming. No one knew that President Jonathan would try everything humanly possible â from sabotage to treasury-plundering â to truncate a process to cover his tracks and fulfill his dreams.
Boko Haram has sufficiently offered proof of sabotage and signs are increasing that official Nigeria has had a hand in entrenching Boko Haram for political calculations. Questions have mounted that are still begging for answers. What happened to Senator Ndume till the present moment, who was openly implicated in the crimes of Boko Haram? He was reported to have provided the telephone numbers of prominent politicians to the terrorists and partook in identifying targets of attack. Yet there was no public trial. No repercussion. A terrorist was nabbed in the official residence of a government leader in Abuja. There was no prosecution to say the least of public confessions. I have written several articles revealing my findings in interaction with several Northern compatriots from Borno State. I have written about people, who are said to have often reported Boko Haram activities in their neighborhood to the Joint Task Force only for them to be visited by the terrorists and gunned down for betrayal. This pattern is also familiar to every Southerner who dares to report robbery and kidnapping activities in his neighborhood to the police. I have written about army checkpoints cleared and vacated to allow free passage for Boko Haram convoys only to be remounted after the passage.
Soldiers have revolted over suspicious deployment to fronts where they are outgunned by Boko Haram. Soldiers have been court-marshaled and sentenced to death for complaining about corruption by service chiefs, who divert money to their pockets rather than procure weapons for the battle. The media have reported cases of soldiers voluntarily giving up their bases upon hearing one distant shot fired by Boko Haram. President Obasanjo has quoted President Jonathan as referring to the Boko Haram killings as âthey killing themselvesâ. Nigerians are aware of a half-hearted State of Emergency declared in some northern states that was never truly meant to eradicate Boko Haram. Nigerians have questioned how Boko Haram often procured brand new armored cars that were not taken from captured military bases. They are weapons that cannot be hidden in bags to cross a nationâs border. Rather than doing what is right, the President took to blaming other countries for not selling weapons when there were many more countries to procure weapons quietly from without the public knowing who sold and who didnât sell. Security votes in budgetary allocations soared and soared. Yet weapons arsenal kept diminishing while General Ihejirika and many other Generals became millionaires overnight.
Now, the humiliation is perfect and only the so-called service chiefs and the President are not ashamed of the sober reality. Rather than gaining fame in battle, military chiefs have now become politicians interfering in election schedules and judging which politician is a disgrace to the military. Smaller neighbors have now come to our rescue and have repeatedly shown to us, how easy it is to chase the rag-tag Boko Haram out of conquered territories. Now, they have openly accused the Nigerian authorities of protecting the leader of Boko Haram from capture and elimination. They have ridiculed the Nigerian army for their habit of bolting for life when Boko Haram comes calling.
Jonathan does not hear them laugh. He does not hear them mock and jeer. He is desperate to cover his tracks by winning the presidency by all means. And I strongly doubt that his tracks comprise mere omissions. Jonathanâs tracks smell of active involvement in the atrocities of Boko Haram that he now wishes to clear as much as he can before someone else takes the saddle. Posterity will never forgive General Muhammadu Buhari, if in the highly likely event of winning the Presidency, he discovers that Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has actively sponsored a faction of Boko Haram and sweeps the finding beneath the carpet.
The futility of his smear campaign, dirty tricks and character assassination notwithstanding, President Jonathan is plundering the countryâs treasury spreading and sharing billions of Naira to interest groups in the hope that his lost cause can still be salvaged.
It is also becoming obvious by the day, that Mr. Goodluck Jonathan is just not alone in this naughty game played and propagated by a barely visible âaxisâ of evil. There is the segment of the Niger Delta milking the nationâs treasury dry through royalties and benefits for no defined services. Booze-man and dragon protector Pa Edwin Clark is one in this category. The category further includes nominal ex-militants who still threaten militancy to coerce the nation having been assigned the duty to protect oil pipelines with the virtual free ticket of self-service in oil trade. The second category includes oil marketers and many more looters, who indulge in bogus and fraudulent contracts that are aimed at enriching themselves for virtually worthless to zero services rendered. The so-called importers of attack helicopters readily come to mind in the wake of Americaâs refusal to sell military hardware to the Jonathan regime, which is now halfway visibly involved in the atrocities of Boko Haram. This category also includes sundry benefactors of illegal funding for the production of attack video footages on political opponents, collaborative prosperity pastors, who share billions to preach support for Jonathan and many more including local Chiefs. The third segment of the axis of evil houses the beneficiaries of the security vote that have long feasted on the activities of Boko Haram for personal benefits.
This axis of evil has always had a stake in Jonathan and has worked very hard to reinvest a part of its stolen money in the sponsorship of many foot soldiers including readers, who write pro-Jonathan comments on online news media. In spite of all these though, the future stubbornly remains bleak for Jonathan. Some locals have stated unequivocally that they will vote Muhammadu Buhari as President even if he produces an electricity bill as his secondary school certificate. Some have stated clearly that they will vote Muhammadu Buhari even if he was seen taking his last breath on an emergency stretcher on Election Day. These are all messages that show the depth of public rejection suffered by Goodluck Jonathan. âYou can fool some people some time. You cannot fool all the people all of the time.â These are the legendary words of Commodore Fidel Castro in the days of the Cuban Revolution.
Today, Jonathanâs strongest enemy remains the international community that will never accept any illegal interference on his part, in the electoral process that the Permanent Votersâ Card also seeks to forestall. It is an international community that begins with our immediate small neighboring countries, who have had reasons in recent days, to express the nature of respect or lack thereof that they have for Mr. Goodluck Jonathan. The President of Chad Mr. Idriss Derby has been more vocal in this respect.
Yet, I empathize with Nigerians, who in spite of all these woes that Jonathan represents, still stake all that they have on an imaginary Jonathanâs victory at the polls come March 28, 2015. Asked what qualified Jonathan for re-election, they will hardly advance any fact-based argument but simply tell you to your face that âAbokiâ (meaning Major-General Muhammadu Buhari) should never again be allowed to rule Nigeria. They will tell you how sick and tired they are, of the Northernerâs born-to-rule attitude. This is virtually the point in time that I lose my patience and regrettably flip in sadness for my country. If, in this zero hour of captivity in the dungeon of cluelessness and classlessness, all that we still have time to worry about is the superficial and artificial problem of tribal division and detestation, I regrettably pray that the last man turns off the light wherever the future of unborn generations is staked.
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