Of all the nasty things I have heard people hurl angrily at President Goodluck Jonathan, I have never heard anyone accuse him of indecision or slowness to act. Jonathan is a great president because he is imbued with greatness. That is the hallmark of a statesman. A statesman needs to think slowly, carefully and must be willing to consult widely with superior beings and with people in his constituency. This is what Jonathan has been doing admirably in his quest to steer Nigeria in the direction of greatness.
A great leader must never be in a hurry to act. A great leader does not fret when everyone sweats. A statesman does not live by dreams because dreams are illusory. All forms of hallucination are reserved for ordinary men and women. Jonathan is not an ordinary man or president. As a great president, he lives by practical experiences and the iron will to survive. Jonathan is a man of uncommon courage.
Ever since he mounted the throne at Aso Rock, Jonathan has lived like a harmless king who applies the iron fist only when things get out of control. Everything is under control in Nigeria and so we don’t need a political Leviathan to govern us. Only weak leaders struggle to shepherd their flock. A nation of so many ethnic nationalities, so many religious groups, so many interest groups and so many dancers of fortune should be governed by a president such as Jonathan. We need a president who calls things as he sees them based on the sharpness of his vision. That attribute is highly needed among political leaders in Nigeria.
I have heard people make irresponsible comments about how corruption is consuming our lives in Nigeria. We like to exaggerate our national lifestyle. It may be true that corruption is oozing out of every government department, parastatal and ministry but everything is under control. It may be true that the stinking odour of gross abuse of office, corruption, and misappropriation of public funds is widespread in the country but it is also important to clarify two points. First, these criminal activities are no worse now than they were in the past. Second, Jonathan has only served as president for one year. He did not institute or instigate these fraudulent activities. He has no obligation to fight these crimes. We cannot attribute to our president illegal activities that preceded his government.
Fraudulent activities are perpetrated by senior officers and agents of the federal, state and local governments who were appointed to serve us. The president does not condone these evil men and women and he cannot take responsibility for their criminal behaviour. Everywhere you look in Nigeria, there is so much disorder and so much financial misconduct you have to wonder whether the country is now an open game in which people with the most criminal minds test their skills on how to strip the country of any remnants of resources and funds meant for the sustenance of the less privileged members of our society. But how do these problems concern Jonathan? The president can only do so much to the best of his abilities. The officers he appointed should do the rest and serve the nation to the best of their abilities too.
Every day, we read about how men and women in high places who have no scruples connived to undercut the system they were appointed to serve. Some people have said they are upset that we have a president who is neither hurrying nor willing to wrest control from the buccaneers who are determined to continue to plunder the resources of the state. This is an unfair criticism.
Look at the sleaze and disgusting acts of corruption that are emerging from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). What has Jonathan got to do with the shocking and imprudent use of funds by a group of highly placed officials of the SEC and the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE)? Soon, Jonathan’s political opponents and the agents of destabilisation will attempt to link Jonathan to that scandal. Jonathan has not even been elected president when the alleged corruption took place at the NSE and SEC. So, no one should ask the president to act to restore financial accountability and transparency at the SEC and the NSE.
On Monday this week, at the reconvened hearing of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee investigating the poor performance of the Nigerian capital market, director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Arunma Oteh stunned the committee when she alleged numerous dishonest practices committed by former director-general of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). Oteh told the committee: “For instance, the NSE bought a yacht for N37 million and wrote down the book value within one year by recognising it in the books as a gift presented during its 2008 Long Service Award (LSA), yet there are no records of the beneficiary. The Exchange also spent N186 million on 165 Rolex wrist-watches as gifts for awardees out of which only 73 were actually presented to the awardees. The outstanding 92 Rolex watches valued at N99.5 million remain unaccounted for. These were the kinds of financial imprudence that were perpetrated at the NSE. These transactions were routed through companies owned by some senior officers of the Exchange.”
I admire Jonathan because he is smarter than his enemies, especially the garrulous members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) or the other political pretenders who belong to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). When people talk loudly about overwhelming evidence of fraud unearthed by the police pensions probe and investigations into the oil subsidy scandal, it seems to me they don’t understand the whole process. Jonathan understands that there is a time to talk and a time to remain silent. On that basis, I would argue he should remain mum. How many people have so far been named in the police pension scam? Just a handful of men and one woman! So, Jonathan has to wait for investigations to be completed before he should consider whether prosecution would be necessary. Those who doubt the president should be reminded that he does not overlook corrupt practices and would not spare anyone indicted in these probes. Jonathan must not be distracted by hecklers.
I admire Jonathan because he is the coolest guy in town. Nothing moves him. Nothing changes his facial expression. Nothing makes him feel the nation ought to be in a state of emergency. Nothing would make him to push the wheel of government to travel faster against corruption and insecurity than he is currently moving. That’s the kind of president we need at this time of our political history. I think highly of Jonathan, in particular his lack of hurry in governance. Didn’t someone say that “slow and steady wins the race” of life? This is the philosophy we need to adopt as our national motto in Nigeria.
I admire Jonathan because, in rough weather and in normal weather, he is the same optimistic, unruffled, happy-go-lucky president. Never mind those alarmists, such as Theophilus Danjuma, who said last week that Nigeria was on fire. How many houses have we seen go on fire? All that is loose talk. There is no reason to panic because everything is under control. This is the exhortation the government has used repeatedly to calm our nerves. In times like this, you need this philosophical balm to soothe your nerves.
We don’t need a lily-livered president who expresses worry on sight of danger. We don’t want a president who presses the panic button when a mere storm passes through Nigeria. We should not be like the proverbial men and women of little faith. I admire Jonathan because he is the kind of president who sees a clear path where others perceive obstacles. This is the exceptional quality that makes him the great oracle of our time. Jonathan sees what others cannot see. All these attributes have given him a significant head-start over his enemies. He might as well remain president forever.