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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
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Nigerian
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But the way I see it, Jonathan is like a prostitute who the husband (Nigeria) insisted to marry despite warnings from concerned friends. Why should the husband now expect fidelity from her? How for example should Nigerians expect a man who refused to declare his assets publicly to be transparent or fight corruption? Why would Nigerians expect a fair deal from a man who cannot keep to agreements? Why put confidence in a man who says one thing and does another?

 

Monkeying Around the Villa

When I first voiced my opposition to the candidacy of Goodluck Jonathan for last year’s presidential election, one of the reasons I put forward was that Jonathan did not demonstrate sincerity or honesty in his handling of the Zoning Formula of his party. His manipulation of party leadership and denial of the existence of an agreement to which he was a signatory just to further his ambition clearly portrayed him as a man who could not be trusted. I argued that it was a dangerous gamble to place the destiny of 150million Nigerians in the hands of an opportunist who could not be taken by his words.

 

Then I monitored campaign speeches as he moved from one part of the country to the other and I came away with the picture of a clueless and poorly prepared fellow who could not articulate a sound economic and social development vision for Nigeria. I could not place a finger on a single promise that was made with clearly outlined strategy and measurable success factors or performance indicators. It was the same old stories rich on rhetoric but empty on substance. I lamented that Jonathan was not making any commitments that we could hold him accountable for.

Amazingly quite a number of Nigerians fell cheaply to the chants of 'goodluck Nigeria' as if all that was essential to rule Nigeria was luck. They were carried away with his shallow claims of being born without shoes as if there were some Nigerians who came out with shoes from their mothers’ wombs.

Then came the highly questionable landslide victory in the April 2011 elections which his propaganda machinery in collusion with the masters in the West succeeded in deceiving the world that his election was the freest and fairest to be conducted in Nigeria since independence.

The combined effect of these deceptive approval ratings is that Jonathan has been misled into believing that Nigerians are all daft and irredeemably gullible and would swallow every baseless promise or policy with joy as long as is premised on luck and lies. He has thus overrated his popularity and in the process squandered the craftily acquired goodwill so soon in the lifespan of his administration, perhaps in line with the adage, easy come, and easy go. Barely one year in the saddle has Jonathan triggered more negative reviews from those who queued behind him last April than we his non-supporters. Perhaps the only persons urging him on are the horde of cronies around him whose eyes are on the pecks rather than the people.

In the face of his inability to tackle the escalating security challenges in the country, rising unemployment, decaying infrastructure and epileptic power supply as well as unmitigated corruption, Jonathan keeps demonstrating gross insensitivity to the plight the people he claims they voted him to power.

While he is zealous to please the West that helped to shore up his profile and sold him to the world as a leader, by killing the PIB which was perceived as injurious to their exploitative interest in Nigeria, he is ready to inflict maximum pain on his countrymen. The increase in the pump price of PMS on New Year day is perhaps the most poignant testimony to this.

We are called upon to sacrifice yet those making this call are not eager to make any sacrifices. We are being told that government has been borrowing to fund (imaginary) infrastructure yet we can't see the infrastructure. If the money they borrowed was squandered, what guarantee do we have that the one they will forcefully extort from us through this petrol tax would be managed judiciously and transparently?

The shoddiest reasoning I have read on this subsidy controversy is that money paid for subsidy is enjoyed by a select few elites. The question is why then would these elites which the Nigerian Senate even published their names not be stopped if not apprehended and prosecuted? If by their demission a handful of government officials share 25% of the national budget as overhead and another 25% goes to 150million Nigerians (as subsidy), while corruption by the same cabal that have already taken the first 25%) takes another 25%, who should morally speaking be requested to give up his 25%; the cabal or the masses? What sense does it make to punish 150million people in order to protect the interest of a few corrupt government officials? Last time I checked, Democracy was still defined as a government ...for the (welfare of the majority) people.

But we have cultivated such a warped idea of democracy that the government believes that the people exist for their welfare when the reverse is supposed to be the case.

The exasperating aspect is that this government is using the people as test species the way a zoologist (that Jonathan is) would do in experimentation. This is indicated by the fact that despite the so called ‘safety nets’ that the Petroleum Minister spoke about (confusedly though) last year, which did not include purchase of diesel driven vehicles by government to be given to select transporters at subsidized rates, this is one of the palliative measures announced by government  yesterday! What this means is that contrary to their claims, they had no blueprint in place at the beginning. They are merely ‘monkeying around’ with no clear strategy.

Is Nigeria's problem now the shortage of diesel powered buses? And why should a government that is drumming privatisation and deregulation now be contemplating being involved in importation of buses? Shouldn't that be left in the hands of private entrepreneurs? This type of hackneyed reasoning reveals to the public how the mind of these people work. It reveals how shallow and empty their insight is and how short their foresight extends. It reminds us that we have placed our destiny in the wrong hands.

The most laughable statement from Jonathan is that January salaries will be paid early to cushion the effect of hiked petrol prices! To start with, is every Nigerian a government worker? And what is really the benefit of giving a worker his salary early when that salary would not be enough to cater for even his transport fare to work in a month in the post subsidy regime? That this government thinks that early payment of salaries is a favour done to workers sums up their peripheral understanding of government responsibilities to the people. It explains why they think that spending (if indeed they were) a mere N1.3 trillion on 150 million people (which translates to N24 per head per day) is a waste, but the Senate President takes home N1million everyday as ‘quarterly allowance’!

A leader who desires trust from the people must earn it through his words, actions as well as body language. Stability in ideology and consistency of character and empathy for the weak in the society is what builds confidence in the people about those who aspire to rule over them, but this government expects trust from us without reciprocal transparency!

But the way I see it, Jonathan is like a prostitute who the husband (Nigeria) insisted to marry despite warnings from concerned friends. Why should the husband now expect fidelity from her? How for example should Nigerians expect a man who refused to declare his assets publicly to be transparent or fight corruption? Why would Nigerians expect a fair deal from a man who cannot keep to agreements? Why put confidence in a man who says one thing and does another?

 

 


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