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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
more articles by Terver



Perhaps one of the greatest assets Buhari is bringing to the table  is Personal integrity. This would provide the much needed direction for the people  to follow. Under Buhari, the people are going to be told that stealing is corruption. He is going to give a damn about public opinion. He is going to take the driving seat and must refuse to be put in a cage like Jonathan.


Jonathan: The caged Zookeeper.

A New season has emerged in the Nigerian political landscape. It is the season of losers losing elections gallantly and reaching out to congratulate their opponents-the winners. It all started with the unexpected gesture of the President who did not even wait for the final announcement of the results of the Presidential polls to make the now historic call to General Mohammadu Buhari conceding defeat and also congratulating him for the unprecedented victory. For this singular act, the President has gotten accolades from far and near. Some even toyed with the idea that the Mo Ibrahim prize or even the Nobel peace prize to be bestowed on him. It seems like the Nigerian's Standard and expectation are so low (or rather they have been forced to lower the bar so low) that it doesn't take extraordinary measures to excite them. 


In the heat of this jubilant ovation and the cacophony of applause for President Jonathan for his newfound Statesmanship, the nation seemed to be oblivious of the highly scandalous confession made by the outgoing president to the effect that he had been in a cage for the past 16 years implying that he was indeed relieved to be on his way out of the cage. Lets get this straight; the president may have been speaking figuratively or even joking when he made this statement but some jokes are simply too expensive. It is not a joking matter that the fate of 170 million human souls have been in the care of a caged man. It is not funny that Nigeria became a giant zoo with the (zoologist) zookeeper also in the cage.

When one juxtaposes the picture of a Jonathan behind the bars of a cage with the near hobbesian state that Nigeria has been drifting in the past six years, it becomes clear that the ship of the Nigerian state was floating rudderless and without a captain on troubled waters.(apologies to Patrick Obahiagbon). It paints the grim reality of a herd without a shepherd or a plane on autopilot. This is why whole local governments in Nigeria could be annexed by insurgents and the supposed commander in chief could do nothing because he was actually only the commander-in-a-cage. It is even a miracle that we have survived to tell our story. But many did not make it while millions have become refugees on their fatherland.

 Life in the cage however has its own pleasures which an unserious leader could choose to indulge .It shields you from the harsh realities of the daily living of the people and blurs One's view of  the people's needs. It keeps you away from danger and makes you oblivious to pain. In this state, one could see things differently from the way they really are. For Instance, viewed from the Cage, the sad faces of parents whose wards are out of school as the result of teaches strike look like smiles! Hence Jonathan could comfortably tolerate a six months strike by University teachers. Dark streets look like glowing diamonds from behind the cage so, one can now understand thy Jonathan could not understand why we could not agree with him that electricity supply has been stabilized in Nigeria.

 It is sad and tragic that the President of the most populous black nation was actually ruling from a cage. No wonder it took him months to even realise that 200 school girls were taken into captivity by insurgents. How on earth could a caged Lioness rescue her cubs from a predator and how could he have known that over 20 billion USD were lost(or stolen) from NNPC coffers ? 

 But then the inescapable question is this; who caged Jonathan? My answer straightaway is that Jonathan was caged by his personal ambition. It is very obvious that Jonathan was a willing prisoner because he made no effort to get out of the cage. In fact he spent billions of Tax Payers money to finance his election campaign all in the bid to remain caged. The ferocious campaign of calumny mounted against Buhari, the extreme ethnic and religious polarisation of the country as well as the 'orubebezation' of the election result collation is a pointer to the fact that Jonathan was not yet tired of the cage until it dawned on him that Buhari collected the key to the cage and would open that cage on 29th of May 2015.

At the gate of the cage were ethnically bigoted kinsmen like Edwin Clarke urging him not to step out from the tribal enclave and see himself as the president of Nigeria rather than an Ijaw minority leader. Instead of building networks across ethnic barriers he found comfort in the Vulgar and Uncouth Vituperations of ASari Dakubo against other ethnic groups especially the North which he described derogatorily as parasites.

Another group of people who never allowed Jonathan the liberty of an uncaged  president is perhaps the hireling prophets of 'god'. I am referring to money-mongering pastors who surrounded the President, telling him not the truth of the word of God as required by their calling but the silly fables motivated by religious merchandise.

 Political jobbers and his aides  like Reuben  Abati, Fani Kayode, Labaran Maku, and Doyin Okupe also held Jonathan captive with their lies and political propaganda. They never told Jonathan the truth about the state of the nation rather assuring him that all is well. They shielded him from public opinion, labelling all critics of Jonathan as disgruntled elements, yesterday's men or the children of anger. They claimed that the President was a victim of excessive and unfair criticism.

But contrary to the claim by Jonathan and his handlers that he was unjustly criticised, as the torrents of praise on him for his latter day statesmanship has shown, he could have actually received commendation rather than the fierce criticism he faced throughout his six year rule if he had taken policy and public actions that emphasised public good rather than personal ambition and self-comfort .

With several election losers now taking a cue from Jonathan by reaching for their phones to Call their opponents rather than heading for the Tribunals, It is clear that the people needed good examples from their leaders to do the right things. But Jonathan failed to provide the much needed exemplary conduct during his tenure and hence his team and indeed the general public wallowed in corruption and fiscal indiscipline• His body language did not send a clear message to intending defaulters of the law that their deeds would be recompensed as the law demands. In fact Jonathan spent more time and effort trying to redefine corruption (to exclude Stealing) than fighting it.

For choosing to reserve his best conduct for the parting moments, Jonathan may have succeeded in reserving some ovation for himself at bow out, but students of history may not be inclined to re-write his epithat in glowing terms. The ovation would die out very quickly once he leaves the stage and all eyes would turn to Buhari who would be holding sway from 29th May 2015.

Perhaps one of the greatest assets Buhari is bringing to the table  is Personal integrity. This would provide the much needed direction for the people  to follow. Under Buhari, the people are going to be told that stealing is corruption. He is going to give a damn about public opinion. He is going to take the driving seat and must refuse to be put in a cage like Jonathan.  




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