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Atsar Terver
Public Commentator
Port Harcourt
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The only truth in Mrs. Johnson's statement and perhaps the only one she authored is the fact that her country has always benefitted from the support of Nigeria and President Jonathan not only upheld the trend but added to it. Now there is nothing spectacular about continuing in a tradition that has been there all this while and has been practiced by almost all past Nigerian leaders in their unwarranted grandstanding to be Africa’s Big Brother. Since by Mrs. Johnson's logic, support for Liberia has become a mark of good governance, the much vilified Abacha and Babangida who both supported Liberia in her time of crisis should be canonized as founders of the new and prosperous Africa!

 

Mrs. Johnson’s Gaffe on President Jonathan

One of the biggest jokes of the year is the recent publication by Times Magazine in which Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was named among the 100 most influential persons in the world. One thing I must admit upfront is that being, the President over a country of over 160million people, who are directly affected by decisions taken by him and Nigeria being an oil producing country whose policies affect the global energy market, every Nigerian President automatically qualifies to be named an influential person. But that is just where Jonathan’s qualification ends. Any further criteria that relates to leadership performance, Integrity, anti-corruption, good governance, transparency, promotion of social welfare and respect for human rights and the rule of law must be watered down below the barest minimum standards for him to qualify

 

I was therefore bemused  and amused when I read the comments of Liberian President Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in that same report to the effect that Nigeria has grown out of corruption under Jonathan’s leadership. This statement is not only false but a deliberate attempt to hoodwink the international community. It is shameful that A Nobel Prize winner could not do an on-the ground assessment of the situation in Nigeria but chose to make herself a willing tool for deception in the hands of the Presidents media spin-doctors.

Those who know marketing do understand the power of women in advertising and I guess Jonathan has learnt how to use women very effectively in pursuit of his political ambitions. And the most significant aspect of this skill is his ability to make otherwise intelligent and beautiful women do unintelligent and ugly things for him.

This is not the first time Jonathan is making use of a woman to deceive the world. During the illness of late President Yar’Adua, one loud-mouthed woman lent herself to be used to  blackmail and intimidate the Federal Executive council to declare Yar’Adua incapacitated so Jonathan can take over, even though there was a clear procedure in the constitution which the FEC was reluctant to follow. Many Nigerians fell for that trick and crowned her a hero of democracy but a few of us saw through the drama and spotted the one pulling the strings in the puppetry box.

That woman thought she was paving the way for her perpetual survival in the Jonathan government but unfortunately it did not occur to her that the man he was working for, who has recently been aptly likened to a centipede by Tatalo  Alamu (www.thenationonline.com)’ is a master in the game and can dump you once your role in the game is done.

On ascending the Presidency, Jonathan again drafted two women to front for him while he misrules Nigeria. One is a very intelligent and world-acclaimed economist whiles the other, a very pretty ex-director of a multinational oil company. The former, given an absurd title of coordinating minister uses her international image to launder the Presidents sloppy one while the other sits upon the sleaze in the oil industry like a hen incubating her eggs.

These women have used every opportunity at their disposal to trumpet the transformational agenda of the President even though the only transformation visible on the streets of Nigeria is the transformation from light to darkness, to unemployment, dilapidating infrastructure, insecurity and unmitigated sleaze in government circles and worsening standard of living.

When he wanted to impose a petroleum tax on the people, he hid under the intelligent woman to threaten Nigerians of an impending collapse of the economy should government not withdraw a nonexistent subsidy, while the beautiful one was shouting to every ear that cared to listen how Mr. President had designed safety nets to cater for the welfare of the citizenry post subsidy withdrawal. But with the release of the report of the probe into the subsidy regime by the Federal House of Representatives, we now know that these two women are a fraud and this goes for their principal.

While the outrage that greeted the ungodly policy championed by these two women put into ridicule, the report of the subsidy investigation which shows they never told Nigerians the truth on subsidy has further demystified them and also exposed Jonathan as a President who without doing proper homework to get his facts and figures straight, went to war against the citizenry in defense of his corrupt clan, an untouchable cabal that is milking the nation to its bones. He rolled out armored tanks in Lagos to stop protests after police have shot and killed dozens of unarmed protesters across the country. Up till this moment, the victims of that state violence have not received as much as an apology from Jonathan, talks less of compensation. This is the President Mrs. Johnson decided to also ridicule herself by praising to high heavens for taking Nigeria out of the woods.

Reading the comment by Mrs. Johnson as a Nigerian left me wondering if there are two Nigerias in Africa, one, the one I know, still wallowing in corruption, misrule, indiscipline, and regimented abuse of office from the President to the local Government Chairmen, while the other one exists in the fertile imagination of the female President.

Contrary to Mrs. Johnson’s assertion, the Jonathan administration is oozing with the stench from scandal upon scandal involving people in his government. Just within two months we had to contend with the Capital market scandal, the Pension funds scam and now the revelation of bizarre deals in the NNPC, and the PPRA to the tune of over 1trillion Naira. Earlier this year he relieved the EFCC chairperson of her job. Rumors are that the woman had stepped on the toes of the Presidents friends, since then nothing has been heard of the high-profile cases she was prosecuting before her sack. Before this, very early in the life of his administration, he ordered the squashing of corruption charges against Mallam El-Rufai and Nuhu Ribadu , and act which is supposed to be an exclusive preserve of the courts.

Mrs. Johnson needs to be told that the people of Nigeria have not started reaping the fruit of their resources and their hard work. Our minimum wage as an oil producing state is still below 4 Dollars a day while we are buying the resource that we have in abundance at international rates. Unemployment and insecurity has continued to grow astronomically, while executive recklessness and state violence against the populace is now a virtue. Just yesterday, a leader of an anti-corruption pressure group was picked up by State Security Agents to frustrate plans for a protest by the group against rising corruption in Nigeria. I hope Mrs. Johnson would gladly copy that from her model and Liberians would be happy ever after.

It did not take much effort on my part to discover the real author of the statement Mrs. Johnson read out to the Magazine. This sentence: ‘In two short years, President Jonathan has shown the same dexterity he demonstrated as governor of Bayelsa, the same ability to find the remedies to the many complexities of running a nascent democracy’ gave away the press corps in the  Nigerian Presidency. Notice the use of some typical expressions that have become standard lexicon in speeches of Nigerian Government officials, vague phrases like ‘Nascent Democracy’ and ‘Dividends of Democracy.

It is only to Nigerians leaders and their speechwriters that two years is considered a very short time for Government to make an impact in the lives of the citizenry. Leaders who are usually selected by godfathers through undemocratic procedures, come in unprepared, unskilled and inexperienced; so they spend two years learning the art of governance, and then they begin to plan for re-election for a second term in the last two years of their tenure, leaving them with virtually no time to do anything, this much was said by President Jonathan himself in the first week of his inauguration.

But one would not fail to ask what specific solutions Jonathan has found with respect to the myriad problems bedeviling the Nigerian socio-economy? Some of Nigeria’s most crippling problems are corruption, epileptic power supply, unemployment and insecurity. It would help the case of the President’s media men better to, for instance, give us statistics in these areas rather than make ridiculous claims which even a one-year old could easily dispute.

Read on, Mrs. Johnson said: ‘He has spearheaded the fight against corruption and turned Nigeria into an example of good governance’. Holy Moses! Was the writer of this script drunk? With revelations from the Subsidy probe of monumental corruption being perpetrated right under the superintendence of President Jonathan, It takes a particularly blatant liar to pen those words. A president who had depleted the nation’s foreign reserve and returned the economy to the borrowing regime without anything to show for it is not the model leader Africa needs. Jonathan may indeed be an influence in Africa but so far that influence has been negative so I challenge any African country looking for examples of good governance to try copying Jonathan’s model and see if their economy would not collapse in two years!  While in Ghana recently, a Ghanaian complained to me that their society is being corrupted by Nigerians with vices like 419 and violent crime which were hitherto uncommon in their clime.

The only truth in Mrs. Johnson's statement and perhaps the only one she authored is the fact that her country has always benefitted from the support of Nigeria and President Jonathan not only upheld the trend but added to it. Now there is nothing spectacular about continuing in a tradition that has been there all this while and has been practiced by almost all past Nigerian leaders in their unwarranted grandstanding to be Africa’s Big Brother. Since by Mrs. Johnson's logic, support for Liberia has become a mark of good governance, the much vilified Abacha and Babangida who both supported Liberia in her time of crisis should be canonized as founders of the new and prosperous Africa!

 

 

 


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