It has always
been a poorly guarded secret in the rumor mill that the President of
Nigeria Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (a man of questionable academic
integrity) is one who loves indulging in sessions of nocturnal
boozing in one of the private wings of the Presidential palace. The
veracity or otherwise, of this claim is better left to his
conscience and the conscience of those who are close to him and work
hard to exploit his position for corrupt gains of a personal nature.
We will address this issue later in this discourse.
I recall a
comment made by President Jonathan in one of his media outingsvery
early in his Presidency. The comment was roughly in the tone that he
was not a military General and could not be expected to move around
with a whip in the hand to flog Directors of government agencies,
who are notoriously acclaimed for making a mockery of the opening
hours of government offices and come habitually late to work. I was
one of very few commentators at the time, who spotted the
President’s serious problem with public communication and the
articulation of progressive ideas. Many admirers applauded the
President agreeing with him that the dictatorial days of military
repression was a thing of the past. The underlying stupidity
however, of indirectly encouraging late-coming to work by Directors
of government agencies by issuing them a blank check in this
respect, was obviously lost on the "follow-follow" admirers. Even
the President, who did not intend to transmit this impression,
hardly knew any other way of expressing himself without sending the
came to a head when the Present a few months later, did a road show
interview for CNN in the snow-cladded streets of the noble Swiss
town of Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum attended
by world leaders. The stage-fright, the stutters, the incoherent
articulation of loose facts and the outright delusional
self-aggrandizement as the ultimate achiever of the comatose power
sector was lost on no conscious observer. It was even made worse by
the President's outing in a series of Meet-The-Press sessions before
a domestic audience of nationwide television viewers that often go
viral on the social media. If he was not declaring that he does not
give a damn what the constitution demanded of him, he was busy
lecturing the nation that stealing cannot be equated with
corruption. Never mind though that the entire world considers
corruption as a form of stealing. These became moments, in which
many viewers simply felt ashamed to describe Goodluck Jonathan as
the President of the country they belong to. He was suddenly no
longer the charming posterchild that many people admired and proudly
fought for in the battle against the Yar'Adua cabal.
It was a
similar scenario -- again -- very early into his Presidency when he
disbanded the national soccer team to reorganize the soccer
federation that had long been riddled with corruption and cronyism.
The nation soon learnt that the President had not done his homework
properly before declaring the disbandment of the soccer federation.
He had not factored in, the reaction of FIFA and the pressure that
would be brought to bear on him by interest groups profiting from
the filth of the system before making the public pronouncement. He
backtracked and chickened in when FIFA bared its claws. He moved on
to fuel subsidy and tried to do what no leader before him had ever
dared to do talking big about being ready for a revolution when the
political soil was more than fertile for a consuming social
clear latest at this point that the President did not have a
Masterplan of any sort when it comes to ruling and building a
nation. One got the notion that the President was taking a lot of
things for granted believing that political leadership was a
self-operating system that simply requires the fixing of one notch
here and there without much ado. The finesse, the intricate process
of managing and confronting several interests and motions at the
same time with the requisite astuteness of an intelligent mind
seemed like factors that were and still are extremely foreign to the
How easy and
simple the President thought the system would work was even more
obvious in his celebration of the privatization of the power sector
as a major achievement. Many intelligent minds who have all it takes
to know and comprehend the situation better simply rallied behind
the pathetic President in celebrating this bankruptcy. It was the
same calculation that informed the attempted removal of fuel
subsidy. To get out of the way of powerful mafia gangs holding both
sectors hostage, the President chose privatization as an alibi stone
that would be catapulted to strike three birds at the same time.
First: His cronies and financial facilitators would be left off the
hook without public clamoring for arrests and prosecution. Second:
The constraints of the sector would ease tremendously and a lot
would improve under the mechanism of the competitive market economy.
Third: His financial facilitators, who made up the same criminal
mafia would buy off the sector from the government and thus stay
richer and happier and still remain the President’s friends.
and third calculations have worked very easily in the privatization
of the power sector. Unfortunately however, the power situation has
not improved for consumers and the public. In all my years of
sojourning in foreign countries (and I still stand to learn a lot),
I have never seen any sector privatized by any government that has
not first been developed and made functional by the same government
over a longer period. The operation of such sectors by government
often serves to set the standard and threshold for subsequent
private operators that should not be fallen short of. After all,
every lame duck knows that the primary concern of every private
investor is nothing but profit. A system of public control and
standards set in advance of privation often force the hands of
private investors to keep the standard floating.
Jonathan hardly seems to have a clue on all of these. In the same
vein, he had ignored the Boko Haram menace in the belief that those
behind it were not making governance difficult for him but merely
killing themselves in the name of religious sanctity. Somewhere down
the line however, he seemed to have discovered the amount of profit
that could be drawn from the bloody insecurity. Budgetary
allocations on security became a looting ground for government
elements in collaboration with Generals. After all, no one renders
accounts on security votes. It is the most prominent no-man’s land
for government looters. The result today is the emergence of a
ragtag army that is poorly equipped in spite of huge budgetary
allocations that are routinely stolen with impunity. The
exacerbation of violence in crucial northern states has suddenly
become recognized as a political capital if elections are not held
in populous states over which the opposition holds sway.
the act with the game-plan oozing transparently, all the government
does today, is to deny without yet furnishing a credible and
convincing plan on how elections are to be held in states, where the
insurgents have made serious gains and are ruling unchallenged. Over
2,000 victims were reported massacred in the past few days with an
entire village wiped out in an insurgent onslaught. Yet, the
incident hardly found a mention in the domestic media. The President
did not lose a single breath of verbal articulation on the tragedy.
All the military does is to declare an exaggeration of figures.
nation is debating how best to fight corruption with the President
unwittingly triggering consternation in the wake of his utterance
that corruption cannot be fought by jailing people. Never mind that
corruption is a capital offence in China that is punishable by death
and long-term imprisonment in very many other countries of the world
including the USA with the array of high-tech at its disposal. Yet
Nigeria's President contends that his focus is not set on punishing
corrupt people with imprisonment but on creating a high-tech system
that will disengage when people seek to divert funds for purposes
other the ones they are meant for.
What a joke!
The President doesn't seem to ask himself what high-tech system
would stop a government officer from collecting kickbacks. He
doesn’t seem to ask what system would prevent the inflation of
contract costs. He doesn't seem to ask what system would stop
officers from seeking gratifications before the award of contracts
etc. etc. This is the extent of the boundless intelligence of a man
ruling over Africa’s most populous nation.
a fully unacceptable grammatical structure for a holder of a
doctorate degree the President even goes further to chastise his
opponent for having jailed a former Governor, while he was a
military head of state, for
stealing an amount of
money that was not even enough to buy a "Peugeot" (with all due
respect to the French brand). He has been widely quoted as saying "How
much did Jim Nwobodostole?
Money not up to the price of a Peugeot and Buhari regime sent him to
jail. Is that good enough?" Suddenly the President seems to
smell a clue that
stealing may possibly
be equated with corruption after all. The President now sticks
persistently to thefully nonsensical claim that he does not believe
in fighting corruption with imprisonment. Yet, Governor Sule Lamido
knows too well what his son suffered on charges of corruption in
EFCC dungeons in the President's bid to persuade the Governor to
stay with the ruling party and not defect to the opposition.
Femi Fani Kayode knows too well what he feared so badly that made
him defect back from the opposition to the ruling party and lick
back the entire stench that he had vomited about the President and
the ruling party.
President is telling the world that the amount of money stolen by
Jim Nwobodo should not have warranted imprisonment. This is no
doubt, a comment that was made on the spur of the moment in the
hyped spirit of crowd agitation and super-stardom. It brings us once
again to the notion of disastrous public communication.
President who has been making the headline for confining all
meaningful committee recommendations on fighting corruption to the
dustbin, this joke couldn't have soiled his image any better. It
raises the question if truly, alcohol or other intoxicants do play
any role in the President's mien and routine countenance, given the
dogged information on the rumor mill pointing precisely to this
On the other
hand, it has become not only a national embarrassment to citizens of
the country that a supposedly highly educated President of such an
influential nation often struggles to articulate himself in public
speeches making frequent grammatical blunders on top of poor
expressions, but eminent personalities of the academic world have
also begun to question the viability of his academic degrees. More
importantly, the overall perception of President Goodluck Jonathan
as a holder of a doctorate degree awarded by a Nigerian university
now seems to be throwing in tatters, anything that is left of
reputation for higher institutions of learning in Nigeria.
whoever criticizes the President is his enemy. No trace of
reflections to admit errors to say the least of learning from
mistakes. Decorum and high moral grounds are phrases that sound just
foreign to the presidential psyche of our times. Gutter languages
from the highest seat now mark the peak of the preludes advanced by
foot soldiers parading the most despicable of political theatrics. A
few days ago some foot soldiers boasted of plans to arrest a former
President of critical acclaim stating clearly that the man will die
in the prison where he belongs. Today, the President is crawling on
all four begging for an audience with the same elderly President
that he described only a few days ago as a motor park tout.
What a joke!
Follow me on Twitter @FriskyLarrimore, Watch out for my new book
"Africa's Diabolical Entrapment"
Frisky Larr is author of the book "Nigeria's Journalistic Militantism" probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria!