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Tola Sarumi: The president is naked


Tola Sarumi: The president is naked

by Tola Sarumi

Goodluck Jonathan is naked; his resource control attire had been shucked, unbeknownst to him. In the nude, he went on CNN and told the world how we Nigerians admire his fine robes so much we often compliment him on it.

It has been a terrible fortnight for GEJ, he fumbled and mumbled on national TV, he was economical with the truth and reminded us once again that he has no presidential mien. It’s not entirely his fault though, he comes from a culture that encourages ‘managing it like that’, we have been managing things like that for a long time but I think this one may be past managing.

The president needs a rebirth; he needs the rare courage it takes to surround himself with people who will be honest with him. His style of leadership has failed miserably. Of course, he has been particularly unlucky too, problems that were germinating under other presidents have come into full bloom under his watch but he persistently misses open goals.

Let’s take the Police College incident for example. Here, GEJ had a chance to lead! To show himself as a president who cared, a man of action, he could do no wrong with this amazing opportunity presented to him by chance (or shall we say Channels TV) and what did our president do? He took umbrage at the fact that the footage was ever shown and I would wager that come 2015, the College will look the same.

How is it that a man who has the likes of SLS and Abati in his government does not have a body to tell him the truth? The later wrote scathing articles on the government’s woeful overall performance before he turned his ire against those who cared to point out his now Oga’s nakedness. The former is quick to tell Nigerians which sacrifices they need to make, I agree with him more often than not, but he is slow to speak on what he and the Nigerian government can do better.

GEJ is now totally disconnected from Nigerians, he speaks and is barely believed. If Abati, Reno Omokiri and the attack lion, Okupe, cannot between them devise a plan to present the president in a favourable light, then what is he paying them for? Let me be clear, I do not believe, on his performance thus far, that GEJ has what it takes to govern a nation like ours, he has been tried, weighed and measured. On every occasion, our president has been found wanting.

The perplexing thing is, this is a man who is perhaps the closest to being the perfect candidate, on paper. He has not had a sheltered existence, he grew up amongst the hoi polloi, a fisherman’s son as proletariat as one can get, he rose above the norm and attained a PHD, this man is one of us who made good. He has not had the pre-determined experience of a military man, nor was he a member of a Northern royal house. So, why is GEJ so useless at communicating with the people?

Obasanjo, like him or loathe him, had necessary gravitas, (the gra gra, if you will) that it took to ensure his audience listened to him, the man was comfortable in English, Yoruba or Pidgin, he knew how to communicate! Our president, Egbon Jona from Otuoke is probably fluent in Pidgin, we’ll never know it seems. The man just cannot seem to relax enough for us to even find a route to make small excuses for him.

I know the president’s ‘Yes men’ feel that being unnecessarily defensive is the best way to convince us that Jonathan is working. What they seem to forget is that admitting that there’s work to do is not the same thing as saying that they’ve failed. There is no need for the president to obfuscate the truth, especially when his utterances can be so easily debunked, not all the failures on ground is of his making, but one cannot help but conclude that his statements betray his state of mind, if he cannot accept that they exist, how will he ever be able to address the myriad of problems Nigeria faces?

I’m taking it upon myself to tell his media men this; you people are failing the man. You are not giving him value for money and that needs to stop.

Insulting Nigerians on twitter and on FB is not a good look. Jonathan is there to serve us, not the other way around and though it seems like empty kvetching, we all know your man’s record is not good enough for you to burst your spleen over.

Advise the president to be presidential in speech and deed, he needs to sound like a man who worked for as opposed to one who bought his PHD. These are of course the superficial things that can enhance the president’s public image, because right now, Egbon Jona sounds as weak and ineffective as he is believed to be by a majority of Nigerians.

Tola is a Nigerian by profession, and moonlights as an anti-money laundering consultant when she is not working. She eats books and legal opinions, nothing is obiter dicta in Nigeria, so, she pays close attention. Twitter: @Afrovii

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