by Senator Ihenyen
Last week was a very terrible period for Nigerians, home and abroad. It was the week both local and international reactions to President Goodluck Jonathan’s pardon of an internationally-wanted ex-convict got to the brim, expectedly followed by shameless counter-reactions from desperate presidential aides who must take care of the endless farts of their “oga at the top”.
Also, as if to prove the President wrong on his position on amnesty to Boko Haram, the Islamic sect practically reminded us all that they were not “ghosts” when they had recent “dialogues” with the government. Suicide bombers rammed their car into a bus laden with passengers at a motor park in Sabon Gari, Kano, resulting in the death of over 70 people, injuring about 65 others and destroying five luxury buses.
And just as the nation was still mourning the death of innocent citizens mostly Igbos, the news of Chinua Achebe’s death brought great sadness to many. The late author’s resolute integrity and conviction would be remembered by us all, particularly at this most morally bankrupt period of our national life.
Today, the increasing unpopularity of President Goodluck Jonathan among majority of Nigerians, even from the South-South, is something any leader would be mindful of. Nigerians made President Goodluck Jonathan their president, not once, but twice. Today, the presidency has diagnosed Nigerians with “sophisticated ignorance”, a disease of the mind discovered by Dr. Reuben Abati upon his examination of public opinion on issues of national discourse.
Two years in office, how really has President Goodluck Jonathan fared? I really cannot pretend to have all the answers. As a matter fact, the over 160 million Nigerians out there may most likely have even more answers with facts and figures than I could ever attempt. My fear however is that if it is true that Nigerians now suffer from “sophisticated ignorance”, their evaluation of the performance of this administration may be unreliable. And since Dr. Abati has also been found to be a poor patient of “sophisticated amnesia”, President Goodluck Jonathan should perhaps, as a matter of urgency, set up a Committee to look into this dangerous disease of sophistication in our public and national life. More so, what if the presidency itself is suffering from sophisticated myopia?
In my effort to find a cure to this malady, I stumbled upon this interview published in Thisday in January, 2013. One Mr. Seigha, Chairman of Niger Delta National Forum, was asked to evaluate President Goodluck Jonathan’s performance in office so far.
After rating President Goodluck Jonathan higher than any African leader in terms of keeping Nigeria together against any collapse (80 per cent), and scoring him higher than former Presidents Obasanjo and Late Yar’ Adua on the basis of their achievements in their respective two years in office (75%), Mr. Seigha got to the more interesting part:
“…if were (sic) to measure his performance based on electoral promises, for example, short term promises like – Electoral Reform, Respect for the Rule of Law, Press Freedom, Legislative Autonomy, Judicial Freedom etc., I will score him 80%. But on the long term promises like, Security, Power Supply, Road Rehabilitation, Unemployment, Development of the most critical economic area like the Niger Delta, Corruption etc., I will score him 30%. I believe the foundation he is laying will determine the elasticity of growth and development in the long term. The average score for his promise is 55% while the mean for all the input of 80%, 75% and 55% gives him 70%.”
He didn’t stop there. Asked why his high rating of President Goodluck Jonathan administration is not in sync with general views, Mr. Seigha accused the “President’s enemies” of taking undue advantage of the poor information management by the Presidency. In his opinion, “The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku is perceived by Nigerians as a “seller of Government agenda” and a government activist instead of being a “Marketer of government programmes.” Reuben Abati, on his part is “too academic”, while Doyin Okupe approaches issues too empirically!
And just as I was wondering what Mr. Seigha would have said about the recent presidential pardon of Mr. Alamiyieseigha, as if prophetically, he had said in January that “…compelling President Jonathan to go and fight corruption the way we want him to equals telling him to put his neck on the guillotine.” I honestly hope that the President’s fight against corruption has not degenerated to the point where it would be right to say that if you can’t beat them, you join them. Or perhaps, it would be much safer to say that rather than joining them, President Goodluck Jonathan decided to convert corrupt politicians to presidential assets ahead of the 2015 elections.
The culture of corruption in the system is one that we all appear to celebrate without shame. Just as I am writing this piece, the video clip of Governor Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State’s admission of rigging Senatorial primary on live TV with his own hands has gone viral on social media. It is obvious someone is learning fast from President Goodluck Jonathan whose recent actions no doubt demonstrate his “zero tolerance” for corruption. It won’t be surprising if this new video beats “My Oga on the Top” on Youtube!
This is an administration that without any iota of shame avoids any healthy public debate on very important economic issues. Obiageli Ezekwesili recently questioned how the Yar’ Adua and Goodluck Jonathan administrations squandered $67 billion left in the treasury by the Obasanjo administration, the President sent his aides and Minister of Information on an attack mission. The US government questioned the morality behind the unpopular presidential pardon granted by the administration to an internationally wanted political thief, the President sent the Nigerian Ministry of International Affairs on another attack mission. Worse still, David Cameron, Prime Minister of Britain, at the G8 Economic Summit in Davos in January challenged the Nigerian government to account for the $100 billion dollars which accrued from oil sales and 4.62 trillion naira from tax revenue for a single year alone, the President Goodluck Jonathan administration has remained silent.
I think it’s high time this President was impeached.