By Henry OLAMIJU
“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who can not, are fools, and those who dare not are slaves” – George Gordon Byron
The Nigerian President seems to never be out of the news. Week in week out, there has always been a news item about him; none have been in positive light.
In 2011, when Nigerians trooped to the ballot boxes to elect a new leader for the country little did they know of what was to come. More than a year since President Jonathan was sworn in, there has not been one thing that majority of Nigerians commend their once shoeless president for. He suffers criticisms for every quarter. The most amazing of those criticisms in recent time came from his tribesman. The same happened to be the National Security Adviser and we all know what happened to him later.
Never in the history of Nigeria has a president been the subject of such intense public criticisms, not even the strong-willed retired general from Ota who many people loved to hate elicited this much. He has been criticised for being shoeless to being clueless; from being in the shadow of his wife to being the shadow of staunch power-brokers; from being class-less to being unpresidential.
President Jonathan’s last media chat created a new vent for anger from all over the world. There are actually several talking-points from the media chat because practically every response of GEJ seem to be either contradictory, defensive, irresponsible, arrogant or even down-right stupid.
How do you make bold to say you’ve done well in communications and in the same program record so many dropped calls? How does a president declare that he travelled to Brazil (except for a handful who had real responsibilities there, many presidents sent envoys to the Rio+ Conference) so that it would not look like he was fearful of Boko Haram and some minutes later say that he could not travel to Damaturu and Maiduguri – both cities having witnessed a horde of terrorist activities – because of security reasons?
I’m yet to see a president declare that he is not the one managing the economy, that the Coordinating Minister of Finance is the one in charge of that. Oh! Yes, GEJ said so. Maybe I’m out of touch with global happening but has anyone seen or heard of anyone criticising anybody but Obama for United State’s current economic state? Rumours had it that Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the Prime Minister, doesn’t this shed more light on that?
When quizzed about declaration of assets, the Nigerian president made the most unpresidential statement ever (correct me if I’m wrong). In fact, in saner climes, impeachment processes could have started from the utterance. He said: “I don’t give a damn”. How can you, a president elected under a constitution, declare that assets declaration is “not the right thing to do” when the constitution, as provided in Chapter VI, Part 1, Section 140, makes it mandatory? This is a treacherous statement, an open defiance to the constitution, a slap on the tenets that hold the country together. By saying this, President Jonathan is declaring that his opinions are superior to the dictates of the Nigerian constitution. That his word is law. There should be no newer definition for insanity than this. Yes, I say this because a person that disregards the Nigerian Constitution while on Nigerian soil (as he lavishly feeds on the sweat of Nigerians) is to me persona non-grata. He went further to ask how his assets declaration will end the Boko Haram scourge and I’m wondering how asset declaration relates to BH. In psychiatry, that kind of speech is called tangential speech and it is a sign of schizophrenia.
I don’t even want to go in the issue of the attempted UNILAG name-change. The issue has been dealt with in a previous blog: MAY 29 BLUNDER- What’s in a Name? http://wp.me/p1f6w6-1S.
What just makes one worry is how GEJ and his cronies are trying to defend the unconstitutionality of the attempt. He said: “What we did, was the normal procedure”. He meant that he could also unilaterally declare that the country ceases to be called Nigeria but by another name and then he would then forward it to the legislature. These gaffes are surely historical.
All the above show us elements of gejocracy, a term whose definition is still evolving. The Nigerian experience at cut-and-paste democracy has been a futile one. Those who are supposed to make the laws to harmonise the principles of democracy with the Nigerian situation would not be bothered as they are the ones milking the excesses. The question Nigerians at home and in diaspora as well as interested onlookers from outside Nigeria keep asking is why suffer like this in the midst of plenty?
I don’t think we need to wait till 2015 to determine our fate as a people. For GEJ to contest or not to contest is not even an issue. How many more constitutional and political blunders would qualify this present government for a red card?
As I close, I look to the words of Edmund Burke who said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Some think that all the ‘noise’ we make on social media amounts to nothing, that they are just the ‘rantings of ants’, well, they may think that Martin Luther King suddenly got up and started the civil rights movement. What they do not know is that the civil rights movement started at dinner tables, at little gatherings just after sunset, at playgrounds on weekends. They started as discussion between friends on the sidewalks of counties in Alabama and many counties elsewhere, as agitations at town hall meetings and as simple a task as refusing to give up a bus seat like Rosa Parks did in 1955.
As with everything in nature, there’s a critical mass that needs to be attained for change to become inevitable. That tipping point where small changes have massive effects is our goal. As we keep talking, writing, tweeting, blogging, working etc we would achieve that critical mass and the political machineries would be revamped. We need not lose heart.
Freedom, as we want it and as we deserve, may not come very soon; our deliverance from the clutches of evil and self-serving political gladiators dressed as representatives may not happen in a month or in one year but what we know for sure is this: ONE DAY, WE SHALL BE FREE.
Then we shall join in that old great saying: “Free at last, free at last. Thank GOD we are free at last”
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