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THE TESTIMONY OF AN UNPREPARED PRESIDENT.
By: Chris Onyishi  
 Published  May 23rd, 2012

I feel ashamed that I live in a country no one believes in its chances of attaining nationhood.  Not even the President and commander in chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria believes that Nigeria has a future.  And yet, we all were fooled to engage in an all expensive April (fool) Presidential election in the year of our Lord 2011.  And from all indications emanating from the presidential body language, there is no doubt that President Jonathan is strutting for a re-election come 2015.

Something must have gone wrong along the line from 1914 when the Southern and Northern Protectorates were amalgamated till date. When you look at the 1914 almagamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates, and between the period Nigeria got independence in 1960 and the time I was sworn-in as president, you will agree with me that I am not the problem of Nigeria. I have just stayed two years and the problems have been there before me. What we must do is to make a change for the development of Nigeria. We cannot check out like that of the  television man.....”,

The above excerpt was from a publication titled “Something Is Wrong with Nigeria –Jonathan •says: ‘I’m Not the Problem’” in SATURDAY Tribune newspaper of 19th April, 2012 and written by one Jude Ossai in Enugu.  When, on a Boxing Day, a big masquerade entertaining the crowd starts tearing its head cover, then there can be no better premonition that something very serious is going on very rapidly in a very wrong direction.  A president who makes this kind of utterance should either resign or be impeached by a responsible national assembly.  What is the difference in the above statement and a call for coup d’état?  If there is no difference then it must be a very uncharitable joke from a President who is supervising the greatest contraption of unimaginable corruption in a nation where over 90% of her people are living in abject poverty.

When the President was campaigning to be voted for, he told us how he went to school without shoes and school bag. He made us understand that he was a homeboy. He promised us of a breath of fresh air and transformational government.  Is this his idea of breath of fresh air and transformation?  This is the President who now feeds with over 500,000,000 million Naira in a year.  Did he just wake up to study the circumstances of Nigeria?  Did he not know that Nigeria became an entity through the 1914 amalgamation of the Protectorates before he stood for an election?  Not very long ago, this same President was threatening us with a revolution as if he is the custodian of it.  Was his job not supposed to be to find a way to stabilize Nigeria?  What else did President Jonathan have in mind for coming to ask Nigerians to elect him as their president?

Why is it that Nigerian rulers do not care to spend time to understand the problem of Nigeria before thrusting themselves up for election?  And this is the case all through from the councilors, local government chairmen, state house of assemblies, federal constituencies, senatorial districts, governorship to presidential level.  People will kill and rig to get to power without a thought as to what they want to do with power other than live in opulence at the expense of a nation state.

In a recent outburst, a National Security Adviser pointed to the cause of violence in a country and the President who gave him the job refused to heed his advice.  Instead, his party, PDP, called for his head. Isn’t that enough problems much more than the “supposedly faulty” amalgamation of 1914 we hinge all our “wahala” upon?  You gave somebody, your brother, the job of being your back watcher and you do not believe in him and you turn around to blame 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates.!

The question begging for an answer is “when did President Goodluck Jonathan discover that the problem of Nigeria, by its current structure, is insurmountable”?  My presumption is that the problem with Nigeria is that it has never had very astute and creative leadership some few years after independence till this moment and our free talking President cannot be singled out to be different.  I have said it severally that ours has been a case of bedeviled leadership whose only understanding of development is to loot the national treasury amongst cronies in a despotic fiesta.  When people still refer to 1914 amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates as the cause of Nigeria’s problem, I see it as a very clear evidence of laziness on those people who broach that notion.  It sounds to me like someone who says “I am not doing well because my mother was forced to marry my father”.  Isn’t that absurd enough?

A wealthy man was forced unto a wealthy woman and both managed to stay together to give birth to a well developed man who grew up to squander the aggregate wealth of both parents and turns around to blame someone else for his stupidity.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  We move from idiocy to ludicrous on second by second basis.

Every one of us, except toddlers, knew there have been some daunting problems with the project called Nigeria. Everybody understood that the problem was herculean in nature.   And everybody knew that the problem is no other thing than unmitigated corruptions in the body polity ensconced by the inordinate and irresponsible attitude of our political class. But it is also as clear that the problems have exacerbated since President Goodluck Jonathan came to power.  This is a president who told us there were cabals in the oil sector but could not have an answer to it.  This is a president who saw budgetary allocation for subsidy, or whatever they call it, balloon – illegally – from below 400 billion Naira to over 1.7 trillion Naira within his first twelve months in the office and yet he is not addressing it.  This is a President who is currently sitting on a probe report by a national assembly.  We are watching how the cost of that probe is becoming another form of economic waste since it is not going to be used to punish offenders.

This is a President who has within his ambit, a fine electoral reform report doctored by a cream of very intelligent human beings in the land – and headed by an eminent jurist in the person of Justice Uwaise –  and yet he refused to midwife its implementation.  Some of us had wished that the President, who was serving out the remaining part of his mandate with late Yar’ dua then, would have concentrated on implementing that report than thrust up himself as a candidate only to turn around a couple of months to begin to lament like a widower who just lost his wife.

When the duo of Late Yar’ Dua and President Goodluck came to power by whatever means in 2007, some funny people yelled that our problem has come to an end arguing that for once graduates have ascended the mantle of leadership in Nigeria.  I did say then that there was nothing to celebrate.  I did a piece not too long ago, with the title: “President Jonathan has not disappointed me at all” where I mirrored all the activities leading to President Jonathan’s emergence as the President of Nigeria and I concluded that not much is expected of him.  Day by day, he is showing that his is just a case of “hold this for the South- South turn”. Just be there until your term runs out in the next six years because no one serves one term.

I try, as a patriotic Nigerian, to sound optimistic but not in an evidently overwhelming circumstance where unprepared people who do not have any concept of what they want to achieve with power, for humanity, wangle their way into office and stand like Iroko tree and block all entreaties, by creative people, on how to make things work.  If this President is serious as an enlightened individual, this is the right time to throw in the towel.  Let’s excuse him that he did not know what responsibilities hung on him as an executive president, even with his doctorate degree, now that experience has taught him the real lesson and he does not know any other way to get along than cheap and demoralizing statements, let him go. He must not be the President at all cost unless his soul aim of coming to power is to disintegrate a country that went through a thirty months gruesome war and refused to disintegrate.  If nothing else, the blood of all those who perished in the civil war should have been the sacrifice we had to pay to evolve a strong and virile nation.  If nations with over six hundred million people like India and over a billion like China are living together in one daunting economy, rulers in Nigeria should start asking themselves what is wrong with their heads and not always think that amalgamation of North and South is what is wrong with us.

History students know very well that what is called United States of America today did not drop from heaven.  It was one form of amalgamation or the other with the efforts of very creative and charitable leaders that USA has become the country most people dream to migrate to and some hate but die to get into.  If our own rulers fail to turn the great potentials of our country into a land envied by all other African nations, then they should not blame any amalgamation for it.  The truth is that amalgamation or not, President Jonathan may not be able to live in his Bayelsa State in peace with Timipre Sylva and even his former boss;  Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

Nations run on justice and the rule of law and driven by strong statesmen and women who have nationalism in them; Men who see only greatness in their country and not men who are all the time pessimistic about creating and moving a great nation forward. 

Great leaders never sounded cheap. They confronted societal injustice head-on.  They routed corruption with vigor and established nationalism, by demonstration, where it never existed.  Even in African continent we had people of the stature of Kwame Nkrumah.  JJ Rawlings, Madiba himself, Julius Nyerere, and a couple of others are still shining examples.  We had Washington DC, JF Kennedy, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and Winston Churchill.  We have even people like charismatic Bill Clinton, Fidel Castro of Cuba, etc.  The Almighty God, in HIS infinite mercies, sprinkled such men and women evenly across the surface of the earth.  It is just unfortunate that we have not been lucky to get  our own messiah come to power because even those who know down their spine that they are not gifted to carry out the job stay tight on power and begin to sermonize on what they do not know or believe in.

There is nothing wrong in Nigeria as it is today.  But there is a lot wrong in the people who have been steering the affairs of Nigeria since independence.  Instead of talking about amalgamation that took place since 1914, and which has given birth to very well developed men and women who can begin to fashion out how to join the league of developing nations, we should begin to examine our ruler’s head for psychiatric cases and this is buttressed by the testimony of an unprepared President.

Chris Onyishi (ctekchris@yahoo.com)

Owerri, Nigeria


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