Saturday, May 17, 2014 12:53 pm
By Toyosi Akerele
It’s become a recognisable fact that the geographical land mass known as Nigeria, often described as the giant of Africa, whether towering or lame, is almost not a nation any more. Ours is now a safe haven for terrorism, a dungeon for unemployed, job-seeking youth, a grappling economy and a hellish transportation bureau for the abduction and possible trading of our children, especially girls.
I have never been president, hence I may not possess the locus standi or requisite experience to advise you on the how-to’s of a presidency. I may not know what it feels like to sit on, dine in, or hand down orders to subjects from a Rock, but I sure know what it means to be a beneficiary of effective governance or on the flipside, be a recipient of pangs of pain, shame and molestation of my emotions by gutless fellow citizens, day in, day out.
I do not write you this missive with any rancour or disregard; rather I commiserate with you. I am also non-partisan. I have deep reverence for the office you occupy as bestowed on you by the votes and sacrificial exertion of physical and mental power by Nigerians. Like a porous substance, I hope this piece percolates through your spirit.
It is intended to compel you to ruminate deeply on how our nation deteriorated from the sublime to the ridiculous under your watch. How did we get here, President Jonathan? If you as much as admire anything in the nature of truism, you will “man-up” after reading this to prove that the ultimate testament of your manhood is not just a male erection that I presume, is often interrupted by “urgent state matters”, but that you possess virile masculinity which holds an inward sense of conscience, gusto, courage and discernment.
President Jonathan, personally, you have left me disappointed. I know several of your close allies who also are befuddled by your inaction but are too confounded to advise you for fear of losing “their chop money”. For many months now, I have wondered what has gone wrong or where things went wrong in your calculations and objectives for a greater Nigeria.
Almost three weeks ago, news broke up hill and down dale that a sizeable number of Nigerian school girls had been captured and bundled away from their classrooms as they prepared to write their exams in a community simply known as Chibok in Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno, which, as it were, is currently in a state of emergency by your declaration.
What is downright disturbing is the deafening, almost unwritten conspiracy of silence of government at various levels and the elites of the country to a sadistic, sinister occurrence as this one. Your tendency to vacillate on matters of national urgency further underscores and lends credence to some assertions by your foes that you are ill-prepared for the responsibilities of a presidency.
On 1 May, Workers’ Day, various protests were staged across the country by concerned citizens who have had enough of the injustices meted out to innocent Nigerians. And then, your May Day speech made me sleepless. Your measure of our poverty indices is by the number of private jets Nigerians own and by [Alhaji Aliko] Dangote’s unparalleled affluence as he sits pretty on the Forbes’ List. It is un-presidential to assume so, Sir. Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge, hence I advise that you please engage with ordinary Nigerians in towns and villages to understand the steep inequality that pervades our entire system.
You forget that an injury to one is an injury to all and that Nigeria is technically an aristocracy and an oligarchy where our commonwealth is being mismanaged, exploited and enjoyed by only a few people. One would have expected you to understand the numbness that deprivation deals to an individual given that you, as a child had no shoes at all, as you informed us in your 2011 campaigns. You must not forget, Mr. President, that a river that forgets its source will go dry, and soon too. You have let us down as a nation and a people.
The other day, I watched in utter dismay, as you and some others went ‘twerking’ to sonorous music of different genres only 24 hours after the dastardly act of terrorists left hundreds dead and injured in the Nyanya bomb blast. You were even pictured wriggling your waist in close proximity to another woman who is not your wife. How did you allow that to happen?
It is un-presidential, Sir. How can you keep sleeping while your bed is burning, Sir? That singular act of yours made me conclude that you had joy unspeakable, dancing on the graves of your own citizens, a people who gave up their nuances, convictions and fixated idiosyncrasies to get you elected as President of Nigeria in 2011. Yours, aside from the Abiola/Kingibe election of 1993, has been acclaimed probably the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria. and you were accepted s a “breath of fresh air”. That air now smells foul; very pungently so. Your administration is more transfixed than transformational. A lot of activity, not much movement and if there is movement, we the masses are not aware, so enlighten us with information.
As if your macabre dance was not enough insult to Nigerians, you went ahead to cancel the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in honour of the Vice-President’s younger brother who died in a car crash last week. We, the people of Nigeria empathise with Namadi Sambo but his brother, as things stand, is in no way more important or deserving of greater honour than the scores of Nigerians being massacred daily across communities in Nigeria. ‘Asise’ is a Yoruba word for ‘error’ or ‘mistakes’. If one is afflicted with asise, the fellow will continually make mistakes/errors to cause his/her own downfall. How does one justify the fact that Mr. Abba Moro, who whimsically spearheaded the botched, exploitative, criminal immigration recruitment exercise, is still harboured in your cabinet as Minister of Interior when, by now, he should have been thrown into the exterior as your expression of disapproval of his thoughtless manipulation of the teeming unemployed Nigerians?
How do I comprehend your directive to shut down all government offices – except those on essential services – and schools in the Federal Capital Territory from Wednesday, 7th to Friday, 9th May, for easy flow of traffic within the city to enable participants carry out their assigned roles and participate actively at the World Economic Forum Africa. You must think the political and business elites who are now the oracles and idols who safeguard the four corners of Nigeria deserve more security than the generality of Nigerians, Sir. How could you have removed a performing Sports Minister like Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who won us several laurels and restored the glory of Nigerian sports? My greatest bewilderment, however, stems from the fact that I have yet to see a man or public office holder who has squandered such widespread goodwill as you have.
Mr. President, you make reprehensible decisions in the worst seasons of this age. Your insensitivity to the plight of fellow Nigerians is indecent. You seem to be out of touch with reality and your inability to even feign empathy to our common impasse as a people makes one assume that the despotic Abacha was a saint compared to your person.
Your choices of aides are ludicrous. I suggest you purge your administration of all of them, save for certain intellectuals who work in your strategy war room, document your narratives and haven’t lost touch with their constituencies or sold their conscience for a mess of pottage. Others continue to dress up in arrogant ignorance and ridiculous self importance. They discharge their duties so grudgingly one would think plotting your destruction is the highlight of their job description.
They run errands you either sent them for which they should advise you otherwise or they just merely carry out their own bidding, doing more damage than good to your public image. Their postures are to consistently stay on the defensive lane, acting like attack dogs in a military barracks. They know nothing about accountability, decorum and liberty of all men that epitomise a truly burgeoning democracy. The collective complacence of your cabinet is coagulating nicely into cooperative imbecility. It is either they are too timid to confront you with the verisimilitudes of the actual state of the nation or you are not a listening leader at all. Please, fire your speech writer too. Simple.
Blood is in our territory, on your hands, Mr. President. The plentiful carnage, spate of bombings and incessant bloodbaths, have ushered in pandemonium into our homes and agony in our hearts. Our land should be green, not bloody red. International media and NGOs are mobilising global support to fing the missing Chibok schoolgirls. We cannot afford to allow these daughters to be flushed down the drain. It is un-presidential to keep mum, Sir
Mr. President, there is no effulgence in you sauntering like a sovereign commander with a swagger staff when children are vanishing from the country with such quotidian frequency. You are the Commander-in-Chief, do something. Don’t alienate us. Speak to your people. Show some human vulnerability. Deploy the military. Come clean to us. You should not be able to sleep or eat or attend any social function until those children are found. You are a father.
The parents of those missing children are in anguish. Those girls stand the risk of rape, early marriage, vesico vaginal fistula (VVF), ritual sacrifice etc. Our security as a nation has been compromised. Do something, Mr. President. You swore an oath to the Constitution of Nigeria to protect our sovereignty; I beg your pardon, but you are not acting like a Commander-in-Chief. I am not sure the average Nigerian cares about your cosmetic solutions to our national woes. You are the President, the buck stops at your table. Dare to be presidential.
– Akerele is an entrepreneur with ardent interest in human development, advocacy, media and technology.