By Anizor Nze*
There is no gainsaying that the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan have been beset by all manner of troubles which increase by the day. The government aptly reminds one of that timeless work of fiction by Anezi Okoro, ‘One Week, One Trouble.’ Each week, sometimes there are more than one in a week, presents ample opportunities for the people to have a good laugh at the president’s expense. Some of these comical opportunities arise out of what Mr President said, but some also are generated by actions of his aides or the leadership of his party. It would have been of little worry if Nigerians just laugh and get on with their lives. No, they laugh and then wonder how we came to this sad and sorry point. Mr. President has constantly alluded to ‘detractors’ who are working tirelessly to bring his government down. Although he may right, and he has a right to his opinion, it is possible he has been looking in the wrong direction. His suspicion of the opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, may be the reason he has not found any effective solution yet.
The journey to the successful treatment of an ailment begins with an accurate diagnosis.
A few instances may suffice. The Nigeria Governors’ Forum is a peer review group of state governors in Nigeria, partly modelled after the one existing in the United States of America. Naturally they have had cause to oppose a few federal government policies which in their opinion did not bode well for the states. Such policies include the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth Fund. That was really where their ‘power’ ended. The federal government could easily co – habit with them and not lose much.
When it was time for them to elect their leader, agents of the federal government foolishly turned it into a referendum on the popularity of Mr. President. They heated up the polity so much that almost every Nigerian thought the battle was between the NGF Chairman, Governor Amaechi of Rivers State, who was seeking re – election and President Goodluck Jonathan. The fact that the President is not a member of the NGF and thus could not be a candidate for their leadership was lost in the noise. When Amaechi beat Governor Jang to the position, it was taken as a defeat for the President. Of course, they made things worse by recognising the loser, Jang, instead of the winner, Amaechi. I wonder how any person could have expected the colourless Jang to defeat Amaechi in that NGF election, especially when the governors have had a taste of Amaechi’s leadership. Every single person who misled the President on the NGF matter, and who is still misleading him, is his real enemy.
The aviation authorities grounded the airplane belonging to the Rivers State government a while back. Although the aviation authorities have the power to so do if in their opinion any laws were contravened either in the purchase or use of the said aircraft, the time and the manner in which the Rivers State jet was grounded left a sour taste in the mouth. To make matters, the seizure of the aircraft had no appreciable impact on the governor, who many felt was the target, since he can easily charter an aircraft or fly commercial. It was a totally ill – advised move which did nothing but belittle the respected office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Everybody who played a part in that saga is the real enemy of Mr. President.
The Boko haram sect started long before Mr. President gave any thought to being the president of Nigeria. His predecessors gave adequate attention to the sect and kept them on the run and in hiding throughout their own tenures. But when President Jonathan became president, the common refrain became that the sect was a Northern attempt to ‘topple’ him. Probably based on this erroneous counsel, the government failed to pay the sect the serious attention it deserves, and they utilized the golden opportunity to grow, train and strengthen themselves and have become the monster we now live with. Everybody who has ever told the President that the Boko haram was formed to distract his government is his real enemy.
In April, 2014, the Boko Haram abducted almost 300 female students from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state. The critical time to rescue them which was within the first 48 hours after the crime was wasted because some people gave Mr. President the impression that the abduction was a hoax. This much has been clearly stated by ex – President Obasanjo in a recent remark. It took public protests and a campaign with the hashtag, #Bringbackourgirls to generate international attention and compel our President to even publicly acknowledge that such a calamity has befallen our nation. By that time, the chances of ever rescuing all the girls had grown much dimmer. Nothing has done more damage to the credibility of the Jonathan administration, locally and internationally, than the mishandling of the Chibok abductions. Everybody who encouraged Mr President to believe that the Chibok affair was a hoax is his real enemy.
While recently attending a security summit in France over the Boko Haram insurgency, the President was quoted as saying that Boko haram is part of Al – Qaeda. The United States government had to come out and contradict him openly. The error of his claim was so obvious because although the Boko haram makes occasional forays into Cameroun, and may have received some level of support from persons or organization outside Nigeria, it is still very much a local organization, and could not under any condition be described as being al – Qaeda. Those responsible for writing Mr. President’s speeches or helping to coordinate his public statements and who shirked their responsibilities or intentionally allowed him to embarrass himself with that clearly incorrect statement are his real enemies.
The President was recently quoted as having ordered ‘total war’ against the Boko Haram. This was an organization who, in the words of Mr. President, have killed up to 15,000 Nigerians, and are holding more than 300 Nigerian young girls captive. That statement gave the awful impression that Mr. President allowed the terrorists to kill thousands of people before remembering to take action to bring them to book. Those who allowed Mr President to make that speech implying that he waited till the terrorist group killed up to 15,000 Nigerians before deciding to wage war on them are his real enemies.
Former Central bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi Lamido, raised a memo to Mr. President claiming that certain monies belonging to the federal government were yet to be remitted to the Federation Account by the NNPC. This was a purely administrative matter that could have been handled without the attendant publicity. But it was mishandled and turned to a battle between Mr. President and the CBN Governor. Those who cunningly turned a misunderstanding between the NNPC and the CBN into a battle between Sanusi and the President are his real enemies. Considering that both NNPC and CBN ‘belong’ to the president, those who deceived Mr. President into aligning himself with the NNPC against the CBN did him a great disservice and are thus his real enemies. They have created the impression that Mr. President is neck deep in whatever may have gone wrong in the NNPC. These are people whose primary responsibility is to insulate the President from scandals as much as possible and maintain the sanctity of his high office. With aides like that, Mr. President does not need any enemies from without.
The president was quoted recently as saying that he’ll develop Ekiti state if Fayose wins the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state. That was one of the worst statements to emanate from the president of a country. His speech writers and advisers who allowed him to make that shocking statement are his real enemies.
Before engaging in public engagements like the Presidential media chat, the president’s media team and other relevant advisers are expected to sit down with him and review his presentation. If they have not got the questions to be put to him in advance, they brainstorm, examine the current issues in Nigeria, and devise possible answers to those questions. Whoever prepared Mr. President for the last media chat and who did such a poor job of it is his real enemy. Going through the sound bites of that chat makes one to shudder in shock and disbelief.
There are currently reports of soldiers clamping down on certain newspaper houses, harassing vendors who sell their publications and impounding their products. The excuse for this action is ‘security reasons.’ But nobody is deceived. In fact the action is so ridiculous in its ineffectiveness.
Most newspapers are online and harassing vendors cannot stop people from accessing and reading the publications. The ill – advised action of the soldiers will also make those targeted publications to become sought – after and increase their value. A government that is battling serious credibility problems does not need this distraction. The only thing the present harassment will achieve is to create the impression that the government is dictatorial and turn more Nigerians against it. No matter what may say about President Jonathan, I doubt that he can be accused of being a dictator.
Whoever is working so hard to create the impression in the minds of Nigerians and the international community is his real enemy.
Recently, the throne of the Emir of Kano became vacant by virtue of the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero.
The process of selecting a new Emir is clear and suffers no ambiguity. The kingmakers select three members of the royal family and submit the list to the state governor who has the sole prerogative of appointing the Emir. Common sense dictated that the title was Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s to lose. He has great clout and is said to have a sympathy for the All Progressive Congress which is the party in power in the state. He has done a lot for his people, and his recent disagreement with the President which led to his suspension from office as CBN Governor made him a victim. And he has never hidden his desire to succeed the now late Emir. Naturally, one would expect Governor Kwakwanso to favour him in the appointment of the new Emir. The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh released a statement congratulating one of the contenders to the throne for having been ‘selected’ as the Emir. That statement, which is mind – numbing, went ahead to seek to create a division in the royal family by seeking to separate the sons of Alhaji Ado Bayero from their cousins , and implying that Sanusi Lamido Sanusi sought to ‘buy’ the throne but failed. At the time the PDP released that statement, the Governor had not selected any of the candidates. Of course, the party then ‘withdrew’ the statement and tried unsuccessfully to blame it on one of Metuh’s aides. They forgot to explain under what circumstances an aide of their national officer can release a statement on behalf of the PDP and attach Metuh’s name to it, without the express prior consent of his principal. The party created the impression that the battle for the throne of Emir of Kano was between Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and President Jonathan. Thus when Sanusi was selected, it was seen as a defeat for the President. This was in a matter which does not and should not concern him. Those who drafted and released that ignoble ‘congratulatory message’ are the real enemies of Mr. President.
Sometime ago, hapless unemployed Nigerian youth were made to pay N1000 each in a bid to secure employment into the Nigeria Immigration Service. Apart from this manifestly illegal and irresponsible act, they were invited to crammed stadia purportedly to write tests for the employment. Ordinarily, there is no condition under which tens of thousands of people copula have written any tests in those stadia and the organisers knew it. The fact that there were no writing desks provided in the stadia was a confirmation that the organizers simply wanted to scam the unemployed youth and had no intention of administering any tests on them. They simply wanted to give them the impression that the money they paid has been put to use. Unfortunately, that money – making venture went south as more than 20 of the applicants lost their lives in stampede caused by the unsavoury conditions in the various stadia where they were gathered. There is no other country on earth where the Minister of Interior and any other government officer involved in that madness would not have lost their jobs and be facing prosecution for murder, or in the least culpable homicide, that is expect Nigeria under the present government. Everybody who played a part in Mr. President not taking any action against his officers involved in that murderous scam is his real enemy. The impression is that the lives of Nigerians means nothing to him, and that is not the type of impression a leader with an eye on history wants to create about himself.
A few days ago, the chartered aircraft, which conveyed Governor Amaechi of Rivers State and a few other persons to Kano for a condolence visit to the state governor, was reported to have been grounded at the Aminu Kano International Airport. According to reports, the Governor had to take the great risk of driving from Kano to Abuja that night. Grounding the aircraft served no useful purpose since it did not stop the governor from leaving Kano that same night. It was just an inconvenience. So what was the objective? The more they snip at Amaechi’s heels, the more they make him the underdog being harassed by a bully. Very few people like bullies, and the underdog has a way of attracting public sympathy. They keep his name perpetually in the news, give him country – wide name recognition and raise his political profile. Whoever is hiding under the presidency to promote Amaechi is the president’s real enemy. This is more so when one considers the likelihood of the Rivers State governor emerging the APC presidential flag bearer and possibly becoming the president’s nemesis come February, 2015.
There are many more instances like those enumerated above. Considering that Mr. President has surrounded himself with aides who are well – educated, experienced and smart, the missteps which give his administration a bad name must be attributed to sabotage from within. It does not make sense that a government which rode into office on the wings of incredible goodwill from the length and breadth of the country could be so intent on frittering it all away. There is no doubt that Mr. President has enemies; the only worry is that while his enemies are within, he is casting his eyes to distant and far – flung places in the search for these people who seek to render his government ineffective, and his place in history a mere footnote.
Although time is running out, a proper house – cleaning is in order and can still be achieved.
*Source saharareporters .You may follow the writer on twitter: @Okenze