An Apologetic Presidency

by Michael Oluwagbemi II

The perceived cluelessness of the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is about as old news as Ex-President Obasanjo’s assertion that the nation’s politicians are crooks. It was patently obvious that from the very first day GEJ stood close enough to power, he lacked the very gusto and presence of mind to lead a nation this complex, complicated and tasking. Nevertheless, the people elected him.

To millions, their vote for Jonathan was an “aspirational” one; it was a statement of hope that things could be better. They wanted him to succeed; they hung on every one of his statements. He in turn promised to deliver; he promised transformation. Fast forward, one year after his election and two years after his ascension Nigerians are being paid back in suicide bombs, corruption scandals and the President boldly hanging out with terrorists and criminals!

In spite of the President’s monumental failure, his supporters continue to hold steadfast. They didn’t believe it when they got their man elected against all odds, and they are still not going to believe it when their man simply cannot muster courage to deliver. To them, an all or nothing proposition that the Nigeria Presidency have become makes it imperative they stick their neck out till the very end. What they have left though this time around are bunch of apologies: they are apologetics!

A Presidency whose retort to an inability to begin a national conversation on the viability of the current structures that consumes too much and delivers too little is that “they never created the mess”, is one that apologizes. In a regime where three out of the four topmost leaders are from minority regions, one will expect a more concerted effort towards a national conference where the perennial national question can be thrashed out, but rather than being a catalyst the President is now the logjam.

I sympathize with the man, he seem surrounded and utterly out of his league. Information squeezed out of the grapevine indicates a leadership groping in darkness and expecting a miracle. Simply put, our man has no plan and he will never find it. The Presidents’ plan for terrorism according to him is an expectation of time; he expects this to pass too! Is that a sensible plan?

Speaking about plans, it seems the only plan the President has is expanding the boundaries of corruption as far as he can. The man appears never to be able to shake off the gross stealing that took place under him and his Principal (Ex-Governor Alamieyeseigha) in Bayelsa state. Indeed, the $30 million suitcase caught with his wife needs no explanation now that he is president but corruption seems to have taking a throne seat in his presidential palace.

Or how else can one explain away his links with subsidy corruption widely reported at the lead up to the elections? The fact that his petroleum minister required some stated deposit to make licenses appear or disappear as the election of last year approached? Or how can one explain his recent links to the Malabu oil deal that stinks to high heavens, and which his aides had trouble dismissing! Well, Mr. President- you apparently have fears but not fear of dipping your hands in the cookie jars. No this is no Shagari, that one had no spine to control the kleptocrats around, this one does: he demands payments!

The next scandal to break seem to be around the crass corruption in the Party the president leads as well as some juicy security contracts now in the 2012 budget. We hear his party wants to finally declare upfront what they really are: a criminal enterprise of never do-wells, set up for the sole purpose of looting the nation dry of her resources. Will you patronize PDP Inc as well? Mr. President, where do thou stand on this? Speaking about security, there is a long line stretching from Edet House to every morally bankrupt well from Asokoro to Yenagoa as we speak, and the wonder child IG may as well be the participant-in-chief. Time will tell.

And while all these are going, subsidy thieves must be protected; your attorney general seem to lack the general courage to take on bold enforcement tasks; he pleads for due process over matters that don’t require them while he moves with quick dispatch over cases against your perceived political enemies. In the same vein, extra-judicial killings have overtaken the land; political enemies and perceived terrorist targets are felled every week by bullets and President Jonathan’s government seems to be taking a nap.

Even our friends in the United Kingdom cannot seem to make out why this government was not rejoicing when they convicted a Governor you found it hard to nail Most likely, the British must be wondering why you’re always hanging out with a jailbird whom an INTERPOL warrants is probably out for jumping bail in their country. I speak of your mentor, Ex-Governor Alamieyeseigha whose second permanent residence is the Aso Rock Villa these days!

Oh never mind, the devil made you do all of this. At least, so your most ardent supporters claim. Those who want to take these apologies to higher levels even dare insinuate that your screw up only serves another turn as those higher ones of the majority tribes have been doing it before you! Enjoy, while it last. As if hanging out with Kleptomaniacs are not enough, your latest BFF list includes the likes of ex-militants and warlords.

A President that seem so comfortable in the presence of criminals and terrorists, only mouth redundant platitudes when bombs awash the citizenry one Sunday in and out. He has reduced himself to as much a spectator and commentator as any riff-raff on the streets. Here is a man with an army, a police, a treasury, the presidency and all he looks to is the hope that someone fishes out the same terrorists he claims to know their identity? What is happening to his apologies?

What Nigeria need at this point in her history are not platitudes. We don’t need a plan, we don’t need a budget neither do we need a task force. We don’t need white papers; committees to consider them won’t cut it and conferences to discuss is not enough!

If the President wants to salvage whatever is left of his Presidency, he will immediately appoint a corruption tzar to clean house and jail a lot of people; in addition to that he will reorganize the security apparatus holistically for effectiveness along federal lines by reshaping the Police Force. These and focusing on providing infrastructure and power, with tangible results in 6 months is only what will not make his administration a study in apologetics rather than an apology to polemics! What we need is not apologies, what we want is action! Is Ebele up to it, or are his apologists just going to serve it up already?

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