Nigeria @ 52: The Agony of President Jonathan’s Heresy

by Tunde Ali

History revealed that the team of the visionary and radical young adults who fought for Nigeria’s independence came from different parts of the country. They looked beyond their geographical boundaries and their ethnic, religion, and language differences. They fought with passion to free their loved nation from the oppression of the British imperialist. The natural features which prone them to doom became the strength of their unity.

The founding fathers were united in their goal for the new born Nigeria. A goal to nourish an independent state where the citizens can live together peacefully as one indivisible political entity.

52 years thereafter, the erstwhile dream and aspirations of the founding fathers appear utopia. This has nothing to do with the identified strength of human and material resources. The reason, simply is poor leadership quality of their successors.

These young nationalists were driven by a political-philosophy that hinges on alleviating the suffering of their people by improving the quality of their lives. It was a philosophy that stressed leadership by service.

But the funfair of a new and promising nation state was short lived. In 1963 shortly after Nigeria became a republic, the erstwhile nationalists who were self- styled “servant of the people” suddenly became their lord-masters and betrayed the noble cause which brought them into the center of public life. They became corrupt, oppressive and repressive. They used the instrument of the state to perpetrate wanton atrocities that are not only detrimental to the growth of a new nation, but contagious enough to destroy the foundations and destiny of many other young African countries.

The peculiarity of this savage culture has been transferred from one generation of Nigeria’s political leaders to another, with each successor trying to outshine its predecessors in the show of shame. The leadership of government business is not interested in creating credible and sustainable political legacy, rather their mindset is focused on stealing in an extraordinary fashion.

Consequently, the culture of corruption and stealing spread to the nooks and cronies of the Nigerian society. It became a subculture of the politicians and leaders of government business. It was a means of quick wealth accumulation. Its mortal infection contaged both the judiciary and the fourth estate that supposed to be the gate keeper to the society.

Corruption further polarizes the society by widening the gap between the rich and the poor. It became a driving force into politics. Record indicates that virtually everybody that seeks elective office in Nigeria has the ulterior motive to steal from the treasury.

This is the moribund political and economic threshold which Nigerians have tolerated from one administration to another. Nigerians have consistently hoped for good governance and a better tomorrow. Unfortunately, the hope for a better future is dashed, and the people are beginning to hold their leaders accountable for their wrong doings. Nigerians have finally risen to the challenges of demanding from their leaders’ accountability without compromising patriotism.

Nation’s independence is considered special by its natives. It is more important than any other celebrated public holiday. This is because it affords the citizens the opportunity to reflect on the state of their statehood. It also enables the incumbent president the opportunity to update the citizens about the true state of affairs of the nation. The president is expected to be nakedly blunt and honest. He is expected to explain the success and challenges of his administration; The president is expected to talk about his administration’s policy to resolve any existing domestic and foreign problem. This will enable the people to have the correct information about the nation, and by this token assist them in making the decision to continue to support the administration or organize to terminate it.

Regrettably, Nigerian presidents especially the last eight (from Ibrahim Babangida to Jonathan Good Luck) have not been honest in their state of the nation’s address. Their speeches are clustered around political correctness rather than providing honest and accurate information to the people. A look into their independence speeches from IBB to JEG will confirm this assertion. A reflection on President Jonathan GoodLuck’s 52nd independence speech is another attestation to this unhealthy practice. His speech was a complete wastage of 15 minutes of the people’s lives. In fact, it was a painful and needless heresy of a regime that appears to have disconnected itself from the aspirations of its people.

His independence speech revealed that it was mostly a repetition of his 2011 address. It shows lots of unfinished job that are compounded by incessant domestic insurgence. He repeatedly talked about his transformational agenda with inconsistency. As the speech progressed, he changed the core value of his agenda and trivialized its credibility.

The president informed the nation that Nigeria’s economy has done remarkably well despite the global financial crisis with an average GDP of 7.1 percent. This is a welcomed development, but he failed to tell the nation why this development did not transform into at least one percent improvement in the welfare of the Nigerian people. He said that the energy has been improved due to “successful implementation of a well- integrated power sector reform program which includes institutional arrangements to facilitate and strengthen private-sector-led power generation, transmission and distribution”. By this policy, electricity has been categorized as a luxury to an average Nigerian. Its forces will not be driven by the social need of the people but with greed of the private individual or corporate investors to which it is assigned. This implies that there is no end in sight for the era of total darkness and electric- generator induced air pollution.

Dr. Jonathan told the nation that several government programs such as “You –Win for youth and women” Public Works, the Local Content Initiative in the Oil and Gas Sector, and Agricultural Transformation programs are creating wealth and millions of job opportunities for the youth and general population. He failed to provide any statistical data to support this half-truth made believe story. The only accurate information here is that his administration, just like his predecessors has made another set of “wealthy” individuals by rechanneling multi-billion naira which was intended to create employment into the private accounts of the his supporters, party dependents and professional politicians.
Concerning employment, the huge number of unemployed graduate who parade the street in search of “gainful employment” speaks for itself. Its reality invalidates Mr. President’s sweet talk. What this administration pretends to underscore is the fact that every unemployed person is a good candidate for anti-social behavior, and are vulnerable to domestic insurgency.

On the issue of conducive investment environment, the president told the nation that Nigeria was able to realize over N6.8 trillion and foreign direct investment commitments. What the president failed to mention was the nation’s account where the proceed was deposited, or what development or re-investment project the proceed was expended on, if it has been spent. What we know is that similar national income does not find its way to the required federation account. It is usually shared by the top government officials, especially those of them who work around the fund.

The president said that Nigeria has become a preferred destination for investment in Africa, and that “it ranked first in the top five host economies from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa”. As good as this i

nformation sounds, it is not sure whether such status is not a perception of the investing country’s branding of Nigeria as a country whose government is morbidly corrupt. A country where any act of lawlessness is possible and permissible. A nation where the courts can be influenced to compromise judicial integrity.

The health sector did not avoid the president’s bragging. He said “in the last two years, we have put in place structures for an upgrade of the country’s health sector, to promote in every respect, the individual citizen’s right to quality, affordable and accessible healthcare,” The president was not sincere and grossly inaccurate with this statement. It is a mockery of his health policy and assumption. At best, his statement can be described as a blind man’s lie.

Heath records nationwide indicate that the nation’s hospitals are worse than what Brigadier Sanni Abacha of the infamous 1983 military coup described as “mere consulting clinics”. I am sure that the president knew this. He knows that his healthcare policy is either ineffective or inexistent. Many government officials and their families within the same period have sought and continue to seek medical treatment in foreign country. For instance the wife of the president – Mrs. Patience Jonathan was reported to have travelled to Dubai, Italy, Germany among others for medical treatment. An unconfirmed source indicated that Nigeria government spent over N180 billion annually on foreign medical bills. If this type of money is effectively utilized, it can positively impact the health care delivery of the nation.

Furthermore, the president’s speech about his administration’s fight on corruption makes him a laughing stock. This is because unparalleled financial atrocities are been repeatedly perpetrated by nearly everybody from the National Assembly to the presidency. The negligible few that are indicted were neither arrested nor tried.

On national security, the president’s performance was below optimum. Jonathan compromised the security of the people to consolidate his safety. Enormous N921 billion was voted for his security under 2012 budget, and early this month, he inaugurated a newly formed 176 Special Forces Battalion, adding to the existing 177 and 7 battalions of the presidential guards brigade; while the nefarious activities of the notorious Boko Haram continue with impunity. Addressing the nation’s security issues during his 2011 independence speech, President Jonathan condemned all acts of violence and referred to it as “mindless savage”, which will not be allowed to define our country. He promised to spare no effort in fighting crime, building peace, and securing homeland against internal threats and infiltration by violent groups from outside our boarders. One year later, the extent to which he is able to achieve this goal can be measured by the severity of terror which the combination of Boko Haram, armed robbery, Fraternity Cults in tertiary institution, etc. have unleashed havoc on innocent citizens.

Why did the president withhold the whole truth from his constituency? Why would he deny the people accurate information about their nation? Is this his understanding of the concept of transparent honesty? Does he think that Nigerians are retarded and would not be able to discern facts from fiction? Surely, Mr. President has screwed-up, and he need to be reminded that Nigerians are not barbarians. We are a nation of courageous and civilized people whose meekness must not be mistaken for idiocy. The people have the right to the whole truth about the affairs of their government. Even if the president feels that he can no longer deliver his party’s political agenda, he need to let the people know. It is his obligation.

Political recklessness, insensitivity and dishonesty of our government officials must stop. When Nigerians elected their leaders into office, they did so with the expectation that the elected officers will be transparently honest in their activities of government business, therefore any contrary behavior is not only a negation of the people’s trust, it is a betrayal their mandate.

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