The Jonathan We Know – A response to the antics of Reuben Abati

by Olusegun Fakoya

These are indeed precarious times for Reuben Abati. And like any sinking man, desperate to hold on to a fast dwindling job, Dr Abati has resorted to desperate measures. The flurry of articles from him in recent times speaks volumes about his desperation. For a man who hid under the “umblellah” (sorry, umbrella) of social activism for many years, the opportunity to partake in the sweetness of power has been a mesmerizing experience which he is in no hurry to willingly relinquish. Dr Abati desperation is such that he has even resorted to abusing and insulting Nigerians. His latest article titled “The Jonathan they don’t know” is just another wasteful enterprise aimed at refurbishing a bad product. It is rather too late in the day to attempt to turn an imbecile into a genius.

Reuben, in his desperate article created a strategic divide based on perceived loyalty or otherwise. A very unfortunate division was created based on activism or passivism. His battle line consists of the “They” and the loyalists. Loyalists, by his definition, being those benefitting from the potpourri. Those in the privileged league of the manipulators and beneficiaries of our commonwealth. Those who persistently deny the nation of deserved economic and material development. The thieves who roam the corridor of power and keeps the lock to same in their bulging pockets. These, to Reuben Abati, are the good Nigerians, those who have left Goodluck Jonathan in peace. The “They” according to Abati “refers to all the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria, who seem to be in competition among themselves to pull down President Goodluck Jonathan” Obviously, to this exalted company belongs the likes of Sonala Olumhense, Pius Adesanmi, Okey Ndibe and a host of others. I must confess that my humble self also has company in this prestigious group. Reuben, however, belongs to that other group of “good Nigerians” those who sleep and wake up with scandals, those who keep corruption as comfortable bed fellows. We heard of the rumbles of the Abuja plots of land, even when Abati was pretending to be a social critic. This rumble had hardly abated when the opportunity to explore his true identity came by the way of the presidential appointment.

To Reuben, the group of “They” are a “bunch of unintelligent people repeating stupid clichés and too many intelligent persons wasting their talents lending relevance to thoughtless conclusions”. So, our exalted group of “They” consists of either plainly stupid people or naively intelligent people. It is worth restating that Reuben Abati once belonged to this maligned group. Reuben’s insult to the intelligentsia and those Nigerians who have sacrificed so much to ensure that the Nigerian state assumes its true position in the comity of nations is unpardonable. It is bad enough for a hypocrite to denounce his initial constituency, it is criminal to turn around and lambast same for failing to see the sense in your sudden turncoat and imminent disintegration. It is so easy to castigate the same group of “They” who fought to ensure that the Jonathan Presidency becomes a reality. Has Reuben pondered on the causes of the massive evaporation of the uninhibited flow of affection and national support for candidate Jonathan? What turned the almost hysterical Jonathan-mania into rabid Jonathan-phobia? Conscience, they say, is an open wound…. Only truth can heal it.

Reuben’s effort to blow the trumpet of achievement for Goodluck Jonathan sounded very hollow, even on the pages on which they were written. For a previously “shoeless” President (Reuben can never stop us from making reference to this appropriate description) who promised heaven and earth on his campaign trips, the boast of 4,400 MW of electricity in a nation that is still in perpetual darkness went beyond the bounds of pardonable mischief. Reuben’s lukewarm reference to presidential concerns on corruption is nothing but laughable – “That is why he has directed the relevant agencies to get corrupt persons to answer for their misdeeds” Reuben, when the current charade on corruption is over, we hope that genuine convictions would indeed be possible. Farouk Lawan is still a free man, walking and enjoying free sunshine with millions of bribe money yet to be accounted for. Otedola’s cheeks are growing rosier every day while the nation’s Attorney-General is probably the richest Nigerian today courtesy of a lax regime that encourages graft. Furthermore, Reuben’s attempt to speak about his master’s inordinate love for the women folk smirks of nothing but jest. True, Jonathan has loads of females in his government compared to his predecessors. However, the concern of majority of Nigerians is with the innate penchant of this man to surround himself with the most corrupt and despicable Nigerians ever created, whether males or females.

Without wasting so many words like Reuben is fond of doing, the truth about Goodluck Jonathan stares at one in the face. It is not for nothing that he is viewed as clueless. This is a simple English expression within the grasp of even the barely literate. Jonathan has so far demonstrated his lack of understanding of the basic mechanism of governance, the constitutional and moral obligation of a government to the people and the fine etiquettes of Presidential approach. He is an opportunist who jumped at the ship of state without adequate preparation. His government is belligerent; an example is the latest crude and rude articles from Reuben Abati and the unpalatable appointment of Doyin Okupe as a frenzied attack dog. Jonathan is manifestly corrupt and he has no qualms in attempting to brush this under the carpet. It is beyond comprehension, that the President of over 150 million people, people who continue to excel in various spheres of human endeavour, would publicly declare on national television that he does not give a damn about declaring his assets. Reuben Abati is yet to address this sore point in his numerous essays.

Abati has my sympathy in his attempt to refurbish the morally tainted and structurally deformed presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. True, Jonathan is “nationalistic” in orientation in terms of federal appointments (to use the Nigerian phrase, he is a good disciple of national character), nevertheless, former criminals of the creeks are now handling sensitive national security apparatus. The old Ijaw Generals of the ill-famed creek wars are now multi-billionaires, smiling comfortably to the banks every month, courtesy of a truly national President. The likes of General Tompolo et al. Who cares whether Jonathan eats cassava or whole meal bread or even boiled plantain for that matter? The key thing is that in an austere environ when millions are out of jobs, when crime is blooming like the old Onitsha market and when terrorism is sweeping the land like a raging inferno, our belligerent President spends billions annually on food. This is an undisputable fact that Reuben failed to address. Abati has gone miles in his unfortunate academic odyssey of rationalising a bad product. He has thrown terms around, starting with Corporate Social Responsibility, a la the infamous Otuoke Church building, to the new “Saul Complex” in his latest tirade. Whether corporate responsibility or Saul Complex, a decaying product would always stink, no matter the intensity of the advertisement.

The Jonathan we know? The Jonathan we know is a President who promised so much and yet intent on delivering so little. The Jonathan we know is an opportunist. An over-ambitious man toying with the fate of millions. The Jonathan we know is a man who assumes a position of authority fully beyon

d his capability and comprehension. The Jonathan we know is a President who is so enwrapped in the loin clothes of his wife such that the country is actually confused as to who is in power. He thus brought nothing but baggage into the act of governance. The Jonathan we know is a president who glorifies corruption and embraces its evil warmth – “if corruption does not kill Nigeria, Nigeria will kill corruption” The Jonathan we know is a non-performing President, a colossal failure. This is the verdict of the people, Reuben.

No Nigerian has any quarrel with any part of the country producing the leadership. What we care about is performance. We care less whether the President is an Itsekiri or Ibibio. We have no qualms with the Ijaws (whether the 4th most populous or 10th most populous) producing the President. All we desire is a leader intent on ridding our body polity of its various nuances. A leader committed to emancipating the fast dwindling lots of poor Nigerians. A leader committed to faithfully fighting the strangulating hold of corruption and the endless evils that have truncated our march to greater glory. We need a leader that can go beyond the pretences of party politics and truly be a leader indeed. Our complaints against the lacklustre performance of Jonathan have nothing to do with his ethnic origin, Reuben and mavericks like him do not need to confuse issues. We simply do not want the man because he is not performing. Period.

Yes, great minds like Abraham Lincoln, Mahtama Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Kwame Nkrumah made the world easier. Yet whatever they achieved was with plainness of approach, honesty and integrity. They were not achieved with the purchase of hundreds of porch cars for a frivolous and egomaniac meeting of wives of discredited heads of governments. They were not achieved on the lavish expenditure of state fortune on state banquets or meals. They were not attained with dourness and stupidity. They came out of a vibrant methodology and pragmatic visions. Jonathan lacks these qualities. Comparing the man Jonathan to these great minds is illusory and vain.

Reuben’s attempt is that of a sinking man desperately trying to catch a lifeline of straw.

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