BY FOLA OJO
There are many of us who have a clear understanding of the enormity of the burden of leadership. Leading a family, church, business or a community has its biting effect on whoever has been chosen to lead. In a convolution like Nigeria, leadership is more challenging because there are too many holes and vacuums to fill, and too many complex problems to solve. Aeschylus was the ancient Greek playwright who made this statement: “It is an easy thing for one whose foot is on the outside of calamity to give advice and to rebuke the sufferer.” President Goodluck Jonathan has his whole body immersed in the turbulence of presiding over a behemoth intricacy like Nigeria. I feel his pain and frustration.
The President may or may not know this; around his throne are many liars and deceivers laying in wait daily at the gate. Around him are those chanting only songs that are pleasant and sweet in his ears. Gluttons are in charge of the treasury and gerrymandering geeks are trusted confidants of this commander, and as a result, the terrain of leadership becomes tougher and more treacherous to navigate. But alarmingly by choice, the President is salivating for more time in the turbulent whirlwind of government he does not seem to have a savvy cue about. I wish him all the good luck.
Jonathan has been called many names by his many admirers. They have called him the “best president ever” in the history of Nigeria; they have called him Mandela, Obama, and Martin Luther King. To some, he is a combination of Awolowo, Sardauna and Azikiwe. A friend of mine from Anambra recently called him Ojukwu and Mbakwe put together in one Ebele. DoyinOkupe, presidential spokesman, this week likened him to Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God who came to bear our burdens. From all these grandiloquent adorning names given to him, the President has not publicly answered to any. He knows he is Goodluck Jonathan who has limitations.
Addressing the United Nations’ diplomats in Addis Ababa, Monday, January 31, 2011, the President said these words: “If I’m voted into power, within the next four years, the issue of power will become a thing of the past. Four years is enough for anyone in power to make a significant improvement and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything…” I was not surprised when the Federal Ministry of Power stated on its website that the energy sent out by the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry has dropped to 2,954.51 megawatts. Goodluck knows what Jonathan is able to do.
But Mr. President has fallen into the hands of vultures whose menu is money in bails and batches. There is a video which has gone viral where the President emphatically said that he would only serve one term in office if elected. Reuben Abati, the President’s spokesman, among many other personalities, echoed the same sentiments on the video, and the Nigerian Television Authority reported it. Nobody pressured the President to make this statement; that was the real Otuoke-bred Jonathan whose words used to be his bond. But when he tasted the irresistible sweet pudding of power, and egged on by the surrounding sounds of sycophants, denial of the promise started pouring in like an abundance of rain. Jonathan should know that six years is good enough for any human being to be president of Nigeria, with or without shoes. He should know that whatever any president cannot achieve in six years, he cannot achieve in 10. But my President has fallen into the hands of powerful interests and cabal who know that their dinner table will be empty if a Jonathan is not in power.
A former aviation minister and a boisterously-loud supporter of Jonathan’s re-election said this about the President just a few years ago: “If Goodluck Jonathan wants his fortunes and the fortunes of his party to change and if he wants peace to return to our shores, he simply has to do 12 things. Firstly, he has to resign as president forthwith and undertake to stay out of Nigerian politics for the next 10 years and confine himself to fishing in Otuoke”. He has said worse things about this President, but today, he is on a fishing expedition with him. These are the kinds of characters around the throne.
Some liars around him are pastors who prophesy lies. Friends, many of these pastors are like fallen angels; if you fall into their hands, you have fallen flat and irredeemably finished forever. They are those who organise conferences and seminars all over the nation chanting; “Goodluck Jonathan, there is none like you”. Some of these disgusting pastors have attempted ministry-exploits abroad in times past but failed woefully and had no choice but to return to Nigeria and devise lies to make a living. They are taking advantage of our President, shoving the people’s money into their building projects and personal drive for filthy lucre. They frequent Aso Rock in special vigil prayer sessions; and there they “prophe-lie” that God “wants” Jonathan to be in power forever.
Pathetic peripatetic pastors hopping on hired private jets to Jerusalem today, Rome tomorrow with all expenses paid by our government from funds that should build roads and hospitals for Nigerians who are dying daily unnecessarily. There is a particular pastor who attempted to scare all of us that any Muslim presidential candidate is a terrorist who wants to turn Nigeria into Turkey and Afghanistan. He instils a bugaboo via horrible videos of beheadings into our young people that a particular political party is about to turn every one of us into Talibans. And he knows he is wrong, and he also knows we know he is hungry.
Every church he goes preaching his hate messages, fat envelopes in priestly offerings and honorarium follow. And he shamefully does this on a choreographed Bible-study curriculum of fear, deception and lies. When the baton of power changes, these same characters will immediately begin charting another course for themselves to initiate a romance with the government in power. These are the characters around this President who won’t tell him the true state of our union. No single Nigerian president in this democracy has the power to do what this pastor has been blabbing about. If it couldn’t be done during the military regime where power was in an exclusive concentration in one junta, it cannot be done now. In the present Nigerian arrangement, will either a Muslim or Christian monopolise the Presidency and political power? Never!
As long as Nigeria remains intact as one nation indivisible, leadership assignments will be shared and rotated between men and women who hold different religious beliefs. No one religion will have a controlling monopoly on leadership in our country because we are not homogenous in belief. Those who are praying to God that a Muslim or Christian candidate rules forever in Nigeria are just daydreaming. The average Nigerian on the street doesn’t care what God you serve. Religion is not the factor for many, relief from these hard times is. And this President is having a hard time bringing that about.
Nigerians are sick-and-tired of being sick-and-tired of these hard times. That’s why clamours for some kind of change are hitting a crescendo. We want a president who will not design thieving conduits to enrich a few rapacious Nigerians and their foreign collaborators; we want a president who is not afraid to confront Boko Haram and its cohorts not scurry from them, and we want a president who will not lead from behind. This is the wind that is blowing across Nigeria today.