By Donu Kogbara
LAST week, I complained about the Bayelsa Governor’s decision to make Dame Patience Jonathan a Permanent Secretary.
I echoed the many critics who have quite rightly said that it is inappropriate to give The Dame a job that is normally reserved for people who have been full-time civil servants for many years. I also wondered why she would bother with a title that doesn’t add to the seniority and status she already enjoys as First Lady of the Federal Republic.
I also took a couple of very aggrieved pot shots at The Dame’s husband and said that his unimpressive performance to date has encouraged all manner of disgruntled elements from other geopolitical zones to (unfairly, in my opinion) say that they will never support a Niger Deltan Presidential candidate again.
Most of the Vanguard readers who reacted to my comments totally agreed with me. But a small handful disagreed. And I don’t have a major problem with those who told me that they felt that I had been too harsh (as in it’s no big deal if The Dame wants to be a Perm Sec) or too impatient (as in Jonathan has not been in charge for long and deserves more time in which to prove himself).
Life would be extremely boring if everyone responded to every issue in the same way; and I sometimes find conflicting points of view educational.
But I take exception when readers contact me to talk complete rubbish! And I didn’t appreciate the two Jonathan fans who reckon that I am only complaining about the First Couple in the hope that if I apply pressure on them and draw attention to myself, they will offer me juicy government perks to shut me up.
If they knew me and my life story, they might not jump to such insulting conclusions. And, for the record, guys, I am not short of high-level contacts and would have been a government billionaire by now if I’d been willing to play certain games.
But – stupidly perhaps! – I chose to listen to a persistent inner voice that has always assured me that money and power don’t buy peace of mind.
I have always had access to myriad golden opportunities. But I also have a rebellious streak and I am unwilling to pay the price attached to cleverly exploiting this access. And, whether you believe me or not, God knows the truth. And the truth is that I am a real journalist.
The truth is that if I write negative stuff about a VIP, it is because I genuinely believe that he or she has screwed up in one way or another.
I am not a blackmailer. I do not scheme to manipulate dignitaries into buying my silence. Nor do I need to subtly and slyly beg them for invites to a high table I can probably join fairly easily if I ever agree to change my troublesome ways! And, by the way, I have only whinged bitterly about The Dame and Mr President because I feel let down and want them to fulfil their potential.
Fulfilling their potential
The Dame is a nice-looking woman who may not be professorial, but she has the ability to come across as warm and pleasantly down-to-earth.
And I’m sorry if this sounds sectional. But her village is less than one hour’s drive from my village, so I regard her as a sister of sorts; and I want her to do well and ditch all this Perm Sec palaver and jewellery matter and concentrate on becoming the first First Lady to establish a serious charity that can stand the test of time.
It is one thing to prance around on TV and in various public fora, draped in costly garments and talking about your projects from On High. It is another thing to actually become a hands-on grassroots philanthropist who will be forever loved for transforming the existences of ordinary folks.
And I urge The Dame to behave more like Mother Theresa and less like a frivolous socialite!
As for Mr President, I’ve met him a couple of times. And I’ve had some intelligent conversations with him, so I know that he is not a moron. And I wish that he would ginger up and do better and kick his detractors into touch.
I received the following letter from a Yoruba Vanguard reader via Facebook. Sure, Dr and Dame Jonathan can ignore such remarks. But if I were in their shoes, I would take them as a wake-up call:
“…We all know the President is muddling things up big time…I think we have sunk to the deepest depth we could ever have imagined in this nation…Many people I know from the South West worked very hard for Goodluck Jonathan to be president. Many of us stood solidly behind him in those dark days when we were being told to forget about him because of the so-called zoning formula……
“…And we are all now disappointed at what we are getting from someone we thought would use Ph.D brains to lead us out of the depth we were already in…
“…Many Niger Deltans are hard working…but I feel that we all need to know when to call a spade a spade and find a way out of this quagmire we have been pushed into. We can only do it together…”.