By Kassim Afegbua
Last week Sunday, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President’s Spokesman, came up with a tawdry essay about what some Nigerians do not know about President Jonathan.
Dr. Reuben Abati’s literary justification of the Jonathan “they” do not know strikes me like a fantasy, some piece of fiction written to pass West African School certificate examination, but certainly not to impress us or communicate with Nigerians.
That he condescended to the level of telling us about a President who went round the country to campaign for elections also presupposes that there is something about the President’s personality that is at issue and which Nigerians are yet to fathom.
The mere fact of telling Nigerians about a certain President they voted for underscores the sore point that the Nigerian presidency has been brought down from that Olympian height to a low level.
If I am told that a certain Reuben Abati, such a cerebral writer with sumptuous degree of intellectual savvy could be the one telling us about our President in such pedestrian verbiage, I will certainly cringe in my innermost. But that is the story today.
Where has Abati,s critical mind gone all of a sudden? I understand that once anyone takes an appointment in the villa, no matter one’s ideological content, one would have to derobe oneself of his erstwhile nomenclature. Having taken the villa treated water and swallowed the morsels of well cooked delicacies, and washed down with some choice liquor, the language of criticism will easily take capital flight.
I expected Dr. Reuben Abati to tell Nigerians about the President’s intervention in different aspects of our national life; housing, education, infrastructural development, agriculture, economy, foreign policy, domestic debt, vision 2020 whether it is still on or not, unemployment, and the general intention of government to provide quality life and make life more meaningful for the people.
Even as I would not blame President Jonathan much because he did not promise Nigerians anything when he was campaigning, hence it will be an excess luggage to demand too much from a man who did not promise anything, I still feel there is something in Jonathan that makes him appear “unpresidential” both in appearance and textual presentation.
According to President Jonathan, he is not one of those politicians who will make many promises without fulfilling them. He says he will promise you nothing but do more; more of what?, more of nothing of course. If by now we are still ruminating around the addictive properties of transformational mantra and the incoherence and contradictions of an agenda that is executed on the reverse, then Abati should understand why we are still rotating on the same axis.
All the pontifications of Abati about the number of women in government, the distribution of presidential aides and the agriculture revolution, simply beg the question and the real challenges facing the country. As at date our domestic debts have increased to N5.6 trillion. Our foreign reserve has depleted. Our unemployment rate keeps increasing. With billions of naira spent on power, we are still oscillating between 4’400 and 4,500 megawatts. The same figure bandied about during the Obasanjo era. Can’t we move away from this lazy figure and be more adventuristic in our determination to forge ahead.
What is government’s profile on anti-corruption? What do we expect from a President that does not give a damn about asset declaration or making public his declared assets? What explanation has the President given to Nigerians about the source of the stupendous resources deployed into his election campaign?
The law forbids donation beyond one million naira but we are all living witnesses to the several billions of naira donated to the President’s campaigns by the same people who are now exposed as subsidy fat rats.
Abati spoke and wrote about the President as if the man grew up in isolation. He talks as if there are no Nigerians who know his background and can speak for his content of character.
The fact that the President grew up not wearing shoes is the reason why the country is still vacillating on the same spot. Since the Boko Haram took centre stage, how many times has the President visited the troubled spots of Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna and Plateau? How many times has he shown concern for the gruesome extermination of innocent lives?
Those who do not understand the language of prosperity cannot possibly preach prosperity. It is like the common malapropism that big man dey talk, poor man say him get ideas? It’s like someone who has not taken the tube, to be telling us about the suitability of same.
It takes experience on anything for one to have an informed perspective about it. Hence this issue of shoeless nomenclature does not fly in the positive sense. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Abraham Lincoln, Kwame Nkruma were not simple men of power.
They were leaders of quotable quote intellect who combined vision, mission, courage and uncommon zeal to take their country to the desired destination. What Luther prayed for during his years of struggle in America, was delivered through Obama recently.
If they had combined policy summersault and flip flop as the thematic focus of their leadership, the world would not have celebrated them so profoundly.
The President’s acceptability on face book when he was running for election has taken a downward dive. His praises have turned to curses; his acceptability has turned to rejection. The same people whom he assured of fresh air are the same people who now accuse him of polluted air.
Nothing has been thought through and through since this President came on stream two years ago. Those who enjoy the levers of government are essentially ex-militants whose credentials are partly their expertise in handling AK47 and the geopolitical zone they come from. They have been singing war songs, and it is not on record that the presidency has cautioned them.
Yet Abati wants us to believe that the President is concerned about the unity of the country. Abati should be reminded that walls have ears. Those who are in leadership position certainly have no private life. They are public persons and nothing is so secret in a manner that cannot be exposed.