I WATCHED Mrs Jonathan’s meeting on Channels TV and came away with more than mixed feelings.
As I watched this important gathering that Mrs Jonathan had pulled together on the back of lack of results in the case of the abducted school girls of Chibok in Borno State, my immediate impression was that, chai, with the right handling, this lady could be a good leader. And since we are already being led, or must be led by a Jonathan, we are probably being governed by the wrong one.
Then, lamentably, Mrs Jonathan veered off and went the way of…well…Mrs Jonathan. She began to want to conflate matters and lay the wrong emphasis on the wrong things. But, doesn’t matter; Mrs Jonathan had done something that, in the beginning, was certainly right; something that needed to be done and should have been done long before then.
Through her small meetings, Mrs Jonathan managed to upstage her husband and, in fact, achieved in a couple of days more than the President and his security chiefs have achieved in damn near three years. Her intervention was more dynamic and shone more light on some pertinent issues – not like the occasional photo op talk-shop we get from the President.
Sometimes, a leader just has to lead; period. Mrs Jonathan, in her own garrulous way, did just that at the end of last week. She had dragged before her some of the dramatis personae in this whole sordid Chibok matter. Through her effort, we can now see that there has been a method to Boko Haram’s madness all along. We now know that apart from churches, Boko Haram appears to have been deliberately targeting schools with largely Christian students or in largely Christian populated areas.
Through Mrs Jonathan’s effort, we also found out that the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, despite West African Examination Council, WAEC’s, advice to the contrary, deliberately left the school (a state school) open for exams and therefore left it vulnerable to what subsequently befell those girls.
Mr Shettima refused for the students to be moved to relatively safer examination centres in Maiduguri. Instead, he wrote to WAEC assuring them that adequate security will be provided for the school. Obviously, adequate security wasn’t provided; look what has happened! You can begin to see why Mrs Jonathan veered off tangent and gave in to her more impulsive, antediluvian and suspicious side.
This should give all of us a pause. The rest of us and Mr Jonathan need to rethink our approach to this menace. Furthermore, I was shocked to hear the President say that we do not have a modern army. We don’t? What then has been happening to all the billions that go into Defence budgets every year? So, in a way, I was relieved to learn that the Americans are coming to help us out.
At this point, any help would be better than what has obtained for three long weeks. However, it would be best if the Americans assist from the ‘rear’ so that their humanitarian intervention doesn’t turn into another theatre of good versus evil confrontation. My guess is that the cowardly Boko Haramites are still holding on to the school girls in the forest as human shields. What an ordeal!
And this is why I disagree with Ms Iyabo Obasanjo who in a recent open letter to Boko Haram likened that group to a revolutionary one.
I don’t know whether Ms Obasanjo’s take was informed by her ongoing walk down the cathartic path, but to christen Boko Haram a revolutionary group sounds too close to blasphemy. If anything, Boko Haram is the military arm of one half of the exploitative and thieving cabal that holds Nigeria down.
Their current campaign is directed squarely at the people – the exact opposite definition of a revolution. After maiming and killing fellow citizens, their leaders can often be found cooling off in the inner recesses of the mansions and guest houses of cabal members.
This is why I spit whenever I hear another one of their leaders carp that Jonathan should not seek re-election because of his lack of vigour in combating insecurity in the country. This is coming from the same people who told us that they will make the country ungovernable. It is like a tenant who lets into the house his sticky-fingered prodigal son only to turn around and blame the gateman for his missing briefcase.
Their Boko Haram has taken up arms against the state, not in a revolutionary fervour but to criminally avenge an election loss. Do revolutionaries drive past schools of the privileged, head for schools for ordinary folks and gun down sleeping students in their beds? Do revolutionaries drive past opulent mansions and other obscene edifices of graft and go bomb a motor park for the exclusive use of ordinary folks? I don’t think so.
It really burns me that Mr Jonathan continues to refuse to pick up the sponsors of Boko Haram. What really is stopping him? I don’t at all understand this kind of leadership model.
So I found Mrs Jonathan’s effort and contribution (which sadly later degenerated into a spectacle) in unravelling this national heartbreak refreshing. We just wish Mr Jonathan could be more like her in some aspects.
Dr. MICHAEL EGBEJUMI-DAVID, a medical practitioner, wrote from London.