By Dele Sobowale
“Advice is seldom welcome; and those who need it most always don’t want it.” Earl of Chesterfield, 1694-1773. VANGUARD BOOK, VBQ p 5.
To the Earl’s sensible observation, one must quickly add the following.
“Better to keep one’s mouth shut and be considered a fool; than to speak and remove all doubts.” (Anonymous).
Former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, were among highly-placed individuals who granted interviews to Mr Segun Adeniyi, Chairman of the Editorial Board of THISDAY when he was compiling materials for his book, AGAINST THE RUN OF PLAY. I must confess not to have read the book because no copy has reached my hands. That situation will be rectified at the earliest possible time – beg, borrow or steal.
That admission notwithstanding, the excerpts published in various media convinced me of one thing. None of the characters quoted for making certain remarks did themselves any good. It was self-indictment in every case. All of them revealed a part of themselves which would have been left to others to disclose and then disputed.
Former President Jonathan and Bola Tinubu come in for special mention for no other reason than the fact that the two have promised or threatened to write their own books about the events leading to the change of government in 2015. They both want to re-write history as they wish it to be. Yet, only God knows how often on these pages I have quoted two eternal philosophers whose observations are pertinent to the advice to follow. I am under no illusion that any of them will heed the advice. It won’t be the first time.
First, Karl Marx, 1818-1883, said “Men make history, but not just as they please.” (VBQ p 93). And then there was Agathon, 447-401 BC, Greek philosopher, who irreverently but correctly, stated that “Even God himself cannot change the past.” Jonathan and Tinubu by embarking on their literary journeys mostly want to foist subjective and self-deceptive views on the public. The attempts will not only be resisted and largely fail, but they will only spur others to write their own rejoinders to what they write. Two cardinal reasons account for the observation made above.
First, unless Adeniyi misquoted the two of them, the published statements were self-condemnatory enough. Let us start with Jonathan who, after spending the last two years gathering accolades all over the world for conceding defeat in the 2015 Presidential Election is not only now disputing the result, he is now casting blame on just about everybody else but himself. Among the victims of his self-delusive accusations were: the US and UK governments, INEC, voters, and the leaders of his own party – PDP. To read the diatribe attributed to him, he actually won the election and was robbed of victory. From the sublime (represented by his gracious concession in 2015) to the ridiculous (his current posture of feigned righteous indignation) there is only one step.” (Thomas Paine, VBQ p 236).
For someone claiming to hold a doctorate in one of the physical sciences, it is amazing that Jonathan does not understand that he must accompany statement with proof. Where is the evidence to substantiate his claim? More to the point, given the rapidly mounting records of the corrupt use of public funds to run the 2015 elections, it is astonishing that a leader expected to demonstrate high moral standards would still want to claim a “victory” so corruptly purchased. Where, for God’s sake, is the man’s sense of honour? And, how was it possible that an individual who is a moral cripple became the President of Nigeria in the first instance?
From April 2010 to May 29, 2015, Nigeria was saddled with three problems – Jonathan, a weak and incompetent President; his wife or “Assistant President, mouthy despite being ill-educated and lacking any sense of decorum; and a Minister of Petroleum Resources whose tenure set back Nigeria at least twenty years. The sources of all the other calamities which befell our fatherland can be traced to those three. The badly-educated wife once declared that “Those over seventy are brain-dead.” In actual fact, given her poor educational achievements there were/are thousands of Nigerian over seventy who think more clearly than the husband and herself. That stupid remark was well-received by Jonathan — at the time. That reminded one of Ananias and Sapphira in the Bible. Husband and wife thought alike meaning none thought very much. GEJ lost more millions of votes on account of his uncontrollable wife than any number of votes INEC could have given to Buhari.
Jonathan might not be aware of it, but some of the dollars allocated to PDP “stalwarts” were distributed all the way to my door step in Lagos Island. The PDP conduit pipe has already started making some refunds to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The man must think that we are crazy to want him back in office. The entire episode raises a lot of questions about upbringing. Sometimes one is forced to ask: what sort of environment produced this sort of individual lacking in ethical fibre.
The man has hurt himself enough judging from Segun’s book. He stands to destroy himself if he writes one now. He has already started to destroy the only positive legacy of his presidency by disclaiming credit for the concession of defeat. But, let him try.
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Lord Acton, 1834-1902. (VBQ p 195).
Most people quoting Lord Acton’s maxim invariably end half way. His observations about the evil done by “great men” are often ignored or deliberately omitted. In reality, great men sometimes create havoc; history hides their atrocities if they are successful in their endeavour.
Despite being a former President, Jonathan is actually a light-weight among those who seek to acquire and use power for their own purposes. He had no power base before becoming President and he built none in five years. He relied on money to get people to obey any of his instructions – without understanding the limits of money in politics. Most politicians are clever rogues; they are in the business for power and money – preferably the latter. They make deals ultimately designed to foster their self-interests at all times.
As in all deals, each party seeks to gain an advantage without surrendering too much. GEJ was an incompetent deal-maker – just as he was a poor academic. He literally gave away the national treasury in 2010 to 2015 in a bid for second term. Finicky Fortune sometimes favours even fools or bad players – Barca or Real loses to a relegation-bound team on a bad afternoon. Fortune smiled on GEJ in 2011 when he spent very little money. By comparison in 2015 he virtually broke the bank to get re-elected. By then, the political sharks have discovered his weakness and were ready to capitalize on it. They made him pay a heavy price for their support. Nigeria is just now beginning to count the costs running into trillions.
Bola Tinubu was a city-sleeker and a born deal-maker. He correctly believes that “every man has his price”. He usually would pay the price and expect his returns – absolute loyalty to him and the causes he chose to advance. He can bring the APC down today by announcing that he has pulled out. He knows it; they know it. That power did not come cheap. Only God and Bola know how much. But, nobody should be foolish enough to think in terms of millions. This is a game of high stakes political poker played with billions. One of Tinubu’s rivals in funding the APC during the 2015 elections told me he gave $20 million. I didn’t know whether to strangle him or start to worship.
Without going into details this week, let me point out only that his “investments” have paid off handsomely. In no other area of Nigerian life was this obvious to me than in the media. Journalists, who condemned Tinubu when the certificate scandal broke out in 1999, later joined THE NATION and instantly became leaders of Bola’s Halleluyah Chorus!!!
SHORT AND SHARP
“The health of the leader is intricately intertwined with the health of the nation.” Chief Bisi Akande, former Interim Chairman of the APC.
Akande and Bola Tinubu were among those who made the not-so-holy pilgrimage to London, when Buhari was there. Akande and Tinubu actually took pictures with Buhari which were front page news at the time. Kudos to the make-up artists for those pictures.
Akande man must have forgotten what he told us at the time when fiction was more important than fact among APC leaders. The truth they tried to bury has refused to stay underground. At least somebody is talking sense now. We are making progress.