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Presidents as mugus (2)

By Dele Sobowale
“The lust for power is only equaled by their incurable impotence in exercising it”.
Sir Winston S. Churchill, 1874-1965.
President Jonathan recently went on state visit to Oyo State where he “commissioned” a road built by the state, which should have been built by a Local Government Council. That was the official story.

The real truth was, President Jonathan was lured to Oyo State to attend the 60th birthday anniversary of the Governor of Oyo state. Akala stood proudly between a former and an incumbent president and the result was a photograph to frame for life by the Governor. It is quite possible that it finally dawned on the President of Nigeria that he was wasting precious national time on frivolity of the worst kind at a time the nation still did not have a budget for 2010 and he has not given the nation an idea of how he intends to lead.

Someone should teach Jonathan a lesson on TIME AND SELF-MANAGEMENT. He needs it – urgently and badly for at least two reasons.

First, whether you are President or pauper or even prisoner, the good God has democratized his allotment of time. Everyone has 24 hours to the day and 60 seconds to the minute. Neither President, nor pauper, nor prisoner can increase his own allocation. Each individual either employs the time allotted profitably or wastes it on unimportant ventures – such as a President attending a birthday bash disguised as a state visit which makes no sense.

Second, having neglected far more important matters just to go and eat rice and fish stew at Agodi, instead of attending to more urgent state matters, the President has inadvertently revealed to other state governors that he is a softie. The next thing you know he might be invited to a state to “commission” an Independent Power Project, IPP, when the real reason might be to attend a child naming ceremony. You simply can’t trust Nigerian governors once they have a Mugu as Commander In Chief.

Invitations to commission projects also carry another risk for the president. He might be the second or third president to commission the same project. One governor during Obasanjo’s first term removed the plaques from old projects, repainted them and offered them for “commissioning” by OBJ. I laughed when Baba Iyabo with the smug expression common to perfect dupes cut the tape of the “new ventures”.

Of course everybody now remembers that the Rivers State IPP, on which OBJ lavished the most superlative praises, during his last months in office, never provided one megawatt of power to the people. Jonathan should be wary of commissioning projects. When invited and in doubt, he should consult us, Area Boys – we know the truth nationwide.


“When there is a lack of honour in government, the morals of the whole people are poisoned”.
Herbert Hoover, 1874-1964, 31st President of the USA, on his 90th birthday, August 9, 1964.

Now that Soludo is ready to speak the truth, as they all do out of government, perhaps he will join in begging the Minister for National Planning, Dr Usman, to also come clean. We know he was a banker for years. So he must know a thing or two about compound interest.

In his role as banker, if you ask Usman at what rate you must grow $170 million to achieve $442 million in eleven years, he will consult a table – known to bankers and economists – and tell you about 15-16% per annum steadily. Nigeria’s GDP four years ago was around $170 million and the nation was ranked 41 globally on the GDP league table. Indonesia’s GDP was estimated at $442 million and it was ranked as 20. South Africa, by the way was ranked 31.

Nigeria now grows at about 6-7% per annum, not 15-17%. We also remember from last week Soludo mentioned 15% GDP growth. He also mentioned $60-80 billion annual investment – far above what we can now possibly hope to get.
Funny enough Usman also knows all these. The question is, why does the Minister for Planning continue to deceive the President, who seems eager to be deceived, that Vision 20:2020 is feasible? Indeed, why does anyone, in and out of government, who understands primary school arithmetic, continue to repeat this falsehood?

President Jonathan, as Vice President could be forgiven for joining in the Vision 20:2020 chorus singing. But, as President Jonathan he would lose all moral right to continue in office if he does not call Usman and ask him three questions. First, at what rate must we grow the GDP to reach the top 20 milestone? What level of investment will be required? At what rate are we growing and investing now?

I bet the President will discover that Ministers also cry….
“An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man”.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882”

The NNPC, by any economic measure known to man, is Nigeria’s number one economic institution. It dwarfs whichever other one is in the second place. Unfortunately for Nigeria, this institution has failed to become the lengthened shadow of anybody because of the rapid change of Group Managing Director, GMD. The “current champion”, as we say in Area Boys territory, is the third this year to wear the crown.

His immediate predecessor had barely ordered the new furniture for his office when he was shown the gate. No organisation can develop its full potential this way.

Fortunately, we have a GMD who combines strong educational and professional qualifications with a reputation for integrity by those who know him. I have never met him, but as usual, I quickly went to work to investigate his track record and until something different turns up, Nigeria has a GMD-NNPC who should be left to cast his shadow for a long time. The time has come to stop the musical chairs.

You will read more about Mr Austin Oniwon if and when I met him. Keep in touch.

I knew him in Kano in the 1980s. His appointment brings mixed feelings. Hope that a principled person has been appointed; fear for him because another reputation has been taken to the slaughter slab of Nigerian politics. Whether that reputation will remain intact or not remains to be seen. There is no more treacherous work than this in the entire country.

CODER already rejects him. That is the beginning of belly-aching which will cast doubt on the credibility of elections. But, that is the least of his worries.

Next week, I will treat this is great detail. Right now, I fear and pray for him. He needs all the help he can get.


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