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Presidents also cry: Tear drops by Jonathan – 1

By Dele Sobowale

“Like all God’s creatures, enemies have a purpose in the world. They offer a criticism of one’s conduct, albeit unsought, that is not always provided by friends”. Rosenblat. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, p 48.)

This column could just as well have been titled HOW TO MANAGE YOUR ENEMIES – A COURSE FOR PRESIDENT JONATHAN; and, it would be just as apt. Back in my days as a Senior Lecturer/Consultant with the Nigerian Institute of Management, NIM, one of my functions was writing course notes. Among more than three dozen, my two favourite course notes were TIME AND SELF-MANAGEMENT and HOW TO MANAGE YOUR BOSS.

President Jonathan will benefit immensely from a course in how to manage his enemies – real or imagined. Obviously hiring mouth-organs or “dogs” (guard or mad) has also proved abortive. Lamenting fate is proving worthless. He needs a new approach. But, before we proceed, some observations are needed.

President Jonathan’s lamentations, about the media, as well as critics, apart from being inaccurate and self-pitying, sound like the temper tantrums of a child crying after deliberately spilling a well-prepared meal and being spanked for it. The media twice gave him support when he needed it most.

First, to get him declared Acting President, and second, by advancing the notion that merit should supersede zoning and the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the selection of Yar’Adua’s successor. On both occasions the support was provided over the strong opposition of the north by the southern media.

Incidentally, Jonathan, in his years at the top level of government, shockingly, does not know that the several of the leading titles in the print media, as well as the electronic media, belong to people from his own zone. So, let me educate him. GUARDIAN, VANGUARD, THISDAY, among the top seven newspapers are predominantly owned by people from the South South.

President Jonathan

Add SUN, PUNCH, NATION and TRIBUNE and the papers which account for eighty percent of circulation are all owned by southerners. In the electronic media AIT, CHANNELS, SILVERBIRD also belong to people from that zone. Any leader, starting out with that sort of home support, who is still complaining about media antagonism should examine himself. At any rate, Jonathan should not add ingratitude to his list of personal defects. But, first let me categorise the President’s perceived or real enemies before dwelling on how to manage them.

Going by President Jonathan’s definition of people he considers his enemies, I am probably among top ten. I accept that categorization. Indeed, I cannot recollect any administration in Nigeria, except Murtala’s brief one, with which there had not been major disagreements since 1974. So, even, if I am now again cast in the role of government’s top antagonist, it is clear that there is nothing personal about the criticisms directed at GEJ.

Contrary to what some of Jonathan’s “friends” might have told him, I don’t hate him anymore than I did Gowon, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Abubakar, Obasanjo and Yar’Adua. They did their jobs as best as they could; and I responded as honestly as I could on these pages.

To identify Jonathan’s number two enemy, a story is needed. It is personal and true. In 1960, in form three, at Igbobi College, and, after a serious problem in school, I went home. Because Daddy died while I was in form one, there were only Mummy’s ears to listen to my complaints and her shoulders on which to cry. I had a grievance against everybody – the Principal, the Vice-Principal, all the tutors, prefects, seniors and even some classmates.

They were all there to make life hell for me. No prosecutor could have presented such a long charge sheet against “evil people” in any community. After listening patiently to my pleas, my mother delivered judgment in the way only a good mother should to a stupid boy.

She got up; went into her room; brought a mirror and asked me to look in the mirror. “Whose face do you see there?” she asked. “Mine”, I replied. “Then you are looking at your worst enemy”, she declared. “Change that person and you will discover that you will henceforth have very few problems”.

The wisdom in that verdict did not sink in at the time, because it was contrary to what I expected. But, years later, I learnt two things from it. Like any person, I know I am my own best friend. But, unlike most people, I also now know that I am my own worst enemy.

Most of the calamities which have befallen me have resulted from choices voluntarily and foolishly made; not by acts of God or anyone else. President Jonathan should look in a mirror and he will see his number “two” (don’t forget I am number one) enemy….

The notice is admittedly short and the invitation to most people was on this page. But, I still think it is worthwhile to start marking this day. The two great religions, Islam and Christianity, started with less than twenty people. Now their adherents number hundreds of millions.

Irrespective of how many of us will be there tomorrow, we will start. Next year will be different. We will start the planning from October 2 this year. I will be there tomorrow. Please come and join us to say thank you to our parents.

Some individuals shine brighter in death than when alive. This old Government College Ibadan old boy, called “Carter”, is one of them. Read on.

“Name and number withheld for security reasons: Just finished ‘FRANKLY SPEAKING. The GCI 66-70 set was my set. I was in Swanson House with ‘Carter’ Akinloye Akinyemi. We shared a common bunk in ’67. The class mandated me to take over his welfare in Kaduna prison in 1995 after he was commuted to life. I left Kaduna to do a programme at Ibadan in Jan 1996. Before I came back, in Dec he had been moved to Bama…We had time to talk”.

P.S. Writer is also an old Igbobian; he and his GCI classmates were aware of the injustice. Pity.


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