By Donu Kogbara
For the past couple of weeks, this column has contained criticisms of Mr President’s handling of various leadership challenges.
My disappointment is based on the fact that I campaigned for him and expected him to do well; and I’ve received many responses from readers who felt moved to comment on my belief that he is losing the plot and will have to up his game pretty sharpish if he wants to retrieve disillusioned fans and win the 2015 election fair and square.
Some of the people who contacted me (including Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark) are staunch Jonathanists who told me off for “being very unfair” to Mr President, while others who contacted me said that they’d never had any faith in Jonathan in the first place and blamed the likes of me for voting him into power.
But most respondents sadly or angrily expressed concerns about Jonathan’s track record…and said that they felt let down by a man they’d once supported.
However, as I’ve said in the past, Mr President has potential and CAN become a highly effective Head of State; and I think he should be hailed from the rooftops for declaring a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
His tough “enough is enough” approach thrills me and makes me feel safer; and I’m glad that he had the raw guts and strength of character to ignore the influential lobbyists who have been urging him to avoid this controversial path.
Boko Haram terrorists are turning parts of this country into tragic, messy war zones; and a state of emergency makes complete sense within this context.
My Personal Assistant, Mavis, is a truly wonderful person. She has been a dedicated employee and loyal, honest, caring friend to my family since 2008.
When my son, Oliver, was at a day school in Abuja, Mavis was a loving big sister and surrogate mother to him at times when I was too busy with stressful work commitments to provide him with the attention he needed and deserved.
Shortly after Oliver’s l6th birthday in 2011, his father and I decided to send him to a boarding school in America for two years; and he and Mavis missed each other terribly and stayed in touch via regular emails and phone calls.
Whenever Oliver visited Nigeria on holiday, he and his darling Mavis would get into cosy, happy little conspiratorial reunion huddles and hang out together.
When the school wrote to inform us that Oliver and his classmates would graduate on June l this year, I invited Mavis to accompany me to the ceremony, told her to apply for an US visa and provided her with every form of documentation that the American Embassy in Abuja could possibly require.
I wrote a letter to confirm that I would cover all of her airline/hotel bills and day-to-day expenses. I also clearly stated that we would travel to a handful of American cities to do a bit of sightseeing after the graduation ceremony but did not intend to stay in the United States for more than three weeks.
I also listed my professional credentials (member of a Rivers State Government Board, Vanguard columnist, contributor to the British Broadcasting Corporation and other foreign media outlets, including a magazine that is owned by a major American TV network). I did this because the lady who was helping us process Mavis’s visa application said I needed to prove that I was a responsible sponsor.
I then supplied bank statements that proved that I wasn’t a total pauper and could cope with the financial commitments I had made on Mavis’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Oliver’s school authorities also wrote to the Embassy – to say that they and Oliver would gladly welcome Mavis to the graduation ceremony.
Since I’ve written the odd pro-American article and have never had any US visa problems, I assumed that Mavis would also have a hitch-free ride through the American Embassy process/system if I was sponsoring her.
But it was not to be; and I was shocked and depressed when the application was coldly rejected for a reason I can only describe as spurious.
What Mavis was told, via a photocopied rejection slip, was that she doesn’t have enough strong ties in Nigeria. And it didn’t help that the guy who interviewed her flatly refused to look at my letter and the other supporting documents.
One wonders what these people mean by “enough ties”. Mavis lives in a flat in Asokoro – one of the more salubrious Abuja neighbourhoods. And she comes from a respectable and successful family that is firmly rooted in Nigerian soil; and she has gotten visas to travel to other foreign countries over the years…and has always returned on due dates because Nigeria is her home.
Shame on the American Embassy for being so uncompromising and unjust!…and for preventing Oliver from sharing his graduation experience with a dear friend.