By Dele Sobowale
“After that incident, he called the chairman of Okrika Local Government and sacked him for holding a reception in our honour; that boy was the first victim”. Mrs Patience Jonathan, PUNCH, July 18, 2013, p.2.
After all the lies and denials by the presidency, Mrs Patience Jonathan had revealed the truth; which most people knew anyway. She and her husband are at loggerheads with the Governor of Rivers State. She, on account of her wish that parts of Okrika be spared from demolition. Those with any memory at all will recollect the incident.
Contrary to what Mrs Patience Jonathan told the visiting bishops from the Southsouth, the incident which created the bad blood between her and the governor occured, not four years ago, but in September 2010 – not even three years ago. She had gone to Rivers State, just four months, after her husband became the President. At a public gathering, while the Governor was delivering an address, Mrs Patience had got up; snatched the microphone from Amaechi and SHOUTED, “Listen to me; you should stop using the word must. I am from Okrika. You MUST [capital mine] use diplomacy”. Apparently, MUST is a word only to be used by president’s wives.
Although I supported her for exercising her rights to free speech, I condemned her total breach of protocol and good manners. The Governor of any state does not take instructions from the wife of a President in a federation. He is subject only to those who voted for him and nobody else. I had also, in September 2010, warned the President to keep his wife at home.
She might do more damage than good to his cause – given her temperament which was on display that day. A visitor, no matter how highly placed does not insult her host in public. That is only good manners. The person urging the governor to “use diplomacy” obviously does not know the meaning of the word herself. Where was the diplomacy in her open outburst?
Now we have catastrophe staring us in the face in Rivers State. Instead of leaving the matter to her media spin-doctors to handle, she receives bishops from the Southsouth and literally claims to be involved in the fracas. Mr Ayo Osinlu, Mrs Jonathan’s spokesman, Doyin Okupe and Reuben Abati now have a whale of a job to do maintaining that the presidency is not involved in the Rivers State crisis after that revelation.
However, one word, BOY, reportedly used by Mrs Jonathan, with regard to the former Chairman of Okrika Local Government, should attract the attention and condemnation of everyone. Neither the Queen of England, nor the wife of the US President will call a public official, even gateman, over 40 years old “boy”. Was it arrogance of power or inadequate mastery of the English language or something else best left unsaid that dictated the use of the word? Later her spokesman announced that she called grown ups, almost as old as herself, her “sons”. In which civilized area of the world does the President’s wife, the wife of a public servant, go about calling her husband’s employers as “sons” and “daughters”? Is this the sort of language she uses abroad on state visits?
ADVENTURES IN PROPHECY – 11
“It is unthinkable that wisdom should ever be popular”, Johann Goethe, 1749-1832.
(VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 275).
As we add another to our growing list of disasters, all manmade, in Rivers State Nigeria, it is probably time to remind us again of the warnings that were given on this page in 2009; and which were ignored by the vast majority of My Fellow Countrymen. Shortly after Yar’Adua was packed off to Saudi, I wrote an Open Letter to Mrs Turai Yar’Adua, asking her to advise her husband to resign voluntarily and hand over to Vice-President Jonathan. My reason was simple, the man would only return to Nigeria in a vegetative state and IN A BOX. Well, he came in an air-ambulance, which is only a decorated box and never resumed office for one day.
However, I also wrote that there are two names that should not be on the 2011 ballot box – Yar’Adua and Jonathan. The late President should not have been a candidate for obvious reasons – despite the efforts of some people to re-present him if he had survived the illness. With respect to Jonathan, the following was the position. “His name should not be on the ballot papers; but, if he uses the power of incumbency to get elected, disaster would follow”. The public can be forgiven because the second part was not published by the Sunday Editor at the time who considered it too apocalyptic. I wish he had. Today, real disaster stares us in the face as a nation. Below is one of them.
WHEN WILL NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA DEPART?
“No man steps into the same river twice”, Chinese proverb.
The former World Bank Managing Director, two times Finance Minister, gambled with her career at the Bank to accept the job for the second time. She achieved at least two successes during her first tour of office. First, she got Nigeria out of the debt trap – at a steep price; it must be added. Then she started the monthly publication of federally allocated revenue to states – giving us the first inkling of what our governors were carrying home to be “shared”. I welcomed her when she came; while drawing her attention to the risks she was taking for very little, if anything to show, at the end of her stay this time around.
The Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, raised the alarm that 400,000 barrels a day of crude is being lost and that “the Federal Government may not be able to implement the budget”, sounds like somebody asking for deliverance from an incredible burden. Of course, she is right. The 2013 Budget is already a burst and she will receive a lion’s share of the lashes; quite unjustly I might add – when the funeral of that document is officially announced. Next year might be worse. In 2003, she came in when the price of crude oil was on a rising escalator; today, the future points to declining crude oil prices and lower daily exports by Nigeria. The 2014 Budget will constitute a resounding slap in the face to Nigerians who for too long had depended on oil and she will be blamed.
Poor Ngozi will have no trophy to carry to her new assignment – whatever that might be in life. She slammed the World Bank door in her own face when she contested the position of President with the American nominee in 2012. It was an ill-advised challenge; which had no chance of succeeding. The US is not prepared to leave its currency, the global reserve currency, in the hands of any foreigner – especially from Africa. Certainly, she will go. And these are my best wishes for her on her future endeavours.
HEN-PECKED HUSBAND IN ABUJA SAID: “I am the head of this household; and I HAVE MY WIFE’S PERMISSION TO SAY SO”.
REQUIEM FOR PDP –1
“Politicians are their own grave diggers”, Will Rogers, 1879-1935.
“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies”, Dr. John Arbuthnot, 1667-1735. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 191).
The PDP commenced its journey to the graveyard of political history the day the leaders of the party, especially Dr Alex Ekwueme and his Board of Trustees and Chief Solomon Lar, the Chairman of the party accepted General (rtd) Olusegun Obasanjo, as the presidential candidate of the PDP for the 1999 elections. The leaders surrendered the conscience of their party to two forces – the military which was determined to install one of their own as civilian president and money, truck loads of money, which was largely provided by General T.Y. Danjuma. (Read Danjuma’s personal revelations in my book PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED.
At the time I warned that “inviting Obasanjo to head the PDP was akin to putting a fox in the same shed with chickens. None of the chickens will survive the error”. That step, which was taken in absolute disregard for the party’s constitution, was so fatal that it still amazes me how many experienced and extremely intelligent political leaders could have made the mistake. Rivers State wahala is only the latest; it won’t be the last crisis…