By Dele Sobowale
“I hate ingratitude more in a man than lying, vainness, babbling drunkenness, or any taint of vice whose strong corruption inhabits our frail blood.” William Shakespeare, 1564-1616. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p103).
For columnists, there has been an avalanche of important events begging for urgent attention. For once nobody can complain of mental block when issues such as Ministerial list, Saraki versus Tinubu, Code of Corruption, sorry Conduct Bureau, CCB; Party Supremacy; 2016 Budget; death of Alamieyeseigha etc are hot items on the national agenda.
The decision to take on the defence of the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, stems from my abiding contempt for people who are open ingrates; in other words, those who bite the fingers that have fed them generously. It has nothing to do with exonerating Jonathan from his monumental mistakes while in office. On the contrary, my stand is this: if Jonathan was not fighting corruption, as recently alleged, certain individuals are merely being dishonest and making themselves dishonourable by stating it now. This is especially true of those who until Election Day 2015 were urging Nigerians to vote for continuity. How on earth could any self-respecting and patriotic Nigerian, young or old, have so shamelessly misled the people?
”A truth told with bad intent/ Beats all the lies you can invent”, according to William Blake, 1757-1827. (VBQ p 254).
On October 8, 2015, the person who once called Jonathan “my son” and who attempted to intimidate Nigerians to re-elect his adopted son had this to say to the whole world. “Jonathan didn’t have the political will to fight corruption. He’s a gentleman. Drivers of yesterday are living in palatial buildings now under his government…In advanced countries, when you are living above your means, people query you.” Understandably nobody asked the old man if he reported any case to Jonathan; and if he failed to do his patriotic duty then, why now? In short what is the motive of our Baba in making this disclosure?
On Monday, October 12, 2015, on page 8 of a national daily, it was the turn of a former Minister of State for Education, under Jonathan. He told us how a colleague had told President Jonathan, concerning a prospective appointee to high office in plain words. Mr President, this man is from my place, but report shows that he is a thief and a criminal.” According to the former Minister, “I was shocked with the President’s reaction.” Here is a Minister telling Nigerians long after the deed was perpetrated that the President of Nigeria deliberately employed a thief and a criminal. Again, the two most important questions are: for whose benefit? and why now? Although, I have some answers to those questions, they will not be published now. Let me return to an article published earlier this year, after the election results were announced.
During a Thanksgiving Service to mark the end of his administration, President Jonathan had remarked that “friends will desert me, I only hope Patience will not desert me.” I had written on these pages that “Mr President, most of them are not your friends. They have gravitated around you for what they could get. Now that you have nothing more to give, they will move on. Some will even join your political enemies. I illustrated the point with two examples – late Professor Ambrose Alli, Governor of Bendel State, 1979-1983, and my role model, mentor and friend, Obong Victor Attah, Governor of Akwa Ibom State, 1999-2007. Alli was the more fortunate of the two. People he picked from the “gutter” and made rich simply deserted him until he died at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. Attah was not ignored. Instead poor “charge and bail” lawyers he brought into his government ganged up against him as soon as he left office in 2007; and few came to his defence.
Jonathan should expect more deserters; some making indictments of his government and himself as they go in search of pastures new. Already, the former Chairman of the PDP in Bayelsa, had decamped to the All Progressives Congress, APC, after making it clear (as if it needed to be said) that he is not in politics because of anybody else. A year ago, he probably would have sworn his life-long loyalty to GEJ on anything from the Bible to Ogbanje. Keen observers of the news would have noticed a series of advertorials and sponsored articles directed at the Buhari administration pointing to the active and “patriotic” support the former leader of the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN, is giving to the new government. One shoe dropped, expect the other to drop any time as “hundreds of thousands” of admirers decamp in one day.
Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman recently announced that his phone had stopped ringing. Jonathan’s phone calls must have dropped by almost ninety-five per cent. His parlour almost totally deserted. In fact, most of those who would have given an arm and a leg to see him in 2014, will now avoid him like the plague; or come under cover of night.
Yet, if the truth must be told, Jonathan was a victim of all those who are now accusing him of conniving with corrupt elements. They made him to believe that without the support of those people he could not be re-elected. And, he, to his everlasting sorrow, believed them.