By Mohammed Adamu
A revised version of ‘JONATHAN @60: LEST WE FORGET’ (Nov/22/17)
AS he turns 61, -and even as he watches the sordid entrails of his six-year misadventure in governance daily exposed- former President Goodluck Jonathan, still rides on his high political horse, claiming as always that while he was in office, he saw no evil, he heard no evil and he did no evil. He blames everyone but himself. What is ridiculous is not that his blind supporters call him a ‘hero of democracy’, but that Jonathan too carries on as though he is the ‘Ataturk’ of a disputed ‘modern’ Nigeria. And you do not know whether to be amazed or to be amused by this comic display of inanity. Day in day out, revelations of mind-numbing heists involving billions of dollars are uncovered, perpetrated under Jonathan’s watch. And you wonder how even at 61 the man can still carry on so remorselessly. And so on the occasion of his 61st birthday, I thought that we should look back and reflect how we all may have had a hand in the creation of a Frankenstein monster that almost devoured us. If remembering how we got here is all the lesson that we learn, then celebrating Jonathan’s birthday would be worth the while. This six-year-old piece titled ‘Jonathan: From the Divine to the Dubious’ I first wrote in the heat of the zoning debacle –preparatory to the 2011 presidential election. Enjoy it:
Jonathan: From the Divine to the dubious
He was, as Shakespeare would say, “sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride”. Without striving Jonathan virtually had it all. He attained heights un-dreamt even by those who give their all. He rose from a ‘rustic’, ‘shoeless’ beginning to the neplus-ultra of political achievement: from a Local Government Chairman to Deputy Governor; from Governor to Vice President and from Acting President to President. All these more by the dint of ‘luck’ than by the hook of ‘merit’. Besides, his name is also ‘Goodluck’ –a perfect doublet of a desirable piece of ‘good omen’. Who would be in our situation and not desire some ‘good luck’ or ‘good omen’? Everyone said that the Zodiacs must be favourably at work in the political affairs of this young Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) –Jonathan. Although he looked and sounded deafeningly vacuous, and notwithstanding he also reeked of and radiated ineptitude, many Nigerians, in faith not in certitude, believed that Goodluck Jonathan could be the talisman we needed to re-jig our worsted situation. Besides, ‘lucks’ and ‘good omens’ don’t come in sachets and parcels of merit and credibility. They alight often from un-comely, sometimes repulsive, packages. Many Nigerians even waxed biblical, asking: ‘whoever thought that anything good could come out of obscure Nazareth? They insisted that Jonathan could very well be our own ‘Jesus of Otuoke’.
And in our efforts to justify the efficacy of ‘providence’ and ‘good luck’ we were even prepared to turn popular axioms upside down and to walk time-honoured proverbs right on their heads. We said the American abolitionist, Henry Beecher was right, that “God’s Providence” cannot be only “on the side of clear heads”; that it can also be on the side of cloudy ones. We said that Edward Gibson was also right, that “The wind and the waves” are not only “on the side of the ablest navigator”; that they can also be on the side of lucky, un-stirring bums. In fact, a torrent of so called ‘men of God’ was soon unleashed on the debate about the possible ‘omens’ inherent in a Goodluck Jonathan as President. Many so called ‘men of God’ said that they had communed with Heaven and that the Lord had spoken to them, revealing that Jonathan was His ‘anointed’. They said that God had told them that this shoeless man from Otuoke would be our Moses; and that in spite of his seeming vacuity, he would be the one to enact our own parting of the Red Sea -to ‘let my people go!’ Jerry Gana, the one notorious for hunting with the devil while he sups with the ‘divine’, said that Jonathan held the ‘key’ to the Gate of our Promised Land. Ethno-centric, rabble rousing, reactionary Clark in fact said that a ‘Goodluck’ Jonathan needed no credentials or antecedent-merit; because where the ‘divine’ stood proxy for a man, earthly paper credentials were ‘like filthy rags’.
And so even the equitable measure of zoning, (canvassed as panacea for the many sicknesses of a plural society like Nigeria) was assailed and clobbered. Many rose clubs and cudgels, batons and bayonets, to hew down the effigy of zoning and to make way for our newfound romance with the ‘divine’ and with the ‘providential’. The politics of ‘merit’ and those of ‘cause and effect’ were sacrificed on the altar of ‘luck’ and ‘good omens’. And soon, a featherless political upstart-crow, Jonathan, was adorned with the anointed peacock-feathers of our political forebears. We placed this clueless man from Otuoke in a celestial Cherubim chariot of divine fire; and we armed him with the Sword of Damocles to be our avenging angel. And when Jonathan first deployed to work, many said they saw a gush of patriotic enthusiasm in this shoeless child of destiny; an enthusiasm to unleash the ‘divine’ and the providential on this God-forsaken land which no longer brought forth fruit. And there he was, Jonathan, chisel at hand, impatiently waiting to hew the hedgy overgrowth of our socio-economic and political Augean Stable. And for many of us, it did not matter if he hit the ground running, ambling or crawling. It mattered only that he was propelled by hands celestial.
We are a nation eaten hollow by pride and prejudice, bigotry and base pursuit. But by God we are a people driven by faith; -faith in the power of the unknown and faith in the efficacy of the unknowable. We believe that since faith could move mountains, faith would not have any problem moving, especially an already floating ship of state like Nigeria. And so Jonathan needed not to steer the rudders. It was sufficient that he was on board the Ship of State. The invisible hands of two angels, ‘Cherub’ and ‘Seraph’, would do all the steering. And so when Jonathan said that he would move Nigeria forward, we needed no more than to say: ‘amen and amen again!’ And when he put us on a long and tortuous Road Map, the Energy Road Map, which he said would lead to abundant light; and that abundant light would lead to unlocking our potentials, like the meek and humble disciples of old, we could only pick our raiment and faithfully follow him. Goodluck became our Moses and we became his freedom-seeking Israelites.
We walked across the plains, the swamps and the savannas. We endured the scotching sun and we braved the stormy tempests. We hungered and we thirsted. Yet, our Moses became more distant. Deaf to the bleating of his famished sheep, but all ears to the greedy men of his household, the PDP. And soon we began to question the humanity in this non-provident Moses. He left us a thousand times to consult the ‘burning bush’. But on each return instead of the light of God, what he brought was the heat of Beelzebub. Of ‘manna from Heaven’ we saw none. It was ‘blood, sweat and tears’; ‘weeping, wailings, mourning and gnashing of teeth’. And we asked: ‘could this truly be of God?; -a journey with Moses but without ‘manna’ from Heaven? -a journey with Moses with a thousand ‘burning bushes’ but no soothing word from God? -a journey with Moses where each visit to the ambient presence of God brings no light but wrath? What manner of Moses was this who daily justified himself more by the number of the Commandments he allowed to be broken, than by those he enforced? The Jerry Ganas had sold us a false Masih with a dubious anointing. ‘By their fruits’ Jesus said‘ ye shall know them’. But how did we miss the biblical test given by the master himself? It must be our prejudice; -a disease which sees what it pleases and ignores what is plain. We all saw that the Jonathan ‘tree’ was daily bearing evil fruit. But we did nothing! And now that the Jonathan Road Map had finally narrowed into a thick, dark endless tunnel of uncertainty, it dawned on us that he is not after all ‘divine’.
But too late: Jonathan’s old wares of ‘luck’ and ‘good omens’ had left us in the lurch. Our hope for light at the end of the Jonathan tunnel offered no flicker of reprieve. If he had remained in office beyond 2015, the light we sought at the end of the Jonathan tunnel, would’ve been from an oncoming train!