By Yinka Odumakin
AFTER the first encounter with Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on the day the National Assembly empowered him as Acting President, I formed an impression of him which has not changed as I write: he should have been a Vicar and not a Nigerian politician.
I came to that conclusion when he answered Pastor Bakare’s question as to why he did not move against Yar’Adua’s ministers who were misbehaving during the power vacuum.
He in all innocence said: “The father of my chief justice when I was governor in Bayelsa used to say that any man that uses more than 20 per cent of his power would become a nuisance to his community”. My thought was that the man does not fully appreciate power politics in this demoncrazy where a ruler (not leader) has to use 100 per cent of his power to be joined with the strength of Miyetti Allah to bring society under total submission.
A few months after this encounter, I discovered that Jonathan was not faking it but being his real self when he made the statement I quoted above.
Nuisance to his community
I had made some scathing remarks about him when he made the statement I referenced last week about the National Conference. I ran into my late friend, Mr. Oronto Douglas in Abuja some days after I made the statement and was surprised when he said to me: “Oga read what you wrote about him and he didn’t like it. He demands an apology from you.”
That shocked me to the marrows. A Nigerian president with DSS, Police, DMI, etc, and whose aides may unofficially have assassins at their beck and call is demanding an apology from a citizen for a harsh comment he didn’t like.
I told Oronto to tell him I apologise for the harsh comments but still disliked his comments.
There wasn’t any sign in the horizon that I was going to back Dr. Jonathan for the 2015 elections. Having packed it up with the Buhari group honourably, I was not going to have a choice between the duo in the following elections but for the return to the core issue that affects our polity.
In fact, in between the 2011 and 2015 elections, the Save Nigeria Group I was very active in had organised the Occupy Nigeria at Ojota in Lagos which almost brought the Jonathan government down. It was one of the most powerful moves against any government in the history of Nigeria after a sudden increase in the pump price of petrol while discussions initiated by government on the subject were still going on around the country.
A meeting of SNG was called in Lagos where a novel decision was taken to involve prominent entertainers in our reaction against the hike in pump price of fuel. We had popular musicians like Femi Kuti, KWAM 1, the late Ras Kimono and Dede Mabiaku at the planning sessions. The first day of the protest drew appreciable crowd. By the second day the attendance became massive.
By the third day we were already fearing a stampede. The fourth day became something else. By the fifth day we had to take a decision to let the people go home for the weekend so we could avoid a major mishap that could happen as the crowd already grew beyond what we could manage.
There have been talks about that movement attracting sponsorship. But as the person who disbursed all the money spent centrally for the five days the action lasted, I can say that we never spent more than N7.5 million for all the days it lasted.
I recall spending quality time to put it across to Dr. Jonathan when we met at Otuoke after he left office that the movement was not bankrolled from anywhere.
By early 2014, words were already filtering out that a National Conference may be on the way. As the year progressed, Oronto reached out on the subject and asked for inputs with consultations at the highest level.
The conference eventually held for three months in Abuja with the best possible quality attendance across Nigeria with a unanimous report after serious give-and-take from the disparate forces at the conference.
At the end of the conference the President assured a few of us who had audience with him that the reports would be implemented to move the country forward.
For us in Afenifere, our job was cut out as the subject of returning Nigeria to federalism was very cardinal. It was on the basis of mere verbal commitment to the subject that the group supported the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari in 2007. This time around we had a President who already organised a National Conference with reports in our hands promising to implement it if he returns. There was no need for much debate on whom to back for the elections and it was within that context Jonathan became my candidate for 2015. I must say here that if that situation arises again, we would do it again!
For the lousy lot who spew the nonsense that Odumakin jumped from Buhari to Jonathan, they lack the depth to appreciate the dynamics of the seasons and what drives some of us is different from what drives jobbers like them.
A hollow professor even put in black and white that “Odumakin collected money from Jonathan campaign in 2015 to set up a radio station”. He has been dragged before a Lagos High Court to come and prove the wild allegations.
Suffice here to acknowledge publicly the goodness of Jonathan which differentiates him from many of the politicians around here.
I had applied for a radio license in 2014 through the NBC and I followed due process.
Goodness of Jonathan
My application was among the several sent to the Presidency for signature by the Ministry of Information under Mr. Labaran Maku who resigned before the elections. His exit led to the applications sent to the Presidency being reshuffled under the new arrangement.
It was after Jonathan had lost elections and was on his way out of the Villa that I mentioned to him that I had an application awaiting his signature.
He responded that he signed some applications that day but he would not know the names of the applicants. I had to check with my contacts at NBC only to be told that my application was replaced after the exit of Maku, though it was fully qualified. It was then resent and Jonathan signed it at a time he expected nothing from me as he had already lost his re-election bid. My station was set up several moths after he left office and I never collected a dime from him contrary to the wild and malicious claim of the professor that his campaign gave me money in 2015 to do it.
Re: Pius Adesanmi: Endless Tears
THANK you for reproducing the late Prof. Pius Adesanmi’s presentation. The rest of his paper was published online. I really condole with the members of his family, friends, students, professional colleagues and the academic community for the loss of this intellectual giant.
He has written his name in gold in the annuals of history and be sure he goes marching on like other great men before him.
Please permit me to comment on the part of his paper where he mentioned you and others for doing a “thankless job” working with and for those who claimed that they came to be our liberators, but turned out to be our oppressors and promoters of poverty in the land.
Let it be said that you and others he named have not only given voice to the voiceless millions of Nigeria, but have also done what these millions cannot do for themselves. Be neither discouraged nor weary for doing a thankless job in standing up for and with the masses.
If your struggles are faced with challenges that are frightening and you obtain no present thanks, do not give up the struggles. Do not become a sluggard in the struggle.
Remember that those who return unkindness for kindness shown them will plant and harvest unkindness in their lives.
Those who return evil for the good done them evil will never depart from them. This is a natural law. The struggle must continue.
—Tony O. Ekwe.