By Majek Adega
Since assuming office as the acting and later president of Nigeria, I have carefully followed the actions, inactions, speeches and silence of President Goodluck Jonathan. After several months of this exercise, I have come to the conclusion that the President is but a bundle of contradictions.
His speeches reflect the ideals that governance should represent while his actions and inactions speak volume to his deep entrenchment in the mess called government in Nigerian and his lack of willingness or ability to take the bold steps necessary to build a modern nation state out of the current criminal outpost where thugs, criminals, vagabonds, looters and pedophiles lord it over tired and worn out citizens.
In his speech during the recently concluded 4th National Diaspora conference in Minna, Niger State, President Goodluck Jonathan warned delegates to the conference that the high level of corruption, illegal acquisition of wealth and non-payment of taxes by Nigerians could lead to the collapse of the nation’s entire system. This same Goodluck Jonathan is the husband of one Patience Jonathan whom the EFCC under charged with the theft of $16.5 million dollars in 2006. The matter is still in court and has not come up for hearing since Goodluck Jonathan became vice-president and later president. Dealing decisively with allegations of corruption against the president’s wife does not appear to be of importance to his government. This same Goodluck Jonathan it was who could not account for the N4 billion that disappeared from the coffers of Bayelsa state between the time he was nominated to be Yar Adua’s vice president to the time he was sworn into office in may 2007. The looted funds allegedly represented his contribution to the Yar Adua/Jonathan presidential campaign fund.
I have stopped counting how many times I have heard President Goodluck Jonathan promise Nigerians and the world that there would be free and fair elections come 2011. I have heard it so many times that it now sounds like a broken record. This President Goodluck Jonathan who is promising free and fair elections is the same Goodluck Jonathan who shamelessly and without regard for the wishes of Nigerians partnered with the late president Musa Yar Adua and the country’s acerbically rotten judiciary to plan and execute the most heinous electoral heist in the history of Nigeria. I will not disrespect the president by mentioning the smaller electoral heists himself and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha connived to perpetrate in Bayelsa state in 1999 and 2003.
President Goodluck Jonathan has assured Nigerians on several occasions that he does not and will not interfere with the work of the law enforcement agencies and the courts. He says he will not stand in the way of his friends and enemies facing the wrath of the law if they are accused of corruption and other crimes. It is this same President Goodluck Jonathan who as the then vice president and barely a few weeks after being sworn into office, asked the prison authorities to bring his former boss Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was then serving a jail term for misappropriation of billions of public funds to Dodan Barracks for a meeting with him. A few weeks after the meeting, Alamieyeseigha was released from jail. If the witch flew by yesterday and the child died the following morning, you do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what happened. The same president Goodluck Jonathan who does not interfere with the work of law enforcement agencies was the same person who ordered the police to fish out those responsible for the death of late Kano politician Abubakar Rimi and Dipo Dina of Ogun state. As well intentioned as the orders maybe, they represent a direct contradiction of his claim of non-interference.
Like a preacher, President Jonathan has seized every opportunity to remind Nigerians of the need for probity, accountability and proper use of scarce resources. It is this same President Goodluck Jonathan who along with his do nothing Federal Executive approved the sum of $156m for the purchase of three new aircrafts for the presidential fleet that reportedly has six planes already. The presidential Fleet probably has more functional aircrafts than Nigeria Airforce. Before I forget, it is the same President Goodluck Jonathan who decided to spend N10billion celebrating the country’s stunted growth since independence. His former boss and convicted looter, Diepreye Alamieyeisegha is reportedly a member of the committee planning the 50th Independence Day celebrations and spending of the N10billion voted for the shenanigans. Hmmmmmmm. The president is making all these decisions in a country where the ordinary citizen is groaning under the yoke of multiple taxes, lack of water, lack of good roads and insecurity. The combined sum above will go a long way in solving the nightmare that the Lagos-Benin road has become. But why should the president care? Only mortals travel by road. Yet, the president says he has a vision for Nigeria and he cares about ordinary Nigerians.
While late president Yar Adua was sick and ensconced in a Jeddah hospital, then vice-President Goodluck Jonathan played to the gallery and encouraged every manner of demonstrations in support of calls for power to be transferred to him. He even got the Nigeria Police to provide security for the demonstrators and sent Yayale Ahmed, the secretary to the federal government, to collect a letter from some of the protesters who were matching towards Aso Rock. The bad optics of that meeting between Yayale Ahmed and the demonstrators was not lost on those watching it on television as the secretary arrived in a long convoy of glittering black Mercedes Benz cars in a country where there is no electricity and minimum wage is less that $100 a month. Back to the demonstrations. I remember telling a friend that what we were witnessing was not the broadening of the democratic space to the point where any form of peaceful demonstration would be allowed and demonstrators protected. I had the feeling the then vice-president was playing on the intelligence of Nigerians who were sincerely seeking a solution to the political deadlock. Since that time, members of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies have stopped demonstrators who gathered in Kano to protest the president’s possible entry into the 2011 presidential race. Just a few days ago, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities were prevented from stepping out of the school compound in pursuit of a planned demonstration.
After he was pressured to publicly declare his assets under the late President Yar Adua, the first lesson the president gave Nigerians in accountability after assuming office was to secretly declare supposedly the same assets that he publicly declared a few years earlier. One of the closest people to the President is his chief of Staff, Mike Oghiadomhe, whom he reportedly befriended while both of them were deputy governors of Edo and Bayelsa states respectively. Mike Oghiadomhe who was a hustler and had no real job before he became the deputy governor of Edo state in 1999 has metamorphosed into a multi billionaire in less than a decade. Ogiadomhe who was Lucky Igbinedion’s partner in the looting of Edo state is enjoying the most productive period of his treasury looting career. This man meets with President Goodluck Jonathan on a daily basis when he is in the country.
The president talks about integrity and hard work but he assembled the most dishonorable set of people in the country and bestowed national awards on them. From the certificate forging Customs and Excise boss to the Police Chief who was presiding over an unprecedented kidnapping spree, and from Farida Waziri who wants Nigerians to believe that investigations has become another word for conviction and imprisonment to the bankers who brought the country’s banking system to its knees, President Goodluck Jonathan lined them up and one after the other, he decorated them with medals and thanked them for the great services they have rendered to the nation. Great services indeed.
There is nothing new about most of the information detailed above. What is new is the shameless attempt to paint a different picture of the President. The president cannot run away from his antecedents and if he has changed, he must demonstrate such to Nigerians in deeds, not just words. The President Goodluck Jonathan that I have described above is the same person who, despite his refusal to confirm it, will be running for the presidency come January 2011. That is the candidate Nigerians are being called upon to put their faith in. Whatever the voters decide, they cannot say they did not know who they were voting for. If he “wins” the person described above is the person who will be the president. He is the best example of “say one thing and do something else”