OPINION

The President’s Speech: Anatomy Of A Drowning Man By Abdulmalik Ibrahim

It is said that for most people, there come moments in their lives when certain events happen which unravel their inner selves for the whole world to see and consume and which will go on forever to define their true being and core. For our dear President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan these moments are coming in the speeches he’s been giving of late as he seeks another four (4) year mandate from the people of Nigeria. Hear him:

“How much did Jim Nwobodo stole? (sic) Money (sic) not up to the price of a Peugeot and Buhari (sic) regime send (sic) him to jail; is that good enough?”

“They came with promises but immediately they came in, what they did was to jail Jim Nwobodo for 301 years.”

“…they said that is the way to fight corruption. So immediately I suspect your uncle, I can just crate him and throw him into Kirikiri. Is that the way to stop corruption?”

 “In 1983/84, what they called discipline as a post graduate student instead of reading my book, the whole night I queued up to buy two tins of milk. And they say that is discipline.”

“We cannot run the government as if we are in the medieval age; we cannot run a government where somebody said he would throw people into jail. You are not a medieval king…”

“What happened in December was that IPPIS, software for processing salaries, — sometimes people steal through salaries- and some federal government agencies including some ministries tried to divert funds to pay some allowances. The system is scientific, it is not a human being, and as long as money meant for salaries is about to be diverted to other things, it shuts down. Those departments of government were shut down; this is the only way that you can prevent corruption.”

“And somebody who wakes up and tells young people of 23 years old that he wants to fight insecurity, ask him when he was the head of government did he buy one rifle for a Nigerian soldier.”

The above statements credited to our President at the PDP Presidential Rallies in Lagos and Enugu last week perhaps more than ever give us a clear insight into the mind of the man charged with the responsibility of leading Nigerians to the ‘promised’ land. His philosophy about stealing as can be deducted therefrom is not really in the deed itself but rather in the quantum of it. That is why he wonders why a man like Jim Nwobodo will be locked up in jail for stealing an amount not more than the worth of a common Peugeot vehicle. Mr. President was amazed that the Buhari led government could sentence Jim Nwobodo to three hundred and one (301) years in jail! It sounds so sacrilegious that an individual could be subjected to such ‘cruelty’ for mere stealing. He thinks only a ‘medieval king’ like Buhari can carry out such acts of cruelty. Personally I excuse the President for his bewilderment at Buhari’s ‘medieval’ acts; for how do you expect a man like himself with no sense of history, both modern and ancient to grasp and appreciate the import of the justice system the world over. I’m sure he hasn’t read about Chamoy Thipyaso, a Thai lady who in 1989 was given the world’s longest sentence for corporate fraud of 141,078 years. Allow me to bring our dear President to America, whose aura and modernism seem to tickle his fancy every now and then. I doubt our President has heard of Bernard Madoff and his infamous Ponzi scheme and how the ‘medieval’ US justice system sentenced him to one hundred and fifty (150) years in jail. Another American, Dwight York, leader of the Nuwaubian Nation religious group was convicted of child molestation and financial crimes and eventually sentenced to one hundred and thirty-five (135) years in jail. Instances of these and more litter the pages of history; if only our President would care to pick up a book today. Left to Mr. President no person should have to go to the famous ‘kirikiri’ maximum security prison. Perhaps this explains why despite the unprecedented cases of graft and fraud that’s been perpetrated and uncovered under his government, no single Minister or Aide of his has been charged to court much less convicted of any wrongdoing. For Jonathan, the unaccounted $20bn in the NNPC is a mere token that doesn’t warrant any hullaballoo or much ado. The N32.8bn pension scam is mere kids’ play that probably deserves a stern warning and nothing more. His outlook about stealing is the reason why Stella Oduah, a former Aviation Minister, is on her way to the hallowed Senate chambers and not the Kirikiri Prison in spite of her role in the BMW bulletproof car scam. That is also why his political godfather DSP Alamieyeseigha, an infamous, cross-dressing, cross-Atlantic money launderer was granted State pardon and like Stella is also headed to the Senate chambers. It is also why his ‘darling’ Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke is easily able to secure surreptitious court injunctions against appearing before the National Assembly despite the staggering questions of abuse of office looming over her head. Perhaps one has to steal in astronomical figures, say our National Budgets worth, before one is deemed as deserving of a slap on the wrist by this government.

The statement regarding his disdain of having to queue up ‘the whole night’ to buy two tins of milk during General Buhari’s regime reveals his personal discipline or the lack of it thereof. At a time when such universal ethos of discipline, righteousness, and commitment are totally missing in every sphere of our national lives, one expects the number one citizen to be able to stay off board and project a sense of character worthy of emulation. I wonder what I’d tell my 7 year old nephew tomorrow if he tries to shunt a line after he’s watched his President on TV crassly disapproving of queuing up in line. A President, asides giving executive orders is first and foremost a role model worthy of emulation. He is the one we all look up to when lofty virtues have become scarce and ill manners have blown off the roof. But what then happens to a society where rather than personify such virtues, the President is choosing to tow the line of a common motor park tout?

Something the President said in Enugu that made me fall to my knees crying and laughing at the same time was the issue of late payments of salaries for December 2014. The reason he proffered for this was as incongruous as it was ludicrous to say the least. Citing the fact that his administration has developed an ingenious way of ridding out payment of ghost workers from the salary schedule of Federal government workers by introducing an IT based centralized payment system which some -in his own words- ‘IT boys’ came up with, the President attributed the late payments to attempts by some heads of parastatals to access the system to ‘not necessarily steal but maybe’ pay out some allowances which caused the system to lock itself, thus causing the delay. Walayi when I heard him struggling to mumble those words, time seemed to stop for a moment as I froze thinking ‘what tha hell did I just hear?’ I concluded that either the President scanned his audience and decided to play on their foolishness as they cheer him on or he is totally out of his depths and has lost touch of reality all together. So the President would want us to believe that all heads of Federal government parastatals tried accessing the platform and that all of them got locked out and that for several days, his ‘IT boys’ were unable to unlock the system? How a President seeking reelection can mount the podium and tell such bare faced stupid lies is absolutely beyond me; but we move on. Asides appearing unnecessarily agitated and angry, the President made several statements that frankly were quite shocking and unbecoming of his office. Having charged the opposition to running an issue based campaign and leave the mudslinging, one would expect the President to in the least let his attack dogs instead; the Okupes, Renos and FFKs to drive the dirty side of his campaign.

On his claim that no government had equipped the armed forces like his and even going ahead to suggest that the Buhari administration did not buy one rifle for a ‘Nigerian soldier’, I feel the President unwittingly shot himself in the foot; for no sooner had he made those claims, than records began to surface online showing that indeed the amount of weapons purchased by General Buhari’s government in one year was more than what his administration purchased in three years. To think that this boastful claims and grandstanding is coming from a Commander in Chief that has consistently refused to lead from the front, deciding to rather keep a safe distance away from ground zero, is not only laughable but highly disappointing. Again I urge the President to borrow a leaf from his almighty America; where its Presidents are known to every once in a while pay visits to troops at the war front just to shore up morale.

Like the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola once remarked, this elections is a referendum on Goodluck Jonathan’s performance in office; nothing more, nothing less. It is an X-ray into the last six (6) years of this administration, to critically assess it on the issues that matter to most Nigerians. To modify James Carville’s famous phrase, ‘it’s the insecurity and economy stupid!’ At a time when most Nigerians, especially those in the Northeast sleep with their eyes open in fear of insurgent attacks, when more than a million people have lost their homes and have become refugees in their own land, when more than ten thousand souls have perished due to acts of terrorism the last year alone, when virtually the economy of the Northeast has been decimated by war, when Nigerians watch helplessly as the naira takes a downward plunge by the day and people in droves are being pushed further below the poverty line, when sacred elite cows are shielded and supported by the State to loot the country dry and jet around the world in their private aircraft, when job seekers are being led by government officials to their graves on the pretext of job interviews, when executive recklessness takes center stage and tramples upon citizens rights of free speech and assembly, at a time when all these and more affect the Nigerian voter, the President has nowhere to hide and must come clean and explain to Nigerians why they should trust him with another four years. So the President can go about blaming the whole world but himself of the ills and wrongs affecting the nation, one thing he cannot wish away though is the issues on the minds of most Nigerians. The Nigerian voter, admittedly not the most sophisticated, knows to a certain degree exactly that which he wants for himself, which is nothing more but a better and dignified life.

Concluding, personally I feel the President is making it easier by the day for the opposition with the way he’s going about with his speeches. I have opined that General Buhari’s chief campaign officer is none other than the President himself. It is his gross incompetence and shambolic handling of the Nigerian State for the past six (6) years that serve as a beacon of light shining the path for General Buhari to Aso Rock. And for Goodluck Jonathan to unwittingly unravel himself the way he does through those shoddy excuse for speeches is like gift wrapping the presidency to the General even before the race has started. See you all on 14th FeBuhari.

Abdulmalik Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq. Do follow, thank you…

 

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