The President Nigerians Know By Paul Adepoju
It was with a rare blend of shock and utmost surprise that I read Dr. Reuben Abati’s write-up on a Sunday morning, right in the presence of the Lord where nothing is hidden before the Most High. As expected, the veteran journalist dwelt more on portraying the president as a leader who has the interest of the nation at heart.
He also fired word missiles at the self-appointed social media activists thus: “we have a lot of unintelligent people repeating silly clichés and too many intelligent persons wasting their talents lending relevance to thoughtless conclusions.”
I agree with Dr. Abati on the contamination of public commentary, I however disagree with his assertion that lots of the commentators are unintelligent while the intelligent ones are wasting their talents, since he belonged to the same demography before pledging his allegiance to the presidency.
Obviously, he knows more about what a larger percentage of Nigerians don’t know about the man – Goodluck Jonathan, a man he also criticised from a distance prior to his appointment as the president’s media henchman. So it’s not unexpected for him to publicly clamour for fairer consideration of the president who could go down in history as having the lowest approval rating.
Having a closer relationship with people in government is something that has proven severally to be counter-productive for the machinery of governance because it clouds one’s objective assessment of the situation at hand.
On the notion that the president has good intentions for Nigeria, Dr. Abati and everyone at the presidency should know that Nigerians do not doubt that. As a matter of fact, all past presidents had (and still have) good intentions for our nation. The bone of contention however is not unrelated to the inability of the president to bring his brilliant intentions hanging somewhere in the skies to reality.
Despite national and international outcries that characterised the military junta, former heads of government such as Generals Sanni Abachi and Gbadamosi Babangida took the oath because they all had good intentions for the nation.
Extending this beyond the scope of government, one could unequivocally say that even the Nigerian contingent to the 2012 London Olympics had good intentions; they wanted to make the nation proud but their good intentions were inconsequential. Same could be said of the president.
As the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces whose primary role is to ensure the safety of Nigerians, the spate of suicide bombings, ethno-religious crisis, extra-judicial killings and several others could make Nigerians doubt the intention of the president. In other words, Nigerians aren’t doubting GEJ’s intentions, they just aren’t sure he can handle the challenges of his office effectively since thousands of homes daily mourn the demise of their loved ones as a result of circumstances that past presidents would have controlled effectively without bloodshed.
On alcoholism in Aso Rock, Dr. Abati ought to know that Nigerian constitution is silent about drinking alcoholic beverages at the presidential villa hence it’s left to the occupant, current occupant, to decide whether he will perform better under the mild or strong influence of emu oguro (fresh palm wine) or ordinary Zobo drink. All Nigerians care for is a vibrant president who is tackling all their problems.
One of the major reasons why the presidency is being tongue- and word-lashed extensively are his visits to countries where the governments are doing well; his inability or reluctance to introduce such reformations to better the lots of Nigerians whose taxes, sweats and shares of the nation’s oil wealth are fuelling the presidential jets.
As a veteran journalist who has written copiously on politics and government, Dr. Abati can’t expect the president to enjoy the support of all Nigerians; neither will they cheer him on since this isn’t a kindergarten class!
I guess they need to be reminded that Nigeria is the world’s largest black nation and the president is responsible for the fate of over 150 million people belonging to more than 300 ethnic groups; people who are vast and diverse as shown in recent world studies that described them as the happiest, the most spiritually faithful, most unfaithful, and most sexually active – yes we are.
So, instead of attempting to force the love of Goodluck Jonathan down the sore throats of Nigerians, Dr. Abati could do Nigerians, especially the loyal readers of his Friday and Sunday tirades on the pages of Guardian newspapers, much good by using his closeness to the president to give him a frank assessment of what Nigerians really want.
Despite the fact that the president feels he’s being unfairly crucified by the media and activists who are always asking him to resign, he should know that Nigerians aren’t asking him to bring the moon to bar beach, or the sun to the oil creeks; they only want security and the basic things of life in addition of signs that show that the president truly care about the plight of Nigerians by keeping to his promise.
Dr. Abati’s carefully written and scrutinized piece left out the various tell tale signs that made many Nigerians lose hope on the president’s ability to restore fading hope.
A BBM broadcast is currently circulating; it is laced with the president’s various promises while campaigning across the nation. So far, none of them has been satisfactorily fulfilled.
He also reneged on a number of promises including his pledge during the fuel subsidy uproar to reduce his foreign trips and entourage.
However, like some fellow Nigerians, I’m having second thoughts about the man Goodluck Jonathan. Obviously, lots of things are wrong with his administration but he’s making some risky bold steps which if successful could change the public perspective about him from a weakling to an intelligent president. PHCN is one of such.
So, instead of wasting public resources in recruiting media experts to “rebrand” and make the presidency “look good” to Nigerians, the president and his numerous committees need to work harder, sacrifice more, travel less and tackle more problems that will make life easier and safer for Nigerians.
Unlike Reuben Abati, Nigerians don’t see the president every day, but they see his handiworks in the high pump price of fuel and the incessant bomb blasts up north. According to them, the president they know isn’t working hard enough.
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