No. This was neither a theater stage nor a movie scene. It was the
President of modern-day Nigeria elegantly dressed and sitting humbly
and quietly on a low-cut chair surrounded by traditional Chiefs that
are of no political value to an imported system of constitutional
democracy. Equally dressed in elegant and flowing attires, the
Chiefs point some rods at him from all directions in a hierarchical
symbol that leaves no one in doubt, who the boss is and who is at
the mercy of who. Once again, it was the President of Nigeria
consumed by the sweat of desperation hunting for votes and favor in
a battle for his political life.
Stunned observers stand agape and ask themselves what this is all
really about. Never in the history of this nation, which houses the
highest population of black people all over the world, have symbolic
appeals of weakness ever marked the strength of any sitting
President who seeks to send a message of capability as a leader in
the quest to be elected. After all, while a delicate balance between
‘humility’ and ‘strength’ is always struck through images to send
citizens the message of a perfect blend of a servant-leader, care is
always taken to avoid going to extremes.
In 2008, when the African spirit in President Barack Obama came out
of him and he prostrated slightly before the elderly King Akihito of
Japan while shaking hands, conservative America was up in arms. They
cautioned the President reminding him that symbols mattered when a
nation as great as America was being represented on the diplomatic
stage. With time however President Obama has gained more
self-confidence and is much more at home to the responsibilities of
symbols in representing vast America.
Not so President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria. After six years on
the saddle of power and representation, he is still completely
oblivious or has a complete misunderstanding of the significance of
symbols and images. He has gradually transformed into the crawling
President, who needs to fall on his knees wherever he goes for the
purpose of sending a message across that he is a humble and DOWN to
earth character. Unfortunately, the cumulative and long-term
psychological impact of weakness and humiliation inherently
symbolized by such acts seems to have been underrated, ignored or
simply denied by the President and his handlers. Today, no one is in
doubt, who the comical jester is.
Yet no one is surprised. How else could it be different in electoral
campaigns that are not managed by people who shielded him from
exposure four years ago? After all six years at the center of power
have shown sufficient incompetence, ineptitude and sheer emptiness.
These have all being the defining attributes for which the President
is lying low rather than standing tall. He never hears the laughter.
He never hears the mockery. His minders do not too. The doors are
either closed when people laugh aloud or they hold their hands
before their mouth and pretend to sneeze and cough. All in the
hallowed lounge of the diplomatic edifice!
This is the President of Nigeria, who controls the largest economy
in Africa. But no one foresaw the desperation. No observer saw it
coming. No one knew that President Jonathan would try everything
humanly possible – from sabotage to treasury-plundering – to
truncate a process to cover his tracks and fulfill his dreams.
Boko Haram has sufficiently offered proof of sabotage and signs are
increasing that official Nigeria has had a hand in entrenching Boko
Haram for political calculations. Questions have mounted that are
still begging for answers. What happened to Senator Ndume till the
present moment, who was openly implicated in the crimes of Boko
Haram? He was reported to have provided the telephone numbers of
prominent politicians to the terrorists and partook in identifying
targets of attack. Yet there was no public trial. No repercussion. A
terrorist was nabbed in the official residence of a government
leader in Abuja. There was no prosecution to say the least of public
confessions. I have written several articles revealing my findings
in interaction with several Northern compatriots from Borno State. I
have written about people, who are said to have often reported Boko
Haram activities in their neighborhood to the Joint Task Force only
for them to be visited by the terrorists and gunned down for
betrayal. This pattern is also familiar to every Southerner who
dares to report robbery and kidnapping activities in his
neighborhood to the police. I have written about army checkpoints
cleared and vacated to allow free passage for Boko Haram convoys
only to be remounted after the passage.
Soldiers have revolted about suspicious deployment to fronts where
they are outgunned by Boko Haram. Soldiers have been court-marshaled
and sentenced to death for complaining about corruption by service
chiefs, who divert money to their pockets rather than procure
weapons for the battle. The media have reported cases of soldiers
voluntarily giving up their bases upon hearing one distant shot
fired by Boko Haram. President Obasanjo has quoted the President
Jonathan as referring to the Boko Haram killings as “they
killing themselves”. Nigerians are aware of a half-hearted State of
Emergency declared in some northern states that was never truly
meant to eradicate Boko Haram. Nigerians have questioned how Boko
Haram often procured brand new armored cars that were not taken from
captured military bases. They are weapons that cannot be hidden in
bags to cross a nation’s border. Rather than doing what is right,
the President took to blaming other countries for not selling
weapons when there were many more countries to procure weapons
quietly from without the public knowing who sold and didn’t sell.
Security votes in budgetary allocations soared and soared. Yet
weapons arsenal kept diminishing while General Ihejirika and many
other Generals became millionaires overnight.
Now, the humiliation is perfect and only the so-called service
chiefs and the President are not ashamed of the sober reality.
Rather than gaining fame in battle, military chiefs have now become
politicians interfering in election schedules and judging which
politician is a disgrace to the military. Smaller neighbors have now
come to our rescue and have repeatedly shown to us, how easy it is
to chase the rag-tag Boko Haram out of conquered territories. Now,
they have openly accused the Nigerian authorities of protecting the
leader of Boko Haram from capture and elimination. They have
ridiculed the Nigerian army for their habit of bolting for life when
Boko Haram comes calling.
Jonathan does not hear them laugh. He does not hear them mock and
jeer. He is desperate to cover his tracks by winning the presidency
by all means. And I strongly doubt that his tracks comprise mere
omissions. Jonathan’s tracks smell of active involvement in the
atrocities of Boko Haram that he now wishes to clear as much as he
can before someone else takes the saddle. Posterity will never
forgive General Muhammadu Buhari, if in the highly likely event of
winning the Presidency, he discovers that Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has
actively sponsored a faction of Boko Haram and sweeps the finding
beneath the carpet.
The futility of his smear campaign, dirty tricks and character
assassination notwithstanding, President Jonathan is plundering the
country’s treasury spreading and sharing billions of Naira to
interest groups in the hope that his lost cause can still be
It is also becoming obvious by the day, that Mr. Goodluck Jonathan
is just not alone in this naughty game played and propagated by a
barely visible “axis” of evil. There is the segment of the Niger
Delta milking the nation’s treasury dry through royalties and
benefits for no defined services. Booze-man and dragon protector Pa
Edwin Clark is one in this category. The category further includes
nominal ex-militants who still threaten militancy to coerce the
nation having been assigned the duty to protect oil pipelines with
the virtual free ticket of self-service in oil trade. The second
category includes oil marketers and many more looters, who indulge
in bogus and fraudulent contracts that are aimed at enriching
themselves for virtually worthless to zero services rendered. The
so-called importers of attack helicopters readily come to mind in
the wake of America’s refusal to sell military hardware to the
Jonathan regime, which is now halfway visibly involved in the
atrocities of Boko Haram. This category also includes sundry
benefactors of illegal funding for the production of attack video
footages on political opponents, collaborative prosperity pastors,
who share billions to preach support for Jonathan and many more
including local Chiefs. The third segment of the axis of evil houses
the beneficiaries of the security vote that have long feasted on the
activities of Boko Haram for personal benefits.
This axis of evil has always had a stake in Jonathan and has worked
very hard to reinvest a part of its stolen money in the sponsorship
of many foot soldiers including readers, who write pro-Jonathan
comments on online news media. In spite of all these though, the
future stubbornly remains bleak for Jonathan. Some locals have
stated unequivocally that they will vote Muhammadu Buhari as
President even if he produces an electricity bill as his secondary
school certificate. Some have stated clearly that they will vote
Muhammadu Buhari even if he was seen taking his last breath on an
emergency stretcher on Election Day. These are all messages that
show the depth of public rejection suffered by Goodluck Jonathan.
“You can fool some people
some time. You cannot fool all the people all of the time.”
These are the legendary words of Commodore Fidel Castro in the days
of the Cuban Revolution.
Today, Jonathan’s strongest enemy remains the international
community that will never accept any illegal interference on his
part, in the electoral process that the Permanent Voters’ Card also
seeks to forestall. It is an international community that begins
with our immediate small neighboring countries, who have had reasons
in recent days, to express the nature of respect or lack thereof
that they have for Mr. Goodluck Jonathan. The President of Chad Mr.
Idriss Derby has been more vocal in this respect.
Follow me on Twitter @FriskyLarrimore, Watch out for my new book
"Africa's Diabolical Entrapment"
Frisky Larr is author of the book "Nigeria's Journalistic Militantism" probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria!