Jonathan: A President In Need Of An Identity– by Debo Adejugbe @deboadejugbe

Published:28 Nov, 2012

Jonathan: A President In Need Of An Identity– by Debo Adejugbe @deboadejugbe

“Your philosophy determines whether you will go for the disciplines or continue the errors.” – Jim Rohn

“The visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.” ~ Nietzsche.


All my achivements in one loaf

Every man; irrespective of status, education or religious background craves an identity. A niche carved out of what he represents that people can readily identify him with at any time, no matter the situation involved. Everyone has it, irrespective of cravings or how they try hard to suppress the dominant character in them – it beams without the slightest prodding, even when we deny it.

The Merrian-Webster dictionary describes ‘Identity’ as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual: INDIVIDUALITY” and as “sameness of essential or generic character in different instances: ONENESS”. Wikipedia defines it thus: “Identity may be defined as the distinctive characteristic belonging to any given individual, or shared by all members of a particular social category or group”. We all have it in us and people recognize it in their interactions with us.

To lack identity is to lack essence!

Yet, this is not an impossible situation, even among the elite who draw up the policies that drive our economy and nation; maybe especially at those hallowed levels. We’ve seen people who grab at straws when the very essence they represent is sought in clear terms; they lack that distinct definition required to push through their personality and stand.

Watching President Goodluck Jonathan at his last recorded ‘live’ media chat, which threw up more questions than answers, I couldn’t help myself but ruminate on what he really stands for.

Who is and what does His Excellency Mr. President stand for?

Arriving at a conclusion was so hard for me, even after taking several scenarios into consideration. We have at one time or the other, during the height of the unique circumstances that has so far defined his political career (Deputy Governor » Governor » Vice President » Acting, then Substantive to Elected President), concluded he is a product of mother luck. We have hazarded the guess also that whatever he touches turns to a lucky wand that smoothens all rough edges into submission. We now know better.

Think about Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua: what comes to mind? Think Jonathan: Anything in mind?

After that recorded “live media chat” was relayed via NTA and broadcast by several other stations, I began to sort the different names Mr. President has had the honour (?) of taking on since his ascension to the highest office in the land. Perhaps it would help me to unravel this elusive identity.

Clueless? Obviously, he isn’t the first clueless president we’ve had. Slow? A toga for another. Maradonic? We know who the cap fits and no one lauds Mr President for his stratagems! Brutal and vindictive? We know the enclave that houses the trademark user. Corrupt? Naa! Too many have bought into that franchise! Dull? Well, he can’t take exclusive credit for that.

There are diverse criteria that could be smuggled in and they still won’t be definitive of our dear Mr. President. He is a “bit” of everything that I listed and more, but something shines through all of these.

As I despaired that I might not hit the mark, something cannoned off my thoughts. I told myself there must be an area where the president has excelled with flying colours since he assumed office. Thoughts and facts started filtering in, in no particular planned sequence.

The President while speaking through the deputy senate president at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, asserted: “We are vigorously fighting the endemic corruption at all levels and in all sectors of our country. I can assure you that there will be no sacred cows. Whoever is found to have transgressed will be made to face the full wrath of the law.” Ironic isn’t it? Especially coming from a President who sits happily in chambers with Diezani Alison-Madueke, serially indicted by several of the presidential committees commissioned by the C-in-C himself!

I stumbled upon a damning report from “Sunday Punch” detailing how $31billion (over N5trillion) had been pilfered since the President’s ascension to power on May 6, 2010 and all I could do was shake my head in sorrow. Relate that to the quote above, and you will understand why I concluded that he is seriously searching for an identity to help him negate the obvious. He has been caught up in illusions of what he is not, and is desperately trying to make us believe he is a believer, not an usurper!

What’s in figures? Let’s have a look at what our president really identifies with, but still earnestly denies in an attempt to write for himself a different epitaph in history, no matter how far from the truth!

The $31bn sum was arrived at, after poring over the submitted reports from the various committees tasked by the president to look into certain sectors of the economy. For a start, The Ribadu report put crude oil theft at about $6.3bn (N1.2trn) a year, which translates to some 250,000 barrels a day and $12.6bn in the two years of his presidency. Just this October, the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga wrote to the president about the loss of about 24million barrels, worth a whooping $1.6bn stolen between July and September, saying his signature was forged on the Export Clearance Permit used to transport them out of the country!

It gets scarier.

The Ribadu report also said “Ministers of Petroleum Resources between 2008 and 2011 handed out seven discretionary oil licences and that government lost $183m (N29bn) in signature bonuses via these deals.The Ribadu panel discovered that three of the oil licences were awarded under the current petroleum minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who took up her position in 2010? according to Sunday Punch.

Taking into account the N2.6trn paid as subsidy on petroleum products in 2011, you will agree the signs are ominous.

The Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of Fuel Subsidy Payments, headed by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, also noted in its report that in 2011, 197 subsidy transactions worth N232bn were illegitimate.

In the other sectors, the House of Representatives’ committee on Environment uncovered a seedling fraud of N2bn in a contract awarded by the Ecological fund office. In Telecommunications, a frequency of 450MHz valued at about $50million was sold at $6million by Nigeria Communications Commision. The identification of NCC as a fraud outlet was further confirmed by the N6.1bn naira SIM card registration project it embarked on and the further N1bn additionally budgeted for the same purpose in 2012.

One is made to wonder what the job of the various telecommunications providers is if NCC has to take up the functions of a SIM registrar.

KPMG, the global audit and financial advisory firm, on Wednesday November 21, 2012 rated Nigeria as the most fraudulent country in Africa, for the first half of 2012 putting the cost of fraud at $1.5bn (N225bn) while Transparency International has perpetually placed us amongst the very corrupt in its periodic Corruption Perceptions index report. We were 134 out of 183 rated countries in 2010, but have slipped to 143 out of the same 183 by 2011 under the present president’s watch.The Report is accessible here: Add the Gallup polls (“Global States of Mind: New Metrics for World Leaders”) that has consecrated us, with our inputs, as the second most corrupt nation on earth and you’ll be forgiven if you think, Nigeria, in one fell swoop will varnish into oblivion due to corruption.

The President spits fire and brimstone, though with hint of slapstick comedy in tow, when it comes to the issue of corruption, majestically pumping his fists to show resolve and setting up countless committees that throw up amazingly decisive recommendations and punishments for those whose hands were caught in the chocolate jar. Sadly, he wastes no time in performing a volte-face when decisive action is required, passing reports of such committees to other committees to vet and more committees to read, on their gradual journey into the bin.

While the president struggles with an identity, it is instructive to point him to the foundation of his government and most thriving business he has going for him: help him design a totem featuring a woman robbing a bank and a picture of a dozy Akpos in hat. Present it to him with fanfare as his official staff of office while he dances round the fireplace in Aso Rock.

All we see is the security budget while security itself deteriorates further, with the president scoring himself high on security issues, Boko Haram or not. He keeps touting figures and Megawatts as if that is what translates to stable power supply, while the improvement being bandied around in the power sector has become the hollow shout of an idle mind. The queues for fuel looks like something from the old movies of Abacha, yet our president expects, nay demands the congratulatory message floods for a job well done. Jokes abound, but this is a different level entirely.

Weakness is not humility, Mr President, with all due respect. You come to our screen to tell us “I never promised to reduce poverty, I only said I will create wealth”. You ridicule every right thinking person in this country with your simplistic view of President Obama’s victory and while all these happens, you feign ignorance of the absolute corruption going on around you.

Rather than face the business of governance, you employed executive comedians in Abati and Lion Okupe to massage your cluelessness and attack those who see through your “humble” smokescreen.

And without a single iota of unease, you keep a straight face with us, expecting us to appreciate your unique brand of selective amnesia in issues of national importance. Leadership has taken a permanent sabbatical since your back rested on the President’s chair.

We acknowledge you Mr. President. The Overall Lord of all comedians in the Federal Republic (OFR), the Comedian-In-Chief (C-in-C) or should we say Grand Comedian of the Federal Republic (GCFR)?


Debo Adejugbe
I’m @deboadejugbe on twitter

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