Musings on the Presidential Media Chat – Karshima Shilgba

Published:21 Nov, 2012

Musings on the Presidential Media Chat – Karshima Shilgba

One of the responsibilities of a president is to inspire his citizens, to give them a reason to look forward to a better life. I watched the presidential media chat on Sunday, November 18, 2012, expecting to get answers from my President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on certain national problems. I came away without answers. I was saddened the more that my President provided nothing refreshing on the menu. It was a disappointing episode of self-confession of incompetence and helplessness. In fact, it would be true to characterise Jonathan’s answers to pointed questions, particularly from the editors of the Guardian and Sunday Mirror newspapers, as evasive and rambling, a presidential lamentation.

Jonathan’s answers are a good example of what a president should not say. A president must at least give the citizens a reason to have confidence in his abilities through presentation of clear bullet point solutions that he has for specific problems. He is not only to acknowledge that there are problems, but he should provide his solutions to those problems. He should have confidence in those solutions, and be courageous to make them open to public scrutiny. He is NEVER (I emphasise this word) expected to tell his people why it is difficult to implement a law or an act of the national assembly; rather he should tell steps he has taken or is taking to implement those. If a president laments and stops at that, what should the people do?

The Editor of The Guardian newspaper, Mr. Martins Oloja, asked what the President was doing to correct the disappointing rating of Nigerian universities. President Jonathan responded by painting a more disappointing scenario, and concluded that state governors should also be shown the report of a committee he had set up to compile a report on the state of both federal and state universities. That’s it! Did the President offer any solutions? He offered none! Any defence for Nigeria’s rating? President Jonathan said that he noticed that there were quite a number of countries in the world whose universities were not well ranked either!

Nigeria deserves better. In 2010, in my article titled, Goodluck Jonathan: Luck is not enough, I wrote: “If I stood before the unapproachable throne of the Almighty and He asked me to choose one item from the list—Luck, Strength, Courage, Understanding, and Grace, I would definitely not choose Luck. Let me tell you why. There is an illusion that comes with luck right unto the doorsteps of a man’s soul. Luck creates an illusion of achievement where there is no labour. Luck disarms a man of the necessary barometer of self-assessment; it darkens the thin veil that shields human faults. You have not arrived on the wings of luck; rather the journey has just started when luck pushes you unto the dais which is only fit for those who have tasted both the bitter pill of defeat and the sweet wine of success. Luck carries with it the burden of responsibility, to prove yourself to those who hold the consensus that you are undeserving.

Luck does not qualify a man for leadership; it questions his ability to lead. Luck does not necessarily come with excellence; it makes you the cynosure of prying eyes, coloured with the question, ‘Can you excel; can you distinguish yourself now?’ The burden of leadership cannot be borne by those who never prepared for the opportunity. Truly, if you did not prepare for an opportunity before it came, you might waste it. Luck could be a wonderful thing, but that is if you prepared for it. The winds must have blown in your direction the suspicion that the opportunity was coming. That nudge that whispers the question: ‘What if…?’ must be unmistaken.” I am more convinced of the rectitude of those words now!

The President was asked again why his government was not implementing the monetisation policy without formally taking steps to put it aside. Mr. Oloja cited two examples how the official houses of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives were bought by those public officers and yet Jonathan’s government permitted new budget votes to build new official quarters for the current holders of these offices, which votes the current officers claim are not sufficient. Jonathan replied by saying that the policy “is good in theory” but difficult to implement. He gives an example of a government project supervisor who needs an official vehicle to supervise public projects. To him, that justifies the abuse of public office that the monetisation policy sought to correct, which resulted in improvement in capital expenditures above recurrent expenditures. This beats me! Do you remember when during the Yar’Adua-Jonathan government started chipping away at the cornerstone of the monetisation policy, first with buying a “pool of vehicles”, which was contrary to the Certain Political, Public And Judicial Office Holders (Salaries And Allowances, etc.), Act 2002? Because Nigerians kept quiet, President Jonathan has come out boldly to declare that an Act of the National Assembly cannot be implemented. The growing cost of running government, with expanded number of ministries post-2007, increased number of cabinet-level ministers, surging number of assistants, special assistants, advisers, senior advisors, among others and the concomitant bloated overhead costs all combine to shoot up recurrent expenditures of the Federal Government under President Jonathan. And he spoke in a cavalier manner about this.

When you heard of N480bn statutory transfers in the 2013 budget proposal of the Jonathan government, know that this is because of the negligence of the Act I have referred to above and the breach of the monetisation policy, which makes beneficiaries of such transfers (the National Assembly, judiciary, and commissions recognised by the Constitution) to take scandalous sums of money, yet producing nothing or little in return. Who can check this abuse when the legislature and judiciary in Nigeria collaborate with the executive to waste our commonwealth? If Nigerians will not collaborate, in spite of their mutual suspicions, and work together to enlighten the uninformed about the extravagance and lack of good conscience of the ruling party, and stir them against supporting the party, only a violent overthrow shall redeem this nation if it will not violently come crashing down.

When reminded by the Editor of the Sunday Mirror, Gbemi Olujobi, how Nigerians were fascinated by the personal story of his humble background, and voted for him, only to be disappointed by the extravagant lifestyle of his government, epitomised by lavish expenditures on feeding by the Presidency, Jonathan responded by naively saying that, “I eat only twice a day.” How did Nigerians get for themselves such a President who fails to understand simple question? He surprised probably not a few when he claimed ignorance of how much the Presidency spends on food and drinks! That nails it. Our President is not leading; he has surrendered governance to those Nigerians did not vote to be their president. President Jonathan, went on to say that, “Nigeria is an important country,” implying the expenditures on food and drinks that some folks are complaining about are none issues.

When asked why his government was prevaricating about trying culprits entangled in the Halliburton bribery scandal, President Jonathan used an old and stale line: “It is better to let criminals go free than to punish one innocent fellow.” This is an incongruous dictum adoption. The fact is that Nigeria does not have a government that is ready to punish rogues; and when punishment against evil is delayed, men do not learn to do right. President Jonathan would need decades to sort out the “innocent” from criminals before taking the Halliburton scandal criminals to court. In my article, “A Lessons on power for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan” (2010), I wrote about the President: “One obvious mistake Dr. Jonathan has consistently made since the resolution by the National Assembly on February 9, 2010, making him the Acting President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation is to still think like a Vice-President. Until a man changes both the content and construction of his mind upon the thrust into the limelight of power, his efficacy in the new role will be mediocre. Until Dr. Jonathan re-creates himself, he shall remain insipid, boring, and of no positive effect whatsoever to the exigencies of the time. My reading is that Dr. Jonathan is scared of many ministers of the Federation and certain individuals whom he considers ‘very powerful.’ You cannot be an effective leader when you are afraid of the people over whom you should preside.”

President Jonathan was asked why he did not care to visit the troubled region of Nigeria (North-Eastern states such as Borno and Yobe, which have been hard hit by Boko Haram). He rather spent time talking about some incidental reference to the Odi raid of 2000. He provided no answer for his failure to visit Nigerians in Borno and Yobe states who don’t feel they have a President who cares; neither did he provide hope about resolving the security challenges of Nigeria.

On electricity power supply in Nigeria, I guess you have read how the Jonathan government has promised to grant tax holiday to manufacturers that can generate their electricity! Do you know the implication? The leadership failure of Jonathan’s government will lead to loss of tax revenue because of this holiday. You may have noticed that in some parts of Nigeria (I say this advisedly because I don’t know where you are reading this article from), electricity supply has deteriorated in the past few weeks since the exit of Prof. Barth Nnaji. The President promised during the media chat that he would fix the electricity problem and repair the Benin-Ore Expressway (on which one of his ministers shed tears about two years ago). This statement was made in response to a comment by a Nigerian viewer who had tweeted that if President Jonathan could fix the road and electricity problem of Nigeria, he would become a great Nigerian president. I would wish for Jonathan to become a great Nigerian president. But he cannot become one without showing a good knowledge and understanding of what our problems are, without having the will to tackle them without fear, and without a sense of urgency that Nigerians expect of him. His answers were uninspiring. He did not speak to the fears and discouragement of Nigerians. He failed to show he was on the side of the people. Jonathan has lost (if at all he had it in the first place) any moral authority to engage the National Assembly on their excesses, for they bear the same kind of spots. The Nigerian judiciary is openly corrupt (Jonathan was reminded during the chat about the latest rating of Nigeria as the second most corrupt country); and anarchy has set in the land. The Presidential media chat was a reminder to Nigerians that they should be ready to suffer all manner of indignities and torments for the next two and half years. The three arms of government have collaborated to oppress Nigerians. Now they govern by “committees”. The President spoke quite a bit about committees he has set up, and how ignorant Nigerians are for not noticing when he is implementing the recommendations of those committees. Well, I know that committees have never been helpful, at least in my adult days in Nigeria. When a matter has been handed over to a “committee”, it is only a euphemistic expression of taking it off the public menu of engagement.

Every nation that practises governance through elected representatives must define so clearly what democracy should mean to its people. Such definition comes in form of rituals that distinguish it from other nations. The ability to invent forms of governance that are specific, meaningful, acceptable to the majority of the people, realistic, and time-bound sets a nation apart as intelligent in its conduct. A nation consists of people who have agreed to live and interact together on the basis of laws, not necessarily given by a divine being, but given by the people to themselves in the form of a constitution. And if the people have given to themselves a constitution, it is then a given that such a constitution should not be injurious to their interest, not be restrictive on their aspiration, and not vitiate provisions that are generous to them through some other clauses in the same constitution. Is this the best we can afford for ourselves? Is this the best president we can have for ourselves? Is this the best legislature or judiciary Nigerians are deserving of? The President said that, “The PDP is the party to beat.” If this is true, then I don’t know Nigerians; they must be truly a queer group.

Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria (shilgba@middlebeltalliance.org)

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Indian Military Antonov Plane Goes Missing

An Indian military plane with 29 people on board has gone missing over the Bay of Bengal which is the largest bay in the world and is found at the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean.  According to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Antonov-32 transporter aircraft took off from Chennai (Madras) at 08:30 local time (03:00 GMT), bound for Port Blair in the eastern archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar. It was scheduled to...

PDP Must Avoid Going From Frying Pan To Fire – Bode George

A chieftain of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, said in Lagos on Thursday that appointing a credible person as national chairman of the party would determine the performance of the party in the 2019 presidential elections. George, who was a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, said that it was imperative for the national leadership of the party to appoint a credible person as its national chairman. He argued that appointing someone, who had no understanding...

You Shouldn’t Be Engaged For Any Longer Than 6 months, Wendy William Says

Wendy Williams doesn't think that Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney would never make it down the aisle because of their long engagement. The chat show host says reports that Gaga's went into acting had caused deep rifts with fiance Taylor that led to the split. She even went on to win a Golden Globe for her debut role and is set to return for its new season. Speaking on Thursday about the recent Radar report, Wendy said: “I...

New Music: 2Baba X M.I Abaga – “Babylon”

The moment we’ve been waiting for is here as; 2Baba and M.I Abaga unleash celestial chills with the new single dubbed Babylon. The duet, speaks on the current situation of life, the journey, the steps to follow; and also the most pondered about issue i.e; “Politics.” Like always, 2Baba aka 2face Idibia and M.I Abaga,...

Bayern Have Lost An ‘Important Player’ In Gotze – Alaba

The Austrian international insists his close friend, who recently rejoined Borussia Dortmund from the Bavarians, was “unlucky” to see his career stagnate due to injury trouble David Alaba insists Bayern Munich have lost an “important player” following Mario Gotze's decision to leave the Bundesliga champions to rejoin Borussia Dortmund. Gotze, 24, angered Dortmund fans when he left them in 2013 to join their German rivals Bayern but completed a move...

‘Do Not Support Any Moves To Impeach Pres. Buhari’- Bauchi Youths Warn Their Senators

Members of APC Vanguard, a Pro-Buhari group in Bauchi state have sent a warning to the three senators representing the state in the senate not to support any move geared towards impeaching President Buhari. The youths issued the warning in a letter signed by their chairman, Nura Zungur and delivered to the Bauchi state governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar at Government House this morning. The group in their letter warned that any of their senators who partakes in...

Bricklayer Jailed For Stealing Two Packets Of Maggi

A Lugbe Grade 1 Area Court, Abuja, on Thursday sentenced a 30-year-old bricklayer Jeopardy John, to three months imprisonment for stealing two packets of Maggi cubes. John, had pleaded guilty to a three-count of criminal trespass, housebreaking and theft. “I am sorry for the act I committed and I am pleading with the court not to send me to jail. “It was hunger that made me to steal. For some time now I don’t...

Court Orders EFCC To Pay N5 Million Damages To Fayose’s Aide

A Federal Capital Territory High Court has granted bail to Abiodun Agbele, an aide to the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose. Mr. Agbele was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on July 1 on allegations of fraud. The EFCC said Mr. Agbele received huge public funds from a former defence minister, Musiliu Obanikoro, and delivered same to Mr. Fayose. The judge, Olukayode Fadeniyi, declared that the failure of the EFCC to...

Japan Warns Over Pokemon Go Pitfalls Ahead Of Launch

Japan isn’t taking any chances when it comes to the safety of impatient fans awaiting the release of Pokemon Go in the country where the cutesy monsters were born. Tokyo has issued a nine-point safety guide warning of dangers gamers could face, including heat stroke, online scams and dubious strangers. Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) has also advised fans to download a weather app so Pokemon hunts don’t land...

Boko Haram Degraded, Victims Returning Home– Interior Minister

The Federal Government has stated that Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East has been degraded and routed out from their major enclaves while victims of their atrocities are returning home. The Interior Minister, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau made the disclosure at the Regional Seminar on Media Engagement in Crisis Management organised by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State. The Minister said: “The war in the North-East with the Boko Haram has been...

Video: Idris Elba – Panda Re-fix

Jimmy Fallon debuted a spanking new game with a little help from Idris Elba on last night’s episode of The Tonight Show. Dubbed Box of Microphones, this latest musical goof around involved. you guessed it — a box of microphones, with each mic having a different voice-altering effect. After each picking, a mic at random, Idris delivered a chipmunk cover of Desiigner’s “Panda”. while Jimmy...

Plateau Crisis: Soldiers Open Fire, One Killed

Soldiers serving with the Special Task Force on Jos crisis on Thursday opened fire on rampaging youth who blocked a road in Bokkos Local Government Area, in protest of the killing of a monarch and a night attack there Wednesday. At least one person was killed and five others injured, witnesses said. A witness, Mangai Haruna, said the youth refused to allow soldiers into the area, pressing them instead to produce the killers of their...

Sex Scandal: Reps Accuse US Ambassador Of Racial Bias

One of the three members of the House of Representatives accused of alleged sexual misconduct by the outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, yesterday accused the envoy of racial bias stating that the allegations are premeditated. Hon. Mark Gbillah who made the declaration yesterday while making his presentation at the investigative hearing on the allegations, insisted that he was wrongly accused and would do everything legally possible to clear his name. He...

Christians Betrayed, Insulted Me As CAN President- Oritsejafor

Past presi­dent of the Christian As­sociation of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, yes­terday, opened up on how he weathered the storm as leader of the apex Christian body in the country. He said Christians plot­ted against him and equally insulted him even when he put his life on the line for them. Oritsejafor said he took over the mantle of lead­ership at the most trying times in the country. “We came in a period...

Total Is New Sponsor Of CAF Competitions

Multi-national oil company, Total is the new title sponsor of the Africa’s foremost football event, the Africa Cup of Nations, according the Confederation of African football (CAF) has said. Total replaces telephone company Orange as the AFCON sponsors. The sponsorship agreement lasts eight years, africanFootball.com reports. The sponsorship also covers the women’s Nations Cup, U-17, U-20 and U-23 championships, the African Nations Championship (CHAN), CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup and Super Cup.

Osinbajo, Governors Meet Over Economy

The National Economic Council (NEC) met at the Council Chambers of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.  The meeting is being presided over by the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.  Governors in attendance include those of Ogun, Kano, Akwa Ibom, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Abia, Katsina, Kogi, among others.  The meeting is expected to review the state of the economy. Credit: DailyTrust

Leave Oil Fields, Terminals Now, Niger Delta Avengers Warns Oil Workers

Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has warned oil workers and foreigners to vacate oil fields and terminals as it is ready to fight dirty. The militant group, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, specifically warned Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) workers as well as foreigners to leave oil fields and terminals because “it will be going to be very...

Saraki Denies Defecting To PDP, Restates Commitment To APC

For the second time in less than a week, the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, has restated his commitment and loyalty to his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Media reports were rife that Saraki had defected to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after he attended the party’s senate caucus meeting on Wednesday. But Saraki’s media aide, Bamikole Omishore, in a statement said the reports were “entirely untrue as the Senate President stands committed...

?FG To Introduce Maritime Law As Course In Nigerian Varsities

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the National Universities Commission(NUC) yesterday agreed to collaborate on the introduction of Maritime Law as a course of study in Nigerian universities. The agreement was reached in Abuja during a courtesy visit to the Prof. Julius Okojie, the Executive Secretary, NUC by Hassan Bello, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council. According to Bello, the dearth of legal practitioners and judges who are knowledgeable in Maritime law continues to hinder the adjudication...

Aisha Buhari Sues Gov. Fayose, Aides

President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, on Wednesday sued Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State for claiming she was involved in the Halliburton scandal. Mr. Fayose had in June said Mrs. Buhari was the “Aisha Buhari” named in a U.S. court document, alleged to have been involved in bribery case involving a convicted former U.S. lawmaker, Williams Jefferson. The governor, in what appeared to be an error, referred to the Jefferson bribery as the Halliburton scandal,...

Naira Sinks To 375/Dollar, Economists Seek Policy Change

Economists on Wednesday advised the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to review their policies and introduce measures that would turn around the dwindling fortunes of the nation’s economy. They spoke against the backdrop of the persistent fall of the naira against the dollar, with the local currency exchanging for 375 against the greenback at the parallel market on Wednesday; the imminent economic recession; and the spike in inflation to 16.5 per cent in...