On January 10, 2013 while driving to work with my colleague, I stopped at my usual newspaper vendor for my dailies. The vendor handed me my usual papers, and my colleague who sat in the front seat took them from me and placed them on his lap. Then he picked up The Guardian and hurriedly flipped through its pages. Suddenly an amused expression started playing on his face. I was no longer in a hurry to restart the ignition soon, as my curiosity had gotten the better of me. My colleague lowered the paper for me to have a look, and I noticed he had dwelt on page 10. The page had the pictures of President Goodluck Jonathan and that of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim. I still did not get it. Then he pointed at Jonathan’s nose, and said “see his nose o.”
I took one good look at what he was talking about. Perhaps it was a badly taken picture, or the problem was with the printing, but the picture showed Jonathan with a nose accentuated by a light shade, making it somewhat bigger, longer?and amusing. I blurted out: “Pinocchio!”
In case you have forgotten, Pinocchio is an American animated film done in 1940 and produced by Walt Disney. Pinocchio was a wooden puppet which was brought to life. But the thing about it was that any time Pinocchio lied his nose grew longer, and longer, with each succeeding lie.
Jonathan has been seen to be keeping people guessing on whether he will run for president in 2015. Guessing? Anyway, just into the new year, campaign posters for Jonathan’s presidency in 2015 started spreading in the streets of Abuja. But the president has denied having anything to do with the posters. His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati said those who were behind the posters didn’t seek the president’s permission. His words: ‘Those pasting the posters are trying to express their own view. The president had stated that he will talk about the presidency from 2014. Those doing these do not have the consent of the president. What is most important now is for the president to deliver on his electioneering promise to Nigerians and not to embark on the pasting of posters. It has not come from the president. Nigerians should take the president for his word and ignore any other information to the contrary.”
But many think otherwise. They believe he must have had a hand in those posters, in fact that the whole thing was Jonathan. Why is it so hard to believe the president? If people cannot take the president for his word, does it mean they think he has a credibility gap?
Looking back now, there are many things Jonathan said to Nigerians, many promises he made to get their votes, which today he has denied ever saying. To some people, perhaps for those posters he had hidden behind the scene, only using his foot soldiers to fly a kite. Just a little gimmick to test the waters shouldn’t hurt, should it? But aren’t politicians known to be liars? Perhaps it is no big deal if the people are fed loads of lies. Who will know? And if they do know, what can they do? They will always get us to vote for them they tell themselves. Empty promises and a few naira notes and our votes are assured. They would not even need to plead our emotions anymore with having had no shoes growing up.
I might not have bothered if Jonathan had a credibility gap or not until I heard he said that there has been an improvement in power supply?which should be celebrated. Jonathan’s government said Nigeria’s power generation had reached an all-time high of 4,502 megawatts, up from 4,349.7MW. He also boasted that with his administration Nigerians will no longer be dependent on generators
I have not heard anything more galling. As I typed this piece I was sweating, as my generating set had used up all the fuel. And I did not want to add any more fuel into it until the next day because if I opened the doors I might let in mosquitoes. It was our light off. We usually had two days on, and one day off. This arrangement has been on for about 2 years now. The last time we had an improvement was during the time of Prof Barth Nnaji as power minister. Now, even on the days we are to have light, in 24 hours it is rare to have 2 hours of light uninterrupted. We do not sleep with the generator on. One particular night in this new year was so terrible. My new born baby sweated and could not sleep. My wife, sweat all over her body too, cursed. And after that, there have been more of those nights.
It was the same Jonathan who during a Presidential media chat last November said the combined average power generation capacity from all the power plants in the country had moved from less than 3,000 MW to above 5,000 MW. But thankfully the misinformation was immediately refuted by the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, which said Nigeria has never reached a peak of 5,000 MW.
Credibility confers on a leader moral garland. If a leader has lost their credibility they become like dry wood, dry leaves in the harmattan, there is no life in their leadership, their legacy if any soon easily blown away. A leader without credibility is not doing term, but doing time; credibility gives a leader freedom to lead, while the lack thereof makes the leader a prisoner. Credibility is the most important aspect of effective leadership. Leaders without credibility are at best waiting on time, they will still be remembered no doubt, but only as blotches in the delicate canvas of history.
Dr Odoemena, medical practitioner, Lagos