Sunday, 8 December 2013
Oracle Of Aso Rock: The God That Failed By Bayo Oluwasanmi
It takes a world with trouble in it to train men and women for higher calling. Faced with trouble, some people grow wings, others buy crutches. Performance is absolutely basic to leadership. Nigerians have given President Goodluck Jonathan the necessary ingredients to govern. We expect him to do the baking.
As part of the social contract, it is our duty to hold the president accountable for his stewardship. Part of the accountability is the relentless pounding of the president with barrage of criticisms. Nigerians have always been vocal in the criticisms of whoever is in charge - military dictator or civilian president. And President Jonathan should not be treated differently. And thank goodness, he is “the most criticized president in the world.”
In politics, mediated realities are more important than substance. It’s part of the Machiavellian strategy and subterfuge for presidents to employ handlers, image makers, propagandists, and attack dogs, goats, or cats to defend their policies and programs.
Such attack dogs as Rueben Abati the president’s special adviser on media and publicity and lately his cousin, Doyin Okupe senior special assistant to the president on community affairs have been warlike and aggressive in defending Mr. Jonathan. But for now, my focus is on Abati.
Recently, Abati threw down the gauntlet and dare Nigerians to open slugfest for being uncharitable in their feedback on how the president is doing - job wise.
The oracular response of Abati titled “The Jonathan You Don’t Know,” hurled bricks and bats on the critics of the president. Abati came down hard on Nigerians for voicing their opinions on the job performance of the man they hired to run the affairs of the country on their behalf for the next four years (seems like forever!).
Excerpt from Abati’s stinging indictment of Nigerians:
“…all the cynics, the pestle-wielding critics, the unrelenting, self-appointed activists, the idle and idling, the twittering, collective children of anger, the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts, the BBM – pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria, who seem to be in competition among themselves to pull down President Goodluck Jonathan. This army of sponsored and self-appointed anarchists is so diverse; many of them don’t even know why or how they should attack the President.”
To be cursed by the devil is to be truly blessed. It means the devil is feeling the heat. For Abati in defense of President Jonathan to have masterfully turned the criticisms of his boss into a cause and curse; then Mr. Jonathan must be having some nightmare at Aso Rock. Good for him!
In defending the president, the attack dogs or goats (whatever you’ll like to call them) have gone to work with a tone of truculent aggressiveness full of blatant lies and misrepresentations.
I refused to dignify Abati’s defense of the president by trying to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from his mouth. However, a comment or two will make sense.
As expected, Abati like a fisherman baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish. As the chief media handler of the president, his job is to dress Mr. Jonathan in borrowed robes. In the course of this, Abati has become prone to criminal ambition, frustrated faith, and hunted mind by chaos. He feels so much better at convincing himself and his likes that they’re really moved by quite different things.
Like many of his admirers, I’m stunned and saddened by his huffing and puffing with profane and uncouth language on voiceless Nigerians. Frankly and nakedly, by this singular act Abati is a person who forgets the language of gratitude; he can never be on speaking terms with happiness.
The fierce defense mounted by Abati for his boss paints a powerful picture of a blind eye-seeing dog. While the eyes of some people may be larger than their stomachs, the exact opposite is true of Abati. Having been conscripted by his fellow gluttons in Jonathan’s administration, he joins the PDP’s family of blind mice.
Abati’s role as a propagandist of a president of a corrupt, inept, insensitive, and moribund government opens him up for strategic dishonesty and twisted version of the truth.
It is lazy intellectual shame for Abati to denounce all he once stood for. Now in concert with the PDP oppressors, he oscillates with the pendulum – reviling, rebuking, rebuffing, refuting, and castigating.
Over stuffed and over bloated with the appurtenances of power and perks, Abati has repeatedly failed to see the future. Once a revered and feared writer, Abati has painfully succumbed to the kind of temptation that enticed Esau of old in the Bible.
Abati’s and Esau’s larger stomachs mirror a parallelism so neat and fit. Like Esau, Abati focused boldly on the here and now, convinced that tomorrow never comes.
How a person deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Circumstances do not necessarily make character, but it certainly reveals it. A pot of porridge and a cake of akara make a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. In the case of Abati, he chose a port of porridge and thus compromised all he’s known for as a writer and critic.
Like his Biblical predecessor Esau, Abati’s shortsightedness caused him to give up the ultimate to get the immediate. Just like Esau, Abati’s limited vision forced him to disown his comrades he called “collective children of anger,” “the cynics,” “… army of self-appointed anarchists,” “unrelenting, self-appointed activists,” “the distracted crowd of Facebook addicts,” “the BBM-pinging soap opera gossips of Nigeria.”
The proverbial pot of porridge as it were, clouded Abati’s vision and blinded him to see the Jonathan the rest of us know. He adamantly and catastrophically struggles to put human face on GEJ’s administration.
The vitriolic attack on Nigerians who questioned the ineptitude of their president by Abati is a classical example of men in position of power but with little character or wisdom. He represents the administration’s poster boy for hypocrisy and hyperbole.
Most of human suffering is caused by social arrangement under which we live. In other words, Nigerians suffer today not just from human condition in general but from very specific social arrangements. The president and his ruling party are to blame.
And what is more, Nigerians are open to more suffering in the future by the instrument of PDP’s political activity. Thus to a large extent, these arrangements are amenable to a political treatment brought about by the exercise of power by the government. This is why Nigerians expect Mr. Jonathan to roll up his sleeves and go to work.
That we criticize the president doesn’t mean we hate him. Even if we’re, Mr. Jonathan and his image makers should see it as an opportunity to wake up, shape up, and perform because it is possible to learn from enemy things we can’t learn from our friends.
Two questions I’ll like to ask the Aso Rock Oracle: Is Mr. Jonathan on wings or on crutches? Is the president a spectator or a player? Majority of Nigerians believe the president is on crutches and is a spectator. Then our fear and criticisms are well founded, well placed, and well justified.
Abati would like to convince us that Mr. Jonathan’s “transformation agenda” is bearing fruits (can’t we all see it?), that we should substitute our “hate” for the president’s non-performance, that we should substitute what is convenient for what is obedient. Abati’s argument is cunning, his logic is inviting.
The president’s image maker refuses to see the positives of our criticisms of Mr. Jonathan. Do we have the right to criticize the president that we’re not safe from the Boko Harams? Can’t we complain that his government aids and abets corruption by looking the other way?
Mr. Abati, what part of the equation don’t you understand? Can’t we complain of: the army of the unemployed roaming our streets? Infrastructures that is toxic to our safety and development? Health care system that is on life support? The neglected aged and the infirm? The homeless in our midst? Lost generation of children? Our sub standard education? That the president should give a damn and declare his assets?
Can’t we criticize the president for a bloated federal bureaucracy? Can’t we advocate that the rule of law is upheld? That we need a constitution by the people for the people? That the president should provide shoes for the shoeless (no pun intended)? Food for the hungry? Home for the homeless? That his wasteful administration is trimmed and pruned? Can’t we…? Can’t we..? Can’t we…?
When we elected Mr. Jonathan as president, we’re sure we didn’t elect an emperor. But see what we have now – a president who displays absolute arrogance. A man, who once had no shoes, now sees himself as an emperor and demands that Nigerians see him the same way.
We know President Jonathan, here is how:
On corruption, he refused to declare his assets publicly. Refused to fire corrupt top officials and ministers: Anyim Pius Anyim, secretary to the federal government, ministers Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Mohammed Bello Adoke all of whom have been tainted by allegations of corruption.
What happened to the pile of corruption reports involving Halliburton, Siemens, Wilbros, the petroleum ministry, and the ministry of foreign affairs among others; that have gathered dust on Mr. Jonathan’s desk?
Mr. Jonathan has failed to honor his campaign promises.
On job creation: There has been no movement in this area.
On Committees: The president has rejected outright the reports of committees set up by him: Justice Belgore panel on electoral reform, the Okigbo Committee on Halliburton, the Theophilus Danjuma Presidential Advisory Committee, and the Presidential Projects Assessment Committee.
On “Transformation Agenda,” the president has yet to show us his plans and programs on how to transform his transformation agenda.
And lastly, the one time shoeless Mr. Jonathan ordered three new executive jets as soon as he became president.
It is sad to note that Mr. Jonathan’s pride leads to arrogance and his arrogance to rigidity. Over time, his heart has become stone cold and hard. He could have easily and beautifully summed up his “transformation agenda”: “my way or the highway.”
The hallmark of Jonathan’s administration has been the thirst for domination, the intoxication with corruption, and the dark thrust of madness. I believe no image maker can create a different picture.
For the learned Oracle, I’ll recommend The Rebel by Albert Camus for his understanding and appreciation of the essential difference between the solitary “I” (Abati) and the collective “we” (the critics) in the discussion of morality of rebellion.
Mr. Abati click on the folder of your saved mail. Pull out some of your writings prior to your appointment as the president’s spokesman. Read aloud to yourself some of the clips… Ha-ha-ha… see you were once an adamant critic of the government and you were one of us. Remember your humorous satirical writings of the Nigerian presidency? If you have become amnesiac, we’re not!
Nevertheless, I still believe it is possible for an outrageously paid propagandist like you and the critics of the president to engage in fruitful discussion of how our country is being run and how it should be run. And even arrive at a common ground without insulting the intelligence of Nigerians.
Now that you’re on the pay roll of Aso Rock, one could understand your dilemma. I’m also informed of our differences. We the critics (the people) share skepticism about the job performance of Mr. Jonathan and the inadequacies of his administration.
As a propagandist, you see the president’s slogans and programs of political change as mere rhetoric and empty promise. You anticipate the future of our country more of the same. You perceive our agitations, criticisms, and demonstrations as threat of chaos and instability to Aso Rock.
As for us, we believe leadership to be more crucially relevant to the realization of our dreams. We give credence to the idea of the genuinely new. We welcome an “age of discontinuity.” No doubt, our differences have put us on opposite sides of the barricades.
But we’re persuaded that Jonathan’s administration is tyrannical, oppressive, insensitive, anti-democratic, wasteful, irrelevant, corrupt, inhumane, and spineless. And for having the audacity to blame us for exercising our democratic right in criticizing the president, you’re guilty of self-indulgence of an intellectual.
Once upon a time, Nelson Mandela was branded unrepentant communist-terrorist for criticizing the Apartheid regime. Bishop Desmond Tutu was tagged a false Bishop for confronting the Apartheid regime for its evils. Obafemi Awolowo was ridiculed as a prophet of doom when he predicted long dark years for Nigeria in the wilderness at his sentencing during the famous treasonable felony trial.
Martin Luther King Junior was assailed by his pastor colleagues (whites and blacks) as an outsider and instigator. Jeremiah was labeled the weeping prophet for his withering criticisms of the evils of his days. Amos was nicknamed prophet of doom for similar role. Paul the Apostle was considered arrogant heretic by his critics. The list is endless.
Any defender of a political ideology that elevates disorder to a moral principle is fundamentally anti-human. This, I believe is the underpinning of your salvo against critics of Mr. Jonathan.
If the president wants to succeed, he doesn’t need the likes of Abatis and the Okupes to redefine and reintroduce himself to the Nigerian people.
I’m arrogantly certain that Mr. Jonathan will do better by surrounding himself with some Aarons, Jethros, and Joshuas; otherwise his presidency will only be a footnote in Nigeria’s history of democratic experiment.
No one in his or her right senses will blame the poor, the powerless, the voiceless, the marginalized, and the defenseless for condemning the sorry state of affairs in Nigeria today.
It’s not only a political heresy, it is morally wrong for Abati to blame the victims for being victimized. Abati as a fabulist rather than an oracle exposes the hypocrisy, paradox, shallow piety and false optimism of a failed god!