Friday, 24 May 2013
The President And His Thoughts By Gerald Anene
During the burial of the former National Security Adviser, Owoye Andrew Azazi, the Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan was quoted to have said that, contrary to what most Nigerians think, corruption is not the only challenge to good governance and, implying that it is indeed not the major Nigerian problem. For him, the major problem is the wrong attitude amongst Nigerians. To support this line of thought, he claimed to have met with officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) who told him that the majority of road accidents are recorded on good roads to which he added and I quote, “you see it not a matter of corruption, it is an issue of people’s attitude.”
Even if we choose to ignore the reductionist logic and the over simplistic explanation of the causes of road accidents given by the President who does not even recognise the possibility that road accidents on the supposedly good roads can as well be caused by other things like technical and mechanical faults which has nothing to do with wrong attitude, the President still needs to be made aware that a greater majority of Nigerians did not believe him. The fact that he is not always believed, for me, should even be more of a problem to him than what he suggested unless he also wants to claim that Nigerians not believing him is also something that has to do with wrong attitude. Regardless of the advice that Mr President claims to have got, the fact is that majority of Nigerians still see their roads as death traps and Mr President may have only increased their fears by sending out the signal that he is not really in a hurry to fix them so as not to cause accident or, probably waiting until the supposedly wrong attitudes are changed.
We can be sure that Mr President’s comment on corruption is not indeed the first time he is taking a position that can be perceived as contrary to public knowledge and belief. In fact, ever since he assumed office as the Head of State, his posturing, his policies and his public comments have always portrayed him as a man who believes that he understands the country’s problems more than Nigerians do, and therefore believes he is on a journey to fix the country. Take for instance the case of subsidy removal on petroleum products. It is only the President and his alleged advisers that seemed to have believed that the so called subsidy is only beneficial to the few rich Nigerians and that its removal is the only way to put an end to the corruption in the oil and gas sector.
Until today, Nigerians whose interests Mr President claims to be passionate about are still unable to wrap their heads around the logic that to got them to have to pay more to fuel their “face me I face you” generators, their power bikes, their boats, and their ‘Molue’, as well as the hike in transport fares that followed the removal (or partial removal) of subsidy. Also, with the revelations of mind boggling bribery and corruption allegations now emanating from the oil and gas sector, Nigerians are only seeing a President that is so ‘boxed in’ to his thinking on removing subsidy and loosing the very rare opportunity to sanitise the sector for the final time. They only see a President that sets up committees to investigate corruption and then, jets off on official trips abroad with even the very people that are suspects, some of whom are even heads or members of the said committees.
Still on taking a position that is contrary to public knowledge, and regardless of his view that corruption is not the major challenge to good governance, the President recently claimed in his official broadcast to the nation to mark the 1st October anniversary of the Country’s independence, that Transparency International (TI) ranked Nigeria as next after United States in the fight against corruption. Although the Transparency International has since debunked the claim, it is still baffling how the President could have made such claim and believed it. Even if we assume that ‘TI’ did not debunk the claim and even if the President is so desperate to claim any credit to the fight against corruption, at least not next to the United States or anywhere near it,( although without trying to imply that United States runs a corruption-free government). Even if Nigerians would have believed that there is a President that has fought corruption in the way and manner they would want to see, I still do not think that, so far, President Jonathan would make the list, and, even if he did make the list, at least not the first on that list as he wants everybody to believe.
There are still numerous cases of the President’s comments and policies that put him at loggerhead with the public opinion but, if there is still any doubt to this claim, this would have been made clearer with the recent announcement from the ministry of Agriculture proposing to spend 60 billion naira for the purchase of 10 million mobile phones for the farmers. This was an announcement that jolted Nigerians, who expressed outrage via the social networking sites and later resorted to mockery of Mr President’s policies. Some even believed that the fifth-columnists masquerading as his advisers are out to destroy him, while some even went further to recommend a psychiatrist test for the President. Even the comedians are not left out in expressing their distaste for the policy as some of them suggested that even ‘Akpos’ (a name that I honestly do not know its origin but only understand it to convey a meaning of someone whose actions are always predictably stupid) would make a better President than Goodluck Jonathan.
At the bottom of these outrage and mockery is the failure by Nigerians to understand how a mobile phone is indeed the major priority of any Nigerian farmer and how the President thinks that this is a policy that is implementable. Nigerians have clear knowledge that the endemic corruption in the system would not even allow the phones to get to their intended recipients’. This does not even address where the President thinks that the supposedly poor farmers that could not afford a 6,000 naira mobile phone would get the money for the airtime and electricity to even charge the battery amongst, other issues that clearly portrays the policy as unsound at this present time.
Whatever our doubts are and whatever those seemingly irreconcilable views that the President and Nigerians have, it is still possible that President Jonathan sees what most Nigerians do not see, but, regardless of what he sees and thinks, we can be sure that as the 2015 election approaches, most Nigerians are still waiting for him to prove them wrong by convincing them that his ‘lone thinking’ is indeed the right one needed to move the country forward otherwise, they will surely look beyond him for a President that thinks like them and understands their problems and needs.
Gerald Anene is an International Relations Consultant and a Public Affairs Commentator. He can be reached via email: email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters