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President Goodluck Jonathan: Like A Deer Caught In The Headlight With No Clue About What To Do

September 17, 2011

I just came out of a 4-Day Convention of the Egbe Omo Yoruba in Diaspora held from the 8th to the 11th of September at the Marriott Hotel at Uniondale, Long Island, New York. The Convention was attended by the cream of the Nigerian society in the financial capital of the world.

I just came out of a 4-Day Convention of the Egbe Omo Yoruba in Diaspora held from the 8th to the 11th of September at the Marriott Hotel at Uniondale, Long Island, New York. The Convention was attended by the cream of the Nigerian society in the financial capital of the world.

 The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg sent a goodwill message in which he paid glowing tribute to the men and women of Yoruba heritage while acknowledging the contributions Nigerian professionals in the United States in general. He praised the contributions Yoruba New Yorkers have made to the economy and civic life of New York and he wished participants and organizers a very successful Convention.

 All the newly-elected ACN Governors of the Yoruba Southwest plus their doyen, Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos were invited but all of them did not show up except Fashola who sent a distinguished surrogate to represent him just like he did for the 18th Convention.

Former Governor of Lagos State Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu was invited but he did not attend but he was adequately represented by the distinguished Chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the one and only Chief Bisi Akande, a former Governor of Osun State who was the special guest of Honor. Hate them or like them the duo of Ahmed Tinubu and Bisi Akande have become the most credible leaders of the Yorubas next to Awolowo by reason of their accomplishments in taking back the Southwest from the stranglehold of the PDP and Olusegun Obasanjo.

Very few people would be talking today about Awolowo and his imperishable legacies in the old West, if the PDP and Obasanjo had succeeded in their so-called agenda to bring the Yorubas to the mainstream of Nigerian Politics by dissolving the Yoruba interest into the interest of PDP which is floated for the sole purpose of protecting the Hausa/Fulani interest.

 The whole idea was to stifle the opposition from the West as championed by Awolowo and his associates and to replace it with appeasement and a go- along-to-get- along mentality which would have reduced Nigeria to nothing but a Dictatorship whose main goal was to preserve the status quo of northern domination. Democracy works best when the opposition is strong and when the opposition is viewed as the government- in- waiting should the Government in power fumble.

A situation where the PDP wants to rule Nigeria forever is totally unhealthy for the country. President Jonathan is of the same mind set with the PDP as far as I am concerned. I give kudos to Ahmed Tinubu and Bisi Akande for championing the cause of the West by taking back the South West. If Tinubu is guilty of Corruption as alleged, leave that to the Courts to decide. Crimes and political victimization are two different things as far as I am concerned.

 If we are going by political innuendoes Olusegun Mimiko would never have become Ondo State Governor because Obasanjo actually blackmailed him as not fit for office. But just look at what the young man has been able to accomplish in Ondo State. I went to the Convention in Long Island to personally meet Tinubu and to take him up on some of the things I have heard about him but he did not come.

Another important guest at the Convention was Professor Emeritus of History at Temple University, Philadelphia, Banji Akintoye from Ado Ekiti who was a former Senator of Nigeria and one of the intellectual power house the great Obafemi Awolowo had relied upon in making the old Western Region a pace-setter among the three foundation regions of Nigeria fondly referred to as the North led by Sardauna Bello, the East led by Ogbuefi Nnamdi Azikiwe and the West led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The central theme of the Long Island Convention is titled “Yoruba Nation Beyond 2011” with a special focus on utilizing Synergy of Economic and Political Development of Yoruba Nation along the lines initiated by Awolowo in the Western Region when each of the 3 regions was allowed to develop at her own pace and to her full potential or capacity within the ambit of one Nigeria in a con-federal kind of arrangement where the central Government led for close to 6 years by Tafawa Balewa was relatively weaker and in no position to macro-manage any of the 3 powerful regions and their leadership.

The Federal Government under Balewa as different from today’s Federal Government could not stop or arm-string the old West or the old Eastern region from pursuing free education or free medical simply because the old North, his home base, did not believe in such thing just like Boko Haram is saying today.

Nigeria started going from bad to worse when the power brokers most of who came from the North now opted for a unitary kind of arrangement which then made it possible for the so-called Federal Government to hold the West in particular to ransom by charging Awolowo, the arrow-head of that astronomical progress in the West with treasonable felony for moving at a pace the North could not stand.

Nigeria could possibly have attained independence in 1956 or 1957 but certainly before Ghana. It was the North that stopped the West and the East because Sardauna said the North was not ready. The power brokers in the North initially went for divide-and-rule strategy by luring the Eastern NCNC into a coalition Government in which the NCNC was clearly the junior and partner who has to follow the North.

Nnamdi Azikiwe became a ceremonial President while Tafawa Balewa became Prime Minister. The tail was clearly wagging the dog which was very absurd. Once the North had managed to destabilize or cripple the old West using S.L.A. Akintola as an accomplice, they then went all out to deal with the East using the Biafran war as a window of opportunity.

The coming of the Military was expected to level the playing field and bring some needed sanity to Nigeria. Rather than do that the Military which was also dominated by the North at the time also decided to perpetuate themselves in office and essentially continuing the same strategy the civilian political leaders in the North had used to keep the South in perpetual bondage.
  January 15th, 1966 brought in the first coup of the Majors led by Chukwuma Nzeogwu which suddenly ended the regime of Tafawa Balewa.  Major General Aguiyi Ironsi eventually took over power for only 6 months before hell broke loose again as the Northern officers sponsored a palace coup led by young Theophillus Danjuma.

The coup had led to the elevation of Lt Col. Yakubu Gowon a Christian minority from Benue Plateau who ruled Nigeria till 1975 when Murtala Mohammed from Kano took him out in a bloodless coup that saw Obasanjo, a southerner becoming the second-in-command to Murtala for only 200 days before the Dimka coup created another earthquake that saw Obasanjo taking over the leadership of Nigeria not by design but by sheer accident or political expediency.

Obasanjo saw survival as the art of politics. He was more northerner than the average northerner in his loyalty to the North. He successfully held the fort for 3 years during which he completely earned the confidence of the North as the only southerner the North could trust. He spoke Hausa better than a Dan Maraya and his tribal marks made him look like one of them and they knew he was not going to rock the boat and he did not.

He handed over to Shehu Shagari on a platter of gold. After Shagari came Mohammad Buhari for roughly 2 years. Then came the evil genius and his gang who ruled for close to 9 years. There was a short interregnum of less than 6 months of Ernest Sonekan as a figure-head Commander-in-Chief.

Then came Sani Abacha for close to 5 years and then followed by Abdulsalam Abubakar who held the fort for one year before handing over again to Obasanjo as a civilian President who had to govern for 8 years based on a 1999 Constitution carefully crafted and imposed on Nigeria by the Military.

Obasanjo who has then become the longest serving Head of state and therefore the presumptive father of the nation then handpicked terminally-ill Umaru Yar Adua who ruled for close to 3 years spending more time on his sick bed than he ever served as the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Yar Adua died in circumstances that did not permit him to be succeeded by another northerner to complete his second term even though the North has tried everything in the book to stop Vice President Jonathan from taking over from Yar Adua as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution.

That was precisely how the first minority from the South/South, an Ijaw academician named Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan became President of Nigeria just by being in the right place at the right time and not necessarily because he had what it takes to be a strong leader. Obasanjo preferred him to a Governor Duke or Peter Odili because he looked like he is easier to micro manage and manipulate.

I go into all of this background for the benefit of readers across the globe who may not know how Nigeria got stuck with the weakest link in the chain as Nigeria’s President Every time I look at the composite picture of President Jonathan humbly kneeling down for prayers before the Pope of the Evangelical Christians in Nigeria, General Overseer, Enoch Adejare Adeboye in one of his visits to the Holy Ghost Redemption Camp on Ibadan/Lagos Express, I see a humble Anglican  man from Otuoke in Bayelsa whose highest goal in life was probably becoming a VC in some Nigerian University but found himself catapulted to a Deputy Governor, then to a Governor, then to a Vice President and now to a full-fledged President of the greatest African country. He got to that position because he simply became a pawn in the chess game of Obasanjo as the Professor Peller of Nigerian Politics and the plenipotentiary Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees.

You could tell from some of his actions as President that the man is a simpleton with few ideas on how to move Nigeria forward. I am not saying this to disrespect him. He is too much a bi-product of the PDP to be anything but a weak President like I said before.

 I have seen some satires of him now running on Sahara Television on the air waves in New York where Dr. Damages is doing a stand-up comedy on him that would crack your ribs with laughter because the satire is very true of the President. The most effective of those satires is the one in which the President was interviewed about his plans for Nigeria and what he intends to do about the very fragile security of Nigeria and his order of priorities for solving Nigeria’s problems. That aside, what really amazes me about this President is the point I really want to address in this write-up.

You would have thought that a South/South intellectual like him who was born and raised in the Niger Delta area and who was expected to know something about the struggles of Jaspar Adaka Boro and Zaro Wiwa not to talk of many other South-South heroes would have been better prepared than he was on correctly analyzing the problems of Nigeria and his priority for solving them if by any chance he ever became President.

You can excuse military boys who went to bed last night a nobody but woke up this morning as a Head of State following a successful coup and some barbaric horse-trading and political calculations which are always the bane of most third world countries.

I cannot think of any of our current generation of leaders with the possible exception of our pre Independence leaders who had as much time and cognate experience as Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to know ahead of time he might just one day be called upon to lead the country. What exactly did this President do with his unusual luck in a country of 140 million people? I would have to say very little, given all I know about him today and his fire brigade kind of approach to confronting the problems of Nigeria. He looks to me like a deer caught in the headlight who is desperately trying to figure out what to do until he got hit by a 22 wheeler truck going at top speed.

I think Mr. Lagbaja the Lagos musician answered that question for me in his block buster track where he sang that “a child who lacks adequate training from his parents nearly always end up having to learn those lessons from outside” Few years ago at a Colloquium on Nigeria sponsored by Chinua Achebe in Providence, Rhode Island, the issue of what to do about Nigeria came up for brainstorming by Nigerians drawn from all over the world.

 I attended another workshop on the same subject organized by Nigerian Students Association of Harvard University in Boston. I attended yet another workshop sponsored last year at Temple University by Yorubas in Diaspora and the recent Convention of Egbe Omo Yoruba held at Uniondale, Long Island, New York. I  I actively participated in all of these workshops because I strongly believe I have a stake in the success or failure of Nigeria if not for me in my twilight years but at least for the generation of my grandchildren and younger Nigerians coming after our own wasted generation as once observed by the Nobel Peace Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

I happen to be a strong believer in the Awolowo precept that I cannot be a good Nigerian if I am not first and foremost a good Akure man and a good Yoruba man. I cannot pretend like some Nigerians do, to be a nationalist without a home base I can identify with, you build a house from the ground up and not the other way round.

I love Nigeria but I do not love Nigeria more than myself or my place of birth which is what has qualified me to be called a Yoruba man or a Nigerian to begin with. I attended all of these workshops on Nigeria to learn and share information on the way forward for Nigeria and to see what can be done to save Nigeria from total collapse.

One of the keynote speakers at the most recent Convention in New York as I hinted earlier on was Professor Banji Akintoye who clearly made the case for Nigeria to return to a con-federal system Nigeria had before her attainment of independence on October 1st, 1960. The Professor was not advocating the break-up of Nigeria like many of us in the Convention.  All we were saying was that each of the units that constitute the Commonwealth of Nigeria be allowed to develop at their own pace with the so-called Federal Government at the center keeping her distance because the present arrangement is holding back the Yoruba or the Igbo nation and the other minorities in Nigeria from attaining their best potential after staying together for 50 long years.

The eloquent Professor made the same case more than a year ago at a symposium at Temple University and he repeated pretty much the same powerful message in New York. He received a standing ovation on both occasions because he made a lot of sense and he was very persuasive in his analysis.

The great Chinua Achebe made pretty much the same case at his symposium in Providence. Editor of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore who spoke at the Harvard University seminar pretty much made the same point that Nigeria cannot continue the way she is going. Something has got to change There was a general consensus among Nigerians that  a Sovereign National Conference is the way to go so the shareholders in the Enterprise called Nigeria can reason together to reassess where we are and where we are headed, and what needs to change, if we must continue to co-exist as one nation.

A responsible President ought to be ready to facilitate such a conference, fund it and provide a legal frame work to make it happen without attempting to micro-manage the conference. The conference could possibly recommend or authorize a plebiscite like was done in Sudan so all the 6 political zones can decide whether or not they want to remain in the federation and on what conditions.

 The Federation of unwilling partners and stake holders we currently have is not working and must be re-examined with utmost urgency. President Jonathan ought to have known that long before becoming President if he had any fire in his belly for what the country truly needed to move forward.

 Rather than doing that, President Jonathan is more interested in pursuing shadows by advocating a 7 year one term tenure for President and a 6 year tenure for Governors as if that is going to immediately and ultimately  solve the multi-dimensional problems of Nigeria. Using tenure elongation as his first order of business in a country riddled with so many structural and fundamental problems is a no brainer.

The economy is in shambles. National Security is nothing to write home about. Corruption has become an incurable Cancer. Crimes and Violence and Kidnapping in every state, Poverty, Unemployment and unequal distribution of wealth between the haves and the have-nots have created two Nigeria, one for the filthy rich and the other for the very poor.

The middle class has been totally wiped out and important infrastructures like good network of roads, stable electricity, potable water and the basic necessities of life are non-existent and President Jonathan is placing emphasis on tenure elongation as top of his priorities for Nigeria. The general consensus among Nigerians all over the world is that the President is simply insane and very few will disagree with that characterization of the first PhD holder in the history of the Nigerian presidency.

The Sovereign National Conference affords all of us an opportunity to put our heads together as a people to know if we really want to preserve or end this marriage of convenience. Boko Haram has a right to consider education and civilization as an abomination and the rest of us has a right to disagree and go our different ways if we cannot see eye-to-eye on these fundamental issues. You can force a donkey to the brook, what you cannot do is force the donkey to drink.

 It is a choice each side has to make as eloquently advised by Professor Akintoye. I cannot agree more. The time is now. If the President cannot lead on this, let him step aside.
  I rest my case.

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