Christian worshippers at the National Christian Centre in Abuja today mocked and laughed at President Goodluck Jonathan when he described his government as second only to the United States of America in its commitment to fighting corruption.

The President was speaking during the church service, during which several of his ministers, advisers, women organisations, political apologists, chairmen of commissions, and former Heads of State Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo were in attendance.

“Our commitment to the fight against corruption is second to that of America’s commitment.  We are very commitment to it and everybody knows.”

As soon as he said this, members of the congregation looked at him incredulously and began to chuckle and laugh, as if they had just heard the punch line to a new joke.  

But his appointees and friends tried to save the moment by clapping.  It was unclear whether they were clapping for the joke, or in cheers, but a senior member of the government  who spoke anonymously with our correspondent after the service, said Jonathan was merely deceiving himself.

“Who does not know that this government is weak when it comes to fighting corruption?  I think Jonathan is deceiving himself and not Nigerians,” he said smiling.

During the service, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, told the President and members of his cabinet to treat members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect as terrorist, wondering why the government was treating them with kid gloves.

Meanwhile, President Jonathan is to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria’s Independence inside the presidential Villa.

It was learnt that the reason for this, as was the case last year, is to avoid a recurrence of the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja where several bombs exploded while President Jonathan and foreign dignitaries gathered at the Eagles Square to celebrate the event.

Coming ahead of his address to the nation tomorrow on the occasion of Nigeria’s 52nd anniversary as an independent nation, President Jonathan’s statement about his commitment to combating corruption seems certain to lead to a new round of jokes among Nigerians.  

Asked to comment on the statement today, a New York based analyst simply described himself as “FHLA.”  Asked the meaning of that, he said, “I am Fighting Hypocrisy Like the Americans.”

It would be recalled that last Monday at a conference of the Nigerian Institute of Management in Abuja, President Jonathan told Nigerians he is now ready to fight corruption with everything at his disposal.  

“My administration will fight corruption and associated social vices until they are exterminated from our body polity,” he said, opening the conference.  

He then left for the United Nations General Assembly, where the American press promptly identified his delegation as one of the most financially reckless, his Pierre Hotel suite alone costing Nigeria $10,000 per night. The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, occupied suites in two different hotels, one at the Four Seasons Hotel for $5,000 per night; and the other at Mr. Jonathan’s hotel for $3,000 per night.

Reporting on Nigeria’s squandermania, America’s National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), said, “Nigeria’s delegation is keeping five vehicles parked outside the Pierre Hotel where the cheapest room is about $800 a night – or roughly what most Nigerians earn in two years."

A SaharaReporters investigation found that the NNPC delegation actually rented a total of 10 limousines in New York for its seven visiting officials, at a daily cost of $1,800 per day.  It was five of those vehicles that NBC found idling at Pierre.  

“If Mr. Jonathan is going to ‘fight corruption and associated social vices until they are exterminated’,” a Nigerian newspaper columnist said today, “he is going to have a very large battlefield, and also a lot of opportunities for Nigerians to laugh at a bad joke.”

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