Freedom of speech or expression is something that exists in our society. Society acknowledges and practices it on daily basis. However, there is always a limit as to what is being expressed or said. With freedom, comes responsibility in a case which is presented. Nigerian people also have the right not only to information but a reliable one that can stand the test of time. An advert which has become the talk of the town due to the personality involved and the massage is trying to convey to Nigerians is the one sponsored by Transformation Ambassador of Nigeria (TAN). The organisation has suddenly become President Goodluck Jonthan’s megaphone trying to launder the image of Mr. President in preparation for his 2015 re-election bid.
The public relations advert promoting President Jonathan is being aired in almost all the electronic mediums where the President were been compared with saintly world leaders like great World acclaimed Civil Right Crusader of all time, Martin Luther King Jr, a great reformer and former Leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yau, the greatest African of all time, Nelson Mandela and American President, Barak Obama. They called their names one after the other and said that they did it and President Jonathan is also doing it like them, meaning that Mr. President is just following their footsteps.
But far from it Nigerians have asked “doing what”? It is held by many that the advert must be retarded, because President Jonathan has nothing in common with the names TAN dropped from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Nelson Mandela.
If the great Madiba Nelson Mandela who sacrificed his today for the tomorrow of South Africans could see his name dropped in comparing President Jonathan to him, he would not be pleased.
Students of history and political organisms are also questioning some of the opinions which rose from it and even invoking the resting spirit of great Lee Kuan Yau who selflessly transformed Singapore from third world country to a first world country.
Were they alive today, the trio would be Jonathan’s most ardent critics and will never vote for him if given the opportunity to do so. It is true that we Nigerians like to rely on heroes to save us, to save our souls and to save our country. Our latest hero according to TAN is President Jonathan who they said has performed credibly well to earn him a re-election bid. While Nigerians are still questioning the suitability of the present leadership in curbing the increasing corrupt practices and authoritarian rule we have in the nation today.
Yet Jonathan’s rise as Nigerian’s newest “change agent”, as TAN made us to believe, is not only as a result of his business acumen, her hard work, her powerful oratory and her ability to network among the elite of Nigerian society and worldwide. His rise is also directly linked to the hand of God. A man helped more by luck than talent.
Those of us who have been part of the Right’s Consciousness tradition –or who still honour it – see Martin Luther King Jr “true humanity” as an alternative to, rather than a supplement of, the corrupt practices of the present leadership which the ruling party represents.
Kings prophetic observation from 1963 explains the new America. He brought new thinking and believe on the right and humanity of black people anywhere, everywhere which made him to pay the supreme price.
What we do know is that King stood and died for something very real.
Of course, King was no god either. For instance, his attitudes on gender were not a strong point. It would be unwise to predict what kind of leader he would have become if he had not been murdered by the American secret police in 1968. He could now be just another politician or university don who said when confronted with a question on an important national issue that he doesn’t give a damn.
The philosophy of Black Consciousness that he built with others had an immeasurable impact on the independence struggle in Africa.
Today, King is still invoked across the political spectrum, Jesse Jackson, to Collin Powell and Barak Obama to Condoleezza Rice.
Kings’ philosophy, profoundly influenced by radical philosophers such as Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire, was grounded in the necessity for the oppressed to lead and liberate themselves. Thus, not only were the minds of the oppressed a key site of struggle, but true liberation could only happen with the dismantling of the oppressive institutions of present ruling class and their harbingers.
The Jonathan of the University of Port Harcourt may have been an excellent university teacher who imparted knowledge on students, but the Jonathan we have known since the 2010 is a manager of others. Rather than support the communal self-empowerment of the oppressed, he has broken class barriers as an individual. He has moulded himself into someone readily admired by liberal bourgeois. He is a manager of men, in it for personal gain rather than that of the oppressed majority. His elevation to the top won no gains for ordinary Nigerians who have been crying for change.
Becoming the president after the death of Umaru Musa Yar’ adua a very powerful personality, but this has brought nothing to ordinary Nigerians. Indeed, she was complicit with an institution directly responsible for impoverishment in Nigerians.
Despite his rhetoric of invitation to everyone “to reimaging the country of our dreams”, he has not listened to the poor. The only invitation he is really making is for Nigerians to follow him as a saviour. This has nothing to do with the oppressed liberating themselves and everything to do with the people shackling themselves to yet another elite persona.
Rather than being libratory, his politics are about technocratic management of the aspirations of the oppressed. Rather than dismantling institutionalised oppression, he believes that the very institutions that oppress us will in fact save us. Replace the managers of these institutions with better managers to save our nation is what we needed most now.
Not only does Jonathan’s philosophy contradict Kings, he himself is also a good example of an astute, hard-working black individual who has “filtered through”. He has yet to spell out specific policies, but we know what his philosophy represents: making Nigeria safe for exploiters, quelling the masses through false promises of “equal opportunity” and proving to the world that a would be leader of black race has emerged.
Pundits have opined that the best time to rate a politician is after he has left office to see if his projects are still standing or have been completed and declared the advert as nauseating and an insult of epic proportions.
It was just last week those resident doctors called off their strike action in sympathy to Nigerians following the Ebola outbreak. The possibility of them going back to trenches after the Ebola scourge must have died down is high as the issues they complained about have not been settled. The doctors all over Nigeria resumed duty when public opinion became vociferous against their continuous action in the face of the dreaded Ebola virus and it’s not the first or second or third time in this administration. They will soon say the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has bribed them to go on strike. Poverty is on increase on daily bases making people to question the rationale of the saying “he is doing it”.
It has even been reduced to a laughing matter as people always laugh whenever the advert comes up. How on earth will those clowns (TAN) be comparing Mr. President with the likes of Martin Luther kings, Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela and Lee Kuan Yau?
If I were to be Barrack Obama or any of the descendants of those godly people mentioned in the advert, seriously I will sue TAN to the international criminal court of justice (ICCJ) because that particular advert is a crime against those highly respected personalities who are peacefully resting in the lord.
TAN is just flowing Mr. President in an imaginary boat as a great leader that should be in the class of Kings and not knowing the entire nation is worried on the present situation of things.
Would the Kings of all the people have voted for Jonathan in 2011? Not a chance and not even 2015. Kings did not believe in black messiahs or managers in a capitalist system. Quite the opposite: he genuinely believed in the masses and in their ability to lead the revolution and collectively build a wholly new society. The Talakawas, shack-dwellers and farmers of this country stand diametrically opposed to everything Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) believes in.
The 2015 elections are elections which one looks forward to. In a way, one hopes for change and in other way, one may question what change will bring. Whether or not one will be able to handle the change or not: One can only find out when the change is there. It is however; better to build on what you know.