By Gbenga Badejo
I did not vote for Goodluck Jonathan in 2011. I did not see anything ‘there’ for which to vote. I was not fooled by his impassioned speech of “I was not born rich” (which by the way, he pronounced the ‘ch factor’ way). I wasn’t prepared either to go with the argument that he should earn my vote because, like me, he is a Christian from southern Nigeria. Although the music for his expensive 2011 TV adverts was excellent, l knew leaders are not elected on the strength of their TV plugs.
I suppose people vote to elect leaders for various reasons. Mine is very simple: you win my vote by being a visionary. It was evident Goodluck Jonathan couldn’t articulate one, and that to me meant he was not qualified. Interestingly, I was not hopelessly disheartened after he won the election. I retracted to the Nigerian pseudo-religious type that no one could be king without the knowledge of the Almighty. As a result of this, I began to hope that he would succeed; I hoped he would pull up a surprise and put people like me to shame.
Here we were in March 2014, I am still hoping, but unable to rid from my mind the stare-you-in-the-eyes fact that February/March 2014 witnessed Boko Haram’s fiercest and probably most vicious attack on Nigeria’s young, women and vulnerable. It was this period that the dreaded terrorist group slaughtered 59 students in their school in Yobe and killed hundreds in the markets. In most decent societies, the President would lead the country in mourning the dead, especially because the killings happened close on the heels of each other. Not so in Goodluck Jonathan’s Nigeria. A few days after the massacres, our President proceeded with a lavish gala to celebrate the centenary of Nigeria’s amalgamation. He invited ‘the great and the good’, perhaps, one should say ‘the ugly and the bad’. They dined on the graves of the students killed in Yobe and those of the mothers and children beheaded in the villages surrounding Maiduguri.
March was also the month that the President honoured every dictator who had ruled Nigeria including the despotic Abacha who reigned with terror between 1993 and 1998. It was at the same event that Babangida, who institutionalised corruption in Nigeria, had the effrontery to suggest that young people of today should emulate people like him.
March was the month that 16 young Nigerians died when hundreds of thousands of Nigerian youths, like lambs being led into slaughter, were inhumanely invited to stadiums across the country, ostensibly, to sit for a qualifying examination into the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). We now know better. 710,000 applicants were processed for a derisory 5000 places. At 1000 naira per head, the people who oversaw the exercise made 710 million naira. Add to that 3000 naira per head that participants were made to pay to buy white shorts and vest that they had to wear at the event (heavens know why), that’s another 2.3 billion naira that lined their pockets. This was the real reason Abba Boro, the Minister for Internal Affairs would risk the lives of many vulnerable, unemployed Nigerians. Worse still, and typical of this presidency and many Nigerian leaders, the heartless Minister came on television and announced that the young men and women died because they were impatient. What a cheek? Goodluck Jonathan of course is ‘monitoring’ the situation. His best reaction was to announce automatic employment for victims’ family. Less than two weeks later, he’d gone to Rome to visit the Pope. We all know that Italy had had its fair share of economic and political turbulence in recent years. We also know that after the fiddling of Nero, Italian leaders knew better to stay in Rome to fix things. However, in Nigeria, Nero Jonathan goes to Rome to see the Pope whilst the country burns.
March 2014 was the month of three different fuel scarcity periods, each lasting almost one week. Fuel scarcity means long queues, long traffic, and long-suffering masses. March was the month that Fayose – disgraced from office in 2006 for ruining Ekiti State and still facing corruption charges was selected as the governorship candidate in the upcoming election for the same state by the President’s party. PDP wants to win the state at all costs; all the better even if it takes an alleged fraudster and known thug to do this for them. March 2014 was the month Diezani Allison Maduekwe’s 10 billion Naira jet scandal broke. Apparently the Minister of Petroleum, one of the closest allies of the President had been spending €500,000 monthly to maintain an aircraft for her personal use. It was the month 23 people were thankfully freed from kidnappers in Soka community along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Human skulls and body parts were discovered in and around the premises, evidence, they say, of ritual killings and dealings in body parts. One inmate, an old lady, had been held since 2008. The disused building had witnessed gory details of others who met a worse fate than those freed.
I am saddened not only by the situation of things in Nigeria, but more so by the indifference, sheer incompetence, and impudence of the president. The questions that come to mind are: Would President Jonathan have proceeded on his lavish gala if his daughters were amongst the Yobe students massacred by Boko Haram? Would he have prevaricated if his son was amongst the 16 massacred by the greed of the Interior Minister to make 710 million Naira from vulnerable, young unemployed Nigerians? Would the President have honouredAbacha if like the Rewanes, the Yar’aduas, the Abiolas, the Onagoruwas, the Ibrus and many more, Abacha had killed or maimed his family members?
Last December, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a member of the President’s part, said quite rightly that President Jonathan‘s body language appears to encourage corruption. With these deadly ides of March 2014 in Nigeria, my observation is that the President’s body language to the needless deaths and sufferings of Nigerians is that of indifference. This to me is heartlessness.
GbengaBadejo is reachable on www.postcardfromlagos.com