THURSDAY Column WITH Mohammed Adamu
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As he turns sixty, -and even as he watches the sordid entrails of his six-year misadventure in governance daily exposed- former President Goodluck Jonathan, still rides on his high political horse, claiming as always that while he was in office, he saw no evil, he heard no evil and that he did no evil. And you wonder who is deceiving who –between the false priest himself and the gullible congregation that lives in denial or truly cannot tell the ‘dubious’ from the ‘divine’ in the political life of Jonathan. What is ridiculous however is not that they call him a ‘hero of democracy’; but that Jonathan too carries on as though he is the ‘Ataturk’ of a disputed ‘modern’ Nigeria. And you do not know whether to be amazed or to be amused by this comic display of inanity.
Day in day out, revelations of mind-numbing heists involving billions are uncovered, perpetrated under Jonathan’s watch. And you wonder how even at sixty the man can still carry on remorselessly as if nothing amiss had happened. The stamina behind Jonathan’s barefacedness can only come from God or from the devil. And so on the occasion of the sixtieth birthday of Jonathan, I thought that we should look back and reflect how we all had a hand in the creation of a Frankenstein monster that turned around almost to devour us all. If remembering how we got here is all the lesson that we learn, then celebrating Jonathan’s 60th would have been worth every while of it. This six-year-old piece ‘Jonathan: From the Divine to the Dubious’ I first wrote right in the heat of the zoning debacle –preparatory to the 2011 presidential election. Enjoy it:
Jonathan: From The Divine To The Dubious.
He was, as Shakespeare would say, “sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride”. Without ever striving Jonathan virtually had it all. And without steering, yet he attained heights un-dreamt even by those who give their all. He rose from a ‘rustic’, ‘shoeless’, socio-economic beginning to the neplus-ultra of political achievement: from a Local Government Chairman to Deputy Governor; from Governor to Vice President and from Acting President to President. All these he attained more by the dint of ‘luck’ than by the hook of ‘merit’. Besides, his name is also ‘Goodluck’ –a perfect doublet of a desirable piece of ‘good omen’. Who would be in our situation and not desire some ‘good luck’ and some ‘good omen’? For a woebegone nation, like Nigeria, and for a people so forlornly forsaken, like Nigerians, nothing can be more aptly desideratum.
Everyone said that the Zodiacs must be favorably at work in the political affairs of this young Doctor of Philosophy (PhD.) –Jonathan- who hails from hitherto little-known Otuoke village in Bayelsa. Although he looked and sounded deafeningly vacuous, and notwithstanding he also reeked of and radiated clueless ineptitude, many Nigerians, in faith, still believed that Goodluck Jonathan could be the talisman we needed to re-jig our worsted situation. In any case, ‘lucks’ and ‘good omens’ don’t come in sachets and parcels of merit and credibility. They alight often from un-comely, sometimes repulsive, packages. Many Nigerians even waxed biblical, asking: ‘whoever thought that anything good could come out of obscure Nazareth? They insisted that Jonathan could very well be our own ‘Jesus of Otuoke’-revered not at home but highly venerated abroad.
And in our efforts to legitimize the omens of providence and ‘good luck’ we were even prepared to turn popular axioms upside down and to walk time-honored proverbs right on their heads: we argued for example that “God’s Providence” cannot only be “on the side of clear heads” -like Henry Beecher wrote, but that it could also be on the side of cloudy, goody-goody ones -like Jonathan’s. plus we insisted that “The wind and the waves” are not only “on the side of the ablest navigator”, -like Edward Gibson said-, but that they could also be on the side of lucky, un-stirring bums, like Jonathan. In fact a torrent of so called ‘men of God’ was soon unleashed on the debate about the possible ‘good luck’ omen’ inherent in a Goodluck Jonathan as President. Many so called ‘men of God’ said that they had communed with Heaven and that the Lord had spoken to them, revealing that Jonathan was His ‘anointed’. They said that God had told them that this shoeless man from Otuoke would be our Moses; and that in spite of his seeming vacuity and cluelessness, he would be the one to enact our own version of the parting of the Red Sea -to ‘let my people go!’
Jerry Gana, the one notorious for hunting with the Devil while he sups with the ‘Divine’, said that Goodluck Jonathan held the ‘key’ to the Gate of our Promised Land. Ethno-centric, rabble rousing, reactionary Clark in fact said that Goodluck needed no credentials or antecedent-merit. He argued that where the ‘divine’ stood proxy for a man, earthly paper credentials were like filthy rags. And so even the equitable measure of zoning, (which many canvassed as a veritable panacea for the many sicknesses of a plural society like Nigeria) was, by many, assailed and clobbered. Many Nigerians rose clubs and cudgels, batons and bayonets, to hew down the effigy of zoning and to make way for our newfound romance with the ‘divine’ and with the ‘providential’. The politics of ‘merit’ and those of ‘cause and effect’ were sacrificed on the altar of ‘luck’ and ‘good omens’. Thus soon, a featherless political upstart-crow, Jonathan, was adorned with the anointed peacock-feathers of our great political forebears; we placed this clueless man from Otuoke in a celestial chariot of divine fire and we armed him with the Sword of Damocles to be our avenging angel.
And when Jonathan first deployed to work, many had said that they saw a gush of patriotic enthusiasm in this shoeless child of destiny; an enthusiasm to unleash the ‘divine’ and the providential on this God-forsaken land which no longer brought forth fruit. And there he was, Jonathan, chisel at hand, impatiently waiting to hew the hedgy overgrowth of our socio-economic and political Augean Stable. And for many of us it did not matter if he hit the ground running, ambling or crawling. It mattered only that he was propelled by hands celestial.
We were –and maybe still are- a nation eaten hollow by pride and prejudice, bigotry and base pursuit. But by God we are a people driven by faith; -faith in the power of the unknown and faith in the efficacy of the unknowable. We believe that since faith could move mountains, faith would not have any problem moving, especially an already floating ship of state like Nigeria. And so Jonathan needed not to steer the rudders. It was sufficient that he was on board the Ship of our State. The invisible hands of two angels, Cherub and Seraph, would do all the steering. And so when Jonathan said that he would move Nigeria forward, we needed no more than to say: ‘amen and amen again!’ And when he put us on a long and tortuous Road Map, the Energy Road Map, which he said would lead to abundant light; and abundant light would lead to unlocking our potentials, like the meek and humble disciples of old, we could only pick our raiment and faithfully follow him. Goodluck became our Moses and we became his freedom-seeking Israelites.
We walked across the plains, the swamps and the savannas. We endured the scotching sun and we braved the stormy tempests. We hungered and we thirsted. Yet our Moses became more and more distant; more uncaring. He seemed no longer all ears to the bleating of his famished sheep. He listened only to the greedy men of his team, the PDP. And soon we began to question the humanity in this non-provident Moses. He left us a thousand times to consult with the ‘burning bush’. But on each return instead of the light of God, what he brought to us was more heat and no promise. Of ‘manna from Heaven’ we saw none. Soon it was ‘blood, sweat and tears’; ‘weeping and wailings and mourning and gnashing of teeth’. Now we had to ask: ‘could this truly be of God?; -a journey with Moses but without manna from Heaven? -a journey with Moses with a thousand ‘burning bushes’ but no soothing word from God? -a journey with Moses where each visit to the ambient presence of God brings no light but wrath? What manner of Moses is this who daily justifies himself more by the number of the Commandments he breaks than by those he keeps; -or intends to keep?
Now we must sift the divine from the dubious. The Jerry Ganas and the Solomon Lars had sold us a false Masih with a dubious anointing. We had allowed false Christs and false prophets to deceive even the very ‘elect’ among us. ‘By their fruits’ Jesus said‘ ye shall know them’. But how did we miss the biblical test given by the master himself? It must be our prejudice; -a disease which sees what it pleases and ignores what is plain. We all saw that the Jonathan ‘tree’ was daily bearing evil fruit. But we did nothing! And now that the Jonathan Road Map has finally narrowed into a thick, dark endless tunnel of uncertainty, it downs on us that he is not after all ‘divine’. But too late: Jonathan’s old wares of ‘luck’ and ‘good omens’ have left us in the lurch. Even our longing for light at the end of the Jonathan tunnel does not hold any promise of reprieve. The light we seek at the end of the Jonathan tunnel may after all be light from an oncoming train!
Jonathan has taken us high up on a dizzying flight. And then he deliberately broke a wing! So that we are now precariously on a wing and on a prayer. ‘On a wing and on a prayer’ was how a 2nd World war British Pilot miraculously managed to return to base, landing safely
after his hit fighter plane had lost a wing. Now whether we will make a historic ‘one-wing landing’ back at base with the Jonathan misadventure, only ‘time’ will tell! Because the Evil shrouded in the Jonathan ‘divine’ has finally bared its fangs. Jonathan, at last has taken the path of Shakespeare’s warring Henry: he demands “A crown or else a glorious tomb; a scepter or an early sepulcher!”
He was not divine. He is dubious.