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Published On: Tue, Sep 23rd, 2014

Jonathan, is this true empathy or crocodile tears?

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jonathan-sadOur President whose legendary insensitivity belies his much touted ‘village boy’ background, recently tried to mellow that image when he ‘ordered’electioneering campaign bills that mimicked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign removed. This is a globally endorsed campaign for the release of 200 plus schoolgirls kidnapped since April in Borno state by the violent Islamist sect, Boko Haram.

“BringBackJonathan 2015” slogan was a wicked parody of this humanistic campaign. It was believed to have been the unauthorized handiwork of a rabid pro-Jonathan group, Goodluck Initiative For Transformation (GIFT). According to Dr. Reuben Abati, the President’s media spokesman, Jonathan had ordered the campaign billboards that sprang up in the first week of this month, September, in Abuja, removed because the slogan was “offensive” and “highly insensitive”.

Abati claimed that President Jonathan “wholly shares the widely expressed view that the signs which were put up without his knowledge or approval are a highly insensitive parody of the #Bring Back Our Girls hash tag. While President Jonathan appreciates the enthusiastic show of support for his administration by a broad range of stakeholders, he condemns the #Bring Back Jonathan 2015 signs which appear to make light of the very serious national and global concern for the abducted Chibok girls.

“The President assures all Nigerians and the international community that his administration remains fully engaged with efforts to rescue the abducted girls and that he will not knowingly promote any actions that will fly in the face of the seriousness of their plight and the anguish of their families.”

Nigerians would want to believe that their President, who lacks the common touch they see in some world leaders like President Barack Obama and late South African President Nelson Mandela, suddenly is connecting with the anguished parents of the lost girls. But much as they try, they are unable to believe the President – this, for several reasons. One, Jonathan is too power drunk to feel the pulse of the nation in pain. A measure of this is his opaque mien that suggests someone totally unaware of their immediate environment. But in truth, Jonathan’s is an ambition without a “sterner stuff”, one that gives no regard to others’ sensibilities.

Two, how many campaign posters did the President not personally approve of in the past but they were put up all the same? We recall that some time last year, posters went up in many parts of Abuja, saying there would be “no vacancy” in Aso Rock Presidential Villa in 2015. It was a clear breach of the Electoral Act 2010. INEC was forced to issue a public warning which largely went unheeded. A halfhearted instruction by the President to his police chief at the time to “arrest and prosecute” those behind the posters was not carried out.

Thirdly, since the beginning of September, rallies have been moved round state capitals, trumpeting “achievements” of the President since 2011. The names linked to the rallies, organized by a so-called Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN), include that of Prof. Jerry  Gana, with many exes to his name. This gentleman politician has served in several administrations, elected and elected, since 1983. On September 13, a platform collapsed under the weight of PDP heavyweights at a TAN rally in Minna, the Niger state capital, injuring several.

And just last week, key PDP policy organs, including its governors, cleared the way for Jonathan to pick the party’s presidential nomination in 2015, even when he has not said openly that he would run. Smiling from cheek to cheek, the President accepted the endorsement. “The party leaders endorsed me; by that endorsement I have the right of first refusal. That is what is done in advanced democracies…”No, not really. Not even in America, the so-called ‘Mother of all democracies’ where the contest for political power is a cut throat affair, would a sitting president ignore a nation in mourning to go out on the hustings. But our Jonathan would have no qualms about that!

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