If Jonathan Had Wanted To Be A Statesman By Rudolf Okonkwo

International  diplomats are falling over
themselves to ascribe the title of
statesman to President Goodluck
Jonathan. In the politically correct
language of today, he conceded defeat
in the March 28th presidential election,
and, as such, had done something
rarely seen before in Africa. It’s the
prerogative of diplomats to lie for their
government and our government and
anyone who cares to listen to diplomats.
It is also our prerogative to resist such a
lie. It is important that we do so,
otherwise Wikipedia-bred historians will
soon hitch the same wagon and market
to generations yet unborn the false
construct of those interested in
massaging the ego of failed politicians in
the name of maintaining the
predominant world order.
Even if President Jonathan was not
dragged to the phone and cajoled to
make a call; even if he was not promised
immunity from prosecution by the
National Peace Committee and other
interest groups influential in Nigerian
affairs—the idea that he became a
statesman after hours of cooking up
figures in the South South and South
East and hoping to make up for the
deficits from the figures from the
North, some also cooked, some written by
underage children, he came to the
conclusion that he had been beaten
aerially.
We could as well call Olusegun Obasanjo
a statesman for not going for a 3rd
term when it was clear that he tried all
he could but failed. And while we are at
it, maybe we should also call Sani
Abacha a statesman for agreeing to die
just to clear the way for Nigeria to move
forward with the fourth republic.
Not even the Americans who are at the
helms of this Jonathan praise and
worship gave their own Richard Nixon
credit and the ‘title’ of a statesman
when he resigned following his
impeachment. Nixon resigned while still
screaming that he was ‘not a crook’
following the Watergate scandal.
America was facing a constitutional
crisis had Nixon chosen to hang on to
power. But soon after powerful members
of his Republican Party visited him and
withdrew their support for him, he knew
the game was over.
In the case of Nixon, we had audio
recording of all he said inside the White
House. If we could obtain such an audio
of Jonathan’s words in the last three
days before and after the election, we
would be calling for an impeachment
and not statesmanship.
In any case, if Jonathan had wanted to
be a statesman, there were little steps
he should have taken all through the six
years he was at the helms of Nigerian
affairs. If Jonathan has wanted to be a
statesman, his first action as president
after winning a four-year term would
not have been to order the Central Bank
of Nigeria to pay convicted felon $1.1
billion. On April 29, 2011, President
Goodluck Jonathan secretly approved
the transfer of $1.1 billion to the
London account of Malabu Oil and Gas
owned by former Minister of Petroleum
and a convicted money launderer, Dan
Etete and Sani Abacha’s son,
Mohammed. The money came from
funds paid to the Federal Government
by two multinational companies; Nigeria
Agip Exploration Limited and Shell
Nigeria as part of the settlement of the
Malabu oil block case between the
Federal Government, Malabu and the
two multinational oil companies.
If Jonathan had wanted to be a
statesman, he would not have refused
to publicly declare his assets as was done
by his predecessor, Umaru Musa
Yar’Adua. And when challenged about
the constitutionality of declaring his
assets, he would not have retorted, “I
don’t give a damn!” If Jonathan had
wanted to be a statesman, he would not
have pardoned the convicted felon,
Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and soon after
began the illogical argument that
stealing is not corruption. If Jonathan
had wanted to be a statesman, he
should not have allowed his minister of
aviation, Stella Oduah to continue to be
in office amidst scandal over the
purchase of N225 million naira
bulletproof cars. And after he was
forced to set up a presidential
committee to look into it, he would have
made the recommendations of the
committee public.
If Jonathan had wanted to be a
statesman, he should have done
everything to reduce the cost of
government. In January of 2012, a
presidential committee on public service
reform discovered that top government
officials in Nigeria take home N1.126
trillion a year in salaries and allowances
– out of a national budget of N4.6
trillion. These public officers constitute
just 0.013 per cent of Nigeria’s
population. They include 108 senators
who each make over $1.7m a year. That
alone is $183.4 million (N28 billion).
Then the 360 members of the House of
Representatives each takes home over $
1.2 million, which amounts to $432
million (N65bn). Again, each state
governor collects an average of N200
million naira a month just as security
vote. In a year, they each get N2.4
billion naira. So, our 36 governors take
home N87 billion naira on security votes
alone every year. Add our 38 ministers
and ministers of state, 100 plus heads
of federal and state agencies, over 432
state commissioners, 774 local
government area chairmen or
caretakers, almost 10,000 councilors and
you will understand where the N1.126
trillion goes.
If Jonathan had wanted to be a
statesman, he would have made the
recommendation of 101 committees he
set up known, including the audit report
of the missing $20 billion dollars from
the NNPC. If Jonathan had wanted to be
a statesman, he would have invested his
political capital in restructuring Nigeria
such that it would be a fairer society. If
Jonathan had wanted to be a
statesman, he would have made
permanent changes in Nigeria that
would outlive his presidency. If
Jonathan had wanted to be a
statesman, he would have spent more of
his energy thinking about his
grandchildren instead of fighting and
cuddling his godfathers.
The truth is that Goodluck Jonathan has
never wanted to be a statesman. Those
who are trying to hang it on his neck are
worse than those who hung the
presidency on him when he did not want
it or even had any willingness to live up
to the expectations of that job.
The good thing is that it is not late for
Jonathan to be a statesman if he really
wants to. He could start by accounting
for what happened to Nigeria’s foreign
reserve in the last 3 months. While he is
at it, he could also declare his assets,
after all, he is not running for office
again. As a parting gift, he should not
just release the $20 billion audit report,
he should also punish those found
wanting so that he would leave the
incoming administration with less burden
from the unfinished business of his last
6 years in power.
Diplomatic speaking, Jonathan is a
statesman- their statesmen. But for
those who want to keep it real, he is
simply a man not prepared for the
presidency of Nigeria and who refused
to learn on the job only to squander the
goodwill invested in him by millions.
The rest of the world is humoring us
when they say that Jonathan is a
statesman. They are buying into that our
foremost malice, low expectations. This is
exactly why we are where we are. We
celebrate mediocrity. We worship people
who have failed and we wonder why we
have not climbed any higher.
We need to be clear on our premise.
Screwed ups premise means screwed up
precedence. We need to get that clear so
that we will be able to objectively judge
Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure when it
comes to an end on May 29, 2019.

views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of blog author.

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