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Jonathan’s Nigeria: Teetering on the Brink & Hanging on the Precipice – By Frisky Larr

By Frisky Larr, NNP , Jan. 20, 2012 – The situation is still fresh in our minds. Then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua stated while hosting Oby Ezekwesili that his predecessor wasted close to $10 billion in the power sector with nothing to show for it. His then Special Assistant, Engineer Foluseke Shomolu sent the President a memo to correct the figures. He told the President that less than $6 billion was committed and $3 billion actually paid out by the President’s predecessor. This singular act earned Engineer Shomolu an immediate dismissal from his post. And today we are told by the then Presidential Spokesman Segun Adeniyi, that the reason for the dismissal was that the Engineer made the President sound like a liar.

Today, in the heat of the fuel subsidy protest, which President Jonathan initially thought was a child’s play, the President said his government, the National Assembly and Security Forces have all been infiltrated by Boko Haram operatives.

Just one week later though, a Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mr. Audu Abubakar took center stage. He did not send the President a memo. He was answering a reporter’s question, in which he implicitly lectured the President on how not to make callous and irresponsible statements. “Whatever you hear about Boko Haram existence in the police has not been proved by anyone. We police are like judge(s), if we have not prove(n) any case we cannot base issue of that magnitude on hearsay, there is need to verify things very well … Until such is confirmed (through) arrest(s), investigation(s) and prosecut(ion) in (a) court of law, (no) one can be declared a member of Boko Haram sect. As of now we have not detected anyone in the police. This is my personal opinion.(Quotation grammatically edited through parentheses) He was quoted as saying. We keep our fingers crossed to see how the President will react.

Only on Saturday the 14th of January 2012, the alleged Boko Haram mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of Churches in the North Mr. Kabir Sokoto, was reportedly arrested at the Governor’s Lodge of Borno State in Abuja. The most unlikely place anyone would look for a terrorist! The news was celebrated as a high-profile arrest to mark the long-awaited breakthrough in investigations. Then three days later, on Tuesday the 17th of January 2012, newspapers reported the seemingly facilitated escape of the high-profile suspect from Police custody in circumstances that have raised a whole lot of questions. This report hit the airwaves precisely on the same day that the Deputy Inspector-General of Police announced that there were no Boko Haram operatives in the Nigerian Police Force.

What really happened? A man arrested in Abuja was taken back to Maiduguri in Borno State to accompany the Police in a search on his house. While he was arrested by a huge contingent of policemen who stormed the Borno State’s Governor’s Lodge in Abuja, he was accompanied to his own home in Maiduguri only by five policemen who were then overpowered by armed loyalists of the arrested fellow, no doubt, upon a tip-off. Nigerians are still waiting for an answer on why he had to accompany the police in a search to be conducted in his own home. How did information fizzle out of police investigations?

From day one of Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency (Acting Presidency included), people clamored for more assertiveness on the part of a President perceived to be acting too weak. Inciting comments were made by electioneering opponents that undermined the President’s authority to secure the country. The President did not react. A Central Bank Governor took center stage canvassing sectionalism and religious bias in the banking system of a secular state. People expected a word from the President in vain. When he finally spoke out, he told the world that he is slow to acting because he chooses to get it right.

The man who came out to say that a violent change may become inevitable if President Jonathan made peaceful change impossible was reportedly rewarded with lucrative contracts leaving him a contented man and a friend of the President today. The most vociferous opponent who asked voters to lynch anyone tampering with votes ended up being courted like a bride to join hands with the President. It didn’t matter if his inciting comments contributed to post election riots that killed several innocent Youth Corpers.

When the President however decided to be more assertive, he turned on the Poor and the Weak. He imposed and forced a policy down their throat not caring about the dire consequences on survival. He was ready for them in whatever guise even if it meant a revolution. Information reveals that his mentor and political pathfinder former President Olusegun Obasanjo offered prudent advices well in advance of mass uprising. But the nation seemed to have a President that was bent on practicing assertiveness on the back of the poor and the weak! The President was warned of the possible consequences of a prolonged mass uprising that he was bent on daring. It all fell on deaf ears.

Faced with the palpable realty of a possible “Regime Change” – euphemism for “Military Coup d’etat” – however, the President suddenly turn out to portray the image of a scaredy cat declaring the limits of his revolution-readiness. He preemptively sent out soldiers to different hotspots to keep the folks in fear and trepidation.

Leaders have come and gone in Nigeria’s political landscape. Many were despised and hardly anyone loved. For different reasons too! A few weeks ago, no one would have thought that any Nigerian President will succeed in the present dispensation, in rendering himself unwittingly more hated by the folks than was former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In spite of all detestations, there was hardly any observer, to say the least of the common man, who looked on Olusegun Obasanjo as a “Mumu President”. Such was the mildest adjective, with which protesters described President Jonathan in Placards that went though the world in the five-day subsidy protest.

No sooner had the heat been taken off the uprising – and the President had to thank his stars that the folks were yet unprepared for a full blown revolution the Arab-style – than the President summoned the diplomatic corps in his country to tender an unreserved apology for the inconveniences of the five-day protest. He had admitted in hindsight that his poorly thought-through policy of complete subsidy withdrawal brought hardship on the Poor and the Weak. He calmed frayed nerves with a compromise reduction of subsidy in place of a full-scale withdrawal. Meanwhile lives had been lost and several damages done to materials and the economy of the nation. But the goddamn nation deserves no apology from the President. His priority was the international community, which owned the gallery to which he seemed to have played, while he leaves his image launderers the uphill task of dispelling this stigma of a “Mumu President”.

The Presidency looked like a rudderless ship with Ministers fighting individually to redeem their names after a campaign of lies that left stains on reputations. The nation saw the handwriting of the IMF in an ill-advised policy. Yet a prominent Minister came out to deny this as flatly as flat can be. Claims of ongoing consultations and decisions stayed till the conclusion of consultations turned out to be blatant lies – by design or accident. But truth be told, this Minister Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala still remains one of Nigeria’s brightest brains to run the nation’s Economy.

The last few days have produced political losers and hardly any winner but the most prominent casualty is the President himself. Honor, Respectability and Competence on the job now seem like strongly negotiable attributes in the Presidency that now make the President appear like doing some on-the-job training. A costly experiment for a nation of over 150 million people!

To underscore the loss of respectability, a Deputy Inspector-General of Police has become a trailblazer in lecturing the President on how not to make unguided statements. This is indicative of presidential respectability at its lowest ebb.

The lingering Boko Haaram embarrassment is persistently putting the President on edge. The strength of the forces behind this killer movement can no longer be concealed from view upon the arranged escape of a high-profile suspect that would have provided the key to unlocking the evil mystery. The Inspector-General of Police moved swiftly to suspend the Commissioner of Police of the State in question as if in a desperate search of a pawn to sacrifice. But the President will never know when to move swiftly to replace the Inspector-General himself. Several evidences have pointed to several unanswered questions in the conduct of Hafiz Ringim regarding the Boko Haram issue but our President will hardly recognize them and act assertively. He will never recognize the need to skip seniority in the force for this one moment and appoint a Southern Police Officer or a very credible and trustworthy Northerner as Inspector-General to fight Boko Haram since many Northerners now seem compromised. The Borno State government hit the headlines recently for paying N100 million compensation to the family of the slain senior operative of Boko Haram killed in disagreement over the approach to a peace deal. But Christians and common victims of Boko Haram killers are vanities of no gender! The Governor’s Lodge of Borno State was the venue of the arrest of the high-profile operative of Boko Haram. Borno State’s capital was the venue of the escape of this high-profile captive. Yet Jonathan will not know what to do with this Governor and his affiliates. Assertiveness does not go down well with the powerful!

Nigeria is on the brink and hanging on the precipice but President Jonathan is either over-estimating his abilities and competence or is simply too naïve to approach Olusegun Obasanjo for useful counsels on the best way forward!

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Posted by on Jan 20 2012. Filed under Articles, Columnists, Frisky Larr, Goodluck Jonathan (2010-present), NNP Columnists, Presidency. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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