BALA DAN ABU
Presidential Inauguration And Matters Arising
The lesson from what the friends of Jonathan did to Jonathan is not for Jonathan alone. It is for all of us. The crowd around people in power is like the smoke which disappears when the fire that generates it is burnt out.
Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan ended his tenure as President and Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria on Friday May 29, 2015. On that same day he returned to Otuoke, his hitherto little known place of birth which suddenly found itself on the political map of the country, courtesy of the good luck of this worthy son of the soil. The reception that awaited him at that end turned out to be a lavish expression of warm feelings. There was an outpouring of encomiums amidst drumming and dancing to welcome him back home from what was like a war front. Abuja was indeed a war front for President Jonathan.
The enemies were more than his loyal friends and allies and the circumstances turned the erstwhile quiet and harmless Jonathan into a soldier, a fighter for self-preservation. He fought and won the war in several fronts but had to do a tactical withdrawal when the situation became overwhelming on March 28, 2015. He conceded defeat even before the verdict was pronounced.
Jonathan’s home coming and the lavish reception organised for him was about the only good thing that would happen to him since he lost his bid for re-election on March 28, 2015. The rest had been a tale of betrayals by those who had been his appointees, friends and political allies. The crowd around him gradually thinned out. Many of those who were part of the huge crowds at the Villa’s numerous presidential waiting rooms at that time had crossed the line that divides failure from success so they can be part of the feasting that was about to start in the camp of the winners.At a point, Jonathan could no longer hide his feelings.
He complained loudly about friends who had deserted him and officials who were already taking instructions from a government that was not yet in the saddle. That was but a sampler of the attitude of man. Man? He is an extremely greedy and selfish creature. I’m sure Jonathan was not surprised that things happened that way. He’s experienced enough to know that failure is always an orphan.
What probably surprised him was the speed and rate of the migration of his so-called friends to the green and promising fields of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and, perhaps also, the treacherous lyrics of the songs they were singing into the ears of the new found friends in the winner’s camp. The lesson from what the friends of Jonathan did to Jonathan is not for Jonathan alone. It is for all of us.
The crowd around people in power is like the smoke which disappears when the fire that generates it is burnt out. This attitude is not peculiarly Nigerian. It is universal. But then, Nigerians have their own way with such things. They will give it the typically Nigerian colour. If only our men and women in power will listen, they should remain students of experience. They should take two tutorials at the same time while they are still on the brighter end of the political candle. They should learn how to live and celebrate with the crowds and also how to live a quiet but happy life without them. It is the only way the loneliness that is always the inevitable companion of leaders who fall out of power can be made to lose its teeth and bite.
It is on this note that I join millions of Nigerians in welcoming President Muhammadu Buhari to the seat that he desired so much and worked very hard to secure. The opportunity he has just been granted by God is rare in this country. He is the second Nigerian, after former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to have the opportunity of governing this country twice. He is back in office armed with the experience of his first coming. It’s perhaps the reason people are so hopeful that the change he promised will not take too long in coming. His inaugural speech has been widely acknowledged as an apt diagnosis of the country’s problems.
It is rich in details and specific in its focus. Yet it is not the best of such diagnosis that would ever be done in respect of the country’s ailments. Neither had the country’s problem been the lack of appropriate diagnosis of its problems. What had been the problem is the lack of appropriate medication. It is that crucial missing link that Nigerians are looking up to President Buhari to provide. The hope for ‘change’ that President Buhari and his political party have promised has become a kind of hysteria among most Nigerians.
They can’t wait to see this happen. They believe Buhari has what it takes to deliver on his promise – experience, honesty and patriotism. The fact that he had been presidential candidate several times before winning the recent race for that office also means that he had enough time to prepare himself for the job. These factors will help his job. But he must beware of bad advisers and fair-weather friends. There are always those who will come to say things that will only help their personal desires rather than the national agenda for development. It should not be difficult for Buhari to identify such people and keep them out.
I hope those bad advisers are not responsible for what seems to have been recorded already as his first broken promise. He has not made the declaration of his assets public as he had promised during the campaigns. What has Buhari seen already in the corridors of power that could have resulted in this early and un-expected u-turn? I’m wondering. Buhari can’t afford to start this way. He should keep his promises, beginning from this one. It is important as a means of re-assuring the people that he will be the honest and trustworthy leader he had always promised to be. It is good that President Buhari has decided not to waste time chasing shadows. That means government’s efforts will be deployed productively.
A visionary leader does not chase shadows. Buhari should proceed straight to address the critical issues crying for attention, particularly, the fuel crisis, insurgency, unemployment and corruption. The case of corruption may be President Buhari’s most difficult task. And that’s because there are too many corrupt people in his political party, some of them with corruption cases pending against them in the courts.
The fight against corruption could, therefore, be taken by his party leaders as an assault on the financial backbone of the APC. But he should not, for whatever reason, compromise on the fight against corruption because this country will not make any meaningful progress in development if corruption is not mortally wounded. I wish President Buhari good luck and good health as he settles down to work. The nation is waiting.