President Goodluck Jonathan is probably the most vilified Head of State in the history of Nigeria. And, frankly, he deserves a lot of the criticisms that have been flung at him because he has not tried hard enough to fulfill his potential…and does not sufficiently control his cronies and subordinates.
But I for one am constantly aware that some of his critics are taking pot shots at him for dubious reasons, such as the fact that they come from bigger tribes and never imagined that a “mere” Minority man would wind up being their Boss!
Whatever Dr Jonathan’s critics’ motives may be, the fact is that all leaders who are operating within democratic contexts face endless queries and insults from time to time. And it might cheer our Mr President up to remember that David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK, is also battling with constant verbal and written attacks from many detractors (including members of his own party).
Cameron (who comes from a rich family) is frequently accused of being out-of-touch with ordinary British people and was recently unfavourably compared with Nigel Farage, a maverick right-wing opponent who allegedly has a “charismatic common touch” because he publicly drinks alcohol and smokes cigarettes.
Life is so interesting and different societies are so different! If a Nigerian President drank and smoked in public, he would be condemned as irresponsible.
Bottom Line? Cameron is a saint and prisoner compared to most African leaders.
The system that catapulted him to its peak is not perfect by any means; but it is essentially civilized, ethical and efficient; and he will get into HUGE trouble if he ever fails to perform on a basic level or succumbs to theft and cronyism.
Cameron, unlike his African counterparts, will be sacked or jailed if he refuses to comply with the rules that the system has imposed on him. Even if you are his best friend or sibling, he cannot lavish juicy government contracts on you.
Having said this, it is tough at the top because whatever you do or don’t do, some folks will always insist that you are utterly despicable and messing up
According to a recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, Nigeria holds the world record in the sense of having the highest number of youngsters who are not receiving an education.
One in every five Nigerian children – 10.5 million in total – is out of school. Other countries that also feature in this shameful league table are: Pakistan (5.1 million), Ethiopia (2.4 million), India (2.3 million), Philippines (1.5 million), Cote d’Ivoire (1.2 million), Burkina Faso (1 million), Niger (1 million), Kenya (1 million), Yemen (0.9 million), Mali (0.8 million) and South Africa (0.7 million).
But while most of the 12 countries mentioned above are getting better within this context, Nigeria is getting worse. The number of our children in school has dropped like a stone in absolute terms since l999. And the compilers of the report are saying that corruption is partly to blame for this terrible situation.
Nyesom Wike, the Minister of State for Education, has recently invested a lot of time in political conflicts with his Governor and former friend, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. Since Wike is famed for his generous spirit, one can only pray that he will soon recognise the pressing need to forget about avoidable fights and concentrate on his job…which is to provide the next generation with hope.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, should also respect itself, get its priorities right, ditch its penchant for engaging in petty, distracting,
time-consuming feuds…and ferociously focus on delivering developmental and security-related dividends to a population that is tired of being betrayed.
Dame Patience Jonathan and I do not belong to the same tribe. She is an Ijaw from Okrika while I am Ogoni from Bodo. But it takes less than 30 minutes to drive from my village to her’s, so I feel as if we are sisters of sorts. And I have fondly praised her on this page quite a few times.
But she needs to protect her image more zealously. Her name keeps cropping up whenever toxic conflicts in our state – Rivers – are being discussed. And she’s often strongly suspected of being behind all manner of irregularities.
Many people were, for example, sure that she was lurking in the background when militants stormed Government House last month to demand Amaechi’s removal.
I would like Dame P to be a genteel, decorous and totally uncontroversial spouse.