by ‘Jola Sotubo
According to President Goodluck Jonathan, politicians in Nigeria are devoid of the qualities which made former South African President, Nelson Mandela great.
Nigeria’s number one man is said to have declared this at the memorial service organized in honour of the recently deceased anti-apartheid icon.
President Jonathan said further that Nigerian politicians are “tiny men” who utter provocative remarks and make haste to call for the nation’s disintegration.
The Sun reports:
He said Nigerian politicians with their provocative and unwarranted utterances on national issues were not great men like Mandela but “tiny men.”
The service, which held at the Aso Rock Villa Chapel to round off the three-day mourning period declared by the Federal Government, had dignitaries including the Senate President, David Mark, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha and the South African Ambassador to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni among other dignitaries.
President Jonathan said going through the many comments attributed to politicians in the media in recent times, he had since concluded that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Nigerian politicians to be truly great.
He said statements of intimidation, threats and hate from Nigerian politicians were not attributes of great men as symbolised by Mandela.
The President regretted that the unwarranted statements of politicians were not limited to a particular generation alone, as those who were older than him, his contemporaries and the younger generation were victims.
He described the former South African leader as a rare character, who all politicians must learn from and do more to better the lots of their country.
According to him: “Mandela is a rare character that those of us who are politicians need to learn from, so that we will imbibe some of his traits and do better for our country.
“If you listen to those of us who are politicians in Nigeria from all political parties -from PDP, to now APC but beginning as AD and ACN, to ACP and others- the way we talk: some talk as if Nigeria is their personal bedroom that they have control over.
“Read the newspapers, listen to the radio and television or go to the social media and see how politicians talk. Some of us even think we are little gods. We intimidate, we threaten, we show hate in our communication.
“These are definitely not the virtues of great men. They are shockingly the voices of tiny men.
“Sometimes when I listen to politicians, the ones older than me, my contemporaries and even the younger ones, I come to the painful conclusion that it is probably easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a politician to be truly great.”
The President stressed that Mandela had done well to prove that one can be a politician and still be truly great because he placed the interest of his people above his own interest.
He said the deceased would always be remembered and honoured by mankind as one of its “greatest liberators, a wise, courageous and compassionate leader, an icon of true democracy, a selfless servant who truly placed state interest above self.”
“Some people become extremely notorious but they have made big names. So, to be truly great is key. Nelson Mandela is one rare person. He became a President in 1994 at the age of about 76. By the time he ended his first tenure in 1999, in South Africa, it is a five-year double tenure of maximum 10 years, by 1999 he was 81 years old.
“People pressured him that he should continue, he would have ended up maybe at 86. But on his own, he said there were younger people, that he had done his best by bringing freedom to South Africa, let a younger person takeover.
“If you compare Nelson Mandela and some leaders across our continent, very few people even at age 81 will feel they are too old to continue.”
The President said Mandela, whom he referred to as a great son of Africa, was considered great because he had the spirit of forgiveness and succeeded in uniting his people.