by Kelechi Oparaku
For the unbiased observer, however, one question which begs for answer is: When has it become an offence to discharge one’s duties to the best of one’s ability, as Mr Gulak has done since his appointment?
These are not the best of times to be a public official in Nigeria, especially to serve in the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. By some calculating but deftly orchestrated campaign of calumny, President Jonathan, his wife, cabinet members and his handlers have become the targets of sustained criticism, abuse and outright defamation. These are not the normal and healthy constructive criticism expected in the conduct public affairs and necessary for democracy to thrive. No. These are criticisms predicated on deliberate half-truths and outright untruths. The grand aim is to deceive the unsuspecting public into thinking the worst of their government. In all of this, the victims are expected to be silent and turn the other cheek, or like sheep being led to the slaughter, offer no word in their defence, all because they occupy public office.
Perhaps, no one public official in the present administration has been worst targeted than Mr Ahmed Gulak, seasoned lawyer and President Jonathan’s Special Adviser on political matters. You have to be extraordinarily without emotion not to have pity on Mr Gulak based on the deluge of abuse he has been subjected to recently. Newspapers, news blogs and public commentators have made a fortune from the new business of discrediting him, paid for by the same perfidious anarchists masquerading as new breed liberators of the people and neo champions of democracy. Why has Mr Gulak been targeted? The reason is not far-fetched. He has been identified as the very essential component of this administration’s performance team. As adviser on political matters to the president, he is very integral to the administration’s on-going successes and cardinal to its eventual re-election in 2015, if President Jonathan exercises his right to contest for a second tenure. Should the opposition succeed in forcing him out, it will surely represent a significant victory for the “Jonathan-Must-Go” campaigners whose philosophy is deeply rooted in primeval inanities and decadent tribalism.
Mr Gulak’s traducers have significantly upped the ante after his recent statement that the five governors – call them the fidgety five – who recently abandoned their duty posts and embarked on country-wide “consultations” (in chattered jets paid for by taxpayers) in their vacuous and gormless bid to “find lasting solutions to the problems in the polity”, are, in fact, disrespecting Mr President and are galvanising the conspiracy to remove him from office in 2015. As a direct fallout of this cogent and objective statement, Mr Gulak has been abused, called names and there has even been demand for his sacking, reportedly as the only condition for peace with the fidgety five.
For the unbiased observer, however, one question which begs for answer is: When has it become an offence to discharge one’s duties to the best of one’s ability, as Mr Gulak has done since his appointment? If not for deliberate mischief, what could be the raison d’être of a governor whose state in under a state of emergency occasioned by terrorism, killings and virtual anomie (despite the billions he appropriates to himself every year in the name of security vote) embarking on country-wide junketing “in search of solutions to the problems in the polity”?. But for selfish interests coupled with misplaced priority on a grand scale, how does the Governor Amaechi induced crises in Rivers State affect the provision of peace and good governance in Adamawa, Kano, Niger, Sokoto and Jigawa states?
It may be instructive to note that most, if not all of the states superintended over by the fidgety five are currently being ravaged by widespread insecurity, biting poverty and crippling decay of barely existent infrastructure and public utilities. Furthermore, one inescapable fact remains that despite the hundreds of billions of naira which the fidgety five have received on behalf of their respective states in the last eight years each of them has spent in office, there is still very little to show in terms of poverty alleviation and the general enhancement of the standard of living of their people. Evidence from National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) indicate that these five states still rank poorly in the human development index, pupil enrolment in school, poverty eradication and improvement in general standard of living. The major area where these governors have left a significant mark of their presence in government is in the ubiquitous presence of huge billboards emblazoned with their grinning faces and dotting every inch of their jurisdiction, in a disturbing semblance of Ghadaffi’s Libya.
The average discerning observer will be quick to note that the grand conspiracy is tailored to unseat the president in 2015. That is why they are now championing a breakaway faction of the PDP, an exercise doomed to fail even from inception. The fidgety five are also desperate to install their lackeys in their respective states in 2015, having completed their constitutionally allowed two terms in office. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with an out-going governor having more than a passing interest in who succeeds him (for the purpose of continuing his programme in office, if there was any, that is), there is everything wrong in the governors trying to present this private quest as a national problem, requiring nation-wide consultations to resolve, thereby overheating the polity through some jaundiced view of imaginative crises. The only crises in the polity is the one which the fidgety five allowed to fester through their inertia, by not effectively utilising their huge security votes to deal with the boko haram problem in its initial stages. This inaction on their part allowed boko haram to grow into the Frankenstein monster it has become today. Therefore, rather than crying wolf where none exists, these people may do well to concentrate on utilising the remaining period of their tenure to leave lasting legacies in their respective states, because time is running out and the day of reckoning will surely come.
To the consternation of his detractors, Mr Gulak has maintained a stoic, disciplined and uncompromising attention to his duty. He has refused to be dragged into the discredited gutter politics of name-calling and personal abuse, preferring to maintain exchanges on a cerebral level. Even from afar, one can tell he is desperately keen to continue to be loyal to President Jonathan, anxious to expose the hollow reasoning of the “power must return to the north” campaigners, keen to continue to serve Nigeria and determined to promote ethnic harmony and peace through dialogue even with terrorists, and sometimes at great risk to his person and family.
In the run up to 2015 general election, the desperation of the naysayers will undoubtedly increase. The abuse, defamation, and personal attacks will no doubt be ratcheted up. They will seek to elevate lies to the status of truths in a grand attempt to misinform unsuspecting Nigerians. In the face of these persecution and unwarranted attacks, Mr Gulak should be consoled in the knowledge that Nigerians are not as unwise and undiscerning as his detractors may think. Nigerians are united in the agreement that ethnic jingoists and the purveyors of divisive tribal politics, who feed fat from constantly seeking to keep us divided along ethnic and religious lines, are best consigned to the dustbin of history.
President Jonathan will be voted in for a second tenure, or not, strictly based on the verifiable achievements of his administration in this first tenure, and the success of his transformation programme. Until then, Mr Gulak should not be deterred by the mud-slinging from the northern-based cabal, whose vice-like grip on power in that region has only served to democratise widespread impoverishment; or the hypocritical elitist empire expansion programme in the south, which seeks to bring Nigeria under the personal fiefdom of Jagaban. Though he is not a Christian, Mr Gulak should be able to find solace in the words of the psalmist in Psalm 34:19 which says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all”.
Kelechi Oparaku is the Principal Partner at Lincoln Associates, an Abuja based law firm. He tweets at @kelechioparaku
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.