by Sam Nda-Isaiah
Watching President Jonathan and his band of praise singers present their so-called mid-term report last week eerily reminded me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or “The Emperor Without Clothes” as some writers prefer to call it.
Has President Goodluck Jonathan heard about the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” If he has not, I will tell him. The story goes like this: A long time ago, a vainglorious emperor, who did not give a damn about his people except wearing beautiful clothes and robes, was approached by two liars (like some of the people around the Nigerian president today) who promised to weave the finest clothes ever made for the emperor. The emperor was excited. The swindlers told him that the new clothes would be so magnificent and so esoteric that only the very smart and worthy among the people would be able to see them. The robes would be invincible to idiots, stupid and obtuse people. The clothes would also be invincible to ministers unfit for their offices. The emperor then paid the swindlers large sums of money to start weaving the magnificent clothes at once. “If I wore them,” the emperor thought, “I would be able to know which men in my empire are unfit for their posts. And I could tell the wise from the fool.”
The swindlers set up two looms and pretended to weave, though there was nothing on the looms. They requested the finest silk and purest old thread which all went into their traveling bags, while they worked the empty looms far into the night. It was a classical 419 case.
After the “clothes” had been woven, the swindlers went along to “dress” the emperor in the imaginary clothes. The emperor himself did not see anything. He was confused. Is it that he himself was not worthy of being an emperor? But he said nothing. The ministers who also did not see anything pretended they saw the esoteric clothes for fear of being labeled unfit for their offices and incompetent. The swindlers then led the emperor in a procession before his subjects to show them these new wonderful clothes. The people played along, not wanting to appear foolish and stupid. This lie continued until a little child in the crowd, too young to understand the scam that was going on, screamed that the emperor was stark naked. At this point, a few others also started crying out. The emperor shivered, suspecting that they were right but he proudly continued nonetheless.
Watching President Jonathan and his band of praise singers present their so-called mid-term report last week eerily reminded me of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or “The Emperor Without Clothes” as some writers prefer to call it. Minister after minister, PDP bigwigs of all sorts, liars and scammers one after the other praised what Jonathan has so marvelously achieved within such a short time since he became president. All of them concluded that it has never been so good for Nigerians. I have never seen such level of shamelessness. You would think you were watching some horror movie. The act of shamelessness was unbelievable. If you did’t live in Nigeria and you were listening to those clowns, you would think that Nigeria really had never had it so good since the amalgamation of 1914.
But the reality on ground is clear, Mr President. Nigeria has never had it so bad. Security of life and property, which is the first responsibility of every government, is at its lowest ebb. The north, south-south, south-west, south-east are under the siege of kidnappers, Boko Haram, armed robbers, ritualists, Ombatse, MEND and all sorts of militancy. Last week, in a damning report on the Iraqi government’s inability to get a handle on the militancy in the country, a US news organisation declared that, since January, more than 2,400 people had been killed in Iraq. For that reason, Iraq qualified to be termed a failed state, it said. In Nigeria, we have lost more than 6,200 innocent people to Boko Haram, armed robbery and all sorts of criminality since January. We must then be more than qualified to be called a failed state, by that news organisation’s assessment.
Stealing in government has never been this brazen, with a few pension thieves protected by the presidency itself. Government officials are now so audacious in their corrupt practices that they do not give a damn about who is watching and they do not in the least fear the president one bit. Presidential directives are routinely flouted by the three most powerful ministers, who incidentally all happen to be women — they are now famously referred to as the “Bermuda Triangle”. The nomenclature of Bermuda Triangle for these women should be ominous for the president if he knows the first thing about the Bermuda Triangle. Things are indeed very, very bad and the president appears absent, or at the very least impotent. The absence of the president is far worse today under Jonathan than the period when President Yar’Adua was physically absent and nobody knew where he was.
President Jonathan needs to look around himself. He has no clothes on and yet some palace courtiers are telling him that he has the most gorgeous clothes on. The mid-term report is now the subject of very angry conversations among Nigerians. But no minister will tell him the truth and he has tragically lost touch with reality. In other words, this naked president does not have the advantage of that little child who screamed that the emperor was actually naked. It is so ironic that a president who claimed to have grown up without shoes can be so out of touch with the common man.
First, this corruption has to stop. The level of stealing in government has become maddening. It is simple common sense that there is no way to achieve anything meaningful with the kind of stealing going on in government. There are some in this government that import their food items, including beef, from Harrods in London virtually on a weekly basis. Yes, the insensitivity is that bad. About 150 private jets have been purchased since Jonathan became president without a corresponding economic activity to explain this. And while all these are happening, our oil production has plummeted from 2.6 million barrels per day to 1.7 million due to stealing of the crude clearly with cover from some people in the government. Those who steal this crude oil are now telling us that they will kill all of us if we do not vote Jonathan for another term in 2015. But we will leave that until we get there.
I have been a critic of President Jonathan’s government for what I see as incompetence and a lack of focus and seriousness on the part of the president. I have done this with the fervent hope that President Jonathan would sit up and lead the country in a way that would benefit the greatest majority of Nigerians. I have all along been living in delusion that the president could and would change even if for the sake of his 2015 ambition. But after watching the mid-term report of the characters who make up his government and his associates, and the self-congratulatory way the president was smiling to himself, I have come to the conclusion that this president cannot change. He is too far gone!
Didn’t The US Hear That Jonathan Has Pardoned Alams?
Last week, the United States authorities confiscated a mansion in Maryland belonging to former Bayelsa State governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, claiming that his assets were proceeds of corruption. They have also declared that they are waiting for him in the United States. Apparently, the American authorities have not heard that our president has forgiven his former boss for everything he stole. They obviously do not give a damn about Jonathan and his funny definition of corruption. And it would appear that, so long as we have the wrong people presiding over the affairs of this country, so long shall we depend on other countries to fight crimes for us. It was the UAE authorities that arrested James Ibori and it was the British authorities that jailed him. And we depended on South Africa to get Henry Okah. To teach other crooks like former attoney general and minister of justice Michael Aondoakaa (still remember him?) a lesson, the United States a few years ago revoked the former AGF’s visa for which he has been sulking.
It would appear that all these foreign countries have more stake in Nigeria than our leaders have. We have become a byword and a laughing stock in the international community. But Nigerians needn’t be this helpless. We must take our destiny as a nation in our own hands in 2015. We need to deliver our country and liberate ourselves and our progeny.
Read this article on the Leadership Newspapers
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.