By Bonaventure Phillips Melah
UNDER normal circumstances, Chidi Amuta is considered a brilliant writer. But things are not normal in today’s Nigeria. With the 2023 general election about one year away, in addition to the hunger in the land, boys are desperately looking for how to reconnect with old kindred spirits.
Obviously prompted by an ancient meal ticket of the west-end media block, it is clear that, henceforth, the attack dogs would begin to hound anyone they suspect wants to contest the 2023 presidential election against their benefactors.
It is in the public domain that many Nigerians have been calling on former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to get ready to lead the country again. Those calling on Jonathan to contest the 2023 presidential election include elder statesmen, prominent traditional and religious leaders, serving and former governors, top lawmakers, women and youth groups, among many others. In spite of their different underbelly motives, one unifying decimal among the pro-Jonathan campaigners is the need to reclaim and unify Nigeria an her people who are currently at war with one another.
According to them, Nigeria cannot afford to wait for a new person who would be asking for time to study how to be a President, as there is no time.
Some of them have also said that Jonathan has garnered the requisite experience, especially for the period he has been out of government, to identify things that need to be done differently, to quickly achieve expected results of rebuilding Nigeria.
They, therefore, say Jonathan should not ‘siddon-dey-look’ when the house is on fire.
Even though the former President has never said at any event that he will contest the President’s office again, Jonathan’s huge shadow is already haunting desperados, who, by all standards, are not supposed to be mentioned where and when quality leadership is a subject of discussion, because of the evil they have done on the nation and its people, have unleashed rehabilitation-needing PR agents on the political landscape.
And instead of concentrating attention on how to launder the battered image of their paymasters, who are alleged to be fantastically corrupt (apologies to David Cameron), the hirelings are rather grabbing tar, to deface imaginary enemies.
If it were not so, what is the motivating factor for Chidi Amuta’s negative article, titled “The Staying Power of Mrs. Jonathan”? In the piece, laced mainly with innuendos, Amuta tried in vain to discredit Jonathan, then decided to devote more than 90 per cent of his time mocking and insulting Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of Dr. Jonathan and former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Hear him- “Mr. Jonathan’s (Mr. Jonathan’s?) and his handlers were content with him saying ordinary things in too many pedestrian words. His speeches read more like apprentice campus seminar papers than lofty presidential pronouncements. Power without rhetoric or memorable elocution is the tragedy of accidental leadership and unplanned ascendancy.”
How could any literate Nigerian, in this case, a university graduate and columnist, say that, as President, Jonathan’s “speeches read more like apprentice campus seminar papers than lofty presidential pronouncements”? Is it the same President Jonathan that the whole world is still applauding for saying that his political ambition is not worth the blood of any citizen?
“I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote, remain unwavering.” Was it the same Jonathan that Amuta was writing about or another?
It was quite obvious that Amuta failed to find anything tangible to write against Jonathan, therefore, in order to at least have something to print out and to retire his claim, he decided to turn the keyboard of his laptop towards Jonathan’s wife.
Truth is, whether or not Jonathan accepts 2023 and attempt by Amuta to mudsling Jonathan’s family to contest the 2023 presidential election (of course, he has the right to pursue his destiny within the ambit of the law), his outstanding record of achievements has been etched as bold footprints in the sands of time.
It is no mean feat that, after serving as Nigeria’s President, Jonathan is currently the chairperson of the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP), Africa, and Special Envoy of the ECOWAS and other international bodies. He goes about, within and outside the continent, waging peace and reconciling countries and peoples in conflict.
As Nigeria’s President, it was Jonathan that signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law that has given the likes of Amuta the liberty to speak and write their minds, to demand and be provided information from government and the private sector on how citizens are governed.
As President, Jonathan invested heavily in education, established 14 federal universities as well as polytechnics and colleges of education. His administration established 165 Almajiri schools across northern states. He created the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
It is because of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) created by his administration and made first-line charge in monthly expenditures that federal civil servants now receive their salaries and pensions, all in safe baskets, regularly, and when due, no matter the economic striation.
Jonathan’s administration was responsible for the huge investment and positive results on the nation’s railway system. It was Jonathan who approved the admission of female cadets into the Nigeria Defence Academy through which the nation now has many female com- bat helicopter pilots. There is no space here to list the numerous achievements of Jonathan’s administration.
However, it would be an unforgivable oversight not to recall Jonathan’s human rights records, as there was no political prisoner throughout his tenure as President as well as electoral process reforms, the conduct of the 2015 general election and peaceful handover of power. It is also worthy of note that the current government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, has adopted and continued to consolidate on the gains made by Jonathan’s administration in some of the areas mentioned above as well as massive investment in agriculture, through the various interventions of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others.
Faced with these intimidating and undeniable facts, and, therefore, the ill fate of his mission, Amuta quickly abandoned his project of discrediting Jonathan and resorted, rather shamefully, to calling Dame Patience Jonathan all sorts of names, recasting her previous speeches and how she could not speak good English, as if speech eloquence or mastery of English language is a required attribute in leadership, especially for a President’s wife.
Educated Nigerians like Amuta are supposed know that, in Tanzania, Kenya, Libya, Cuba and many other serious countries, government business is conducted mostly in Swahili and other local languages, in order for the people to truly understand what the leaders are saying. Maybe Amuta needs to be educated that, rather than the application of a colonial necklace, like English language, real communication is speaking to the people in the simple language they can understand.
That is why, when Americans, French, Lebanese, Indians, Chinese and serious business people from other countries arrive in Nigeria,
they quickly learn how to speak the local version of English and other languages in order to truly communicate with the people. Do I need to say that both the BBC, VOA and other international media outlets are embracing the use of Pidgin and others to local interpretations of Amuta’s Queen’s English?
Much as they would and are expected to try, in the coming days and months, there is no fake concoction they will boil afresh against Dr. Jonathan that has not been served by their ‘lie-lie’ kindreds in the past. As they say, “Darkness cannot comprehend the light.”
•Melah is an Abuja-based journalist and author of many books