I’m no longer in doubt that members of our political class will soon take Nigeria to the cleaners, if they have not done so already. There is every indication that the country is broke but the prodigal sons and daughters in Abuja have chosen to ignore the alarm bells. In fact, they seem to be on a binge as corruption and general indiscipline climb to an all time high. These parasites are draining the Nigerian treasury as if money is going out of vogue.
While we were still battling to reconcile ourselves to the reckless and irresponsible monetary demands of members of the National Assembly, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has finally sagged our spirits. Like a victim of hypnotism, he has approved the purchase of three new presidential jets in a country that lacks all the basic necessities of life. Truly, there must be some demons residing inside the bowels of Aso Rock and within its precincts. These demons often change the inhabitants of the seat of power from otherwise reasonable human beings into the most irrational leaders. Without entertaining any fear of contradiction, Dr Jonathan has shot himself in the foot by that act of chronic insensitivity.
Even if I didn’t know anything about Dr Jonathan’s background, and how he managed to prosper in politics, it is obvious that mother-luck had always smiled on him. But this is no reason to begin to play God. I was in his village in Bayelsa State when his father died and was buried. The village looked extremely ravaged by acute poverty. And there was no sign of development anywhere. Dr Jonathan was the Vice President at the time. Most of his visitors could not believe how impoverished the village was. In fact, in order to give a semblance of civilisation, we noticed that the most powerful son of the soil had hurriedly built a modern house in the village which stood out in contradistinction to most of the other buildings.
On that occasion, security was so water-tight because of the threat of the militants storming the place in vengeance. Reports had it that the then Vice President was advised not to stay the night in his own house. It was such a sorry sight as we drove back to Port Harcourt. This was about two years ago but I have not been able to get rid of the sordid images that confronted us. And even as recent as last year, I was again reminded of that terrible nightmare as I drove from Yenogoa to Port Harcourt late last year. I was stunned to see that the whole place looked like a war-ravaged zone. For all you care, I could have just been parachuted into Sierra Leone or Rwanda at the height of their fratricidal wars.
I would have expected a man from that kind of penurious existence to appreciate life better. And now that God has raised him like Lazarus from the shadow of death, he would have done well by walking on the side of the people. His demeanour in recent time is not that of a man who remembers his recent past and history. It is that of a man who had waited patiently to validate what the Brazilian author Paulo Freire described as "the pedagogy of the oppressed", a terrible psychological disorder which makes an oppressed human being to act worse than his former oppressor on attainment of little power. Our new president does not seem to know that we are indeed in a state of emergency. And what is required is absolute fiscal discipline, austerity measures, selflessness, accountability, hard-work, clear vision and the determination to succeed where others have failed.
Please, tell me, what are we doing with so many presidential jets? Who are we trying to impress when it is so obvious even to the blind that most of our people are wallowing in abject poverty and most of our cities are in total ruins like Hiroshima during the Second World War? A poor nation cannot continue to live in sin and self-delusion. Democracy is becoming one huge burden on Nigerians and we must be careful not to break the fragile rope that is holding our nation together. Members of President Jonathan’s ruling political party are heating up the polity at such atrocious speed that must give cause for concern of all patriotic citizens.
Dr Jonathan’s language register has also suddenly changed. He’s now sounding like those spoil brats that litter our political landscape. I could never have imagined how quickly human beings can transfigure into a state of apparition. Dr Jonathan has inadvertently become a politician who’s talking down on those he said were dabbling into the internal affairs of his People’s Democratic Party. According to a report in Thisday of yesterday, August 13, 2010, Dr Jonathan said members of his party know how to settle whatever problems exist between them. What problems were they able to solve in the past? Has he forgotten so soon how some junior officers were barking orders at him only recently? Is it possible that he has forgotten so soon that the good grace of God and the goodwill of ordinary Nigerians made it possible for him to escape the grand conspiracy against him? Is he now telling those great Nigerians to shut up because he has to please members of his party in order to secure the presidential ticket for next year’s election?
Life cannot always be about power. There must be other things that give us the high. There is nothing wrong in our President investing some of our money in our local airlines like Air Nigeria and Arik. Arik, for example, has some brand new jumbo jets that can do long hauls. The Prime Minister and Her Majesty The Queen of England fly British Airways. The Italian Prime Minister of Italy and the Pope who’s the Head of The Vatican both fly Alitalia. The money will stay in our economy and generate employment for our people. We brought nothing to the world, we shall take nothing when we depart. It is fine if private entrepreneurs work hard like Mike Adenuga, Aliko Dangote and Tony Elumelu and decide to buy private jets. It is the reward for sweating it out day and night. Dr Jonathan cannot and must never be allowed to waste our meagre resources on frolics and flights of fancy.
I doubt if he ever flew more than in economy class before he came into politics. Most of the village boys who now crave for spaces on presidential jets were totally irrelevant only a few years ago. They can return to their bush and give us some break if we cannot satisfy their insatiable appetite for luxury lifestyle. That was how President Olusegun Obasanjo practically forced us to buy him a presidential jet in the twilight of his administration. At our expense, he flew more than any known President in world history. What did we achieve with all the merry-go-round? I’m not aware that Obasanjo was dashed the jet when he retired to the Julius Berger-constructed Olusegun Osoba Hill-top mansion in Abeokuta.
I wonder why we now want to buy three presidential jets in one fell swoop. As I write this, I’m told that Nigeria currently has a minimum of six jets in its presidential fleet. What’s all this nonsense for God’s case? Is it that we are so docile that every new government acts worse than its predecessor? For a man who hopes to contest election in the next few months, the wrong steps of President Jonathan are becoming too many. I hope he’s not a victim of witchcraft because most of his desperate opponents are specialists of the spiritual realm. There are no signs that he’s in a hurry to debunk those who consider him too colourless and uninspiring to represent Nigeria at the international forum. If he thinks the only qualification he needs to contest and win the election is his place of birth, and that PDP would be allowed to rig election so brazenly like it did in 2007, some surprises await him. The world has changed dramatically since then.