By Farooq A. Kperogi
My write-up with the above title elicited interesting reactions from a broad range of readers. I present some of them below. As the first writer notes, the president seems blissfully oblivious of the political, social and even national security dangers of turning himself into a lying, bungling spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, an organization that almost single-handedly introduced and popularized kidnapping in Nigeria, and that has a long history murders, of oil theft, and many other unmentionable criminal infractions.
It’s obvious that the president hasn’t learned age-old noblesse oblige, that is, the obligation of people of high rank to be honorable. This is obviously a highfalutin ideal for this president who is transparently single-minded in his preoccupation to wallow in power for the hell of it. Advising this man about civility, restraint, self-reflexivity, and social/geo-political sensitivity is like throwing pearls before swine. He doesn’t seem to know that to defend one’s own people is an instinctive impulse. It doesn’t require any effort. What requires effort is the capacity to rise superior to this base temptation and to be dispassionate. What requires effort is the courage to admit and confront the failings and foibles of one’s people. No one needs the capacity for this effort more than the leader of a complex, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious nation like Nigeria.
Look, I am a huge sucker for political upsets, for the tale of unlikely, hitherto disregarded people shocking the world by rising to positions of prominence. In fact, I was initially thrilled that someone from outside of Nigeria’s predictable tripodal ethnic configuration, especially from the deep south where the bulk of the revenue that sustains our nation comes from, has emerged president. But I’ve since been disillusioned. This man is just NOT it. I would gladly support a more competent “South-South” person. President Jonathan’s simple-mindedness and cluelessness scare me to death. He is, without a doubt, the most uninformed president or head of state we’ve ever had. He is, I am sorry to say, almost illiterate. For the first time in my life, I have great doubts that Nigerian can endure. Jonathan may be the death bell of Nigeria. I hope and pray I am wrong!
Your description of President Goodluck Jonathan as a “MENDacious president” is not only apt and creative, it is also prophetic. Daily Trust of Wednesday October 20 reported the president as yet again defending MEND! When will this man realize he is president for all of Nigeria, whether they are MEND or BEND or Boko Haram? Can you imagine Obasanjo becoming a spokesman for OPC or the late Yar’adua becoming a defender of Boko Haram or Yandaba? I don’t recall any president in Nigeria’s 50 years a nation who has ever publicly defended murderous, undesirable elements from his part of the country. But the sad thing is that even in defending MEND, the president deliberately lies through his teeth. A MENDacious president indeed!
Sabi’u Umar, Kano (email@example.com)
This was a fine essay, by all that fineness denotes and connotes. Nigeria is for now under some siege. We hope that the writings of deep scholars like you will incite unsparing radicals against the state of things. Do please keep it up my brother and my friend!
Makinde Olawale Oyewunmi, Lagos (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I can't agree more with you, Farooq. This guy is a clown and total embarrassment to Nigeria. Well, I hope those trying to install him for a further four-year term have a rethink now before they tear Nigeria into shreds. And for his Niger Delta defenders: we all fought to have him there when his boss was ill, but you have made it your job to claim responsibility and stand by him even when he is clearly wrong. It remains to be seen how far he will go.
Aliyu O. Musa, Liverpool, UK (email@example.com)
Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, demonstrates clearly that he is intellectually deficient and suffering from chronic poverty of ideas. If by any chance he happens to lead the country come 2011 it will be just too tragic for tears. One keeps on contemplating why is it that we always got it wrong when it comes to leadership. May God save the country.
Alhassan Bello, Gombe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Good day. I just saw your write up in today's paper, and I really like the way you put things about the so-called Mr. President. The president is too sentimental about everything he does in this country. With Jonathan as a president, Nigeria is going no where because he's the most inexperienced president that our beloved nation ever had. Now, to me, only with the help you ''the press'' (by telling Nigerians exactly who Goodluck Jonathan is) will God will help Nigerians out of this mess, or rather misfortune.
In the end, I will like to say I'm really delighted by your column. And also, if possible I will like to know you better. Thanks.
Auwal Rogo (email@example.com)
Many thanks for your beautiful and well researched write up. Truth will always prevail. Please keep it up. This kind of writing could and should be educating our politicians and teaching them what politics and democracy (in this globalised world) are all about. To add more to what you said, the MENDacious president could as well be described as "A leader with an empty headed megaphone" and the most unpopular and worst president Nigeria ever had. Please try to get these two beautiful books or search via the Internet:
The first is titled "Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places (2009).” The author is Professor Paul Collier of Oxford University. He is also the author of "The Bottom Billion". The second book is titled "Held Together by Pins: Liberal Democracy Under Siege In Africa (2007)". It is authored by Professor Tatah Mentan of the Minnesota University, USA. He teaches courses on globalisation and security issues.
Abbati Bako, (firstname.lastname@example.org), MA Political Strategy and Communication, University of Kent, UK, Brussels Campus