“If somebody tells you that the best way to fight corruption is to arrest your uncle or father and show him on television, well, you won’t stop corruption, you will even encourage corruption.” –Lagos, 8 January 2015
“Since we came on board, have you suffered? Do you need to bribe someone before you get fuel?”—Lagos, 8 January 2015
These, ladies and gentlemen, are words from the first two days of the president’s time on the campaign trail. If you are confused by the absurdity of the statements, you are not alone. As an incumbent president, this should have been a triumphant victory lap; he should have been a man basking in the glory of his well-laid out plans for Nigeria coming to fruition. He should be a man fighting an easy battle—he has had one term and a bonus two years to make things happen.
Instead, bewildered Nigerians have watched an overly-agitated and confused individual who cannot keep his facts straight make dismissive statements about corruption and resort to quoting one of Nigeria’s most brutal military dictators in an ill-conceived and frankly laughable attempt to smear his presidential opponent. It is obvious that his campaign and inner circle are running scared when they resort to quoting Ibrahim Babaginda to make a bad point. It all comes off as sadly desperate and divorced from the realities Nigerians are still facing, and we as a nation are taking note as both campaigns progress.
Here is a man so out of touch with reality that he had the temerity to ask, “How much did Jim Nwobodo stole (sic)?” He also asserted with every seriousness that arresting people “won’t stop corruption, you will even encourage corruption.” The logical fallacy here is astounding; like saying jailing murderers will encourage murder. He goes on to ask ridiculous questions on armament purchases in the past, then makes a very strange comment about Buhari remembering his phone number. To top it all off, he had the temerity to ask about fuel shortages in the country? Where does this man live? Certainly not in Nigeria, because we could have told him that there were at two fuel shortages last year. Now that his shoes and modes of transportation are paid for by our taxes and sovereign wealth, I guess he has no need to keep up with what is actually going on with the people.
President Goodluck Jonathan seems incapable of leading a cohesive re-election bid, or hiring competent campaign managers. What Nigerians are witnessing is a shambolic mess that cannot get facts right, whether it was facts about arms purchases, or the parity of economies in the 1960s. They make incorrect statements instead, and focus on minutiae and erroneous, unsubstantiated untruths and character attacks on the opposition.
Fortunately the Nigerian public seems to have seen right through the ploy and have ignored the president’s stumbling speeches (filled with grammar that would be atrocious coming from a secondary school student, much less a lecturer), and are focused on hearing about the issues that they care about: corruption, power, education, jobs and welfare.
He has displayed an alarming persecution complex, a petulant woe-is-me attitude, and unfathomable paranoia about foreign agents being brought in to attack him on social media. It all sounds unhinged, fantastical and far from the calm and collected focus we expect from a sitting president of Africa’s most populous nation. In contrast, his opponent has remained focused on the issues, steadfastly refusing to engage in gutter politics and instead unrolling his vision and direction for the country in a concise, well-coordinated and effective campaign.
The juxtaposition of the two presidential candidates could not be starker, and it is especially telling that in social media, Jonathan is being met with scorn and derision—much to his consternation and their amusement.
It has been galling to watch the lack of focus on issues or the simple acknowledgment of the tragedy that have befallen our brothers and sisters in the town of Baga, Borno State. He has instead stuck his head in the sand like an ostrich and continued on furthering his political ambition. Mr President, silence will not make the tragedy fade from our national conscience. 2,000 men, women and children were cut down without mercy, the ‘deadliest massacre’ by Boko Haram in this country, and all we got was “[Muhammadu] Buhari cannot remember his phone number”? It shows a devastating lack of leadership and direction at a time that Nigeria can least afford to be without a commander-in-chief.
What’s worse, the US Ambassador in an interview on Channels TV stated clearly that the assistance United States offered in training elite armed forces in order to combat Boko Haram was frittered away by our government because we were unable to provide equipment that would have allowed the exercise to move forward. If that team had been trained, could the Baga tragedy been averted? We will never know. What we do know is that the terrorists are emboldened by a weakened and ineffective armed forces, and the president cannot seem to right his ship.
Instead of a campaign of hope and direction, we have gotten fear and misdirection. Instead of acknowledging corruption is evil no matter the amount, he dismisses a legitimate conviction because it was not enough to buy a car. Nigerians have trusted President Jonathan for six years and have little to show for it. Our president seems to have gone missing. Let us hope that 14 February 2015 Nigerians will choose to find a new one.
Via The Scoop