By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Add this to Reuben Abati’s file: The man cries. There are some things Abati can’t fix – lies and betrayal. By now, Abati must have settled the fact within himself that lies have a short life, but truth lives forever.
It’s been almost a month after Chibok. Frustration and desperation is starting to consume Abati. The hyperbolic Abati was boxed into a corner. He was disabled as it were, to manufacture any counter-offensive fabrication to paint a different picture of Chibok.
Abati takes a flubbed chip shot at Chief Bisi Akande for saying that Nigeria is on auto pilot. Chief Akande had in a press conference indicted President Jonathan’s administration for its failure to curb insurgency, particularly its handling of the abduction of Chibok girls by Boko Haram.
Chief Akande is the APC (All Progressives Congress) Chairman.
“Nigeria is not on auto pilot.” Abati cries out. “There is government in place, there is a president who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He is doing his very best to provide quality leadership and to reassure Nigerians that government stands ready always to defend their best interest,” says Abati.
“This administration,” Abati continues, “has continually showed courage and commitment in the face of whatever challenges that may arise. To give the impression that the president is doing nothing is dishonest. This government is not mouthing meaningless phrases, this government is not engaging in blame game. This government has a job to do and it is doing the job.”
“If Chief Akande wants to be honest with himself,” says Abati, “he will say the truth and the truth will be that this country has been moved forward by president Jonathan that we are not at the level we were at the time President Jonathan assumed office in 2011. So to say the country is on auto pilot is unpatriotic because it is a lie.”
Abati’s spirited defense of President Jonathan sounds more like comedy-based than honor-based. Either way, it is completely downright dangerous. It is also a dumb novelty that meant to trick Nigerians who are critical of palpable absurdities of the Jonathan administration.
There is no greater injustice to the parents of Chibok girls than Abati’s nonsensical interpretation of Mr. Jonathan’s handling of the Chibok malady.
His articulate submission of stela performance of Mr. Jonathan sparked electrical charge that passed through me, as if those words cast a spell invoking fears, fantasies, and odd illusions.
Abati simply repeats the lies that have already been exposed as lies. For the propaganda Sheriff to have slowly and laboriously puzzle out words to convince himself and Nigerians that Mr. Jonathan “is doing his best to provide quality leadership,” “has continually showed courage and commitment in the face of whatever challenges,” and “to give impression that the president is doing nothing is dishonest,” is humiliating, dehumanizing, an embarrassing balderdash and borderline insanity.
With this latest flat out lies, Abati has resurrected as the dead Grammarian (remember my piece on him, “The Grammarian’s Funeral”?) to a laughable partisan, pointless whimsy classless clown.
Fact is, the performance of Mr. Jonathan doesn’t quickly meet the expectations of Nigerians which is why most Nigerians have forever branded him an epic failure and an embarrassment to the nation.
While Abati is irrationally proud of Mr. Jonathan’s achievements, Nigerians are profoundly fearful of his clueless leadership. In his almost four years as president, can Abati show us any proof through crises, problems, and other self-inflicted catastrophes and manufactured uncertainties of the Jonathan leadership the lessons learned, the losses endured, and the battles won by Mr. Jonathan.
With the abduction of 300 teenage girls what further evidence does Abati needs that Nigerians are falling, failing, loosing badly because of this government’s stupid choices?
The mothers of the missing girls are wallowing in grief, living daily with heartbreak, and gathering in a crowd of lasting regret. Thinking of all the mothers whose daughters were stolen, I know Mr. Jonathan and Abati were privileged to have their family intact. What if the president’s daughter and Abati’s were among them?
Not long ago, the younger brother of Vice-President Sambo rammed his head into a tree in an auto accident and lost his life. Because of this, Mr. Jonathan postponed the Federal Executive Council meeting that had been scheduled long before the death of his VP’s brother.
In contrast, it took nearly three weeks for Mr. Jonathan to mention the kidnapping of 300 schoolgirls publicly, thinking that the kidnapping like many crises in Nigeria would be swept aground, and given the short memory of Nigerians, they would discard the issue and move on as usual.
But not this time. Thanks to the clamor of the crowd around the globe, neither Mr. Jonathan nor his high-flying slick Abati could concoct imaginaries and lies to bury the story.
The Sunday Wall Street Journal reports that last Friday, parents of some of the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls waited in vain for a visit from Mr. Jonathan, as he was flying to Paris for talks with other leaders about the crisis.
Abati was quick to debunk the planned visit of Mr. Jonathan to Chibok. “The presidency did not at any time announce a trip to Chibok today. Ignore rumors,” Abati said on his Twitter account. “Wrong and malicious to allege that a nonexistent trip has been cancelled.”
According to the Sunday Wall Street Journal, hundreds of parents gathered at the burnt-out village school where the girls were abducted, some said they felt betrayed. “We’ve been there all morning – only to be told that he’s no longer coming, that he has an assignment in France,” said one father, Lucky Chibok. “Honestly, we are not happy.”
If Chibok could not activate and agitate Mr. Jonathan’s compassion, generosity, introspection, circumspection, responsibility, and self-sacrifice, nothing else will.
In a democracy, constituency service is important both to citizens and politicians. Indeed, it is an accepted and expected part of the job. More so, in a civilized democracy, politicians see the benefit of meeting voters’ needs more importantly to improve their chances of re-election.
What do voters want? Roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, security and safety of life and property, etc. Assistance with education and tuition fees and other social obligations. To get politicians re-elected takes delivery of promised goods and services – tangible, visible, and verifiable projects.
The Jonathan administration has become synonymous with backsliding from democratic progress and backlash against democratic-promotion initiatives throughout the federating units of the union.
The universal core values of democracy have been completely subverted: respect for diversity and pluralism, tolerance, justice, freedom, accountability, human rights, and non-violence.
The guarantee and protection of these core values lead to advancement of democracy – peace building, consolidation of human rights through the application of the rule of law and social justice, and economic growth and development through government that invests in human capital because it is accountable to its people.
It is the non-delivery of these essential benefits of democracy and much more that qualifies the Jonathan administration a government on robot pilot.
Nigerians can’t see and can’t feel the presence of a government. There is no evidence as far as finding and fighting the Boko Haram terrorists that there is a president who is also the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces.
There is no proof on ground that Mr. Jonathan is doing his very best. Also, it’s not true that his government stands ready always to defend our best interests. A month after Chibok, Mr. Jonathan chickens out to visit the crime scene and meet with grieving parents. So, where is the courage and commitment?
It’s true “we were not at the level we were at the time President Jonathan assumed office in 2011.” The country has been pushed back in decades since he came to Aso Rock.
The contemptuous attitude and empty slogans of the Commander-in-Chief promote glee and gloat of the Boko Haram’s leader and reenergized the terrorists as a group. It leaves a troubling impression of an arrogant government out of touch with reality.
Mr. Jonathan’s aloofness and sluggishness to swiftly react to Chibok is a thoughtless hubris and open road to miscalculation and geopolitical disaster.
Mr. Abati, are we better off than four years ago?
Bayo Oluwasanmi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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