Opinion

The President In Black And White

By Olalekan Adetayo

Credit: Vanguard
Credit: Vanguard

By the time President Goodluck Jonathan will be completing his first term of four years in 2015, he may have so many books written in his name that will surpass the record of any sitting Nigerian President.

Before now, books such as “Memorable Quotes of Goodluck Jonathan” and “No Enemies to Fight: Goodluck Jonathan on the Marble” among others had been written on the President or by the President (by proxy). Something like this, “Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this book under the copyright laws” was conspicuously displayed in the early pages of the two books earlier mentioned.

The Office of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity also recently took an initiative of publishing the President’s important speeches in book form.

Some of the President’s speeches that are so far in that form include his 53rd Independence Day broadcast to Nigerians, his speech during the inauguration of the National Advisory Committee on National Dialogue led  by Senator Femi Okurounmu and his address to the joint session of Kenyan parliament during his September state visit to the country among others.

The purpose of making these speeches in permanent form, I guess, is for posterity. That may explain why copies of the books are distributed free to interested persons especially Villa visitors or at any gathering attended by the President outside the Villa.

Many have argued that the publication of the speeches is a sheer waste of resources since the speeches are already in public domain through the mass media.  This is however debatable.

The latest addition to these books is the one entitled, “On the World Stage” being a catalogue of Jonathan’s statements to the United Nations General Assembly from 2010 to 2013.

The delivery of the 62-page book was taken early in the week and copies surfaced at the Villa on Wednesday shortly before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting. All those who entered the Villa that day got a copy or copies each depending on how many they wanted. Those who attended the investiture ceremony of the 2013 Nigerian National Order of Merit on Thursday also got theirs.

Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, in the book’s preface justified the publication. He said it offered useful insights into the present administration’s foreign policy in terms of vision, concerns and emphases.

Abati added that the book also highlights what he described as Nigeria’s unwavering commitment under Jonathan’s leadership to global peace, security, stability, equity and sustainable development for all humanity.

He also stylishly corrected a notion among Nigerians that Jonathan, during his meeting with United States President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the 2013 UN General Assembly, went cap-in-hand begging for assistance when he said “to fix the world, you have to fix Africa, and to fix Africa, you have to fix Nigeria.” He said that statement did not portray Jonathan as a “begging begging” President, as children will say.

Describing the statement as slightly misunderstood, Abati said it summarises Jonathan’s vision of Nigeria’s constructive engagement with the world.

“Far from being a desperate cry for help or an expression of helplessness, it (the President’s statement) is an expression of the interconnectedness of the destiny of nations and continents in a world of ceaseless challenges. It further references the chain that links all peoples under the canopy of common interests,” he wrote.

One thing I am sure of is that more books on our President will still come our way.

Opinion read in PUNCH

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