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Opinion: When Commonsense Takes A Stroll From The Corridors Of Power

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by Ayobami Oyalowo

commonsense? That which attracts the least opposition; that which brings most agreeable and worthy results”
– E.W.Howe

Apparently, Nigeria has come full cycle. Or what else do we call what we’ve been experiencing lately?

To say President Jonathan is a disappointment is rehashing old tunes. What makes it all the more painful to take is the callousness of it all.

 On the 14th of April 2014, about 276 teenage girls were abducted by the fighters of the Boko Haram terror group as they slept in their dormitory. It took 19days for the President of the country to admit that the abductions took place and what did he do afterwards? He set up a fact finding committee while his wife on the other hand took it upon herself to make a mockery of a devastating situation by constituting herself into a nuisance and making a caricature of herself both on national and international television to a bemused and shocked worldwide audience.

Cue 151 days later, the issue of the abduction has taken a backseat as the President and his team have moved on to more “serious” issues of raising hired goons to “beg” the president to contest again in the coming election. While there is no legal wrongdoing in seeking a reelection, keen observers were not only shocked and surprised at the tactics employed, citizens were bemused at the brazen, callous, inhuman and derogatory use of the hashtag #BringBackGoodluck2015. It was the typically “I don’t give a damn” Goodluck Jonathan style.

After supporters of Goodluck Jonathan have harassed, insulted and done all they could to frustrate the genuine campaign led by well meaning Nigerians to #BringBackOurGirls, it was with shock that the citizens watched this latest act of brigandage and sacrilege. In saner climes, this would have been a classic case of political harakiri. But supporters of Jonathan, led by the garrulous and voluble Doyin Okupe took over the cyberspace with their hashtag of #BringBackGoodluck2015, unperturbed. It didn’t stop there, they got their usual rented crowd to sit and carry the banner and as if to taunt the parents and well wishers of the Chibok girls, the Jonathan crowd took over the Unity Fountain in Abuja, the original location of the sit out in support of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. They didn’t stop there, the offensive hashtag on billboards, posters etc suddenly appeared in every nook and cranny of Abuja. The callousness and insensitivity of it all was complete.

Reasonable Nigerians condemned the barbarity and callous degradation of a serious issue and the mindless parody of the hashtag by the president’s supporters. But in their usual manner, they didn’t give a damn.

 It finally took an editorial by the Washington Post for the president to finally wake up and see the folly inherent in the actions of his people. Meanwhile as at the 22nd of August 2014, Doyin Okupe, the ubiquitous presidential spokesman, had flagged off the campaign using the offensive hashtag, which therefore begs the question: why did it take so long, and an editorial from Washington Post for the president to finally “see” the campaign? It is not surprising though to watchers of Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency. He has shown time and again, his disdain and disrespect for Nigerians and whatever the Nigerian media or the citizens want or are saying. This was the same President who refused to see the parents of the abducted Chibok girls until the Pakistani girl-child campaigner, seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, cajoled him to do so. And it took him over 90 days.

Another area of concern is the President’s recent visit to Chad in the company of the alleged sponsor and financier of Boko Haram, Ali Modu-Sheriff. Images and pictures were widely circulated showing President Jonathan, in the company of Modu -Sherriff, as they conferred with the Chadian leader. It was therefore shocking, days after, to read that Modu Sheriff merely joined other Nigerians to welcome the President at the airport.

I don’t understand what criteria President Jonathan adopts to pick his aides, but one thing observers can see from the whole debacle is that his media aides are doing President Jonathan more harm than good. While it is arguable that his leadership style is poor and bereft of any clue as to what should be done, the various gaffes, gobbledygook and asinine press releases, Facebook and twitter posts by the president’s men are doing more to harm the man’s image than helping him.

Sycophants and sycophancy has been with us for almost forever, but the current wave of sycophancy has assumed a dangerous dimension where nothing is sacred and if you are not beating the drum of Jonathan for ever, then you are an enemy of the state. This is why the spokesperson of the DSS, Nigeria’s version of the secret police, will mount the rostrum to churn out statements that even pepper sellers in Oyingbo market would be ashamed of. But in their quest to curry favour and thereby continue to occupy offices they aren’t qualified for and perks that can be at best described as obscene, the AGIP (any government in power) crowd has defined a new low in our national life, playing politics with the tears and sorrows of fellow citizens.

 Commonsense should have made the promoters of the offensive hashtag realise that “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children”. -Nelson Mandela.

After 151 days, we have failed to rescue our children from the den of terrorists and rather than embarking on a journey of sober reflections while calling for more cogent actions by those vested with the authority to do so, hirelings and supporters of the government chose to desecrate the memory of the Chibok girls and make a mockery of the tears of their parents, including the death of some of the distraught parents who could no longer handle the trauma of the whole ordeal.

When commonsense takes a stroll, the result is bedlam, chaos and hullabaloo. But wisdom is profitable to direct…

A Yoruba adage aptly says, “he who is yet alive should mock not he who is already dead, as no one can predict the manner of his own death”.

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Ayobami Oyalowo tweets via @Ayourb

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