By Babatope Babalobi
President Jonathan on January 1, 2015 delivered his New Year address to the nation in a 1,989 worded statement bulleted in 58 points. But it is a sad commentary on the fading glory of his administration that the presidential address delivered for 17 minutes on national media networks on New Year’s day has not received the commentaries, reviews, excitement, and responses it deserves. It seems Nigerians have become indifferent, apathetic, cynical, and disinterested in presidential speeches and/or statements by his spokesperson delivered on New Year’s day, Independence day, when a prominent Nigeria dies or when he is celebrating a birthday, or every time Boko Haram maims or kills. Gone are the good old days when Nigerians waited anxiously for the President’s speech on New Year’s day with excitement and hope.
Gone are the days when Nigerians suspended all activities, rushed home, and stay glued to their television and radio sets with rapt attention listening to the message of the nation’s No 1 man. Nigerians now seem to prefer listening to the inspirational and motivational messages of their spiritual leaders on New Year’s day, and the prophecies of few surviving (real and fake) prophets in the land, rather than sitting in front of their televisions sets (NEPA, PHCN or DISCOs allowing them) to listen to the Commander-in-Chief. Yet, this is a civilian president, even during military rule, it was not as bad as this.
Beyond making a subjective response to the presidential address, I have, however, attempted to make a dispassionate, yet critical review of GEJ’s speech to the nation on January 1, 2015, and my findings have revealed mind-bungling fallacies by the most powerful man in Nigeria who bears a biblical name.
*First, the President started his speech by flattering Nigerians: ‘Great people of our nation’, he said. This is an epithet that masks the poverty, oppression, and subjection in the land. If I were the President’s speech writer, I would have honestly began the address with the heading: ‘Poor people of our Great Nation’, as this best explains the officially inflicted ‘tears, blood, and sorrow’ of the common Nigerian.
*Next, the President went ahead by saying: ‘A new nation is being born because … we … (are all) working together for the good and progress of our dear fatherland’. The truth is that not all Nigerians are working for the good and progress of the nation, with the President’s party men and women, cabinet ministers, advisers, and contractors, being the chief culprits. In Nigeria, government officials and government policies largely work for the interests of a few privileged rather than the good and progress of the nation. Or how else could one explain why huge contracts are awarded every Wednesday and national infrastructural development keeps receding?
*Third fallacy, Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief (CinC) said: “I reaffirm my commitment to work to ensure a secure future for our dear country and the generations yet unborn’. Would be happy if he means this, and could truly achieve this, but the truth is that this is another empty rehash. Nigerians, especially the youths, that continue to migrate abroad in search of greener pastures will scornfully laugh. With salaries of some Federal and some state civil servants not paid for three months, with Boko Haram annexing Nigerian towns one after the other, even the ‘present continuous’ of our ‘dear country’ is not secured, not to talk of the future.
*Fourth fallacy, GEJ said: ‘Last year, we celebrated our hundredth year of nationhood. The year brought us further progress, challenges and fresh opportunities’. Reuben Abati, or whoever, wrote this speech must have lifted this sentence from a fictional novel. The year brought spurious growth without development to ‘African’s largest economy’. Our national problems and challenges largely remained unsolved, unreliable power supply and insecurity being the main. Those who have secured ‘fresh opportunities’ include the DISCOs who keep on increasing tariffs with worsening energy services, and have refused to provide meters to unmetered customers. For the millions of jobless youths who were mocked in the national stadia in search of 6000 elusive immigration jobs (with tens dying in the process, yet uncompensated, and nobody punished for this orgy), 2014 bought them and their families, fresh agonies and miseries, rather than ‘fresh opportunities’.
*Fifth fallacy by our Oga-at-the-top, he said: ‘We have continued to vigorously confront those who seek to destroy the bonds of unity that hold us together”. Only a few will agree. While the few ‘common’ persons arrested for sponsoring Boko Haram have had their cases muddled up by the security agencies, no prominent Nigerian has been arrested for supporting the terrorist group. Where does Boko Haram get its superior arms and ammunition? Who are its sponsors? How does it secure and channel its finances? The administration sure needs more vigorous action rather than words to confront insecurity.
*Now, the sixth Presidential fallacy: “I want to assure you that the terrorists will not get away with their atrocities: they will not win; they will be routed. ….. We will bring justice to the savage terrorists known as Boko Haram. They will be defeated’. Its a fact and the truth that the terrorists have gotten away with our school girls, women, and innocent children, whom they have turned to slaves, wives, and children soldiers. They are getting away with their atrocities, maiming, killing, raping, looting, destroying, and forcefully conscripting. The terrorists will be defeated and routed out has been an often refrain of Mr. President, such that the average Nigerian could not predict the reaction of the Presidency to the next act of terrorism. Maybe our President is too busy to read newspapers, or he is not well briefed by the multitude of aides and advisers. Recently, it was in the news that Baga town was captured by the terrorists. The terrorists have been winning Mr. President, and on a few occasions, have sadly defeated our ‘armed’ forces. Even the Chief of Defense Staff once lost his Mubi hometown to the terrorists.
*The seventh (mind blowing) fallacy is on the Jonathan’s administration’s “achievements”. In case you missed the presidential broadcast, read this: ‘We have rehabilitated and expanded our rail transportation network, successfully privatized power generation and distribution, significantly reformed and increased local participation in our oil and gas industry, and improved nationwide access to potable water from 57% in 2010, to 70% at present…… establishing additional universities to ensure that each state of the nation now has at least one Federal University……Our national economy maintained a steady growth rate of close to seven per cent in the past four years and millions of fresh employment opportunities were created for our people as a direct consequence’ Rehabilitated railways, successful powerful generation, reformed oil and gas sector (when the PIB bill is yet to be passed!), improved access to potable water, economic growth, fresh employment opportunities…. All these are white elephant Presidential lies, without mincing words. Yet this speech was delivered to Nigerians in Nigeria, not to foreign Investors at an international conference in Nigeria!
*Eighth fallacy: “We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira’. Less than a week after the C-in-C spoke, the naira slipped further downwards, in obvious mockery of the presidential address. In the black market, you now need up to two hundred naira to buy one dollar. Cry my beloved naira!
*The next fallacy is the presidential admonition on electoral conduct, which should not only be addressed to the political class but also to the security forces, especially the Nigerian Police. Oga-at-the-t op said: “Let us all conduct our electoral campaigns with the highest possible decorum and civility towards political opponents. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections’. A few weeks ago, the Inspector General of Police withdrew the security aides of the Speaker of the House of Representatives (as a punishment for defecting to the opposition party), and the Police Chief also ordered the failed invasion of the National Assembly in a bid to stop the Speaker from presiding over the House of Representatives. The Police Chief is yet to be cautioned for this ‘ indecorum and uncivilized’ act against his boss’ political opponents, rather he got his then acting job confirmed obviously for doing a good job.
*The President ended by urging Nigerians to collectively pray for national progress, and wished Nigerians ‘a happy and fulfilling 2015’. We shall continue to pray, and wish that all good wishes become real. May God give us leaders who will provide answers to our collective prayers for the nation. May God give us leaders at all tiers who will not only wish us a happy and fulfilling 2015, but through policies and programmes ensure Nigerians become happier and more fulfilled by December 31st, 2015, and beyond. May God let the wishes of President Jonathan for Nigerians come true in 2015!
*Babatope Babalobi is the Coordinator of the Movement for Revolutionary Change (MRC). firstname.lastname@example.org +2348035897435