Mr President And His Fair-Weather Friends | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Mr President And His Fair-Weather Friends

Posted: May 14, 2015 at 2:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


I cannot claim to have a definition of the word “Christian”; but if going to church and surrendering to the suzerainty of pastors is a yardstick, I guess President Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian. Although Dr Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, had once educated us on how presidential protocol restraints a President from saying “Amen!” to all manner of prayers, President Jonathan,quick to kneel and bow before men of God, is a clear personification of how humble mere mortals should be before men of God. If those whose business it is to record the number of times God’s ministers have placed their holy hands on his head had done their job, President Jonathan would have by now secured a prominent space in the Guinness World Records on account of that.

That is why I believe God must have heard him when, at the Thanksgiving and Farewell Service held on May 10 for him and his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, he –warning his Ministers to be ready, like he himself, for persecution – lamented that his friends had deserted him, expressing the hope that his wife would not divorce him. The fear that prompted that expression of hope that wifey would stick by him and not dump him is unexpected. Not many Nigerians would have looked at that unlikely direction. If for anything, the public picture Mr. President and his wife cut is that of a happy well-bonded couple apparently looking forward to a fresh honeymoon after May 29, unbundling the baggage of power and retiring to the serene rustic environment of good old Utuoke, devoid of the madness of the cities. I can picture them spending a never-ending leisure time in the creeks, fishing, eating fresh fish and other sea foods. The fear that our Madam Pepe, Queen Comedian of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whom we know will never wish to see her husband in jail,  might be tempted to port away from him is scary. Though evil-minded people are already wagging their vile tongues with cruel insinuations of infidelity, I am confident that our dear pillar of democracy and defier of doomsayers is a faithful husband. That he has very powerful, untouchable women in his cabinet is nothing more than a commitment to the empowerment of women. Speaking as a God-guided Nigerian, I would urge Mr. President to rest assured that Mama Pepe will stick with him even in his worst days.

The fear that Mr. President and his Ministers may be persecuted is, with due respect, unfounded. The President-elect will not reign as a boundless despot. He will be a constitutional president. He will not defile Aso Rock with jackboots. What Mr. President seems to be hinting at is that the incoming government will not dodge or shirk the duty of doing a reality check on Mr. President’s tenure with a view to unraveling the mystery behind the antithesis of a fast growing economy and a battered citizenry. If Mr. President wants to be fair to Nigerians, he should allow the incoming administration to audit his government and tell Nigerians what has actually consumed the nations’ humongous earnings in the last six years, and beyond. Luckily for him, he has worked with virtually the same set of Ministers for the last six years or so. It is therefore easy for him to tell them to prepare their books and have the stories of their wealth ready for Nigerians. I am sure that Mr. President would be relieved if a report establishes that the money said to have been turned into a bed by a Minister’s son is not public money, and that a Minister said to have spent millions of dollars on designer bags and other paraphernalia never soiled her hands with the nation’s oil money.

What I take seriously – for which Jonathan has my sincere sympathy – is the cry that his friends have abandoned him. My sympathy is not about his pain, but about his error in judgment, his inability to see the distinction between real friends and fair-weather companions. The Bible, in Proverbs 18:24, stresses, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jonathan has realized a bit late that his true friends are people like us –his critics, and not those sucking up to him;as the Bible says in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”