Jonathan’s disdain for public opinion

Even when others lose their cool, President Jonathan remains unexcitable. Whether it is about the suppressed KPMG report of massive corruption in NNPC, injustice to Justice Salami, the worsening oil theft that threatens our economy in spite of multi dollar contract to repentant Niger Delta militants to protect the oil pipe lines, or even the ‘Oduahgate’ that has refused to go away, the president maintains that air of imperturbability. It took the leakage of his godfather’s warning letter and that of the CBN Governor to the press after four months before the president decided to react apparently because of the cost of remaining silent.

The only occasion the president gets emotional is either when talking about his dearest Patience, the ‘mother of the nation’ or his transformation agenda which he is very passionate about. And one of such few occasions came during the recent visit of PDP stakeholders from the northwest that have come to pledge their loyalty in spite of the gale of defection from PDP. It was time for the president to showcase what he considered his achievements in two years and eight months. And to the people who only hear of massive unemployment, worsening power situation after the sale of the energy sector by PDP to PDP, dilapidated roads, armed robbery, kidnapping for rituals and kidnapping for ransom (apology to Gbenga Omotoso) and other tales of woe, the president brought good tidings. His achievements within a space of two years and eight months he says remain unassailable.

With radiant smiles and a voice laden with emotion, the President repeated the phrase several times: “this administration is only two years and eight months old”. (It is actually close to five years if you add Yar’Adua unspent time). He thereafter challenged any of his critics to point out any leader in the nation’s history that could rival his level of achievements within such a short period. And from his captive PDP audience came a loud applause. I could not resist musing to myself, ‘shame to the former leaders as conspirators and Jonathan detractors especially those ‘writing letters they should not be writing’, those pretending to be democrat after annulling the most credible election in our nation’s history or those who jailed journalists for reporting the truth but now claims to be on a crusade to save the country with letter writing journalists.’

And to reassure disillusioned Nigerians who may think President Jonathan might have lost touch with reality, his ministers, the power behind the achievements, the president proudly talked about, came out to give account of their stewardship. We were told of near completion of the dualisation of Lokoja-Abuja road, the ongoing Kaduna Abuja fast train project while there was silence on all important Lagos-Ibadan, Sagamu-Benin roads probably because funds are still being sought even after a big flag-off with fanfare. I am not too sure if the finance minister celebrated economic growth which she has always done while remaining silent on development. But each minister’s presentation was greeted with loud applause by the rosy-cheeked and well endowed PDP stake holders in their well embroidered flowing agbada and babarigas.

Richard Akinjide, Shagari’s attorney general, whose daughter, the Minister of State for Abuja territory is gunning for governorship of Oyo State appeared on a Channels television programme on Saturday probably to show that all the talk about deteriorating power supply, massive unemployment, suffocating corruption in government, general insecurity, sinking PDP that is prepared to pull the country down with itself, have been greatly exaggerated after all. The chief awarded President Jonathan 80%. For him by the time the history of the country is written, Jonathan would probably turn out to be the best president to have ever emerged from Ni geria. The president, his truculent advisers like Doyin Okupe and Ahmed Gulak, Jerry Gana, Emmanuel Iwuanyawu, the ‘transformed’ Ebenezer Babatope, and all others who swear by the president’s name may be right. It may turn out that the critics of the president have been too much in a hurry to write him off. After all, he still has a whole year and four months to consolidate the gains some critics and cynics still maintain are only visible to the president, his ministers, courtiers and advisers. After all it is a known fact that one day in politics can define the fortune or misfortune of a politician.

But what worries me in the whole exercise of self-assessment and endorsement by those ex-president Obasanjo said have shielded the president from reality is the absence of the people and the total disdain for public opinion. Unlike Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama and others who give pride of place to the people in a democracy, Jonathan like his godfather, Obasanjo sees himself like the Plato’s philosopher king, demonstrating at every point his disdain for the people and their opinion.

In an interview with Tell magazine, he said; ‘I am not moved by public opinion so easily, because in most cases, the public opinion may not be quite right’ This seems to have defined President Jonathan who once said he didn’t give a damn about those pestering him over non-declaration of his assets as set out in the constitution. The president for instance did not think it right to apologise to the public for imposing petroleum tax in the name of subsidy on Nigerians when he discovered he had been misled by those who presided over the theft of N1.7 trillion under the fuel subsidy regime.

President Jonathan who said it isn’t his fault that the wheel of justice grinds slowly in our nation similarly ignored public opinion over the plight of Justice Isa Salami who was visited with injustice for ruling against PDP mandate thieves. ‘Oduahgate’ on the other hand has been in the public domain for over two months. The president has not only ignored public opinion which weighed heavily against her continued stay in the cabinet as minister for aviation. Before Oduahgate, the president ignored the public demand for the implementation of the House Committee report on the fuel subsidy theft and chose to implement the report of his own appointee, Aigboje Aig Imokhuede.

Beside outward demonstration of disdain for public opinion, I think the president need to know that even if the prevailing public opinion appears to represent the views of his political adversaries, it will be foolhardy for any government that plans to succeed to ignore them. It is not self-assessment that determines the success or acceptability of government policies; it is the opinion of those for whom such policies are formulated that ultimately count.

If President Jonathan doubts that public opinion represents the will of the nation, he should just look back at how public opinion paved the way for the collapse of what the public perceived as Buhari’s tyrannical regime, Babangida fraudulent transition, Obasanjo third term agenda and even Jonathan becoming acting President when the National Assembly was forced to succumb to the pressure from the public. The irony today is that Jonathan respects neither the opinion of the public nor the resolutions of the National Assembly.

0 views0 comments