Okupe defines Jonathan presidency

Doyin Okupe is an illustrious scion of illustrious pa Mathew Okupe of ‘Agbonmagbe’ bank fame. The father was one of the wealthiest Nigerians of his time. Young and gifted Doyin must have resolved at an early age not to fall below his illustrious father’s social ladder. Perhaps for this reason, although  a trained medical doctor, he thrives more as a politician  and contractor, the two most rewarding callings  in our nation, where any upstart without Okupes talents and the privilege of being born with a silver spoon effortlessly finds himself at the top of the social ladder.  Goodluck Jonathan, an unknown shoeless school boy turned President, finds men of influence like Okupe irresistible. Even when the President was forewarned while appointing him to launder the image of his government, that Okupe, by his caustic tongue and temperament would create more enemies for the President, he did not give a damn. All that mattered was having a man of influence like Okupe on his side to intimidate his political adversaries. But tragically, Okupe has turned out to define all that is wrong with Jonathan’s presidency.

Of course, President Jonathan has reaped handsomely from his investment on Okupe. Unfortunately for us as a nation, the President’s gain is Nigeria’s loss. As predicted, Okupe has with his caustic tongue alienated some of those whose name Jonathan once swore by. For instance, the President once rated Obasanjo as the greatest influence in his life after God and his parents. Few weeks back, Okupe wrote Obasanjo off as being incapable of winning any election for PDP in the South-west. He traded him off for Buruji Kashamu, the President’s new friend and Obasanjo’s foe. Not too long ago, he also questioned Pastor Tunde Bakare’s credentials for criticizing government economic policies. At the  time Okupe was serving a different master, it was Bakare who mobilized his group  to secure for the President, his  constitutional right, then abridged by ailing Yar’ Adua’s  kitchen cabinet headed by now jailed James Ibori.

Just as he had turned old friends to sworn foes at home, he has by his haughtiness and offensive habit of denying what would be obvious even to the half blind, forced exasperated traditional friends of Nigeria in the international community to give up on the search for the abducted Chibok 200 girls ‘wishing Goodluck’s Nigeria, good luck’. Others have publicly challenged the President over his handling of corruption among his party men. Even African leaders like Yoweri Museveni of  Uganda, tongue in cheek says to his people that certain things cannot happen in his country because Ugadan is not  Nigeria while South  Africa that has, according to Mandela always looked up to Nigeria as hope of Africa, recently gave President Jonathan a stern warning that the type of impunity that thrives in Nigeria has no place in South Africa when it confiscated $15 million illegally ferried to the country in a private jet with government backing.

Last week, Okupe totally went out of control directing his diatribe at those who have in the wake of worsening insecurity problems reminded the President that a government that cannot secure life and property of the people loses the raison d’être of government and thus loses its legitimacy. Puffing and huffing, Okupe whimsically dismissed ‘Bola Tinubu andhis colleagues in the opposition as a bunch of political anarchists and charlatans blinded by an unbridled appetite for power’. Where what was expected of an image maker was to reassure the public of what government was doing, his puerile message to embarrassed Nigerians and besieged people of parts of Nigeria now under the control of cave men was to remind us ‘it was leading members Tinubu’s party who vehemently opposed and openly criticised the proscription of the Boko Haram sect by the federal government in 2013.’ With such, mischief and insensitivity, Nigerians can see why Boko Haram appears unstoppable.

Governor Babatunde Fashola, also had a taste of Okupe’s caustic tongue. Fashola had at the 50th birthday celebration of former Governor Timipre Sylva said Jonathan’s government “had been inactive for three years and in the fourth year intends to give the electorate kerosene, price and money for the purpose of seeking their votes.” Okupe’s specious response was, ‘I want to say that we have no apologies for stating the obvious fact that this administration has surpassed all the others before it.’ Okupe forgets it is only the citizens who can say that. But he did not stop at that. He went on to query Governor Fashola  for ‘coming to Abuja to give a satirical lecture pretending to be a catholic priest after ‘leaving the putrid stench of alleged financial immorality and impropriety in Lagos where under his watch it is rumored that private individuals have acquired more wealth than the state government’. And now because of what Okupe described as rumor, Fashola has lost his right to call attention to the federal government mishandling of our economy and the war against insurgency that threaten the survival of the nation.

Besides Tinubu and Fashola, there were others at the receiving end of Okupe’s diatribe last week. The Deputy Governor of Borno state, Zanna Mustapha’s observation that ‘it is a big crime that the criminals are better equipped than the military’ and that going by the ease with which Boko Haram was capturing territories in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, (over 20 LGA as at the last count), “If the Federal Government does not add extra effort, in the next two to three months, the three North-eastern states will no longer be in existence.”  That, in addition to Atiku’s own warning that ‘if the activities of the insurgents were not quickly curtailed, they could overrun the entire region,’ attracted only the usual Okupes’s tirade. His bizarre response was ‘to recommend critics of Jonathan’s handling of Boko Haram insurgency for a psychiatric test’. And as a merchant of mischief, he added ‘it was wrong for someone aspiring to lead the country to speak ill of the armed forces because he would command the same military if elected’. As an image maker who pretends not to know the buck stops on his principal’s table, he alleged  ‘it was the people like Atiku Abubakar who said that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable’, before the 2011 election that encouraged Boko Haram to take up arms against their state’. Such crooked logic only confirms the fears of those who insist Jonathan’s government is clueless. And if Nigerians wanted an answer as to why Boko Haram outwitted Nigeria authorities, capturing the chief of defence staff’s town and torching his personal house while he was busy selling a non-existent cease fire agreement to Nigerians and assuring parents to expect the release of their loved ones abducted over six months ago, it was precisely because we have men who trade in mischief thinking for government.

Okupe probably persuaded the President that Shettima who had in February said “Boko Haram are better armed and are better motivated than our own troops. Given the present state of affairs, it is absolutely impossible for us to defeat Boko Haram,” was out to undermine the efforts of the military and subvert Jonathan’s presidency. The president soon followed what was nothing but blackmail, to threaten Shettima that if he withdrew the soldiers from Borno, Shettima would not be able to hold on to his coveted office of governor for long.  Today, nine months after Shettima’s alarm and the president’s un-presidential response to a patriotic call to avert a looming tragedy, the chicken has finally come home to roost. Nigeria has now been said to have the highest number of terrorist killings in the world with over 4000 lives lost in the past year. While government was scrambling for $1 billion foreign loan to buy arms, Boko Haram has moved out of Sambisa forest capturing an area said to be larger than Ekiti and Ondo states.

And finally, the damning verdict Okupe had tried to keep away from Nigerians is now in the open. A former British military attaché recently confirmed what concerned Nigerian had always feared- that the Nigeria military is “a shadow of what it’s reputed to have once been. It’s fallen apart.” They are short of basic equipment, including radios and armoured vehicles. Morale is said to be low. The country’s defense budget accounts for more than a third of the security budget of $5.8 billion, but only 10% is allocated to capital spending’ .

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