Dear Dr Reuben Abati,
The Nigerian children of anger, part of who I am, have directed me to respond to the recent umbrage you took on us for speaking out against President Goodluck’s government. Actually, I am not a child, neither is any of my colleagues, but we like to think you chose to sound African by referring to whoever you consider younger than you a child. We aren’t angry at that. We understand you are the elder here. We are Africans; aren’t we? And by dismissing us as children, you equally arrogate superior wisdom to yourself, and stupidity or lack of wisdom to us. Again, we understand.
First, Doc, we are disappointed that your much publicized intellect didn’t reflect in that scathing commentary. For instance, you could not demonstrate that you understand the principles of common logic, and that you could use it to make valid arguments. At best, Doc, that was very disappointing.
While trying to score a cheap point against some of us who say your principal is clueless, you declared: “You say the president is clueless. You are wrong. He (the president) is not clueless.” At that point, simple logic demanded that you told us instances that confirm him not to be clueless; instances like his deep understanding of internal security which he deployed in tackling our ever present security challenge, his understanding of how to recruit men with the right pedigree to work with and deliver results, his knowledge of how to give electricity to 160 million people etc. You couldn’t do that, Sir. Instead, you claimed; “Nobody is committed to the Nigerian Project than President Jonathan”.
Now, Sir, how does “being committed to the Nigerian project” make it impossible for President Jonathan to be clueless? Anybody can be committed to the Nigerian project, especially when such person is in a privileged position to easily access Nigeria’s treasury and utilize same to achieve personal purposes. In fact, one of the reasons why a clueless man would want to remain committed to the Nigerian Project is because of the strange political reward system which converts politicians to billionaires in just months.
Facts on ground haven’t suggested in any way that our president understands what he is doing in the presidency. These facts are in pictures, and they speak louder than any presidential aide can say. So, Doc, when next you want to make valid arguments, ensure you do not sound as illogical as you sounded in that piece, otherwise we may never give any thought to using our “idleness” to pursue a PhD, to avoid sounding like you in public.
By the way, Doc, when the President spoke about not wearing shoes as a child, he meant he did not have shoes, physical shoes, not spiritual shoes. You, Sir, do seem to habour a special likeness for the usage of “metaphor”. In a bid to twist the truth, you always take literal connotations out of context in which they were used in both written and oral speeches. For example, when the President went on a journey of personal vendetta in Bayelsa State to install Seriake Dickson as the governor, he made reference to the hauling of stones to non-performing public officers by the citizens. That gaffe incurred the rage of analysts who questioned the wisdom in such utterance. In your defence, you claimed the president’s statement was metaphorical, that the man never meant physical stones in his clamour for public stoning. But we know it wasn’t. It was an open lie from you, Dr Abati.
That essay from you, in truth, made us pity the president. He is certainly in trouble with a supposed intellectual like you around him. It is strange that you, Doc, left the quite pertinent issues you should have addressed to delve into the petty lane of ethnic bigotry. How does the size of the Ijaw nation, or the president coming therefrom, affect the key issues of governance? Was the president voted in by only Ijaw people? None of us cares if Ijaw is the most populous ethnic group in Nigeria or the tenth most populous. In the hardship that this administration has unleashed on Nigerians, the Ijaw man on the street is not left out. For instance, most of us are “idle” and “idling” because we have no jobs. In over two years of his presidency, Dr Jonathan, your colleague in PhD, cannot point to the exact number of jobs he created. It isn’t modesty like you’d want us to believe. It is because he has no jobs to point to. In the modern world, Dr Abati, job creation is one of the major yardsticks with which governance is measured. There, just like in every other area, your principal failed woefully.
You claimed the president doesn’t habour any bias for his ethnic nationality. You lied, Sir. You lied. He hasn’t risen above ethnicity. If he has done that, we are yet to see it. Because we know that the president pays militants from his South-South region millions of dollar per annum from our treasury; he also awarded the contract to secure our waterways to Tompolo, an illiterate militant; his “brother”. If that doesn’t scream “tribalism”, Doc, we wonder what does.
When you accepted to function as the president’s spokesperson, we thought, albeit wrongly, that you would be bringing class and finesse to the office. We expected a departure from the usual lack of proper language from presidential spokespersons. We looked forward to a departure from the era of clichés and barefaced lies. Judging by where you were coming from, we had expected a regime that’ll show forth outcomes of properly debated meetings. But what do we have from you? Nauseating regurgitation of “transformation”, “transforming” “transform” as if the words themselves would jump out of the paper and fix our roads, water, electricity, corruption and etc.
You bragged about the president being the first Nigerian leader to appoint a woman his Chief Economic Advisor. This is plain ridiculous, Dr Abati. How many jobs did that “appointment of a woman” create for Nigeria? How many roads were tarred because a woman was appointed a president’s Chief Economic Adviser. Reserving 35% of your political appointments to women shouldn’t ever be mentioned as an achievement by any serious government. But again, has your principal been able to convince anybody that he is running a serious government? Okay, he has appointed women, and we know that one of them, Diezani Madueke, represents whom not to appoint in a position of public trust. A consensus has long coalesced on her person, that she is massively corrupt, and that even in the prima facie evidence of corruption, the president has only shielded her from prosecution.
You said you heard the president spends billions on feeding. Well, we haven’t heard that. We only know that he budgeted approximately one billion naira as feeding money for the office of the president and vice president in just one year. It was after our outrage in January that he reluctantly slashed the ungodly vote to what he presently has. Are you, Dr Abati, unaware of this? As a revered public affairs commentator, we had thought you understand that what your principal feeds with is above the salary of the United States president for two whole years. And for a country in glaring poverty, it is sinful for any leader to appropriate such a humongous amount to himself just to feed. And yes, you said the president doesn’t eat much, so why was so much budgeted for just feeding? To create room for the illicit enrichment of apologists like you? Think, Dr Abati, think!
And wait, Doc, did you mean to call us “anarchists” really? Or did you just use it for lack of the right words? That pronouncement said more about you than us. It captures all the years you spent doing what we do, and for which you call us names, as years spent in public deceit; years used in attracting attention to yourself for the chance to be part of the national destruction. You have arrived, Dr Abati. You have surely arrived.
Your many years of noise-making have paid off. Your insecurity manifested in every word you typed on that page. The message we got was a clear one: that your plan is to cover up an opaque regime and gag critics from commenting on the failure-prone administration you are promoting. We are not anarchists, Dr Abati. We are patriots, genuine and without any hidden agenda like you.
But we will like to call your attention to the facts on ground; facts that your attacks cannot stop us from announcing to the world.
Contrary to your assertion, the president doesn’t love Nigerians. We don’t, however, doubt that he loves Nigeria. Who wouldn’t when Nigeria makes you a billionaire in just months. The president we know is a protector of the corrupt. Under his watch, Nigeria has been rocked by the biggest scandals in our history: Fuel subsidy theft, Malabu Oil fraud, pension scam and many others. He hasn’t bothered to bring the fraudsters to justice. Despite empirical proofs that corruption in government produces massive poverty for citizens, Mr Jonathan has effectively built a massive corruption-fertilizing frictionless machine called government. It is that machine, dear Doc, that you are out to defend at all cost. If the president loves Nigerians, he’ll fight that which inflicts poverty on them.
The president has failed in his primary role, which is the protection of lives and property. And this is in spite of the huge sums voted for security. He makes security appointments either to satisfy ethnic cravings or political demands. He hasn’t handled security with the expertise that it requires, and this begins with the quality of appointments from him.
The president we know hasn’t shed his cravings for primitive acquisition. That is why he sat and watched his greedy wife accept a bizarre appointment in Bayelsa State as a permanent secretary when, in truth, she hasn’t been on seat in the last 13 years, and also functions as the sitting First Lady. What the Jonathans are about is just money and power: two things they don’t know how to apply even after acquisition.
The president we know is the one whose wife is wasteful. That was why the 200 BMW cars came up in the first place. And wait, Doc, that was why you wrote that article. That was the point it was considered appropriate to hire Doyin Okupe – whose conscience is more dead than yours, to help propagate further lies about the president. In writing that piece, you thought to re-exert your relevance, but you smartly chose to address the parochial issues, those that would shift attention for your boss’s mediocre performance.
So, Doc, you see, the president you wanted us to know is the man who eats cassava bread, drinks coffee and eats fresh fish pepper soup. We really don’t care about that. We want to know the president who criminals are afraid of, whose regime doesn’t grow corruption, who will stop issuing condolence messages like his life depends on them. We want to see a responsible president who understands that a poor nation cannot spend N1b -or even N500m – just to feed two offices in a year.
This is what we are about. Aren’t these enough to make us angry?
Finally, Doc, the tragedy of the commission you undertook is that it subjects your acclaimed intelligence and supposed expertise to the ridicule of semi-illiterate ambitious women and their not-so-intelligent husbands.
It’s a pity, Doc. It’s just a pity.
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