by Saatah Nubari
When I came across Tolu Ogunlesi’s piece titled Understanding Jonathan, I wholeheartedly and eagerly went through every word in that article with great zeal. The reason was simple, who on earth wouldn’t want to understand his or her president—I wanted to understand the reason for his kind of reasoning and maybe visualize the thought processes he undergoes before and after making decisions. I wanted to understand this man who had no shoes, who trekked miles to school, this man who saw a car for the first time when he was maybe five or six years old, I wanted to understand my president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.
What came to my mind before opening that link, was a mathematics textbook I used back in primary school, it was called Understanding Mathematics—funny enough, I ended up not really understanding mathematics. I’ll love to state that despite my being woeful in mathematics, I practically understand that $20 billion is missing, in essence, $20 billion was deducted from a certain amount and was misplaced—I think this is the part where either the NNPC or CBN is supposed to ask us to find the misplaced amount which is X, right? Don’t judge me, like I said, I’ve never been good with mathematics. Please kindly pardon my deviating from the topic of understanding the president and commander in Chief of the armed forces, I was only trying to state that what played out with my primary school mathematics will gradually play out with my president i.e. I’ll end up not understanding him.
The first paragraph of that article was filled with questions, question that weren’t necessary—to be truthful, that article didn’t make me or anybody understand Jonathan. I’m currently still trying to connect how having a grandmother, mother, elder sister and wife will make the president ensure“…that at least 35 percent of public offices at the federal level are reserved for women…”. I skimmed through the remaining paragraphs of the article and absolutely misunderstood Jonathan.
It was our very own Prof. Chinua Achebe that said “if you don’t like someone else’s story, write your own”. I personally admire Tolu Ogunlesi, and the effort he put in trying to make an unserious citizen like me understand Jonathan, but I’ll still write my own story, telling him that I still don’t understand Jonathan, and his article even showed that he himself doesn’t understand Jonathan too.
I first gave up on understanding Jonathan, after my state governor, Chibuike Amaechi after going on an all-out war against the president, still came out victorious in the court battles he had. In a typical Nigerian political scene—at least the type we were used to under the previous administrations, the president would have turned the court judgments against him, and Amaechi would have been in his village cooling off, or something.
Then the Boko Haram crises came, which I actually expected the president, to replicate the Odi scenario and if possible, send all our troops to raze down the place, but he didn’t. Instead he chose to dialog with terrorists, something I KNOW Obasnajo wouldn’t even dare contemplate.
I don’t understand if his humility is the reason he has refused to react to the insults, accusation and counter accusations always thrown at him. Tolu said his humility and cool-headed nature that has made him the perfect choice for Deputy/Vice has also put him “…on the receiving end of sustained humiliation”. I think IBB and Abacha were humble—but God in heaven knows that if Lai Mohammed or anybody had dared called any of them a “kindergarten president”, they would have invited that person for a dinner at Aso Rock, do a Jack Bauer on that person or probably beat the hell out of him and maybe classify the information—pardon me, I’ve been watching too much of TV lately.
Tolu also said that the president’s loyalty is “…so deep it often crosses the line into ridiculousness. This might explain why the presidency appears obsessed with conflating “resignation” and “sack””.The thing with us Nigerians is that we try to make ordinary and simple things look complicated. We have acclimatized to complicated things, to the point where seeing something obviously simple makes us fidget. Hardly do we hear of someone getting “sacked” in other climes, “resignation” is a more honorable way for someone in the public service, who has been accused of wrongdoing to be discharged. Tolu calls it “niceness” and says it can “…be hugely problematic for a man whose job is to be a decisive president.” But let me say here that being nice, humble, reasonable and cool headed doesn’t make you indecisive and neither does being brash, arrogant, rude and hot-headed make you decisive, it more times than not makes you irrational.
Despite my disagreeing with Tolu on a lot of issues raised in his article, I completely agree with him when he says: “Jonathan would do well to beware of those whose only motive for being around him is to either maintain their access to ill-gotten wealth and power, or to feed their endless propensity for mischief and evil”. I don’t need a soothsayer to tell me that the president is a good man, at least that’s the only thing I understand about him, but his success won’t depend solely on his goodness, but the collective “goodness” of the team he chose to work with.
Understanding Jonathan is unnecessary and unimportant, I’d rather Jonathan understands Nigeria and leaves a good legacy; our future depends on his unpredictability. Sir Tolu, I still haven’t been able to understand Jonathan, and not because my brain is porous or anything, I just think you don’t quite understand Jonathan too—and don’t get upset, most people don’t understand him too.
Saatah Nubari tweets from @Saatah.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.