Saturday, 30 April 2016

GEJ: Man of cash, not value


By on 11:19
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Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Don't aspire to be a man of great wealth, but a man of values. The foregoing admonition is made by great oriental philosopher, Khalil Gibran. But it is obvious this makes no meaning to a vain character like Goodluck Jonathan. Otherwise, he would not have permitted himself liberty to travel to faraway United States last week to advertise his emptiness by listing his achievement in office as creating the ladder that enabled a Nigerian climb from fifth position to No 1 on Forbes rich list.
On the side, he also spoke glibly about strengthening democracy by valuing "the process (of elections) more than the product of the process." Well, it does not really matter if the    preacher himself shamelessly resorted to all the known dirty tricks (including unilaterally shifting polls by six weeks on a flimsy excuse) in the last general elections. 

Addressing an audience in New Jersey, Jonathan boasted that the nation he bequeathed last year was wealthier both at corporate level on account of self-rebasing of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and at citizen level: "In 2009, the richest Nigerian was the fifth richest man in Africa but I handed over a Nigeria that produced the richest man in Africa."
Louis Odion
He deployed hyperbole to a new cynical low with yet another sensational claim that he bequeathed a nation shuttling in fast train. But it is part of Jonathan's tradition of fraud to equate a fantasy on 3-D slides to reality or exaggerate the substitution of a few dead coaches with refurbished ones at some locations to mean "total transformation" of the Nigerian railway system.
Taken together, Jonathan's latest postulation is only a rehash of the old infantile, provincial indices he always cited as a sitting president to measure "growing national prosperity." Once, he returned from a trip to a fellow African nation and would thump his chest that at the foreign tarmac, all the private jets that had perched before he landed were owned by Nigerians.
But no inference could be more illiterate. Let us even engage him right at his favorite spot: the tarmac. Is it not a reflection of Jonathan's own warped sense of "new national prosperity" that whereas the combined fleet of surviving commercial airlines in the country under him was less than fifty serviceable aircraft servicing 170m population, there were  more than a hundred private jets owned mostly by shady characters with no visible source of income.
What makes it doubly tragic is that, in the first place, the prosperity Jonathan alluded to is nothing but phantom. Perhaps, he meant to say he came tops in squander-mania and aiding and abetting cronies and party men and women to loot the national treasury. Nigeria's foreign reserve at the time he took over in 2010 was over $40b including the Excess Crude Account. By the time he left office last year, the figure had plummeted to less than $30b. Yet, between 2010 and the third quarter of 2014, oil sold for average of $100 per barrel consistently. 
It is a testament to Jonathan's cluelessness and emptiness that all the nation had to show in 2015 for the preceding years of surplus was growing poverty index even as a tiny cabal grew stupendously rich overnight through schemes like the petrol subsidy scams. According to the Customs, the national economy was bled to the tune of N1.7t between 2011 and 2014 through duty waivers and exemptions Jonathan awarded his friends.
Simply put, Jonathan left the nation severely battered and in near bankruptcy, contrary to his new contrived tale of prosperity. Pity, as president, he outsourced reason to his Finance minister. As Command-In-Chief, he surrendered power to to coterie of craven generals chaperoned by a thieving National Security Adviser. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he is not in a position today to also outsource responsibility for all that transpired yesterday. 
To say nothing of the colossal hole dug on the nation's ethical foundation as currently dramatized by Dasukigate. While the damage wrought on the Nigerian edifice could be mended over the time by a more conscientious application of resources, it definitely will take longer time to fix the carnage inflicted at the cultural realms in terms of lowering our moral values, generally cheapening things we once held dear as a nation. Nigerians always knew their leaders steal from time. But no one had imagined that under Jonathan "stealing is not corruption". Or that money meant to buy arms for our soldiers to fight insurgents threatening national stability would be trucked to the National Security Adviser's closet and shared to party's fat cats on election's eve.
In case Jonathan is still wallowing in denial, he ought to be ashamed of the stream of seedy disclosures that has been flowing non-stop since he left office, all of which invariably cast him in a sordid frame: either a political eunuch hopelessly lost in the chamber of power or a buffoon content with only sucking a thumb while the tribe of vultures and freeloaders looted the exchequer. 

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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