I take no pleasure in insulting Mr Goodluck Jonathan. The story of his ascent to the presidency when isolated from his performance so far in that office is one that has the semblance of Old Testament rhapsody (reserve your Hallelujah for later). Some people extend that analogy further to suggest that he is God’s anointed one – with an eponym and a grass-to-grace story that overwhelmingly match, most Nigerians were coaxed into voting him in 2011 without actually parsing the facts. Two questions: First, how do you isolate a man’s deeds from his personality at the polls? Second, does God really hate us that much as to anoint and then impose (?) a clueless – I shall come to that shortly – leader on us? These questions, however relevant, have the sour taste of the proverbial spilt milk. For now, I am saddled with a contemporary bother, one that hinges on semantics but is at the same time frightening.
I pride myself in an etymological pastime so early this year I tried to find out how Mr Goodluck Jonathan’s critics collectively decided to adopt the word ‘clueless’ as his most unflattering moniker. I wanted to know who first used the adjective, who next used it and how it caught on with other Nigerians. My research is on-going but besides my collection of newspaper clippings, bookmarked internet pages and random discourse with self-styled pundits it is no more than a pastime. However, in pursuing this harmless and purely academic endeavour I realised we have been wrong all along. We have been fooled to disguise our president’s true nature with a mild description that doesn’t even scratch the surface.
A relevant digression: As an undergraduate pharmacy student I had a lecturer who always held her shoulders high – both figuratively and literally. She never really stood out in my regard or disregard until I noticed a pattern with her. Whenever one of my classmates made a ‘mistake’ of asking a relevant question which she was unsure of; instead of politely admitting that she did not know the answer and promise to get back to him or her later (we’re all humans, aren’t we?) she would go into overdrive, filibuster about the effrontery of the student to have asked the question, lambast his or her sartorial taste and when she’d spoken at length without any reference to the hanging question she would move on with the lecture. Covering her ignorance with her arrogance was her default way to overcome the distress of her cluelessness. Except for the ‘her’ that last statement may as well be referring to a certain Goodluck Jonathan. After all, if the shoe fits he might as well wear it. But my assertion is borne out of mundane reasons.
First, there is the issue of the police college in Lagos. Without the unbiased reportage of Channels Television the college and its decadence would not have got the deserving attention it did in national media. How does Mr President react to all this? First and very much to his credit, he visited the college in the wake of the report. Second, but disgustingly out of sync with the first, he implicitly blames Channels Television and the party officials of opposition parties for the calamities that have befallen that citadel of police-training. My reaction was a thought-out-loud bollocks. Pardon my French. I simply could not put one and two together. Could our president be the king of dimwits? More pertinent to this write-up, this episode illustrates lack of clues but more so trademark arrogance that belies the barefoot-to-Versace story which we all ate during his presidential campaign.
Second, there is the issue of University of Lagos. Renaming a federal university that was founded by the provisions of the Nigerian constitution to something you thought of after having your morning cereal is a storyline best suited for an episode of Tinsels. Still it happened that on a day most ironically set apart to mark the end of military-style autocracy and unilateralism Mr Goodluck Jonathan announced a change of a university’s name without following due process. For days students of the university protested around the Yaba suburbs of Lagos and we thought His Excellency the Name-Changer would realise the folly of his action. No he hasn’t. Rather he has apparently denied the institution the right to host its annual convocation ceremony until the name change is implemented. You still call him clueless? All I see is arrogance.
Fellow Nigerians, while it does not detract from his overall cluelessness, we are dealing with the most arrogant president in the history of Nigeria – arguably, of course. Again, I do not take pleasure in insulting our president but it would be tomfoolery to analyse his overall personality and not point out his flaws. Cluelessness I can deal with relatively (again, we’re all humans, aren’t we?); it’s the arrogance that is eating me up. An arrogant president would not have the modesty to ask his critics to proffer solutions in times of national crisis; would not listen to the voice of better reasoning because the speaker is from another political party; would not see fellow Nigerians as equal; would not heed the warnings of time-tested experts seriously. An arrogant leader would only do one thing: lead others blindly in a headlong rush to failure. (As an aside, I did ace the course that arrogant university lecturer took me thanks to textbooks). It may count as insulting to classify Mr Goodluck Jonathan as arrogant but the truth needs to be said: Better a purely clueless president than one who alloys it up with arrogance. You may now shout Hallelujah.
Folorunso David can be reached on twitter @funsodavid