“…I have never regarded myself as having a monopoly of wisdom. The trouble is that when most people in public life and in the position of leadership and rulership are spending whole days and nights carousing in clubs or in the company of men of shady character and women of easy virtue, I, like a few others, am always busy at my post working hard at the country’s problems and trying to find solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep.” Obafemi Awolowo (1909 – 1987)
The President of a country is not a private person. Hence, people are morally justified to ask questions when public governance is personalized.
President Jonathan’s two trips have raised serious moral questions in the minds of Nigerians because of the unjustified personalized “presidential” activities during the visits. Secrecy in public governance is an enemy of the open society. But rather than respond to the legitimate concerns of Nigerians about the lack of propriety and openness in public governance under President Jonathan, aides, such as Reuben Abati, have in a strange manner dismissed serious ethical questions about the imperative of openness in governance in 21st century as “mere gossip”!
Thus, Presidential aides like Mr. Reuben Abati and others have worsened the moral case for President Jonathan on these issues. Also, the silence and complicity of some Nigerians –for primordial ethnic and questionable “religious” reasons have further damaged President Jonathan’s case. We do know that both President Jonathan and his handlers do not care about moral questions. But whether they care or not, our job as social historians is to set the record straight and allow posterity to take care of the rest as we all collectively begin to resolve the nature of the union.
Just so that we are all on the same page on this, the following questions will be helpful. Can anyone imagine a visit by President Obama to a foreign country where the agenda and schedule of activities during the visit are not publicly stated and known to the American people? Can anyone imagine President Obama marking his birthday secretly and covertly as President Jonathan allegedly did either on plane or in a London hotel or anywhere he was said to have marked it during his last London visit? Surely, covert and stealthy acts by heads of state and officials are not responsible acts of public governance.
So, if the failure to accept the imperatives of the open society is what President Jonathan and his handlers want us to accept, it may be high time we took a clear decision about what we want to do with this Nigerian union. This is because an extremely primitive, personalized, covert, stealthy, clan and sectional based orientation to public governance in the 21st century is just unacceptable to the ethically inclined, fair and just section of the Nigerian populace for we the people(not the stealthy president or government officials) bear the burden to defend the country when Nigeria is negatively put on the spot either at home or in the Diaspora. Contrary to the thinking of Jonathan presidency no personalized act of mis-governance can be hidden. Walls are globally perforated. They have ears.
President Jonathan traveled to Israel recently. But we did not know whether it was a “holy trip” or state visit or a combination of the two. Mr. President took along on the Israel trip Mr. Oritsejafor the controversial president of Christian Association of Nigeria whose moral and faith credentials are questionable. By the way, I am a parent, a Christian and a very strong family person-as an African in the Diaspora there is no messing around with the family institution. Therefore, given what we know of Mr. Oritsejafor in the public domain, Mr. Oritsejafor’s faith credentials are morally questionable and unchristian. Why? It is a major faith contradiction for a Christian to warmly kiss and bless corruption with the bible as Mr. Oritsejafor often does gleefully.
Similarly, Princess Stella Oduah who was and is still facing a major moral charge of corruption was covertly smuggled onto that trip! Mr. Oritsejafor was one of those who “prayed” for President Jonathan in Israel. We do not know if Stella Oduah also “prayed” for President Jonathan or she was “prayed” for. So the question is: Was the Israel trip a “holy trip” or a state visit?
Before, President Jonathan’s Israel visit, the presidency had a running battle with Nigerians on the moral credibility of the Elbit Internet Security contract for reasons that have been well documented. Nigerians did not know about this contract until the media found out through the disclosure of the Israeli company –Elbit Security. Contrary to Nigerian laws, the contract did not follow due process. The National Assembly is investigating the contract.
Initially, Mr. Reuben Abati, on behalf of the presidency denied the existence of the contract. In other words, consistent with Reuben Abati lingo, Elbit Security Contract was “gossip”. Just as Abati denied the existence of the contract, the security hawks in the presidency confirmed its existence. The presidency dodged the status of the contract until now when suddenly it was reported that Elbit Security system has started working in Abuja!
Since the Elbit Internet Security contract did not follow any open bidding that will compel public disclosures to Nigerians about its activities (like Stella Oduah’s N255m armored car scam never followed any open ethics) Nigerians are interested in knowing how the Israeli company Elbit Security systems got to Nigeria. Who introduced the Israeli company Elbit Security Systems to President Goodluck Jonathan and when?
Nigerians this is 21st century , your government owe you the moral obligation of public disclosure, of open ethics in governance! The same contract Mr. Reuben Abati dismissed as untrue and therefore as “gossip” is what is being implemented. The question is: how is it that a “gossip” is being implemented in Abuja? Did President Jonathan perfect this his “gossip” (apology to Dr. Reuben Abati) contract with Elbit Security Systems while “praying” with his “holy” white Jewish cap by the “wailing wall” in Israel?
These are the serious moral and security questions that become central to the life of a country when governance is raised to an illicit and personalized cult act as it is with President Jonathan’s presidency. Politically, since we humans are yet to dissolve our identities, thus as an African, rationally my country comes first before any regional icon of faith such as Israel or Saudi Arabia–be it Christian or Islam.
So I put my birth country Nigeria and adopted country US before Israel and Saudi Arabia and I hope other Nigerian Christians and Muslims will do the same. In an age where identities are yet to be dissolved, this is what any Jew, Israeli , Asian, Caucasian or Saudi citizen or any rational, confident and self respecting person does and will do any time, any day. It is basic common sense and enlightened self-interest –a virtue that sadly the people in the Nigerian presidency have not displayed as a result of lucre and other questionable personal interests.
However, the dust about the covert nature of President Jonathan’s Israel visit has yet to settle when President took off for London with a partially disclosed agenda and a covertly lined up private activities.
In 21st century, any private activity during a foreign trip of a president of a modern nation that is not disclosed to the people is illicit. And the failure to disclose such so-called private activity which is filled with questionable gaps and inexplicable absences from duty of officials-both male and female- is where patriarchy and matriarchy merge for illicit and publicly un-disclose-able agenda in President Jonathan’s government.
The center of gravity of such illicit agenda is constituted and run by the dubious and shameless icons of matriarchy and patriarchy in President Jonathan’s government. And this is why Mr. Jonathan’s London visit has raised serious moral questions he has to live with, now and forever after his presidency.
Any watcher of Nigerian politics would know the immoral and indecent intersection of matriarchy and patriarchy in Nigerian politics. It is on record that a sitting Nigerian head of state died on top of a prostitute right there in the so-called “hallowed” chambers of Aso Rock. Another one is alleged to have illicit relationship with the wife of his son.
Yet similarly, another one is engaged in equally sleazy and shameless relationships, has morally questionable and un-disclose-able private and family relationships, has drinking challenges such that personal concerns are worked into so-called official and state visits to foreign countries.
This cesspool of immorality to which our rulers have sunk has proved right those who argue that (i) stable family, stable marriage and (ii) scientifically proved mental test ought to be basic criteria for those who want to contest for public office –especially the president of the country because public service is a focused conscious self sacrifice. You do not come near it if you are not ready. Leaders prepare themselves to lead.
But Nigerian politics is a space where patriarchal male politicians pass women around as illicit trophies and matriarchal female politicians melt down so-called “powerful” male politicians, toss them around and twist them on their palms and fingers as illicit trophies.
In this smelly intersection of matriarchy and patriarchy the deployment of the male and female illicit flesh and bodies become major tools of governance and loyalty to a government that is innately and instinctively corrupt. The consequence is the acute poverty of ideas about governance and the impoverishment of governance. This is what we have had to live with under the administration of President Jonathan.
President Jonathan was hale and hearty before the London flight. But President Jonathan “suddenly” took ill either after a birthday party on flight or in his hotel room. Then what followed? Disappearance acts of President Jonathan, minister and government officials from public functions. And some Presidential aides want us to live with this.
In the Diaspora, though one is physically far away from our birth place-Nigeria- from this debauchery and illicit center where the indecency and debauchery of patriarchy and matriarchy has merged as an immoral mode and code of public governance, one cannot hide. It is a Diaspora burden. In the Diaspora, identify yourself with Nigeria and your friends prick you and throw this dirt at you. We are left to deal with this stench. Thus we have to deal with this union once and for all.
But the moral clock ticks every second and this clock reminds me of the thought of one of Nigeria’s founding fathers, Obafemi Awolowo about public ethics and public governance. I have used it in the introduction of this essay. Please go back to the source of things-it is the ethical. I will repeat it for emphasis. The sage said:
“…I have never regarded myself as having a monopoly of wisdom. The trouble is that when most people in public life and in the position of leadership and ruler ship are spending whole days and nights carousing in clubs or in the company of men of shady character and women of easy virtue, I, like a few others, am always busy at my post working hard at the country’s problems and trying to find solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep.”
This is no “gossip”! “…company of men of shady character…women of easy virtue…” Please Read. Think. Act. And Pass It On. Only the truly deep can call to the deep.
Adeolu Ademoyo email@example.com is of Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.