Last week while reading a blog on one of my favourite reality shows, I learned a new word, schadenfreude: A malicious satisfaction derived from the misfortunes of others. From this German word, I learned that when people do not have the best intention for you, you must not give them the devices with which they can destroy you.
A few days ago elder statesman and former Federal Commissioner of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, attended a symposium organised by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, where he went on the offensive and made a number of statements and accusations blaming the woes and tribulations of the Jonathan administration on everyone and everything from the man on the moon down to King Kong. He called opposition party members rude and referred to the governors of the ruling party as an extension of that opposition.
Bordering on the acutely defamatory, he indicted people for treachery and conspiracy to destabilize President Jonathan’s administration. The accusations coming from Chief Clark himself really are quite rich considering that fact that some months back he did his fair share to stirring to destabilise the country.
When he assembled a number of ex-militants in Lagos to assert that President Jonathan must contest and win the presidential election in 2015 at all costs, did he not realise that his kind of rhetoric and actions also have the potential of destabilising the future of the nation, given the fact that the vast majority of Nigerians may not want President Jonathan to have a second or is it third term?
He ranted and raved about the rights of President Jonathan and the injustices meted out to his administration. And in perhaps the grossest pronouncement of haughtiness and triumphalism, he veiled his message with a regional cloak suggesting that people had to be either with President Jonathan is celebratory euphoria or not. Unfortunately this moral turpitude is not unique to Chief Clark and if one needed coaching on exactly how to immorally and dangerously rile up the populace in the propaganda of fighting for a regional or ethnic interest, one had plenty of options to choose from, most especially from Northern Hausa/Fulani leaders who often use that card to propel their personal interests at the detriment of the masses.
When Chief Clark shadowed the opinion of the former National Security Advisor to give the impression that government is aware of the politicians orchestrating terrorism in Nigeria, it was quite shocking. Yes, quite shocking! Because it is shocking for those within the kitchen cabinet of President Jonathan to continue putting out, in not so cryptic terms, messages about their knowledge of those behind the mass murders of hundreds of Nigerians while government does absolutely nothing to expose and indict these criminals.
Lest the government forget, innocent people are being murdered and targeted daily and it’s about time the government does something to put a stop to it. Whenever members of the kitchen cabinet make these statements and are queried on who the sponsors of Nigerian terrorism are and why the government is doing nothing to prosecute these apostates, they respond with an almost catatonic “We don’t know”.
This has now become somewhat of a national refrain; “We don’t know who they are, but we really do know who they are… We are just not doing anything about it!” Call me leery but this, to me, seems like a rather incriminating thing to be boasting about.
It really is quite ridiculous and in case Chief Edwin Clark failed to grasp the point, it takes certain aplomb to accuse specific people of trying to destabilise a whole government. And it takes even more aplomb to admit that a whole administration actually knows the exact people destabilising the country and committing mass murder yet the government is either too afraid or too inept to do anything about it.
No matter what bond or loyalty Chief Clark has with President Jonathan, even he must realise that every failing of the Jonathan administration is the responsibility of the Jonathan administration and the Jonathan administration alone. You don’t see leaders like Barak Obama blaming every one of their government failures and terrorist attacks on Al-Qaeda. You see them taking responsibility for their people’s safety and going out to ameliorate those who persecute their people.
When every government and every interest in Nigeria continue to hide behind the shadowy world of maybe or maybe not’s and blaming every one of their failings on bogey men, on opposite interests, on anyone except themselves, the only real thing it does is it saves them the trouble of confronting reality. It shamelessly saves them the trouble of having to take responsibility.
It quickly saves them from taking accountability. And when feckless rulers, with the same charmish and gormless shrug of shoulders, take this stance, it saves them from the burden of having their populace demand better from them. It may save them from all this and more, but it certainly does nothing to save the country.
If members of the kitchen cabinet really want to help President Jonathan in the long term, they need to drop the self-indulgence, the arrogance, look beyond their exclusive contracts and see the absurdities happening within the unstructured set up of this administration. Only then will they be able to objectively advise the President that almost 90% of Nigerians are gravely suffering and can barely survive.
That he has been inconsistent on all fronts and cuts the silhouette of a weak and ineffective leader. That he has failed in his responsibility to protect Nigerians and bring those responsible for slaughtering Nigerians to book. That he needs to start using his powers in the interest of Nigeria as a whole.
In his privileged position, Chief Edwin Clark should really know better. He should know that standing up against the discrimination, disunity, oppression, domination, terrorism, corruption, social degradation and lack of human rights in Nigeria is much more important than improperly standing up for President Jonathan.
He knows that the main factor that constitutes our failing in Nigeria and the failing of the Jonathan administration is corruption and the denial of justice and that it cuts across all our religious, regional and tribal differences.
From the interview that Chief Edwin Clark gave, it would be fair to say that his best intentions were reserved solely for the Jonathan administration as opposed to Nigeria as a whole. And as I learned from my new word, when people do not have the best intention for you, you must not give them the devices with which they can destroy you. Here’s hoping that like-minded Nigerians don’t give such people such power.
So even though one read Chief Clark’s enthusiasm in making shallow excuses for President Jonathan’s ineffective administration, one took his sense of Schadenfreude away by holding the Jonathan administration accountable for everything that the administration is actually accountable for.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @hanneymusawa