Huriwa Logo

Huriwa Logo

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

SO JONATHAN IS HUMANE? By Emmanuel Onwubiko

The media promoters of President Goodluck Jonathan seem to have responded quickly to a rash of criticism regarding their professional competence or otherwise which has resulted in the widely held perception, rightly or wrongly, that President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan is inhumane, anti-poor and anti-people.

There are a number of reasons why most people all across the country harbor the perception that the current administration has portrayed itself as a friend of the rich and public enemy of the poor who are in the greater majority of the now 160 million or so Nigerians.

The most notoriously known reason for ascribing these negative attributes to the administration of the current President is the current vigorous and well funded campaign for the abolition of subsidy paid for petroleum products from next year which is usually interpreted by independent fuel marketers as presidential green light to hike the pump price of petroleum products.

Irrespective of what some hired economic analysts/consultants have said/written supporting the move, removal of fuel subsidy will also automatically result in the upward review of the cost of basic services like transportation and food stuffs in all parts of Nigeria and in Nigeria experience has shown that whatever goes up in the market does not come down.

But the media experts hired at public expense have cleverly devised new photogenic strategies of projecting the positive public image of President Jonathan as humane and a loving family man.

On Sunday November 20th 2011 which is a very special day if written in numerical figures (2011 2011), the first family in Nigeria worshipped at the presidential chapel whereby the essence was to thank God for the 54th birth day anniversary of the Nigerian President. The press photograph published the next day in the cover page of one of the nation’s leading dailies [PUNCH] was a delight to watch because President Jonathan was depicted as a jolly good fellow, a good family man, loving husband of his beautiful and activist wife (Mrs. Patience) and a good father of his carbon- copied children [with striking resemblance to Jonathan] who showed profound happiness at the celebration of their father’s birth day.

As a far distant observer, I took time to admire the photograph of the first family as they were cutting the beautifully decorated birthday cake in honor of the 54th birth day celebration of our President.

A thought that flashed intermittently through my sub-conscious while watching the photograph was that since President Jonathan is such a good humane family man, why is his administration bent on making life harsher and tougher for a majority of the citizenry who will inevitably be at the receiving end of any hike in the pump price of petroleum products that may result from the proposed withdrawal of fuel subsidy?

Before returning to examine the qualitative attributes of a good family man so as to persuade President Jonathan to take a second look at his administration’s decision to withdraw fuel subsidy, let me first of all say that one other photo evidence of the humaneness or otherwise of our President was when he granted audience to the England based football prodigy Mr. Mikel Obi who recently visited him to commend him for the bold effort the law enforcement agents made which resulted in the release of his father who was kidnapped by some armed hoodlums including a serving military operative.

President Jonathan told Mikel Obi how painful it was for him as President of Nigeria to hear that such an elderly accomplished father or any body for that matter is kidnapped on gun point for ransom.

On the network of the publicly funded Nigerian Television Authority, I watched the encounter between the accomplished footballer Mr. Mikel Obi who visited to commend President Jonathan for accomplishing his pledge to ensure that the security operatives rescue his kidnapped father.

The impression conveyed by that encounter to me was that of a compassionate father who did everything within his constitutional power to save the life of another law abiding Nigerian father-the senior Mr. Obi from the hands of the dare-devil armed hoodlums.

Recalling vividly that President Jonathan came under huge media attack in the heat of the electioneering campaign for choosing to attend a campaign rally rather than pay sympathy visits to some rural people in parts of the country afflicted then by the commonly treatable but intractable water borne disease of Cholera. But when President Jonathan decided in his wisdom to embark on whistle stop visits to Sokoto, Lagos and Ibadan to commensurate with members of the families of the victims of the dreaded floods that ravaged those communities, he (Jonathan) seemed to have offered good reply to his earlier critics implying that he is a humane and compassionate family man.

 I have read a couple of literatures on what qualities constitute a good husband and I am tempted to share a particular view exposed by Edward Welch in which he gave seven qualitative attributes of a good husband.

Welch stated that a good husband must be handy meaning that as a husband you need to take action to solve a problem. Other attributes of a good husband in the words of this great writer is that he must be provision-oriented, humble, adaptable, sensitive, faithful, and finally must be a good listener.

Edward Welch offered highly philosophical explanation for listing these seven qualities and you must be thrilled by the clarity of his reasoning on why a good husband must be sensitive.

According to him; “…a sensitive husband perceives the needs of his wife and looks to meet them. Sensitivity toward your wife will open doors of communication and intimacy you never thought possible”.

Edward Welch offered the following words of wisdom when he attempted an explanation of what he meant by a good husband must be a good listener.

His words: “This might be the biggest challenge for husband. You see, by nature, men are usually productive oriented and women are usually more relational. Men often make the mistake of trying to solve their wife’s ‘problems’. She doesn’t want you to solve anything – she wants you to listen (really listen) and show her that you truly are interested in what she says. She wants you to feel what she feels and live what she lives…”

To put the above succinct explanation in the larger context of Nigeria, one is tempted to ask that since President Jonathan has demonstrated through photographs that he is a good husband, can he be magnanimous enough to listen to the overwhelming cry of the oppressed women, children and youth of Nigeria who collectively oppose any policy somersault that may result in more economic hardship, poverty and unemployment?

Some credible  authors on the theme of leadership have also informed us that one of the major attributes of great leaders is that an individual good leader is able to be empathetic and sensitive and also believes there are no hopeless situations which should naturally inspire success in one way or the other.

The media experts who manage President Jonathan have worked so hard to convince us to believe that President Jonathan possesses these distinguished leadership traits.

While I have no reason to doubt their assertion, I am only concerned that on one or two occasions, President Jonathan has been quoted in the media to have insisted that fuel subsidy must go and that if the petroleum products are subsidized continuously then Nigeria will collapse, economically speaking.

I ask, how can Nigeria’s economy collapse if government effectively and efficiently provide subsidy for petroleum products sold in Nigeria which ought to benefit the poor largely? I also want to know if the Nigerian government wants to abandon a critical aspect of its constitutional duty which is the provision of social welfare/protection to the greatest number of the Nigerian people who are really poor.

*   Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria and can be reached on;;                    


No comments:

Post a Comment