Doctrine of delusion

Casmir Igbokwe

Published in SUNDAY PUNCH, Feb.14, 2010

Nigerians are good at making fun of a difficult situation. The joke circulating on the Internet now is that whoever is offered any position in any organisation should decline if the person’s deputy is named Goodluck.

As the joke goes, the acting President Goodluck Jonathan was said to be assistant head boy in primary school. The head boy got expelled and Goodluck took over. In secondary school, he was said to be assistant senior prefect. The senior prefect died, he allegedly took over.

The story adds, “Goodluck was deputy local government chairman, the chairman got implicated in corruption and got removed from office, Goodluck took over. Goodluck was deputy governor to Alamieyeseigha, we all know that story. Goodluck was vice (sic) to Yar’Adua: PERICADIATIS! You may say it’s coincidence… A friend of mine just called off his church wedding, why? His best man was named Goodluck..!”

Nigeria has become a huge theatre for circus shows. So far, what has happened in the country since President Umaru Yar’Adua became admitted in a Saudi hospital for acute pericadiatis amounts to taking our lies, delusion and gullibility to a ridiculous level.

Or how else does one explain the antics of people like the Nigeria’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Abdullah Aminchi. Since December last year, the man has been telling us that the President would soon return. We believed him. Many newspapers quoted him extensively. He became the man of the moment. At a point, he told us that Yar’Adua was eating well, drinking well and sleeping well. The only thing he didn’t tell us was how well he was meeting his conjugal obligations to Turai.

It was the same Aminchi who reportedly drew up the itinerary of the lawmakers who went on a jolly good ride to Saudi Arabia on the guise of going to see the ailing President. What a good host he is, but he still couldn’t use his connections to the Yar’Adua’s family to let the lawmakers see him.

For four days, these lawmakers reportedly could not see the President. They were only allowed to see the wife, Turai. Media reports indicated that the legislators would make the report of their visit public on Tuesday. If it is true that they didn’t see the President, what report are they going to give us? That Yar’Adua is eating well and sleeping well? Or that doctors will soon discharge him? The best report Nigerians expect to get is how much of taxpayers’ money they wasted on that trip and when they will refund it to the treasury.

Even before Messrs Baba Shehu Agai, Mohammed Ndume, Jibrin Adamu, Patrick Ikhariahle and Fatai Moruf embarked on that trip on behalf of the House of Representatives, many Nigerians were of the opinion that they were on a wild goose chase. Now, that has apparently been confirmed.

To show you that the legislators’ trip goes beyond seeking out our ill-President, the only female member of the group, Mrs. Nnenna Ukeje, complained when she was dropped from the trip as if going to see a sick man has become a treasure. They even adopted the federal character principle in choosing those who went to Saudi. This, perhaps, was to ensure that no region would feel marginalized. It is as if going to see a sick president is a booty every region must take part in sharing.

I can almost bet that even the little the National Assembly did by way of asking Jonathan to take over as acting President was dictated by selfish considerations. They must have felt that the power vacuum created by the absence of the President might eventually turn against them. There were even debates about the propriety or otherwise of a military takeover. This must have frightened them and the governors who initially pussyfooted but later resolved to support Jonathan.

Hence, the lawmakers manufactured some solution to the logjam and labelled it doctrine of necessity. Pronto, the questionable interview the President granted the BBC became the letter Yar’Adua transmitted to the National Assembly upon which they based their resolution to ask Jonathan to become acting President.

And in our euphoria that a solution has been found, nobody remembered that Yar’Adua’s adviser on National Assembly matters, Muhammad Abba Ajji, promised to bring a letter from the President informing the lawmakers of his vacation.

In the spirit of the doctrine of necessity or delusion if you like, the National Assembly must also investigate who actually signed our appropriation bill. The President’s principal private secretary, David Edevbie, reportedly took the bill to Saudi Arabia for the President’s assent. The answer to why the same Edevbie could not get the President to sign his vacation letter lies in the same grand delusion that has punctuated our life and arrested our development as a nation.

As I had noted on this page sometime ago, Nigeria is a nation in search of truth. Yar’Adua’s absence and the lies trailing it have brought to the fore, the urgent need to locate that truth. Though the processes throwing up Jonathan as the acting President might be imperfect, Nigerians should still rally round him to see if he could rescue the ship that is already sinking.

The acting President has made the first move by redeploying Michael Aondoakaa from Justice Ministry to the Ministry of Special Duties. No doubt, the hawks controlling the Presidency will not like this. They will want to fight back to reclaim their positions. Though Aondoakaa has pledged his loyalty to Jonathan, his reference to him as Vice-President makes that loyalty suspicious.

Jonathan needs to be very careful. He should remove any minister who is not ready to cooperate with him. Like those who are afraid to associate with anybody bearing the name Goodluck, let all the liars and turncoats in our midst tremble at the mention of Goodluck Jonathan.

Unrepentant fraudsters

Despite the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to curb corruption and advance fee fraud in our country, a few criminally-minded individuals still indulge in the act. Last Sunday, I got complaints from readers of this column who contribute their views on the Readers’ Court page that swindlers sent messages to them to the effect that PUNCH is rewarding loyal readers with cash and other gifts. They were urged to send their account numbers and some other details. Please note that THE PUNCH is not giving out any award or reward and always be wary of responding to messages that sound too good to be true. You do not need to claim any prize when you have not played any jackpot.

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