Sunday, 14 April 2013
The Other Side of President Goodluck Jonathan
"If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter".
-- George Washington (1732-1799) First President of the USA.
A clear understanding of the above quote underscores the optimal importance of the freedom of speech in the lives of individuals as well as nations.
Constructive criticism is used as a tool to correct and check mate the excesses of any authority and this is widely acceptable in any human society.
Some notable events within the last two weeks have signaled a disturbing trend and is rightly pointing to the direction of things we may expect from this present government under our clueless president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.This is expected as the Presidency is increasingly becoming frustrated with the turn out of events in the country, thereby making the president more desperate and willing to employ any means to achieve His goal(contesting/winning the 2015 election), despite the fact that His government is increasingly becoming unpopular.In an event at the Expo Centre of Eko Hotel in Lagos, where Governor Rotimi Amechi of Rivers state was given the Vanguard Personality of the Year Award, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, who has of late been involved in a war of words with the Presidency said:
“I am becoming more careful, given that we are gradually going back to the era of dictatorship in this country.”
The comment came as a surprise to most Nigerians, but little attention was paid to Amechi as it was not clear if He was speaking out of patriotism or trying to score a cheap political point.
But three more events in quick succession confirmed Amechi's thesis, namely:
(1) The arrest and detention of four journalists working for the LEADERSHIP Newspaper.
(2) The Ban of a 30-Minute Documentary, Fueling Poverty, by the National Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB. And the purported placing of Producer under Security.
(3) The slamming of 2 Million Niara fine on Liberty Radio FM Kaduna, for airing a phone call Condemning Good Governance Tour.
Of all these events, the Ban of Fueling Poverty and the fine on Liberty Radio FM Kaduna speaks volume.
According to a report obtained by PREMIUM TIMES , the NFVCB prohibited the distribution and exhibition of the documentary in Nigeria, saying its contents “are highly provocative and likely to incite or encourage public disorder and undermine national security.”The videos can be seen at http://t.co/4Rcc8Xr4vA. The documentary is factual and a true reflection of our suffering and smiling state in this country(apologies to the great Fela).
So, what is this present government afraid of? The sufferings of the masses is on a geometric increase and the momentum is gathering.Insecurity, hardship, unemployment, insurgency, poor infrastructure and brazen theft and embezzlement, to name but a few have become the hallmark of this present government.
No one cares about the masses as they are all focused on how much they can steal in preparatory to the 2015 general election. So, the government sees clamping down on the freedom of expression/free speech as a quick fix-it antidote to the brewing anger amongst Nigerians.
On the slamming of 2 Million Niara fine on Liberty Radio FM Kaduna, one can only imagine the level of desperation within the presidency and its co-travelers.According to a report on saharareporters.com,
Liberty Radio FM Kaduna "aired a live comment by a caller who objected to the planned visit of the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, to the state. The caller suggested that the governor of Kaduna State spend the N150 million it cost to host the Minister’s so-called "Good Governance Tour" on more meaningful things.
In addition to the fine, Liberty Radio FM was also asked to feature the Minister as a guest".I have always been of the opinion that the Good Governance Tour by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku is an absolute waste of time, resources and money; as you don't need to announce the presence of a new project or an improvement in the existing infrastructure in this 21st century.
If there is any improvement in the power sector which results in a constant power supply to the homes and offices of Nigerians, you don't need to show us on the NTA network news, as we will notice the improvement almost immediately. Same goes for any improvement in the Health sector, education sector, the Transport sector etc.Labaran Maku never announced/toured the northern states of Nigeria before we learnt of the Boko Haram insurgents, He never informed us of the high scale of unemployment in this country, he never told us about the 12 police men who lost their lives in Delta state etc.
When Dr Okonjo Iweala secured the Paris club debt relief for Nigeria, she needed no good governance tour to announce it.Same was the case for Dr Dora Akunyili when she headed the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control(NAFDAC), She needed no Good Governance Tour to tell Nigerians that her office was working!So, if Jonathan's government is performing the social contract between Himself and Nigerians, HE NEEDS NO MAKU TO SHOW US HIS ACHIEVEMENTS!We are in the 21st Century, the jet age; the world is a global village and information travel almost at the speed of light. Hence, propaganda and lies can hardly survive the test of times nowadays.
The whole assault on the freedom of expression is to keep deceiving the populace about the true state of things in this country while the preparation for the next general election is in full gear.
President Jonathan and His co-travelers need to understand that the magic wand that worked in 2011 certainly WILL NOT work in 2015 as Nigerians have learnt the bitter lesson: He hardly keep His Promises.He need to understand that the best way to win the election is to fulfill the numerous promises he made during His presidential campaign across the length and breadth of the country.Two years is still enough time to achieve some feats and convince the nation that he can be trusted.Governor Amechi praised the country’s media for remaining “the ray of hope in a dark era.” The task of keep hope alive must not be left to the media,activists and civil societies alone.We Nigerians must come together and resist any further attempt by this present government to bastardize the freedom of expression as I sense more affront assault from the presidency as their desperation grows worse as we approach 2015.
Written by Mazi Joe