Alitmus test it must be for the Goodluck Jonathan administration in how it explains itself coherently each time it gets enmeshed in conducts that are less than ideal. In almost every direction it moves there is a wrong step taken. Nearly all does look like unforced errors because where puerile justification is not muttered, the response to the nation is always mute indifference.
The decision to plunge Nigeria into another round of national identity card project, for example, is bad and unfeeling on its own, considering the huge resources and valuable manpower wasted on the previous ID card and data collection projects. But accepting to partner with some private organisations in Nigeria to launch another multi-billion National Identity Management Card project must be the height of taking Nigerians for granted. At what time did the government or National Assembly express final dissatisfaction with the current national ID card and a decision to have an NIMC replace it communicated to the nation? But this is Jonathan’s Nigeria where the only thing needed to be said was that the President had been assured of the safety of information that would be captured.
It sounds amusing but I doubt if any conscionable citizen would laugh at either the NIMC joke or the latest act in a theatre of the absurd season being foisted on Nigerians – the $9.3m cash that was flown out of Nigeria in a private jet owned by the closest preacher to the President to purchase arms on behalf of the Federal Government.
If this is a joke designed with the sole aim of cracking our ribs, then we can stomach it. It takes little effort of fertile creative ingenuity like this to aspire to the level of Ali Baba or Akpororo. But if the muffled response would have us believe that not only was the government aware of the transaction but actually approved the manner of purchase, as some media reports suggest, then somebody is being unfair to the country. What manner of reasoning would make us dispatch two Nigerians and an Israeli in a privately owned jet with cashload of suitcases to purchase arms in South Africa on behalf of federal government only to be apprehended and detained? That it is taking the FG forever to issue a formal clarification must mean that the government is thoroughly embarrassed and must now be seeking a face-saving diplomatic deal.
But how can South Africa be happy with us? At a time that government agencies involved in the rescue operation at the collapsed guest house of the Synagogue church in Lagos was announcing 44 and later 64 deaths, the South African president, Jacob Zuma, had already informed his people that 67 of their citizens perished in that unfortunate incident. Could it be that Mr. Zuma had more information at his disposal about the collapsed building than our own authorities or it is simply about that thing that makes us Nigerians?
How can South Africa be happy with a country that snatched from it the position of Africa’s largest economy and sells spiritual healing to its citizens but is unable to deal with the culpable irresponsibility of raising an old storey-building to a five-storey edifice for VIP guests without approval?
If South Africa is rightly questioning the irresponsibility of laundering $9.3m cash into its country with the apparent intention to expend it at the black market, do we expect Zuma to bend his rules for us or simply accept that the thing makes us Nigerians would explain off our total lack of organisation and propriety?
Germane questions must trail this untoward development. From where did the cash emanate and who authorized its movement, the choice of flight and the purchase destination? Those who are ardent in seeking disgraceful cover-ups are free to revel in that thing that makes us Nigerians. But we should demand answers, nevertheless, particularly on why immigration and aviation authorities that either passed or neglected to query the cash transfer should escape sanctions.
We are renowned for being a happy, proud and hospitable lot. A huge population that translates to unimaginable market and a happy-go-lucky disposition ought to be an advantage to any country. But the Nigerian factor, a euphemism for corner-cutting, half-measures and irreverence, which are far more dangerous when it is endemic among the leadership and the political elite, simply won’t let this country attain its full potential. Or do we not see the most virulent type of the Nigerian factor having unrestrained exhibition in the Jonathan era?
The litmus test really is in how this administration deals with the challenge to investigate those alleged to be the sponsors and financiers of the Boko Haram sect.
No quick fix would be expected. Rapid response isn’t one of Jonathan’s strengths anyway. But how he deals with the allegations, particularly about a certain officer of the Central Bank of Nigeria allegedly laundering money for Boko Haram is surely going to be one of the yardsticks with which this administration will be measured. This is about national security that should galvanize into action the same regime that once alleged infiltration of its government by Boko Haram.
Beyond Rev. Stephen Davis’ allegations and Prof. Wole Soyinka’s added impetus that the identity of the CBN official is known – to him, to a foreign embassy here and to the Presidency, Jonathan cannot afford to keep quiet any longer.
To do so would simply stress the concern that this administration, and, without being uncharitable, its very leadership, typify the flip side of that thing that makes us Nigerians?