By NBF News

Goodluck and the gold diggers
By Eric Osagie
Monday, March 08, 2010
There they go again: the gold diggers. The men and women who smell gold from a distance. The men and women always with their ready search light which they beam at the gold spot while digging deep for the precious substance.  There they go again: the honey lickers, the greedy gourmets, the hustling clan who can't keep their eyes off the gold pot. Everywhere you go, to borrow the MTN lingo, you find them deeply engrossed at their specialty: gold digging. Poor country, poor people, poor Jonathan!

The Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, is their newest prey, their new gold mine, their oil well for whom they have set up 'sophisticated installation equipment for rapid exploration and exploitation.'  If you don't understand  what I am talking about, then take a look at the political scene and see what's happening. Take a look at the army of supporters in the Jonathan camp; see all those who have suddenly become Jonathan's  friends, lovers and loyalists;  hear the vociferous voices of choirmasters and choristers singing the sweet song of victory with some punching  the air hard and swearing that if power doesn't go to Jonathan, hell would be let loose. Truly, success has many fathers and siblings, while failure is a poor, pathetic orphan.

Now, what am I getting at? The glaring and shameless opportunism of the Nigerian elite. The hustling mentality of some of our so-called opinion leaders. And the mindlessness and the devil-may-care attitude they go about their game. For those who still can't get the drift of what's on my mind, think: only yesterday, barely a 100days ago,  the Ag. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was the man not many people in the power loop took a second look at. As second-in-command to President Yar'Adua, even in his on-and-off health condition, not many who visited Aso Rock bothered to say hello to him.

He had no power  to award a billion naira contract, allocate an oil well or scribble a life transforming note. His name didn't conjure magic, the magic to make many things happen at the same time. In a constitutionally lopsided presidency which makes anyone occupying the office of president a super human being, a man with power of life and death over lesser mortals[the people , who ought to be supreme in a well-run democracy], anyone occupying the exalted seat, despite pretensions to the contrary, is more or less a civilian tyrant, a sole administrator of the Nigerian enterprise.  The power elite and social climbers know this too well. Little wonder,  they don't find it distasteful doing all within their power to get close to the centre of power.

Today, Jonathan is the man of the moment, the man in power,  even with the Ag.  prefix to his name. Even as acting commander-in-chief,  the adept power players believe he's the man to make things happen. And they are swinging in his direction. Ministers who used to treat him slightly above condescension have since turned 360 degrees, those who were indifferent to his former vice-president position are now treating him with reverence bothering almost on sycophancy.  Regional and ethnic champions have suddenly risen to the realisation that 'Jonathan na our own.'  Yet, this was the same Jonathan that was derided and called a weakling  in the presidency. Shortly after,  his personal residence in his village was torched by some bad guys just to rub it in that the man was unpopular and unaccepted in his home turf.  But times have since changed and like  many others, Jonathan has become the good luck boy in whom we  all are proud. Other amorphous groups have also since come up drumming support for a Jonathan presidency. Everywhere, it's Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan.

Even some of those who once swore by Yar'Adua's name,  ministers who called Umaru 'Baba' and Turai 'mama' are keeping their safe distance from  the first family. This is not  helped by the fact that visitors and well-wishers are allegedly restricted from the ailing leader. As one who had advocated that constitutionalism, due process and rule of law be applied in resolving the current impasse, I have no  qualms with advocates of  a Jonathan presidency so long as the driving force are altruism and patriotism.  But sadly, I don't see much of that. Sadly, like I noted above, I see opportunism, I see it's our turn to eat, I see the hunger for raw power for power sake.

Apart from critical section of the media and a few progressive Nigerians like the revered Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, the radical cleric, Pastor Tunde Bakare and a few other principled Nigerians, some of those in the vanguard for a new order are propelled by other factors other than love for fatherland. These same people were with Obasanjo and before Obasanjo, they were with Babangida,  Abacha, Shonekan and Abdusalami. Of course, they were with Yar'Adua in 2007 until his worsening health made it difficult for him to exert the power and influence of his high office.  Now, it's Jonathan, the new kid on the bloc. It's this peculiarly Nigerian penchant of siding with the winning  team that is particularly distasteful. Principles don't matter. Conscience don't count. It's the stomach first, country last.

That's why Jonathan must be very careful about the activities of some of these fair-weather friends and turn coats swarming around him and pretending to love him more than his wife, Dame Patience.  He would see another 360degree turnaround if Yar'Adua miraculously and dramatically gets well and resumes in his office. He would then be lonelier than his erstwhile vice-presidency position.

As has been canvassed by other well-meaning Nigerians, Jonathan must resist the temptation to be boxed into the cocoon of a regional or ethnic leader. He's today, by the grace of God, the acting president of Nigeria.  Not the acting president of Southern Nigeria, not the acting president of Ijaw nation, not the acting president of the Christians. He must shun those ,who by their words and actions, tend to promote these divisive tendencies. After all, in the broad coalition that brought about his present position, some of those who were counted on his side included, surprisingly, leaders of the Arewa Consultative  Forum, ACF led by Gen. Ibrahim Haruna[rtd].

From the East and West also came voices asking that the power vacuum be filled. Interpretation: Nigerians were unanimous that the vice-president becomes acting president to lead the country pending when the ailing president gets well to get back to his position or gets out if he can not get back.

In my humble opinion, this is the time to treat fairly all Nigerians including those who may not have been fair to others. This is not the time to have a winner-takes-all mentality. The days ahead are pregnant. Jonathan, as the chief mid-wife must tend this pregnancy carefully in order not to have a miscarriage or still birth.  I hope the new gold diggers won't be the cog in the wheel of progress?

Last line
Acting President Jonathan has been acting to disprove the widely-held view that he doesn't have the balls to take tough decisions. He has set up a PAC, an advisory body, moved to probe some government agencies and ministries. He's beginning to talk real tough. He wants Nigerians to know that they have a new acting president determined to turn things around.  Good. I hope he would also take his anti-corruption crusade to the ministry of works, housing and indeed, other sectors. That way, those who are saying that he is only probing Yar'Adua's men in Agriculture and NNPC, would truly  see that this Jonathan isn't  any ethnic or regional bigot, that he's after justice and accountability, and doing the right things. If you asked me, virtually all sectors in the country are rotten. Right from Obasanjo's tenure up to the present, it's been a field day for fiddlers of the Nigerian treasury with the Agric ministry and the NNPC allegedly leading the pack in the sleaze category. Jonathan could be right to have thought of starting from there. But it shouldn't end with those two ministries. Neither should the reports be locked in the closet. Nigerians are watching. Again.