GEJ Presidential Virtues.
The man President Jonathan – an enigma – if you ask me first saw his oath of office as a moral commitment , a call to duty , a call to lead about 170 million Nigerians drawn from the various ethnic nationalities that make up the federation of Nigeria. Trying to explain GEJ as he is fondly called is trying to contract several contradictions and finally arrive at a tingling melody. He is one man I admire and often stand in awe of whose words and actions are not only deeply philosophical and rousingly challenging but decidedly radical.
On a day every one would recall in the summer of 2011, May 29 to be precise the moral situation of the ever humble President Jonathan was abruptly transformed. Standing on the steps of Eagle Square Abuja, Nigeria before a cheering sea of spectators he had become an oath-bound head of state of Africa most populous nation and of course Africa's largest economy – a status Nigeria has attained under his exemplary leadership.
We here in the diaspora were not opportune to be there but thanks to modern technology we saw the swearing-in of a man via satellite television who is destined to lead the most populous black African nation on earth in the coming years. Here is a man of moral rectitude , a man of timbre and calibre , a man with proven ability who is capable of combining organizational sagacity with realism , in fact a man who could never be swayed by normative ethnic manouvres, yea , that is the man we have at the helm.
Beaming with contended smiles I reclined in my armchair and sofa back in Oslo , Norway. Windows of stained glass allowed in the morning Scandinavian sun-rays, casting shades of green and gold light onto the stone floor in the drawing room. I settled back with a glass of champagne until activities were rounded off at Eagle Square at the period under review. Yea, before one could say Jack Robinson or put differently before one could say Muhhamadu Buhari he had been transmuted by the constitutional wizardry into the ”executive” of the federal government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – the position that the founding fathers of Nigeria had decided to call by the word or appellation 'PRESIDENT'
There abruptly settled upon his elongated frame a profound new responsibility , obligating and empowering him. He would transform the office and the office would transform him. Dr. Jonathan as a PhD makes him a cut above his predecessors and major opponent – a coup plotter who scuttled our democratic experiment in the Second Republic. His first virtue was the oath-bound promise to preserve the unity of Nigeria. Taking the oath had for him a depth and breath of moral meaning that went beyond what it had meant for his immediate predecessors. For him it was a personal and categorical moral commitment to the preservation of the whole nation itself.
He had focused on the oath from the start of his awareness that he would become president. Back in May 29 , 2011 he probably hid away in the Presidential Villa to compose his inaugural address he started and ended with the oath. Amidst every separatist feeling and aspiration he swore to defend the unity of Nigeria which he has been doing to this day in spite of the ongoing agonizing distraction via insurgency diabolically orchestrated by a tiny minority to derail our political train.
In compliance with a custom as old as government itself , President Jonathan appeared before the throng to address and to take the oath prescribed by the Constitution of Nigeria to be taken by the President before he enters on the execution of his office.
His speech to preserve our sovereignty and defend our unity was greeted with thunderous ovation. In his hands bound by an oath was placed the destiny of over 170 million Nigerians . President Jonathan you will agree with me had no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government or Nigeria but I saw him bound by one to preserve , protect and defend it and he really has never shrunk from it.
There is no denying the fact that the President of Africa's most populous nation was in the moral realm of calculation possibility at the time – the different moral realm of imperative and necessity. He swore an oath , a solemn , self-binding promise.. By so doing the proverbial Rubicon was crossed and could never and has never acted differently to this day if you ask me.
The moral claim upon him is diametrically categorical , on you hypothetical , for him imperative , for you discretionary. He took a most solemn oath which will be registered in Heaven . He therefore can not and has never shrunk. Before President Jonathan came to the mystic chords of memory and better angels of our nature at the end of the historic address as he finally gave it there was still in the penultimate paragraph that sharp distinction between his moral situation and that of our dissatisfied country men probably sulking in the throng!
Sitting beside him on the platform if I may recall from dim memory was another man with whom on that day he had probably ridden down from Aso Rock with the stern-looking rifle men looking from the roof-tops.And who is this man in question, if one may ask? He is none other than Baba Iyabo – former President Olusegun Obasanjo who has thrice taken the same oath , once in Lagos and twice in Abuja. President Jonathan did solemnly swear that he will faithfully execute the office of the president of Nigeria and will to the best of his ability preserve , protect and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and we find him doing this to this day. Joking aside, have all the laws but one gone unexecuted? Has Peter ever been robbed to pay Paul ? Has the government itself gone to pieces in spite of the underhand plans by a tiny minority to bring down his presidency? Has any official oath been broken? Frankly, I do not think so.
We see the oath taken by President Jonathan at the period under review as an outstanding precedent , a source of power. But is it not a rather curious foreshortening of the meaning of an oath to treat it as a source of power? Is not the word ”recruit” rather an odd choice of verb in this connection? On its face as lawyers say, an oath is not a distribution of power but a moral commitment , a heightened promise , a solemn engagement of the self set in some frame of ultimate obligation. If there is any ”recruiting ” then it is the moral agent who is recruited and seriously engaged to conduct himself in a specified way. Surely one should deal with it in the realm of the rights and wrongs of human conduct before one inquires what that might mean in the realm of power.
The oath was a moral definition and a limitation of his conduct and Dr: Jonathan as a very civilized man has never exceeded his constitutional powers in the conduct of government business. Others would point to the immense power in that moment that came into his hands ; he would point in stead to the constraining duty that was antecedent to the power and the reason for the power. Mind you, we here in the Diaspora have been watching behind the scenes.
President Jonathan would be required by oath to do things that he would not have done as a private citizen and would also be prevented by oath from doing other things that he would have done as a private citizen. We would have considered the official oath broken if by any act of omission or commission if he allowed the government to be overthrown but he has by dint of hardwork via good governance done everything to preserve it in spite of all odds. He has set every institution working , we now have ”Made In Nigeria Cars , a thriving agro-economy , resuscitation of the rail sector among many others, the level of successes recorded in the area of power generation, transmission and distribution under President Goodluck Jonathan surpasses records of all previous governments put together, his respect for the rule of law is awesome.
Above all , I have never seen any leader under the sun who is so humble and tolerant with power like President Jonathan. Below is a catch phrase that has gained currency here in Europe and probably in the rest of the world ; in fact it is increasingly becoming popular and spoken here in the Diaspora by Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike:
”as humble and tolerant as President Jonathan”
Is this virtue of his under contention? Frankly , I do not think so. President Jonathan remains a living example of what man can be and accomplish in the realm of excellence and virtue and this makes him so dear to my heart.
Iyoha John Darlington a.k.a Lington Donovan writes from Turin, Italy.
Email: [email protected]
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