WHEN I PROBED INTO THE MIND OF PRESIDENT JONATHAN!
Absolutely nothing in the world is more mysterious than the inner workings of the human mind. The attempt to understand consciousness is the ultimate imperative in philosophical thought and stems from the ancient Greek aphorism, "know thyself." A simple statement, it nevertheless has vast ramifications on how we understand not only ourselves, but also the people around us. The mind probe is a metallic alien spherical device that allows you to remotely enter the mind of the target. Therefore, mind reading is when we project our thoughts of what someone else is thinking onto that someone else.
What to make of this? How can the electorate get a better sense of its Commander-in-Chief? Or how can the President more effectively lead a nation in a moment of turmoil and crisis? These questions are of great interest to most Nigerians, but the questions and their potential answers are especially intriguing.
This interview focuses on the psychology and inner life of President Jonathan's thoughts, feelings and emotions. The questions provide valuable insights that will help readers in their frustrating pursuit of the President's character.
The probing is what everyone has been looking for: an intriguing and provocative assessment of the President's strengths, weaknesses, and even what could be called his deliberate calmness.
Excerpts of the interview with President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mind prober: Sir,how do you spend your day at home and office?
The President's mind: Well, every new day is another chance to change your life. No matter how many goals I have achieved for my country, I make sure I set my sight on a higher one. I believe if you want a happy life, tie it to a goal, not people or things. Good or bad, I just smile because God has done so much for this Country through me that I need to be thankful for.
Mind prober: Why is it that most people that benefited so much from your Party, PDP have suddenly turned against you to team up with the opposition party to antagonize you and your party ?
The President's mind:People change, friends become enemies. Things go wrong, but life goes on. However, it is important to state here that fake friends are easy to find and easy to lose but real friends are the hardest to find and hardest to lose.
Mind prober: Sir, you appear to be too quiet hence every Tom, Dick and Harry out there can insult your office at will. Is there nothing you can do to stop that?
The President's mind: Do you expect me to go fight them? You see, different people handle situations differently. Personally, I believe you can never do big things if you are distracted by small things. It is unfortunate that we live in a world in which judgment is more important than getting to know the person or what he has done to guarantee the future of our country.
Here in Nigeria, most politicians believe in fighting each other during tough time instead of fighting the tough times together. I want you to know that sometimes quiet people have a lot to say, but they do not open up to just anybody. Most importantly, I do not spend time worrying about being perfect for everybody to love me. Everyone has flaws, and that is the beauty of life. Above all, if people are talking about you behind your back, chances are you are in front of them. All the people who knock me down, only inspire me to do better.
Mind prober: Sir, do you think Nigeria is better off today than it was four years ago?
We are dismantling Boko Haram and my government must never yield, must never show weakness and must continue to lead. We must find Boko Haram affiliates who are hiding around Nigeria and Africa, who want to harm us and bring them to justice. To think that we cannot win the war on terrorism in Nigeria would be a disaster for us and our children.
Mind prober:Sir, it appears the major opposition party, APC do not believe in your ability to lead this country hence their incessant criticism of your leadership. Is there anything you think you have done wrong?
The President's mind: I don't mind that they are talking so long as they do not mind that I am not listening or bothered. Basically, I want you to understand that just because you call some people blind does not automatically give you vision.
Mind prober:What is that something you know you do differently than most people?
The President's mind: I am not a man who gets distracted in the face of dirty blackmail and political manipulations. I have my own unique way of doing things that is mine alone. I sometimes borrow from others and combine the methods for completing tasks that suit me best. That does not make me right or better in my methods, it just makes me different and thank God for that. I enjoy the many differences I come across in the world, in life, politics, music, in taste or in attitude. That is how limits are tested, and great ideas are developed, by learning all that you can about the broadest cast of people and things you can. Besides, it is no more news that I am the most insulted President in the world yet I do not respond and no arrest is made. It is on record that the gimmick of those I call P.S.C is to insult and criticize Goodluck Jonathan and automatically they will be famous overnight.
Overall, I know that I do many things differently and that is okay because the way a person does things is a part of who he is and what makes him totally unique and interesting. It would be extremely boring if everyone did everything exactly the same.
Mind prober:Sir, what is P.S.C
The President's mind: P.S.C means Political Social Climbers. These people are not who they appear to be. Instead, they are political social climbers who however resort to belittling and gossiping President Jonathan and his family to enhance their own status. They source for attention-drawing accessories that they can use at will because they are status driven.
I think because of their ambitious political goals, they insult President Jonathan to elevate themselves from "adventurer" to a recognizable leader/political figure laden with titles and such that setting big-wigs pay attention to them. If you look around you will notice some people have power just because they have money. If your lands produce a certain amount of wealth, merchants, artisans, and workers will come to you and help you. With money comes power but unknown to them that money is useless if everybody hates you. They are simply going to ruin you.
Mind prober:You have done so well in infrastructure rejuvenation. Can we credit your success to your Ministers?
The President's mind: I am here to serve my people and my philosophy is: don't fall behind or I will find somebody better suited for the job. I must thank you for your observation of our effort to rejuvenate our decaying infrastructure but it is shocking that our critics are so blinded that they cannot see what my government is doing to reposition this great country. I heard all they are saying about my government but I just don't care because my purpose here is to serve sane Nigerians. It is mind over matter. I don't mind them, because they don't matter.
Mind prober:Sane Nigerians? Sir, you know it is hard to get the big picture when one has a small screen. Could you please expatiate on the reason why you opined that your purpose here in Aso Rock is to serve only the sane Nigerians?
The President's mind:Forget about your small screen and open your eyes my friend! Okay now, let me come down to your level. The situation really is a prima facie case of desperation to unseat President Jonathan at all cost. Now, it is glaring to Nigerians that their tactics is to use every means possible, including financing Boko Haram to kill innocent Nigerians and make me seem incompetent.
Mind prober:Now you have come to the heart of the matter. Sir, that reminds me. Some politicians in the opposition party actually said you are incompetent. Yet, you do not respond. Why?
President Jonathan's mind: My brother, forget them. Talk is cheap that is why they are always talking. Let them keep talking, someday they will say something intelligent, and cultured.
Mind prober:Sir, you must be a very patient man to have been able to ignore all of your critics!
The President's mind: Hmmm! Let me answer you in parable. Since I assumed power as President of Nigeria, I have come across decomposing bodies that are less offensive than my critics are. My father once told me when I was a little boy: “Be wise my son and do the right thing. Do not let irrelevant people waste your time. Your time is valuable and should be spent with valuable people”. You see, I drew my inspiration from that advice. Judging by the old saying, "What you don't know cannot hurt you," I am practically invulnerable.
Mind prober:Sir, my father once told me this parable too: Never enter a battle of wits unarmed. Now you have floored me with your parables.
President Jonathan's mind: This is no battle of wits between you and me. I never pick on an unarmed man. I am only trying to tell you the true situation of things in our Country, Nigeria. You see, I used to think that these people criticizing my government were a big pain in the neck. Now I have a much lower opinion of then. As you may know, ignorance can be cured but stupidity is forever and there is no vaccine against stupidity.
Mind prober:Do you have the support of your party, PDP hierarchy?
The President's mind: Absolutely I am supported by the collective will of my great party, PDP and the sane Nigerians and I do know that is the reason they have be requesting me to re-contest the 2015 election even when my mind is not made up on that yet.
Mind prober:What is the one thing you would most like to change about Nigeria if given another opportunity?
If given the opportunity once again, I will change the perception of evil people to have love, respect and value for other human beings. You see, when Jesus said 'Love your neighbour', I think He meant that whenever our actions affect others, we should put ourselves in their shoes before we act. Even when you are mad, think before you talk, the words you say can only be forgiven not forgotten. People will change but memories won't. Sometimes, I wonder what I would feel like if I was born into an unstable country where I had no prospects. I am sure that I would want to travel to somewhere better; and that is the reason we must win the war on Boko Haram and make our country safe for our children at all cost. I will also like to change the cheap intimidation tactics against me and the future Presidents of this country. We are all Nigerian citizens and entitled to be treated with respect, honesty and fairness.
Mind prober:What are some of the hardest times you have had since you assumed office as the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces?
The President's mind: Of course it is insecurity in our country as a result of the evil spirit called Boko Haram. However, I am confident to tell Nigerians that our Military is busy reducing Boko Haram to nothing and we would stop at nothing to achieve this goal. My job as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces is to serve the sane people of Nigeria. Most people may not agree with my views on the strength of the Nigerian Military but I will give you logic and ultimately time will say who is right and who is wrong.
Mind prober:Have you ever said something and been completely misunderstood?
Sure everyone does, especially the people at the helm of affairs whose policies are in conflict with that of the domineering or autocratic politicians. The fact is that small minds cannot comprehend big spirit. To be great, I believe you have to be willing to be mocked, hated, receive thoughtless and harmful comments or even an unkind interpretation of something said innocently and above all, misunderstood. I feel quite saddened sometimes by the harsh words I hear about people who are only doing the things that we ourselves would not do differently if we were in their position. However, the conventional wisdom says that you must remain strong and unperturbed.
Mind prober: Sir, it is on record that you are the most criticized President in the world today, yet you do not respond nor react. Is that perhaps a sign of weakness ?
The President's mind:To me that is nothing. However, I am not sure you know of the ever popular motivational quote titled: "The Man in the Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of United States of America. "The Man in the Arena” was made popular in his speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910, where he said “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
As you may know, when there is achievement of any kind, people cluster around such a man but your success was only inspired by few for the journey each of us takes.
You see, we have all been placed on this earth to discover our own paths, and we will never be happy if we live someone else's idea of life. So, worrying about everyone's opinion about you will only hold you down. I have focus and my critics are not necessarily my primary focus. You don't have to let other people define what you can and cannot accomplish. Listen to yourself not the noise of the world. Only you know what is right for you. I am of the opinion that when you know your worth, no one can make you feel worthless after all.
Basically, I try as much as possible not to take things personal because what people say about me or my family is actually a reflection of them, not me. So to your question, I will rather say that my silence is my strength which I need to serve the right thinking people of this endowed country. I learnt a long time ago that the best way to end an argument is to force yourself not to have the last word. As long as you know what you would have said then you can retire with honour!
Mind prober: Sir, there is this popular saying that: “Never assume that every critic is a hater. Not everyone hates you. Some may just be telling you the truth”. Don't you think so Sir?
The President's mind: That could be true in other nation but I can state categorically that in this part of the world, people do not care to know the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Politics for some people is a type of belligerent sport and it is very tribal. You can see this from the constant denigration of my government. Sadly, this attitude breeds a new generation of tribal haters with little if any experience of the richness of genuine civilized political discourse. The fact is you can run with a lie but you certainly cannot hide from the truth.
In retrospect, you will find that it is the ostracized and alienated politicians that mainly criticize destructively, possibly to score cheap political points. The trouble of course in our country is that we fight each other during the tough times instead of fighting the tough times together as the interest of the country ought to be our overriding philosophy but party affiliation is the predominant issue here. As you can see, the tactic of these politicians is simply to use their destructive criticism to weaken you so that they can control you but unfortunately for them, I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, cannot be dragged into such cheap blackmail. If anyone could fly, insulting President Goodluck Jonathan would be an airport. It may interest you to learn that what most people lacks in intelligence, they more than makes up for in stupidity.This is insane.
Mind prober: Hmmm! You must be a very strong and focused man Sir considering your past experience!
The President's mind: Sincerely, you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option. Today, I said to myself that the eyes that do not go blind for seeing bad things will surely live to see good things. Oftentimes, people that criticize your life are usually the same people that do not know the price you paid to get where you are today. Be that as it may, I am confident because I can admit who I am, the little I have contributed to lift up this nation. Even the largest and most powerful institutions can trace their roots back to small beginnings. The tallest trees come from small seeds, Christianity and Muslim began in a small stable, so I believe Nigeria will get there someday as God has used me to set the pace. Above all, I thank my God for using me as a vessel to lift up this country.
Mind prober: Do you have friends that you can truly rely on in the face of the awful happenings since the inception of your government?
The President's mind: Sure I do but I carefully chose my friends because of my strong belief that your circle of friends must match your own aspirations and dreams otherwise you will find little or no support when you need it the most. Also, remember that you cannot change the people around you but you can certainly change the people that you choose to be around and these are the people that cannot betray you.
Mind prober: Who are those lucky friends of yours Sir?
The President's mind: Of course they are all in my family and that is of course the People's Democratic Party, PDP.
Mind prober: I noticed that it is your administration that has given preference to Youth empowerment in the history of Nigeria. What could have informed that?
The President's mind: Remember I was once a youth but as an adult, I have chosen to be youthful at heart and in my reasoning is that it is the best and only way we can move this country to the next level. General laugh.
The truth is that over the years, many politicians make the mistake of thinking that young people are naive and inexperienced, but I often wonder whether wisdom has very much to do with age. Since the inception of my government, I have always carried the youth along because they are the future of this great country. Many of them out there that work in my government are quite intelligent and interesting to be with at all time. During my time as a youth, we do not enjoy the privilege that I have opened up to our youths today and I believe they appreciate my blanket style of governance.
Mind prober:Sir, the opposition party affirmed that you intimidated them with the massive presence of Military during the Ekiti and Osun State election. What is your comment on this?
President Jonathan's mind: I heard that too but I was convulsed with laughter because we all agreed on one man one vote and one woman, one vote and to ensure that agreement works, I sent the Military to the streets of Ekiti State and Osun State but in the end, the sane Nigerians and the International community were happy with the outcome of the election in the two States. I have to say I have never heard anything so ridiculous in all my life. Those complaining of the wholesome presence of the Military may have been demoralized by metaphor, dislocated by parentheses and debilitated by political amplification.
What a ridiculous and unfounded conclusion! You see, it is difficult not to burst out laughing while listening to some of these hogwash. Where they planning what the Military prevented from happening? That is the question! Now I should put up a warning. Please help me to tell them that the new electoral law is: See no evil, Hear no evil, and Speak no evil. The worst of all is that they do not even accept defeat. Most of these politicians have never been sportsmanlike in their behaviour. Not on the track or off it.
Mind prober:Sir, there you go again! What is the evil in election that you said the new law now is: “See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil”? You appear philosophical Sir.
President Jonathan's mind: Not really! Let me try to simplify that aphorism so that you can understand it properly and disseminate the new electoral law. Let's take the first phrase: “See no evil.” It means just what it says: “See no evil,” or don't look upon anything that is evil. Don't look at evil, don't watch or gawk at evil, don't crave evil, don't let evil enter into your system, not even for a moment.
So, the presence of the Military at Ekiti State during the election was to tell Nigerians that henceforth, we should all look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety. Sadly, the trouble with most of our political elites is that they lack the power of conversation but not the power of speech. The people that claimed to be intimidated with the Military presence in Ekiti election are obviously small people with small brain in an era of great events.
Mind prober: Sir, do you really think that using military is the best option?
President Jonathan's mind: Certainly yes. My government is making political thuggery and stealing of ballot boxes less fashionable in Nigerian. Though, most delusional politicians still believe that the easiest way to win election is to use thugs to steal ballots boxes but unknown to them that if you will steal for me you will steal from me someday. Now, the same principle which applies in private life applies also in public life. If a public man tries to get your vote by saying that he will do something wrong in your interest, you can be absolutely certain that if ever it becomes worth his while he will do something wrong against your interest.
Mind prober:Sir, the opposition party had strong opinion that you are afraid that Nigeria would break up hence you quickly organized the National conference, Is that true?
President Jonathan's mind: There is virtually nothing you will do in this country that your detractors will not misconstrue. You see, when I was a lecturer, I was always thinking of how to correct the vista of iniquity in our Country and now that God made me the President and Commander in Chief of our beloved country, I deem it absolutely necessary to organize the conference so that Nigerians will have the opportunity to agree in some areas and disagree in other areas and later, reach a consensus on the red tapes.
Mind prober:But there were no go areas of discussion in the National Conference. Why that?
President Jonathan's mind: That is a beautiful question! I am a firm believer of a Country called Nigeria and as such, the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Our heroes past did not break up Nigeria and it is only a coward that will expect that the Nigeria will break up under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mind prober: Do you intend to contest for second term in office as the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) have been requesting you to contest?
President Jonathan's mind: You are a dangerous person. You are taking from my mind everything that I have been trying to avoid. Well, it is difficult to answer this question now. Everything will depend on how the situation will develop. But I do not rule this out.
Mind prober:What would you like to be remembered for as President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria?
President Jonathan's mind: That is a brilliant question. The question makes me look back and forward on my life and I came to the conclusion that I want to be remembered as a man who tried to do things in life with righteous faith no matter what others think of me.
Mind prober:Sir, since you assumed office four years ago as the President and Commander in Chief of Nigeria, do you have any regrets?
President Jonathan's mind: Sure I do!
Mind prober:What could that be Sir?
President Jonathan's mind: My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor melodious, as invented stories are; it has the taste of man's inhumanity to man all in the name of politics. Sponsoring of Boko Haram to kill innocent Nigerians simply because you want to make President Jonathan's government look incompetent is the height of absurdity and foolishness. My heart bleeds for such a callous act of injustice against man. The truth is that there are too many hypocrites in public life. So treacherous in private friendship and hypocrite in public life and they make me to be puzzled to decide whether they are apostates or impostors, whether they have abandoned good principles or whether they ever had any.
Mind prober:Many people out there and the opposition party believe that you are not competent enough to guarantee security in Nigeria and put an end to the menace of Boko Haram. What is your take on this Sir?
President Jonathan's mind: That is the handiwork of some of the most depraved, vicious and revolting humbugs in our political stratum. As I earlier told you at the beginning, the situation really is a prima facie case of desperation to unseat President Jonathan at all cost. Now, it is glaring to Nigerians that their tactics is to use every means possible, including financing Boko Haram to kill innocent Nigerians and make me seem incompetent. Sincerely, I did not conceive it possible that most callous desperado will go as far as killing and shedding innocent blood just to make me look incompetence as they have claimed. At the heart of this incredulous statement of my “incompetence” it only gives me empirical evidence that this is an honest expression of wickedness against humankind. However, my prayers for them every day is for the Lord to strike the sponsors of Boko Haram with madness and blindness.
Mind prober:Amen to that Sir.
President Jonathan's mind: What amazes me the most is that in politics, you come across many filthy story-tellers, despots, liars and a father of lies, a philosophizing serpent, thief, braggart, buffoon, monster, ignoramus, cold-blooded, calculating and unprincipled usurpers, without a virtue; cunning without being insightful, no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption. These put together reminds me of stale bean soup. This is not amusing; it is intensely dismaying and disheartening but for the records, I can never be devastated or frustrated out of office. What is most striking about me today is how little or no impact their blackmail and terrorism appear to have had on me. My brother, you will understand better if you one day take up a leadership position in this country.
Mind prober:Hmmm! Sir, it is obvious that you have a good weapon against muggers and that is your wits and tolerance!
President Jonathan's mind: Thank you. I also like intelligent Nigerians like you. Keep up the good job and please join us to build this Nation because it is the only Country we can call our own.
Kexter E. A. Donald is a writer, Philosopher of the Mind & Consciousness, researcher and a Consultant.