A BAD EXAMPLE
President Goodluck Jonathan recently shocked the Nigerian electorate with language unbecoming of a president who is expected to be the embodiment of everything that is good and noble about the country. At a time when all the clamour is for more decency, both in action and words, from our politicians, the president resorted to gutter language, calling the leadership of states controlled by parties other than his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West, rascals.
With words laced with unconscionable desperation, and dripping with malice, Nigeria's numero uno took the nation back to former president, Olusegun Obasanjo's do or die politicking days, when he unequivocally asserted that Lagos, Osun and Ekiti and Ondo States were too important to be left in the hands of rascals.
Lagos State, that has been enjoying responsible governance for some time now, was identified as a state that must go to the PDP in the April polls. As a matter of fact, the entire South-west was identified as ' too educated and too strategic' to be left in the hands of other parties.
Since Jonathan came up with these intemperate utterances, he has been at the receiving end of umbrage from different quarters, although none of those who have reacted to his vituperation have gone to such lowly depths to match his language.
The responses have been tepid and clearly much more polished than the president's choice of words. South-west leaders targeted by Jonathan, indeed, deserve commendation for not throwing caution to the winds and attempting to meet the president, missile for missile.
When the report of the president's unbecoming language first hit the news, the impression that I had was that the president had either been misquoted or got carried away by the euphoria of the occasion, which was a campaign rally at Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
But so far, neither the president nor his spokesmen have expressed any regret over the unfortunate statement. Instead of regret or apology, presidential spokesman, Ima Niboro, hurled the equivalent of a Yoruba aphorism at the people - let those who think the description of rascal fits them arrogate it to themselves. In short, the president was not misquoted and has no regrets about what he said.
Ima Niboro's attempt to rationalize the president's gaffe by saying he did not refer to any particular person is unfortunate. It is not in the best interest of his principal.
There is no doubt that the president put his foot in his mouth at the Ibadan rally. He said something that is not expected of a president, who is expected to set a temperate tone for the campaigns and be a good example to all the candidates in the forthcoming polls.
Jonathan's penchant for saying the wrong things is becoming embarrassing. He is the same person who pointed accusing fingers at certain quarters following the Independence Day bomb blasts in Abuja, even before an investigation was conducted.
The president needs to be circumspect with his words. He is no ordinary Nigerian politician, but should rise above the shenanigans of the average politician.
Nigerians expect him, in both words and deed, to represent all that is good, praiseworthy and respectable in Nigeria.
If the PDP must with the South-west, it should be through convincing, exemplary leadership at the centre and in the states it controls; and the ability to persuade the people to see its point of view, not through incendiary language that can distract attention from the essence of the electoral process.
Sad news on Onyeochas.
This column last week featured a story on the Onyeochas who were declared missing during a trip to the East along the Sagamu - Ore Benin expressway. There is both sad and good news on the matter. The good news: The Onyeochas had been found, though not widely reported in the national media. The vehicle in which they travelled reportedly toppled into the Ovia River while trying to avoid a pothole on the expressway.
Bad news - the mother Edna Onyeocha, the driver of the car,Godfrey Emmanuel Ilalegwu, and the relative Mrs Onyeocha traveled with, are all dead. Only the three children survived. What a sad, sad thing to happen!
I commiserate with Mr. Onyeocha on the loss of his wife and the other relative, and the driver, Ilalegwu, who has been described by many as a very good gentleman.
The driver has since been taken to his home state, Benue, for burial. May God grant all their souls, sweet rest, and the government, the grace to fix this road to avert occurrences such as this in future.