I have not set my eyes on Prof.Funso Aiyejina for about 23 years now but every now and then the sheer musicality of his voice resonates in my ears anytime I flash back to his poetry class. Aiyejina was one of the crop of bright intellectuals at the Literature Depatment of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU),Ile-Ife under whose feet I learned several years back. The great teachers included: Profs .Biodun Jeyifo, Ropo Sekoni,Oyin Ogunba,G.G Darah,Adebayo Williams and a host of others.
Aiyejina’s poetry class was an exciting one for me as I looked forward each moment to listen to him sing poetry into our ears. Two poems he sang that would never leave my consciousness are “Letter To Lynda” written by him and Odia Ofeimum’s “The Poet Lied”.
It was the latter that rushed to my memory as I listened to President Goodluck Jonathan address a media chat on national television on Sunday night. Under normal circumstance, the word of a president should flow with so much integrity that people would not ordinarily be tempted to cross-check as any holder of such office would not be expected to speak untruth to his countrymen and women.
However, I’ve learnt to double check whatever the President says ever since he said he was not aware of Article 7(C) in his party constitution until his opponents brought out his signature at the meeting where the provision was approved. I must say though that I was still ready to grant him the indulgence that he could have suffered some amnesia given that the meeting took place about 6 years earlier.
But my bag of indulgence for him became empty when I heard Dr Jonathan say “Nigerians should not forget that long before the House of Representatives set up its probe I have set up the Ribadu Committee to look into the problems in the oil sector. If I have anything to hide would I go for Ribadu who is accepted as an anti-corruption giant by Nigerians?”
I could not believe my ears that the President of Nigeria would manipulate events that occurred early this year to torture our memory and still keep a straight face. Even a toddler would recall that the House of Representatives convened a special session on Sunday, 6th January 2012; to deliberate on the fuel subsidy crisis during which it set up the Lawan Farouk Committee to probe the subsidy regime. It took exactly a moment after, with all the mind – boggling revelations from the House probe for the Petroleum Minister to announce the Nuhu Ribadu Task Force on the petroleum industry.
And shortly after this blatant untruth, one of the panelists asked the president if Nigerians should still trust him in spite of all that have happened in the last one year and he still answered in the affirmative!
Now the big question is how anybody would believe the President when he denied being the director of the Otedola-Farouk opera after telling us that February comes before January and the gap between is “long”?.
I almost passed out when the President admitted that Otedola, Dangote and co have always been around every PDP president from Obasanjo through Yaradua and to him “but they are not patrons of the ruling party since they are not on our Board of Trustees”
And the big one played out in the course of the interview when two numbers were displayed for people to call in and ask the president questions. I felt a practical joke was on for a president who struggles with written speeches to now face live questions. Even the questions from the panel which must have been given to him ahead presented their challenges. Where the president was expected to enunciate concrete policy directives, he kept on saying “did you not listen to the minister when he talked on that“, “I don’t want to contradict the minister“,”I don’t want to have the figures of our debts” and “I’m not the one managing the economy but Ngozi Iweala who has reputation“. As if he was saying he lacks what NOI has!
My apprehension that the call-in gesture was a gimmick was confirmed as I called the two numbers and none was active. I have since called a lot of respected Nigerians who told me they had a similar experience. Among those who also tried but in vain like me are Prof. Niyi Osundare and Pastor Tunde Bakare. One of the other people I called cracked my ribs when he said “the few calls that made it in could be from Reuben Abati’s office”.
By and large, it was a punishing task listening to Mr President for two hours Sunday night as he stumbled from one comedy of error to another. Like him saying that he has not declared his asset as a matter of “principle” and that when he did so as Vice-President it was at the insistence of Yaradua whom he told they were creating an “anomalous” situation. He went on the arrogant lane by saying that he would not give a damn if the media talked about his non-declaration of assets till kingdom come. And his parting shot was “is it my declaration of assets that would stop Boko Haram?“. But I didn’t hear in two hours talking about what he is doing to stop Boko Haram even as his June deadline to exterminate the group remains a few days to end!
If anything all I heard him do was setting agenda for Boko Haram when he said “…the same Boko Haram will start attacking mosques to instigate Muslim youths to attack Christians“.
The most pathetic non-coordination of thought of the night came with the president defending his Brazil trip when Kaduna and Yobe were burning thus: “The day the international community gets to know that the President of Nigeria could not travel because of Boko Haram,we are finished“.
But the President within the same interview explained that the reason he had yet to visit Damaturu and Maiduguri, two hottest flash-points of Boko Haram was because the airport is ill-equipped for his plane to land; and that he could not travel by helicopter for security reasons.
Now that the international community know that our president who junkets around the world but cannot maintain airports at home is scared of flying helicopter in his country for the fear of Boko Haram, what is left of us?
Truth is that our rulers, which include President Jonathan- finished us before Boko Haram!