Michael NnebeMonday, May 26, 2014
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mid the ongoing paralysis in Nigeria, the Chibok abductions and the constant bombings across the North, one might assume that the president and his men would hunker down and wait for the multiple storms to pass before they can crawl out and chart a new course. Isn't it therefore amazing that the president's men are instead peddling their delusion and promoting a false sense of grandeur to the Nigerian people? In the past couple of months a paid television advertisement has been running repeatedly on most domestic channels in Nigeria. It is not your ordinary commercial or political ad that talks about specific issues or achievements, not even about elections, but one designed to shape the president's legacy. This ad is impossible to miss or ignore, as it makes outlandish claims about our president's achievements, and in the process attempts to rank President Jonathan among some of the greatest world leaders of this last century.

The ad begins with a smooth Hollywood voice, an all American male voice, the sort of voice you might hear on a Hollywood trailer. It tells you about the grand achievements of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Lee Kuan Yew, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama. It describes how these people transformed their respective countries, and the great difficulties they faced in doing so. It then goes on to talk about some of Jonathan's great achievements, and finally this incredible American voice, complete with imported picture of masses that must have been taken in a foreign country, tells you that Martin Luther King Jr. did it, Lee Kuan Yew did it, Nelson Mandela did it, Barack Obama did it, and Goodluck Jonathan is doing it. Excuse me! What an audacious claim for a man who at the very best might barely get a pass mark from some people, and certainly not from me. There is nothing wrong with aiming high in life, but there is a difference between dreams and reality.

President Jonathan has been sworn in as the president of Nigeria for more than four years. Those who achieve greatness often do so over a period of time, but you can examine any part of their leadership and be sure to see elements of greatness in them. I cannot see anything that President Jonathan has done in Nigeria in this past four years that can be construed as elements of greatness if one should analyze his leadership in retrospect. Yet his men a busy spending our money buying up ad slots on television to tell us that Jonathan is now in the same league as these great men. Surely, Mandela must be turning in his grave by now. I can imagine Brother Martin Luther King praying for their repentance from his grave. Even Lee Kuan Yew, who was arguably the greatest transformational leader of the last hundred years for how he transformed a sleepy Singapore into a modern city state, must consider the makers of this ad drunk. In my opinion, Obama is the least of these four leaders mentioned, but in spite of his handicap (uncooperative Republican Congress) Obama remains superior in performance to anything Jonathan can boost of.

Apart from the overzealous hype, two things about the ad are particularly insulting to the intelligence of Nigerians. First, they have to hire an American to tell us our president's story, along with pictures of a crowd from another country. I do not believe we have a significant white population in Nigeria, yet they show us pictures of what was supposed to be a large rally with a significant number of whites. I have never seen anything more fake about Nigeria since I saw a currency note of two naira. And to add salt to injury, they used a bogus organization as the sponsors of this ridiculous television advertisement. At the end of the ad, the same American voice tells us that this had been a message from Protectors of Nigerian Posterity. Akuko! Who are we fooling? Even if some sycophants have decided to run this ad in an attempt to promote President Jonathan's legacy, the president and his men still have the obligation to call these people to order, and to stop them from peddling such grand illusions on Nigerians.

But I have no doubt that the presidency is directly or indirectly behind this nonsense. Crucially, I find this ad much more offensive especially given our numerous ongoing problems. The country seems to be falling apart on all fronts, and the danger of fragmentation is becoming more real by the day, yet our presidency could not think of what better to do with their time than to keep shoving this ad repeatedly on our collective faces. Do they have no shame? Perhaps these were the sort of things that continues to keep them busy, so busy that they failed to even make a statement about these abducted Chibok school girls for more than two weeks after the incident, until the international community's outcry forced them to respond to the yearnings of Nigerians on the issues of the girls. In fact, at the beginning, many in the government, including the first lady questioned the credibility of the abduction, saying in essence that it was only a hoax. Even when our president finally went on television on a scheduled media chat, he claimed that the parents of the school girls have refused to cooperate and provide their daughters' names. It turned out not to be true, as CAN published nearly two hundred names of the girls the very next day.

For the record, I voted for Jonathan in 2011, and I have nothing against the man, but I am very tired of the whole thing. I must confess that my vote has been a mistake, the person I voted for has not performed, and the more he drags on this charade the less likely he will ever get my vote again. Surely, they can do without my vote as they can rig themselves in come next year, but it will become an increasingly unpopular government because I am not alone in the way I feel. There are just too many promises, but all I see is grammar on television while many Nigerians continue to wait for this illusive progress. I know that they are not listening, but if they are, the first thing they can do for Nigerians is to please remove this running ad that falsely compares Jonathan to all the best in the world in recent history. If by the end of his administration President Jonathan has performed greatly, then history will judge him accordingly. Four years is long enough to make a mark and the man has been there more than four years and I haven't seen anything resembling greatness. If anything, what I am seeing in Nigeria today bothers on mediocrity, and that is the greatest insult I can think of to a man like Mandela. A word for the wise.