There is nothing more hateful than bad advice (Sophocles)
his writer just returned from Nigeria where he went to bury his Uncle, Late Hon. Francis Enyinna Nwokoma, and he found out that Nigeria of yesteryears was still better than Nigeria of today despite all the prior promises that things would get better as the years go by. It’s unfortunate that this president surrounds himself with sycophants who are only ready to tell him what he wants to hear while Nigeria decays further, just as a French Proverb says that “Good advice is often annoying - bad advice never is”. Those advising the president have been misleading him into believing that Nigerians are happy with his government when from this writer’s conversations with many Nigerians of all classes, majority see Goodluck Jonathan as one of the worst rulers of Nigeria. Those managing the president’s public image are not helping him.
Much was expected from President Jonathan based on his academic qualifications and the part of the country he’s from, but, he has failed beyond what words can describe. Having being president for more than a year, this writer expected the president to separate the “wheat from the chaff” in terms of his advisers and to know those who really want him to succeed as president so as to retain them while shoving away those who are only there to line their pockets. It needs commitment, selflessness and patriotism to give a leader good advice which would serve the interests of the majority, and that are things our presidential advisers and aides cannot boost of. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43 BC) said it that “Advice is judged by results, not by intentions”, and, Donald Rumsfeld (1932) wrote “Look for what's missing. Many advisors can tell a President how to improve what's proposed or what's gone amiss. Few are able to see what isn't there”. A president who surrounds himself with advisers who can look him in the eyes to tell him the truth even if the heavens are falling, can’t make many mistakes, just as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) wrote that “To accept good advice is but to increase one's own ability”, and, as a Proverb says “Listen to advice and accept correction, then in the end you will be wise”.
President Goodluck Jonathan is only pre-occupied with retaining his position in 2015, while overlooking the primary issues which should have warmed him into people’s heart. What good is power if it brings no meaningful change and progress to people’s lives, why would President Jonathan be longing to retain his position when he makes no positive impact on people’s lives? The president should know, as a Proverb says that “A good example has twice the value of good advice”. What Nigerians want to see from him and his family is “living by example”. For now, the opposite is the case!
But why are the presidential advisers and aides drawing huge salary/allowances/recompense for misleading their principal? Phillip Brooks was right to note that “The best advisers, helpers and friends, always are not those who tell us how to act in special cases, but who give us, out of themselves, the ardent spirit and desire to act right, and leave us then, even through many blunders, to find out what our own form of right action is” All the money those advisers and aides are receiving is a waste of Nigeria’s resources and their service is doing more harm than good to Nigeria. President Jonathan has lost touch with reality and he’s not connecting with the people he claims to be ruling and that’s as bad as it can be, and his advisers and aides are partly to be blamed, just as Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1919 –1980), who was the last shah (king) of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979, wrote that “My advisers built a wall between myself and my people. I didn't realize what was happening. When I woke up, I had lost my people”.
The President is a grown up man, although he can’t take all the decisions alone, but, the buck stops at his table. He claims to be intelligent and as such should be able to know when one is ill advising him, just as Yiddish Proverb says “Seek advice but use your own common sense”, also, Pietro Aretino (1492 –1556) wrote that “Unless your heart, your soul, and your whole being are behind every decision you make, the words from your mouth will be empty, and each action will be meaningless”, and, G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote that “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the “very best advice”, and then going away and doing the exact opposite”
A very rare scenario here can be whereby the presidential advisers and aides give good advice to the president and they are rejected. It’s possible to have good intentions and to give the very best advice and still the president or those very close to him refuses to take them, just as Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) wrote that “Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least”. But, still at that, just as Agatha Christie (1890-1976) wrote “Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it”.
Not long ago, the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, disappeared. While she slipped into a German hospital for medicals, the presidency and the presidential advisers and aides were denying it while saying that all was well with her as she was only enjoying her annual leave. Just these past weeks, the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, according to the Tribune of Monday, February 18, 2013, “relived her controversial health ordeal over which she was flown out of the country last year, revealing for the first time that she passed out for about a week and was taken for dead by some of her close aides. Speaking at a special thanksgiving service at the Aso Villa Chapel, she told the congregation that she had up to nine surgeries in one month, as she was ferried to the operating theatre almost on a daily basis. “I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost. A black doctor in London who is with us in this service was flown in when the situation became critical. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days.”
This writer is not surmising here, but, in a country where lies and deceits have been uplifted to the highest level for cheap political or economic gains, it could be that the first lady, just like her husband and his retinue of advisers and aides, wants to play a fast one on Nigerians. My people say that “if a person wakes up from sleep and says that he killed ten armed robbers in his dreams, who are we going to ask? Because, there’s no way to ascertain the truth, as no other person shared in that dream”, and, also “a snake seen only by a person usually turns out to be a python thereafter”. The first lady was there all alone with her God, so we can only infer here. There’s no way we can know the actual fact as those, like the doctors, who treated her, who may be in the know, may have been paid to keep quiet, because, “ when money talks, bullshit works”. The point here is as George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) wrote that “I am afraid we must make the world honest before we can honestly say to our children that honesty is the best policy”. It could be that the first lady actually died and resurrected, and, that means she received a second chance to live in order to carry out God’s special assignment. This writer hopes that she will not disappoint the God who gave her back her life. For now, let’s not lose the crux of this article in semantics; what we are after here is the mismanagement of the president’s image by those who are paid to showcase him and his programmes in the best light ever. No need to write something new here; just move to the TIT BITS section of this article to get more of the gist (endeavour to read to the end in order not to miss something).
The only advice this writer has for President Jonathan (if he really wants to succeed) comes from Brian Tracy (1944) who wrote “Identify the major obstacle that stands between you and your goal and begin today to remove it”
The Concluding Part to be out soon!
The huhuonline.com of 23 February 2013 wrote this:
“Whereas Dame Patience Jonathan had nine operations and was in coma for a week in a German hospital, the Presidency repeatedly lied about her whereabouts; exposing the government to public ridicule. The recent disclosure by First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan that it is only due to divine intervention that she is still alive today bears closer examination in the wake of the controversy that surrounded her health status and eventual hospitalization twice, in Germany. Mrs. Jonathan, who spoke at a praise and thanksgiving ceremony she hosted at the Presidential Villa chapel, Abuja, said she had nine surgeries and was in coma for one week; which necessitated her almost three-month absence from the country. The First Lady said doctors had given up hope on her; she died and woke up during the period of her ailment, adding that some of her aides, who had written her off, began selling her properties. Nigerians must be wondering why the government they elected into office chose to lie to them that the First Lady was holidaying abroad when indeed she was gravely ill in a foreign hospital. The media had given various reasons for her absence. But the Presidency denied the “satanic rumors” and poured scorn on the media and the imaginary enemies of the government, even asking God to strike them with Holy Ghost fire for propagating the wicked rumors! This was sheer nonsense“.
Also, Chido Onumah wrote this on February 21, 2013:
“I join millions of Nigerians in giving thanks to God for the miraculous survival of the country’s First Lady, Dame (Dr.) Patience Goodluck Jonathan. It is not every day you read such cheery news about a First Lady that rose from the dead. It is only befitting, therefore, that it should cost Nigerian taxpayers half a billion naira to celebrate her death and resurrection. Now that the First Lady is back, hale and hearty, perhaps an apology might just be apposite; for the God of miracles is also a God that abhors lies and deception. Let’s put in perspective the whole episode of the First Lady’s disappearance, appearance, rumours and speculations about her whereabouts and her candour about going to the great beyond and returning to complete her work on earth, and maybe understand why the demand for an unreserved apology, even if not sufficient, seems to be the minimum penance acceptable.
Fast forward to February 17, 2013. Venue: Aso Rock Chapel. The First Lady gathers thousands of people to share her tale of resurrection. She confesses to undergoing nine surgeries in one month in Germany. “I actually died. I passed out for more than a week. My intestine and tummy were opened. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days,” the First Lady announced to her captive audience who would have intoned, “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord”.
The Dame Patience Jonathan thanksgiving service was the place to be in Nigeria last weekend, not just for those who love the president and his wife, but for people that needed to endear themselves to the Presidency. The guest list included President Goodluck Jonathan; Vice President Namadi Sambo and his wife, Hajia Amina; former President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufour; former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon; 18 state governors, and sundry VIPs. Reports had it that several trucks bearing gifts from government officials and contractors lined the streets of the presidential villa waiting to deliver gifts to the First Lady. Clearly, anybody who didn’t answer the roll call would have been tagged not just an enemy of the First Lady and amongst those who wanted her dead while she was in Germany, but an enemy of the state. I would have loved the opportunity to partake in this lavish ceremony myself, not just for the food and drink, but to see firsthand what it looks and feels like coming face to face with a risen First Lady. Thanks to the efforts of one John Kennedy Okpara, the offering for the First Lady’s thanksgiving service was a modest N500ml ($3ml)! By any standard, it was a good outing for Dame Patience’s chivalry.
Of course, this is Nigeria. The idle cynics have started wagging their tongues. They are questioning the First Lady’s credibility. They want to know what has changed between late October when she claimed she was not hospitalised and now. They say the First Lady’s case is emblematic of the credibility crisis of the Jonathan presidency. What else is the government lying about (apart from President Jonathan’s asset declaration) if it can look Nigerians in the eyes and blatantly lie about the health of the First Lady? But, aren’t we used to our government and its agents lying to us? There is nothing new about the double-speak, arrogance and disdain for truth by public officers in Nigeria. We saw it with the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and his First Lady, Turai.
We still don’t know what she was treated for and we may never know. One thing is certain: we are not supposed to question her miraculous comeback. Not many people have the opportunity of experiencing death and coming back to life to tell the story. It is an experience money can’t buy. Which means for the First Lady her future will be committed to “doing things that will touch the lives of the less privileged”.
Since the First Lady was sent back to Nigeria to complete her assignment in our god-forsaken nation, my only candid advice would be for her to invest the N500ml ($3ml) offering she collected during her thanksgiving in building a world-class hospital in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, so that she wouldn’t need to abscond from Nigeria the next time she requires treatment”.
Continuing, the same huhuonline.com of 23 February 2013 wrote:
“In one of the many rebuttals in the heat of the illness saga, the First Lady’s Spokesperson, Ayo Osinlu, told Nigerians that Mrs. Jonathan travelled abroad to “rest,” given that she had not taken a rest since President Jonathan’s election. On his part, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, dismissed Mrs. Jonathan’s reported illness as a rumor, saying “there is nothing like that.” Amid all the denials, the President himself maintained a stoic mien and carried on with his duties as if all was well, thereby lending credibility to the lies and deceit. And this brings us to the crux of the matter: why did all the special advisers in the Presidency; some of them seasoned journalists and professional communicators fail to feed the public with credible information about Mrs. Jonathan’s whereabouts? There were questions awaiting official and credible answers. Where was the president’s wife? Was she on holidays? Was she sick? If so, in which country and in which hospital was she receiving treatment? If she took ill, the Presidency should have managed the situation more effectively by releasing that information quickly. Mrs. Jonathan is human. As a human being, she is likely to suffer occasional bouts of ill health. There is nothing in human nature that says our First Lady cannot fall ill.
The rumors about Mrs. Jonathan’s whereabouts developed and worsened because the Presidency failed to clear the fog of uncertainty about her whereabouts. In the absence of official information, the public decided to invent answers to the same questions the Presidency refused to address. Now that Mrs. Jonathan herself has broken the jinx over her illness, the president must review promptly how his close collaborators mishandled the situation. That review must consider lessons in Damage Control and Crisis Communication 101. Reuben Abati as a media savvy communicator should know better!
A number of lessons must be learnt from this experience. Nigerians are not a cohort of kindergarten kids who can be fooled with impunity; the presidency must treat the country with respect. There is nothing sacred about the health of the president or his wife. The president’s wife like the President himself is a public figure, at least in her capacity as first lady. A public figure enjoys limited privacy. If Mrs. Jonathan is in poor health, it is in the public interest to inform the nation. In the absence of credible information from the Presidency, the public invented rumors to satisfy their appetite for official information. That is one problem you must deal with when you allow rumor to evolve. A culture of secrecy undermines rather than enhances the image of the government. Rumor thrives when official sources of information are sealed or corrupted.
In a marketplace of ideas, particularly one dominated by skepticism, getting the public to accept official explanation is nearly impossible. In a country where the citizens are distrustful of their leaders, official explanations are usually dismissed as propaganda. The culture of secrecy poses a major challenge to mind managers at the Presidency. In their role as information fire fighters, presidential spin doctors have to grapple regularly with how to deny or explain rumors that have appeared in the media in a way that will make their version of events meaningful and believable to a cynical public. Nigerians are cynical of government not only because of their failure to fulfill election promises; but also because of their sustained record of lies telling. It was high time the Presidency recognize that the days are over when it was easy to fool most of the people most of the time. All Special Advisers on Media and Publicity in the Presidency – Reuben Abati, Doyin Okupe; must hold their heads up in shame and take responsibility for the unprofessional and cavalier manner in which the Presidency mismanaged information about Mrs. Jonathan’s whereabouts”.
In another case, huhuonline.com of 06 March 2013 wrote that
“The cross-section of the nation’s glitterati who gathered in Abeokuta, Tuesday to celebrate former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s 76th birthday were treated not only to a glamorous evening, as controversy erupted over a book presentation on Obasanjo’s legacy; amid a major gaffe by Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, President Jonathan’s personal representative who made a speech many considered unpresidential and unquotable. Jonathan’s Chief of Staff, Mike Ogiadomhe, did not read a prepared statement; preferring to make off-the-cuff remarks. But he fumbled and came across as unprepared leaving many guests wondering about the nature of the current presidency in Abuja. His measured remarks; characterized by rambling syntax and halting grammar was considered by many as unpresidential and unquotable”.
When it comes to being very candid with the peoples of their constituencies, our political leaders should learn a lesson from what President Ronald Reagan did when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. That’s how statesmen should behave! Prince Charles Dickson posted this open letter Ronald Reagan wrote in 1994 to the American people, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
“My fellow Americans,
I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.
Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way.
In the past, Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing. They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives.
So now we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clear understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.
At the moment, I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life's journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.
Unfortunately, as Alzheimer's disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.
In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.
I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.
Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.
THE THANX IS ALL YOURS!!!