Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Thoughts on Goodluck Jonathan's Declaration Speech

In my attempt to be patriotic, I decided to dedicate 20mins of my Sunday evening to the Declaration Speech given by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, on his bid to run for Presidency come 2011.

Certain people usually expect that I'd be actively campaigning for Goodluck for no other reason than the fact that he is Ijaw and I happen to be as well. I’m not even moved in the slightest bit by that and it surprises me that we haven't gone past that way of thinking in this country.

The criteria for me in deciding who to vote for rests on one principle alone: Do I believe in this person?

Whether the Candidate is male, female or confused; Fulani, Efik or Ogoni, all that really matters to me is if I can sense that is there is a heart within that person that actually cares for the welfare of the least Nigerian.

So I finally gave Goodluck a chance on Sunday to make his pitch to me. I have drawn out specific statements from his speech that caught my attention and these are my thoughts on them:

“As you can see from the lower quantities of diesel that you are buying today, power generation has significantly improved.”

Now I must confess I am more than a little worried about this statement. When speaking, you have an idea of the specific audience you are addressing. By this statement, do I assume that GJ is speaking to Industries and those affluent Nigerians who can afford to buy diesel? What about those tons of people who use petrol to power their ‘I better pass my Neighbor’ generators? Or the masses who can’t even afford a generator but have to endure the stifling heat and mosquito bites that accompany a night with no electricity. What about Joseph, who sells frozen chicken and fish in the market and constantly runs at a loss because his goods get rotten due to the absence of power? Has Joseph ever dreamt of one day owning a generator that he’ll be buying diesel for? How many years does he need to toil for to be able to afford that?

Mr. President, who really are you addressing in your speech? Does the entirety of Nigerians in your mind consist only of diesel buying people?

“We saw to it that normalcy began to return to the Niger Delta by ensuring government's fidelity to its promises, and this has helped to stabilize our national revenue.”

What about healing for the physical, psychological and environmental damage that has been suffered over decades by the people in the Niger Delta region? Do you measure success in that troubled region merely by the effect it has on ‘national revenue’?! Enlighten me..I’m just asking...

For the entirety of the first section of this speech and even through the Body, GJ was very vocal in his use of the word ‘I’. This troubles me because Goodluck is simply the face of an administration. The choice of the word ‘I’ as opposed to ‘We’ just makes me wonder if there will arise a day in this country where we will vote for ideology rather than personality. I would feel more comfortable if he had spent time saying what his administration stands for, because let’s face it, Goodluck is not going to be sitting down at a desk in a government parastatal, implementing what he personally believes.

It may be unfair to him for me to even say this, because it’s not his fault that our systems are so rotten, but the profound and continuous usage of the word ‘I’ is always scary in any human endeavor.

“In the circumstances and after a thorough self examination and prayers with my family, I, Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan have decided to humbly offer myself as a candidate in the Presidential Primaries of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, in order to stand for the 2011 Presidential elections.”

The ‘prayers with my family’ bit made me laugh!! At least he’s not clueless about the highly religious nature of his people.

“Our country is at the threshold of a new era; an era that beckons for a new kind of leadership; a leadership that is uncontaminated by the prejudices of the past; a leadership committed to change; a leadership that reinvents government, to solve the everyday problems that confront the average Nigerian.

I was not born rich, and in my youth, I never imagined that I would be where I am today, but not once did I ever give up. Not once did I imagine that a child from Otuoke, a small village in the Niger Delta, will one day rise to the position of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I was raised by my mother and father with just enough money to meet our daily needs.

In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bags. I carried my books in my hands but never despaired; no car to take me to school but I never despaired. There were days I had only one meal but I never despaired. I walked miles and crossed rivers to school every day but I never despaired. Didn't have power, didn't have generators, studied with lanterns but I never despaired.

In spite of these, I finished secondary school, attended the University of Port Harcourt, and now hold a doctorate degree.

Fellow Nigerians, if I could make it, you too can make it!

My story is the story of a young Nigerian whose access to education opened up vast opportunities that enabled me to attain my present position. As I travel up and down our country, I see a nation blessed by God with rich agricultural and mineral resources and an enterprising people. I see millions of Nigerians whose potentials for greatness are constrained by the lack of basic infrastructure.

I see Nigerians who can make a difference in the service of their country but are disadvantaged by the lack of opportunities.

My story symbolizes my dream for Nigeria. The dream that any Nigerian child from Kaura- Namoda to Duke town; from Potiskum to Nsukka, from Isale-Eko to Gboko will be able to realize his God-given potentials, unhindered by tribe or religion and unrestricted by improvised political inhibitions. My story holds out the promise of a new Nigeria. A Nigeria built on the virtues of love and respect for one another, on unity, on industry, on hardwork and on good governance.”

Okay at this point, I literally had to stop myself from giving him a standing ovation!! THIS is what we are talking about people!! THIS is what Nigerians need to be hearing right now!!

This is freaking RELATIVITY mehn!! People on the street or in the creeks can damn well relate to this and that’s what Leadership is all about: the people being able to see themselves in whoever they choose to vote for!!

GJ I doff my hat to you on this one!!

“I have come to preach love, not hate. I have come to break you away from divisive tendencies of the past which have slowed our drive to true nationhood. I have no enemies to fight. You are all my friends and we share a common destiny.”

Then he worried me again after this nice paragraph with what I consider to be a contradiction. He has no enemies to fight but later in the speech, he declares:

“We will fight for JUSTICE!

We will fight for all Nigerians to have access to POWER!

We will fight for qualitative and competitive EDUCATION!

We will fight for HEALTH CARE REFORMS!

We will fight to create jobs, for all Nigerians!

We will fight corruption!

We will fight to protect all Citizens!

We will fight for your rights!”

My dear country men and women, give me your support, give me your votes and together we will fight to build a great nation of our dreams!

Emphasis on the continuous usage of the word ‘FIGHT’

Which one is it GJ? I understand that it might be an oversight with word usage, because Corruption and all those other things are actually the enemies, but c’mon Mr. or Mrs. Speechwriter, GREAT job, but the stakes are way too high for oversights.

All in all, this is the first time I’ve ever been inspired by listening to any Politician in Nigeria, well, except one random speech Babatunde Fashola gave at a private event.

Things are looking good for Nigeria I guess! So now the big question: Do I believe?

Hmmnnn..a little more ACTION is all I need to be convinced.

Read the FULL text of his speech here


  1. i totally can relate to this post and the speech writers need to be very careful with word useage like u said cus there r a lot of contradictns...good read!

  2. GJ worries me but from what i've been seeing, he seems to be a better choice so far.....
    I think he has good intentions but can he fulfil the promises? only time will tell

    p:s- great blog you have here....