Why Jonathan shouldn’t attend Council of State meetings

Why Jonathan shouldn’t attend Council of State meetings
September 09 06:07 2016

By Moses Okpogode

 

Established under section 153 of the 1999 constitution, the National Council of State is an advisory body set up to advise sitting Presidents on issues including those relating to the prerogative of mercy. The body comprises the President, who chairs the meeting, the Vice President, all former Presidents and Heads of Government as well as all 36 state governors.

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan walked into the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa few minutes before 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7, to attend the meeting of the Council for the first time since he left office in May last year. He had missed the first meeting under President Buhari which was held in October last year.

Jonathan who is currently entangled in a web of allegations relating to corruption shouldn’t have attended the meeting on  moral grounds since the hallowed chambers of the Council is still being cleansed having been brought into filth through a cesspool of corruption that he had allegedly supervised.

The allegations of graft against him also include masterminding the current economic decline, the resurgence  of militancy in the Niger Delta, lack of investments in infrastructure among others. This makes it indefensible, seeing him hobnobbing with the saints of today who are at the helm of power.

His presence at the meeting last Wednesday is unacceptable in a change environment and should not be welcomed by an administration that is instituting indelible anti corruption reforms.  A government that is preaching and practising  transparency, intolerance to nepotism, favoritism,  advocating forthrightness and morals for the future generation of Nigerians. The government and persons alike must stand by principles and also adhere to their pronouncements. A reason hosting Jonathan to perform whatever form of advisory constitutional duties, stands as a mark of hypocrisy on the part of the government and also showcases his continued dance of shame and aloofness in the public parlance even when some public affairs commentators criticizes such stance.

Recall that he had refused to speak to the press during his last visit to President Buhari on corruption charges leveled against his aides that are still in court and unresolved.  That, I believe should have guided his steps at not attempting to perform constitutional functions that should require the involvement of only those that happen to be incorruptible.

In the past, especially in the days of his administration the meeting was well graced by former heads of governments or statesmen as you would want to call them. However there was a particular former head of state that never set his foot on the forecourt of the presidential villa that is adjacent to the council chambers to attend that forum except on two occasions that it became imperative. You know who! At other times it is reported that he attended the council’s meeting sparingly on belief that he was standing on the principles of integrity and wouldn’t want his ideals tainted by mingling with those who are saddled with the affairs of the country but rose through elections that were allegedly rigged and fraught with so many irregularities. That’s actually what defines a man-never sitting on the fence but taking positions that are popular with his beliefs and are in line with his ideals especially if he has followers.

Penultimate week a government official asked in an article; ‘how can we forget?’. ‘We cannot forget the maladministration that occurred in recent past in the course of moving the country forward’.  We can’t possibly forget that the Jonathan administration allegedly misappropriated monies meant for the purchase of arms to the tune of $2.1 billion dollars. Sharing the money amongst political associates, changing still serviceable vehicles of former Heads of State, emirs and other senior citizens. Funds meant for securing the citizens in the northeast that was ravaged by insurgency while the Boko haram terrorists pound the people in the region and at other times beating intelligence agencies in their duties to detonate bombs in some urban areas in other parts of the country.

The people would definitely also not forget that Jonathan presided over the regime in which $20 billion dollars allegedly grew legs and ran away from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. And  the present administration in that vein had assured the people that it was working with foreign intelligence agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States of America and others, hoping that it would one day recover the $20 billion dollars from what part of Europe or Americas that it walked or flew to. We as a people are all ears to hear more of these revelations and more that are still being expected from the NNPC as stated by the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed earlier this year.

At a point that people are angry and are in the verge of losing their sanity because of an economic recession, I believe that the person that supposedly brought the country to its knees is disallowed from any gathering that involves the taking of sound decisions for the good of this country. Meanwhile, there are other areas where Jonathan is also being bashed over corruption and under performance recorded during his tenure as a president which I need not mentioned to push up my argument since the elements for the progressive discuss of this subject is already established.

Why then did he appear at the council, stealing shows and all that paparazzi display of the indolent? On a day it is also reported by the media that the Inspector General of Police’s, Ibrahim Idris Kpotun’ appointment was being ratified at the council? And I asked! Wouldn’t his presence at the ratification had been read to; one day influence, taint and affect investigations and decisions being carried out  against him. Having been allowed to play high level executive roles in the capacity of the state’s council member? Except there are some truths Jonathan and this administration are hiding from the public, I felt it should have been better a precedence on instilling a level of credibility in the fight against corruption was set by this administration by disallowing Jonathan from attending that meeting or anyone in the future. And if the administration was not supposedly interested at further embarrassing him, he should have at least voluntarily stopped attending the forum’s programme until he has a clean bill of health from investigations instituted against him. Not such allowing himself into spaces where his skin is bath with raw corruption acid over every of Nigerian headache.

However, in spite of the foregoing and the many troubles of Jonathan some of the past head of states and presidents are failing in health over age and may not be able to continually attend such forum as often as before. Former President Shehu Shagari and Head of Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan fall into such categories. Others could have been on international engagements, like in the case of the organizer of the Nigerian Praise, former Head of states, General Yabuku Gowon who actually took permission from President Buhari before jetting out of the country.

In the absence of those three, their spaces could be filled by the ever upright and committed member of the council, Olusegun Obasanjo, the mentally matured, Abdulsallam Abubakar and the unpredictable, Ibrahim Babaginda leaving little or no room for the persons of former President Goodluck Jonathan but like the powerful trojan horse, Shonekan attended the meeting; fit and fiddle while, controversial Obasanjo happened to have been absent from the forum.

A reason it becomes immoral for Jonathan to perform duties at the council in this dispensation having been labelled an administrator of criminals just waiting to be shamed by the prosecutors.

This led to my verdict, which is the need for Jonathan to give himself a moral break from the council’s activities for now.

 

Twitter @MOkpogode