Doyin Okupe presented President Goodluck Jonathan as Jesus Christ in the most opportune time. We were in Christmas mood and should have been most receptive to the revelation of god among us.
Okupe’s job description as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs is to appraise and praise his principal. And security on the job lies at the extreme end of hyperbole. He has to be (seen to be) sufficiently worshipful of the President or he gets the sack. This incentivizes Okupe to work overtime, talking Jonathan up. And sure enough, it predisposes him to sounding stupid. But this attempt to make up the profane with the sacred shows that Okupe’s sycophancy has mutated into wanton license.
It couldn’t have been his answer to Wole Soyinka’s portrayal of Jonathan as King Nebuchadnezzar. Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate, called a press conference just to vent and he kept his metaphor within the bounds of the secular. But Okupe, the self-acclaimed Attack Lion, went to a breakfast TV show for expediency and ran into profanities.
Basically, the overreach testifies that Okupe has run out of material. After placing Jonathan in the peer group of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Lee Kaun Yew and Barack Obama and ranking him as the greatest Nigerian leader since independence, there are no more fitting mortals left for comparison. So Jonathan has to be equated with Jesus.
Jonathan deserves some congratulations, though. He is one of the rare humans who have managed to inspire the veneration of their persons. His own evolution to divinity makes him measure up to his wife. Patience, according to Evans Bipi, the arrowhead of an anti-Amaechi gang, was ‘’Jesus Christ on earth”.
It’s good that President Jonathan’s catch-up worked out fine. This leaves Nigeria with a couple of Jesus Christs in the State House. One Jesus and a spare.
But the paradox is that the countries that are led by mere mortals fare better than theocratic Nigeria. They have higher standards of living. They have very low child mortality rates. They have public schools that are training their youths to participate in a future where knowledge will become the principal commodity. They have efficient transport systems that move people and goods with few instances of avoidable mishaps. They have portable water at the turn of the tap. They maintain healthcare systems that our Jesus doubles resort to when they fall ill.
Actually, the Jonathans are not the only saviors. There is a glut of claimants to the title of messiah, from the lowest tier up to the presidency. They base their claims on some grudging tokens. The roads that begin to deteriorate with the onset of the first rains. The schools they can’t suffer their children to attend. The hospitals their family members cannot patronize.
Since May 1999, these false messiahs have been saving only their family and friends. They have been offering the populace more hype than governance deliverables. They have been investing in looking good than doing good. And they have always liked to hire fawning loudmouths.
These sycophants run an interminably arduous race. They compete and outperform themselves every new day. They have to break yesterday’s record in order not to sound like a broken record. As the electoral season inches to its decisive stages, they go into overdrive to raise their principals’ electability. And the rush to deliver trumps temperance.
But it should be obvious that this kind of salesmanship – borrowing from the supernatural realm to improve their bottom line – is counterproductive. It betrays the brand as so flawed that its marketability can only be helped by a bogus label.
President Jonathan should be worried. He should be concerned that his promoters are nauseating and alienating the multitude instead of converting them. He has continued to pretend to be too absorbed in some otherworldly business to notice the sacrileges his hirelings are perpetrating in his name. He looks on because he hopes that some benefit will accrue to him from their activities. And this sends the signal that the stakes are too high, and that everything is up for despoliation.
Jonathan winked at the tweaking of #BringBackOurGirls hashtag into his re-election campaign promo. He was content to let it persist until Washington Post shamed him into issuing a disclaimer. He pretended to be asleep while the police desecrated the premises of the National Assembly on the orders of Inspector General Suleiman Abba. And he has yet to wake up.
Jonathan must rein in Okupe and other sycophants. Chinua Achebe reminds us that those whose palm kernels were cracked by the gods must remain humble. A shoeless school boy who rose to the presidency cannot afford to have an aide misrepresenting him as a contestant for the position of Jesus Christ.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu
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