THINGS PRESIDENTS SAY
Please note this post is not about the last President Media Chat that took place on Sunday 4th, May 2014. I wrote this on Saturday morning after I went to bed the previous night with so much anger in my belly, I was talking to some twitter followers/friends living in Calabar that night to see how we could plan our own #BringBackOurGirls rally which was meant to be a peaceful march at some strategic locations in the city, I was on this, when news of another bomb blast hitting Abuja filtered in to the social media and was soon confirmed by local and International TV channels. So, I took to twitter, ranting uncontrollably and trolling other people’s TL so I can retweet words of solidarity for the victims of the second bomb blast in Nyanya for the second time in 2 weeks, then I came across @omojuwa TL, he quoted excerpts from the American President, George Bush’s speech after the 9/11 attack. After reading the whole speech myself, I could imagine what was going through the mind of an average American as he watched his Commander-In-Chief leading the charge against the common enemy- terrorists.
So, I woke up the next day, and my first post was “Maybe i missed it on TV, but can anybody tell me if our President has given any statement after the 2nd Nyanya Bombing?” I copied @gidi_traffic in this tweet, and then a certain Chris Austin responded to me saying “Is it Presidents statements that will produce our girls? pls convince ur family members to join the military to help save them” . I was furious but chose not to respond to this guy, but his tweet and @omojuwa’s inspired me to write “Things Presidents Say”
Whether we know it or not, our words carry enormous weight, sometimes more than we think. And if one is in a position of authority, their words often impact more people at different places and at different situations; providing the courage to press on or one more reason to give up. And we must realize that if words have all their possible extent of power, three effects arise in the mind of the hearer. The first is the sound; the second is the picture, or representation of the thing signified by the sound; then the third is the affection of the soul produced by one or by both of the first two effects. This is the reason why we have a sober mood when consoling friends who just lost someone dear to them, and another mood when trying to inspire someone trying to give up. A responsible father will speak to his family members whenever there is need to do so, be it during challenges, when the children need to change school, when the family has to relocate or just for any reason to get across to his family in every situation. So, when a man/woman leads a country in any part of the world, it is expected that he/she gives appropriate speeches from time to time during the best of times or the worst of times.
During the worst of times for a country, it helps for the leader to be able to give the best of speeches. No one ever hopes for a disaster, but if one ever happens, people look to the President for comfort. A president who has the ability to deeply connect with the public by baring a piece of their own soul can reach across party lines, and into the hearts of every citizen. Presidential speeches set the agenda and draw the crowd to a topic at any point in time, while a President’s speech will not create any change by itself, it can however direct it, and in my opinion, a President through his speech can grasp the public mood, create public sympathy, and channel the public to gain power. The reason presidents can seize on public moments of tragedy is that presidential communication is most effective when it taps into the public’s mood.
An example of a president truly touching the public comes from President Bill Clinton, after the Oklahoma City bombing. After one of the most horrid and life-taking instances of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States, Clinton was able to take the stage without a hint of partisan rhetoric, he spoke as a husband and father and the speech was one of the best received of his career. President Bush did the same with his speech after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but I don’t want to go on naming presidents and their inspiring speeches, rather I have a few quotes from few Presidents below. Read and judge for yourself.
“…What happened yesterday was a terrorist act and MEND was just used as a straw; MEND is not a terrorist group…It is erroneous to think that my people who have been agitating for good living will deliberately blow up the opportunity they have now…”——-President GEJ’s first press interview after Independence Day bomb blast in Abuja on October 1st 2010
But Okah who was the leader of MEND (a militant group) and had just been arrested in South Africa didn’t think so, he said,
“…The bombing on 1st October 2010 was a platform for the elimination of political opposition from the north in the form of General Ibrahim Babangida. The bombing of 1st October 2010 was also intended by the President Goodluck Jonathan Government to create anti North sentiments nationwide in order to galvanize support from other sections of Nigeria against other northern candidates in the Presidential elections…” —– Okah’s statement after arrest in SA
“…Security is not something that I like to discuss in the open. We are investing in equipping the Police to facilitate an expeditious investigation of all cases of kidnapping and criminality that has denied our people their right to freedom. Under my watch no crime will go unpunished. I will urge you my friends and fellow citizens to be on the alert as we enter this electioneering period. Ultimately there will be people who will seek to gain traction in politicizing these issues. They will attempt to force government to over react so that they can then turn around to blame government for overreacting. I assure you that the security of your lives and property is too important for me to play politics with and I will not be forced to react rather I will pro-act…” ———— President GEJ’s speech on the Independence Day Bomb Blast and The Security Situation in The Southeast (October 4, 2010)
Then on Oct 6th, our dear president said;
“…The name of MEND association that operates in Niger Delta was only used. I grew up in the Niger Delta so nobody can claim to know Niger Delta better than myself, because I am from the Niger Delta. I know the person behind the attack and the person sponsoring it. They are terrorists, not MEND…”…The government knows them and would fish them out as investigations proceed…” ——–President GEJ at the (ECOWAS) Parliament international colloquium marking the 50th Independence anniversary of African countries.
Al Jazeera had reported a day earlier that Okah implicated the president, but the President said he knew the person behind the attack and the person sponsoring it. But 4 years after, no one has been named; no one has been fished out or arrested, and South Africa eventually went on to jail Okah for the same bombing.
I skipped all the speeches he made mostly through Reuben Abati tweets in his ‘responses’ to many national tragedies that befell us since 2011 for a purpose, but here is what MY president said on April 14th, 2014 after the first Nyanya Bomb Blast that claimed hundreds of lives.
“..Those countries that face terror, they have developed great awareness. If there are unusual movement of vehicles and bags, they call on security and based on this, a lot of incidences are contained. So we believe that if people will become observant and all of us become security conscious by the movement of people, we will be able to reduce some of these incidences…” “…We promise that we will get over it. The security services will continue to work very hard. God willing, we will get over it.” — President GEJ after Nyanya bomb blast (El-Rufai Park)
The following day, more than 200 girls were reportedly kidnapped from a boarding school in Chibok, Borno state. But, MY President was on his way to Kano for a mega rally by PDP, pictures of which were posted by the Photographer-General of Nigeria, Dr. Reuben Abati, ably assisted by Reno Omokri, who some people would like to call Wendell Slimin. After he danced probably azonto with some lady furiously grinding her behind on Mr. President’s crotch he had this and more to say.
“I could vividly remember that the Kano State governor, Kwankwaso, did not vote for me during the primary and secondary elections in 2011, he was part of those who worked against me during that period and did not celebrate with me after the victory.
“The allowances sent by my party campaign office for election purposes were taken away by Kwankwaso without giving anybody a Kobo. How can he say he voted for me?” –—- President GEJ at PDP rally in Kano a day after first Nyanya bomb blast. (How does this even have anything to do with the kidnapped girls or the terrorist attack a day earlier?)
So, the opposition had this to tell him immediately after the above photo of him grooving to some local music hit the internet.
”Without mincing words, President Jonathan erred badly by not showing enough sympathy for the victims of Monday’s blast. More people died in the blast than from Kenya’s mall shooting last September, yet President Uhuru Kenyatta declared three days of national mourning during which flags at public buildings flew at half-mast and the people of Kenya prayed for the dead and the injured,” …”A President who said his ambition is not worth the blood of anyone is now dancing gleefully on the graves of over 70 of his compatriots. What is so important about the illegal campaign stop in Kano on Tuesday that could not have waited for the smoke to clear from the scene of the deadly blast on Monday? Who will President Jonathan rule over when his countrymen and women are being daily mowed down under his watch? —APC.
I agree with them…
But in is his religious, holier than thou attitudinal response to everything, a National prayer was called few days after, precisely on April 27th and MY President had this to say…
“…I urge you not to relent in your prayers and dedication because overcoming the present challenges we face may look impossible with men, but with God, all things are possible. This is clearly seen in the scriptures and this is my faith. This is one of the things that make me smile whenever you see me…” —– President GEJ at the Presidential National Prayer Breakfast held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
I compared this ‘prayerful and spiritual’ response to what President Kenyatta Uhuru who declared his country “bloodied but unbowed” after the attack, said in a nationally televised speech after the Westgate mall terrorist attack resulted in hundreds of casualties including more than 60 deaths, on 21st Sept 2013.
“We confronted this evil without flinching, confronted our deep grief and pain, and conquered it,” he said. Five terrorists were killed in the fighting, Kenyatta said. Eleven other people had been arrested over possible connections to the attack… 21st Sept 2013. We have overcome terrorist attacks before. In fact, we have fought courageously and defeated them within and outside our borders. We will defeat them again. Terrorism in and of itself, is the philosophy of cowards. The way we lead our lives; in freedom, openness, unity and consideration for each other represents our victory over all those who wish us ill. We are as brave and invincible as the lions on our Coat of Arms. My Government stands ready to defend the nation from internal as well as external aggression. I urge all Kenyans to stand together and see this dark moment through. Donate blood. Provide information to the authorities. Comfort and reassure the affected families. Let us ashame the Devil and his works by demonstrating our timeless values of love, compassion and solidarity. Our security forces are conducting a multi-agency response to this attack as we speak and are in the process of neutralizing the attackers and securing the Mall. It is a very delicate operation as our top priority remains to safe guard the lives of innocent people held up in this unfortunate incident. But let me make it clear. We shall hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to. We shall get them. We shall punish them for this heinous crime…”—- President Uhuru of Kenya the NIGHT of the Westgate mall attack.
Noticed how he strongly and without mincing words, assured his country and the statement was even made while the process of neutralizing the attacks were ongoing, but our President will never say a word about the missing girls, it is either too delicate to talk about, because of security reasons, or because a committee is on the way, or because of some bull-crap talk.
My President Jonathan’s response to the first blast at Nyanya was to order “heightened security” in Abuja (probably until Lagos gets bombed). But I guess the security was only heightened in Aso Rock Villa because the terrorist struck again – in the same Nyanya. But, earlier that day, the President was busy dancing, waving and shaking the labour union heads in Abuja where he had these to say.
“Nigeria is not a poor country. Nigerians are the most travelled people. There is no country you go that you will not see Nigerians. The GDP of Nigeria is over half a trillion dollars and the economy is growing at close to 7 per cent.’’
“Aliko Dangote was recently classified among the 25 richest people in the World.
“I visited Kenya recently on a state visit and there was a programme for Nigerian and Kenyan business men to interact and the number of private jets that landed in Nairobi that day was a subject of discussion in Kenyan media for over a week.
“If you talk about ownership of private jets, Nigeria will be among the first 10 countries, yet they are saying that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries.
“Some of you will experience that there is an amount of money you will give to a Nigerian who needs help and will not even regard it and thank you but if you travel to other countries and give such an amount, the person will celebrate.
“But the World Bank statistics shows that Nigeria is among the five poorest countries. Our problem is not poverty, our problem is redistribution of wealth…’’ ——-President GEJ, May 1st 2014 at the Workers day Rally in Abuja.
I don’t even want to think about this last one and the recent quotes from the last President’s Media Chat, because thinking about it makes me want to throw up; you can make whatever you want of it. But to that dimwit and others who said and think the president’s speech means nothing at this crucial time, you should be making plans to refund to your parents, all that money spent on your education; because it DOES!