Nigeria: Who the Heck Advises President Jonathan?
I’m sitting on the sofa in my living room watching the television when the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of a country of 160 million people, in a careless and rash statement, declares that MEND (a notorious chauvinist cacophony of cultists, vandals and thieves turned freedom fighters from the president’s homeland) innocent barely 24 hours after a deadly bomb blast that claimed numerous lives. This was after MEND themselves have claimed responsibility. I didn’t need to think twice before noting that that was a big error with huge consequences. The next day, the president was being criticised in the papers for his insensitivity and naive utterances.
It wasn’t long thereafter, the president banned the national football teams from participation in all tournaments, in order to go back to the drawing board and address challenges he claimed. As an ardent follower of soccer, I quickly spotted the error. For goodness sake, the world football governing body (FIFA) will place a greater and longer sanction that will not yield any positive results in the long run. Criticism followed and the decision was rescinded.
Years after during the lecturers’ strike, the president had to shamefully swallow his sack threats and grant the lecturers’ request. Something that would have been averted took 6 months out of an already sandwiched academic programme.
Seems the president has a knack for bad decisions and these are just a few out of numerous instances that make you question either his capability or the quality of advice he gets. For a man mobbed left, right and centre by advisers, special assistants and the likes, and huge amounts of taxpayers money paid for their services, it’s baffling how he still makes schoolboy errors especially in situations where every ordinary Nigerian can analyse, looking at the pros and cons, and know exactly what to do, for free.
More recently, the Nigeria Medical Association have been on strike for over a month with the issues at stake still unresolved, only for the president to just wake up and suspend the medical residency programme, sack resident doctors, and order hospitals to open. Just like that? Who has given the president this kind of advice? Even if someone out of ignorance did so, in a country of 160 million Nigerians, is that the best advice or idea the president can come up with? Didn’t someone tell him that residents are the heart and soul of the hospital? What happens to the training of undergraduate medical students? What happens to the housemanship programme? How does this decision enhance health care delivery in Nigeria?
It’s shameful that a government struggling to meet the most basic obligations to its people, will hand this death sentence to its people which will not just spells doom now but it’s effects will be felt for many years to come. It’s a decision that cannot be seen through, but more worrisome is the burden of one who for some reason, is always bent on hitting the wrong notes even in the midst of a multitude of advisers.
May God help us!
Usha Anenga (usha.com.ng and @UAnenga) is a concerned Nigerian and medic