For Brother Jonathan – A Recipe Beyond The “Fear Of God”



By Kola Johnson

The fear of God as they say, is the beginning of wisdom. At least, that is how its supposed to be. But is it really? Now, let’s begin to think of it. Take Nigeria for instance. It is doubtful whether there could be any country so imbued with citizens with as much piety on matters of religion, as Nigerians. No. Not even the supposedly acknowledged bastion of the two popular religions, as epitomized in Israel, the rallying banner of pan Zionism on one hand, and its co-ordinate geo-political landmass of Saudi-Arabia, as the spiritual lynchpin of pan Islamism all over the world.

Yet it cannot be gain-said, that it remains an overbeaten cliché, devoid of any basis whatsoever for debate, that the moral scale here in Nigeria is such that borders on maggotish decadence.

Take for instance, the resume of our class of rulers from post independence Nigeria. Who among the lot did not confess a tilt to one religious persuasion or the other?

Also take for instance, the soldier-turned farmer-politician who presided over the Nigerian polity not long ago. Obasanjo of course. That epoch making occasion that he registered in presence at the popular Redemption ground, along the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway; it was like paradise vacating its celestial abode in heaven, for permanent relocation at that vortex of vigorous spiritual revival, which shook and quaked under the hysteric frenzy of ululant mass of congregation, driven by the mesmerizing spell of Obasanjo’s presence.

But this did not in any way remove even a jot from the ignominious credentials of the elephantine geo-political landmass (Nigeria) rated by the Transparency International at an abysmal all-time low which to worsen it – happened right under his own administration – and even worse still, within the crucial context of a period when he enjoyed the privileged trusteeship of the international anti-corruption body.

This does not yet take into account, the corruption scandal unprecedented in its unsalutary behemoth immensity, which transpired during his regime – of which he (Obasanjo), had for whatever cause – never for a moment, deemed it necessary to essay, even if a terse reply, let alone a credible one.

Now, exeunt OBJ, as Brother Jonathan mounts the centre stage. Like his “God-fearing” predecessor, he set sail on pilgrimage to the Redeemed Holy Land, where he replicated the same “fear of God” in the servile deference which draggled his two knees, square fixed on bare floor of the frontal cynosure stage of the camp ground in readiness for the shower of prayer-magic expected to transmogrify the nation back to the right track.

But little did it dawn on us that this Jonathan of a man, was only playing us a sucker. Of course the yoke of hardship in which the general mass of the down-trodden now languish – remains unprecedented in its draconian magnitude. To be sure, the subsidy removal abracadabra remains still very fresh in memory; in supportive corroboration of the fore-going. And this is just one out of many. Thanks to the callously benumbed heartlessness of the God-fearing president, who fiddled as the entire nation went aflame and its people died in the wake of the fuel riot.

And even December before the last, the same Jonathan came on again. Where? The revered Redeemed Holy land and for what? To exhibit the same outward yearly ritual of the “fear of God”. And to what end?

Imagine for instance, the sadistic humour implicit – when at the height of the opprobrium which greeted the alleged corrupt committal of the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah – Jonathan pretended as if nothing was happening, and before you knew it – pronto he zoomed off in his jet, on touristic razzmatazz of pilgrimage to Israel. Indeed only recently, he was a guest of the Pope at the Vatican. Yet in spite of all this fear of God, the country has continued to degenerate at an ever increasing rate.

While you blame Jonathan for his celebratory high octane singing and dancing, at Kano even barely 24 hours after the conjurative river of blood in Nyanya, even in spite of his “fear of God” – the fault may not necessarily be his. When like a naïve brainless simpleton, you scold him to no end, for fiddling – like Emperor  Nero in Rome – in ecstatic rivalry, while Nigeria burnt; in spite of the same fear of God the fault, to repeat again – may really not be his.

Empirical evidence has shown that the so-called fear of God, has proved to be anything but a deterrent to bad government. But the fault on a second thought, may really not be in our rulers. This is because how can you plunge into an endeavour without an enabling orientation of the essential brass tacks involved in grappling effectively with that endeavour.

How can you expect to lead successfully without prior empowerment with at least, the fundamental prerequisites, necessary for effective governance. And above all, how do you know where the pains pinch without you experiencing the pains, and how do you cultivate the passion and requisite empathy?

After all, was it not Plato, who learnt under the feet of the legendary Socrates, and was also the teacher of Alexander the Great, the greatest conqueror of all times; who advocated a preparatory spell of tutelage for philosopher kings?

And for the love of Brother…..oh! Jonathan the “prezy”, I mean – my recommended regime of training is this: let’s for once strip him of all protective paraphernalia of state power. By this, I mean all the security details, orderlies, aide de camp, dispatch riders, SSS among others.

Mind you, this regime of denial should only stretch within a temporary spell of four to six months and for 24 hours of the day, to boot – during which the President will be left bare knuckles, to confront the recurring decimal of security challenges, daily staring the defenceless body of citizens across the nation, in the face; including of course, the Boko Haram father of them all.

After this spell of tutelage, the security ubiquity around the president could then be restored because by this time, it is expected that the president would have been properly equipped in the intricacies of the defence against terror and sundry security challenges as kidnapping and armed robbery, and of course, the Boko Haram father of them all.

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And even beyond the question of terror and security as a whole, it is also important for Jonathan to have such experiential grounding as is essentially elemental to the provision of good transportation for the down-trodden.

This is to say that for once, the president, his family and the minister of transport and family, will have to slug it out – whether day or night – in rain or sunshine; on endless queue for bus, as they contend for the spine – hacking potholes litering the roads; the death trap dilapidation of the vehicles, and the traumatizing ambience of the body, including the 49 sitting 99 standing metaphor of human cargo, tightly stacked within like sardine.

Needless to say of course, that same thing must be replicated in the sphere of education – which is to say that the president’s children and ward, and those of the minister of education, must be barred from attending any private school within the city or abroad – as this would afford the president and his education minister, a first hand experiencing of the academic calendar, via the ever recurring decimal of the students crisis and the ASUU agitations among others – apart from the abysmal absence of essential facilities and general decadence of the university environment, including of course, the viciously traumatizing menace of students cultism.

It is expected that the president and his ministerial aides, having gone through this buffeting regime of psycho-mental orientation, would never remain the same again.

Some may quite argue, as perceived indeed in my mind’s eye, that the president having tasted power, is not unlikely wont to revert to his old callous detachment.

Well, on this, they might have a point, after all, was it not a whole “Baba”, I mean OBJ the chubby-cheeked pot-bellied, soldier turned ex-president, and now farmer by “profession”, who swore with the consuming passion of his whole soul, to dedicate his entire life to the onerous task of a fundamental prison reform – at that time when his cherubic cheek and protruded belly atrophied under the iron bar of the Abacha gulag?

Was it not the same OBJ, under whom the scenario in the nation’s prison degenerated to such all-time low – unprecedented in the annals of the Nigerian prison system?

So, while they might be right in this respect, they must however concede that this presidential prescription offers a redeeming recipe of pragmatic consequence for eternal change. No aspiring leader will experience it, and remain the same.

For those who are wont to dismiss this as a farrago of nonsensical effusion, they need be reminded after all that in the renowned Egyptian mystery schools of those days, considerable premium was placed on poverty – in the belief that poverty was a catalytic essence necessary for the liberation of the soul to attain the highest form of consciousness. Hence, a compulsive theme of inviolable import for the initiates of those mystery schools to take a vow of poverty. This it was believed, and on a good authority too – as explaining the extreme poverty of Socrates, the legendary Athenian philosopher described by the highly revered oracle at Delphi, in ancient Greece, as the wisest man on earth.

It’s perhaps interesting to know, that Socrates, the teacher of Plato, himself passed through the portals of the Egyptian mystery schools, in the formative years of his tutelage in philosophy and the mysteries – just like Pythagoras the great Greek mathematician, who also attended the Egyptian mystery school at that epoch when Egypt was the citadel of learning and civilization.

St. Francis of Assisi was from every indication, a man of means, if not of noble birth; who renounced worldly riches and also took a vow of poverty, and went ahead to form a band of mendicant friars in ancient Italy – same also with Gautama Budha, the privileged Indian Prince, who disenchanted with the wealth and splendour of the royal palace of his father – disappeared to the larger world for the life of a commoner in the course of which he experienced a flash of cosmic illumination that inspired him to found one of the most popular religions in the world.

Let it here, be emphatically clear, that no one is asking Jonathan to establish a religion. The point being stressed is for him to endeavour to experience even if a little dose, of the traumatizing buffeting, which on daily basis, has become the recurring ritual of daily living of the body of the populace over whom he claims to preside. It is only in this way that he would understand where the shoe pinches. After all was it not Jimmy Cliff who in one of his epic hits in the 70s sang that “who feels it knows it”?

Of course who feels it indeed knows it, after all the full course of violence that attended the total destruction of Fela’s Kalakuta republic, was all it took for Beko of the illustrious Kuti family, to launch; and with demonic obduracy too; into the turbulent sphere of militant socio-political activism.

Similarly, it took the killing of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria to trigger the horrendous conflagration of the world war, as the cataclysm raged in its unabated fury, fraught with the possibility for massive global destruction.

And as the second world war raged, America had locked into an isolated spell of hermitage – standing aloof as if nothing was happening – until the devastating attack of the American fleet at Pearl Harbour by the Japanese air force which drew the venomous fang of American fury, as the proverbial grass of the Japanese landmass became the eternal casualty, via the terrimotive blitzkgrieg of the fire power of army even to date.

Similarly, it took the killing of a relation very dear to Dora Akunyili – the indefatigable Iron Lady of NAFDAC – by the grotesque monster of fake drug – to draw her into a vicious duel against the patron saints of the drug biz.

Truly, who feels it knows it. Jonathan or future potentates wishing to Lord it over us must be made to feel it, in order to know it. They need to have a taste of the bitter pill, to know in the truest sense of it; where the shoe pinches.  Should Jonathan accede to this body of recipe, I can assure him of my automatic support for his second term bid. I will even campaign for him.

•Johnson is a writer and journalist