Monday, 10 May, 2021

Goodluck Jonathan Is Not An Igbo Hero, He Is A Phenakistoscope By Churchill Okonkwo

The Belgian investor and physicist, Joseph Plateau(1801-1883), pioneered one of the first devices aimed at making pictures that seemed to move. He studied various optical illusions that seemed to result from the persistence of the image on the retina of the eye after the image had passed from view. In 1832, he built an apparatus consisting of a flat wheel on which were sequential images of someone dancing. When the wheel was turned, the dancer was ‘seen’ to execute the dance. Plateau chose a revealing name ‘phenakistiscope’, meaning ‘deceitful view’ for his invention. These images did not move, but they looked like they did.

The illusionary transformation of Igboland by Goodluck Jonathan is like a flat wheel on which hand-sketched sequential images of good roads, bridges, schools, airports, and rail lines were placed. When surrogates of Jonathan turn the wheel, the illusions of the imaginary projects were “seen” and promoted as achievements. But in reality, roads, rail lines, airports, and bridges were not constructed – but it looked like they were.It is all a phenakistiscope. 

One of the most ridiculous responses I get when I criticise Buhari is that I should stop complaining since I helped him defeat the undisputable political hero of Ndigbo, Goodluck Jonathan. Nothing could be furthest from the truth than this. The false perception that Jonathan is the best thing that happened to Ndigbo is done through the illusory truth effect, a thinking error in our minds that happens when false statements are repeated many times and we begin to see them as true.

The lies about how Jonathan paid for and commissioned the 2nd Niger Bridge, for example, sound like facts to those, who have been conditioned to misrecognise the truth. When he showed up at the bank of the River Niger with Peter Obi and flagged off the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge, Igbos saw illusions of a completed bridge. 

Goodluck Jonathan is not an Igbo hero. If he is, he wouldn’t have signed up to a private-public partnership bridge project that would have required Igbos to, forever, pay at toll gates on the bridge. That bridge is being completed today, not by our hero Jonathan or Obasanjo, but by the one we hate, Muhammadu Buhari. Jonathan is, therefore, not an Igbo hero but a phenakistiscope. 

I understand the attempt to hold on to a Nigerian President of Ijaw extraction with “Igbo name” and “Igbo wife” as our hero. But sometimes, holding on means letting go. I am, therefore, appealing to the GJE’s surrogates to let go of that era when Igbos were deceived to believe that without Jonathan, Igboland would have been turned into a wasteland. On the contrary, it was Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party that turned Igboland to a wasteland. 

Let me remind those still living in the graveyards of yester-years of what was. Our yesteryears were locust-infested; they were years for hunters with inexhaustible gunpowder; years when Patience Jonathan was building hotels, siphoning billions and building mansions all over Nigeria while Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt expressways deteriorated. 

Jonathan is not an Igbo hero. How could he be when under his watch, we had mistresses like Diezani Alison-Madueke accumulating billions of naira and pieces of jewelry worth millions of dollars while pension benefits to retired Biafran police officers, our real heroes, were being neglected. It is ironic that our enemy, Buhari, and not our hero, Jonathan, wiped away the tears of our real heroes. Jonathan is, therefore, not an Igbo hero but a phenakistiscope. 

He is not an Igbo hero. How could he be when under his watch, we had National Security Adviser that turned himself into a ‘Father Christmas’, but instead of giving the kids, he gave the fire-breathing monsters that plundered the national wealth. The billions of dollars squandered by Sambo Dasuki and Jonathan would have been enough to change the economic status of many Nigerians and Igbo youths. 

Under Jonathan’s watch, Enugu Airport was “converted” to international status without any infrastructural upgrade. If he is an Igbo hero and if the likes of Stella Oduah has the interest of Igbo at heart, Enugu airport would have been upgraded to a standard befitting of an international airport like the one in Port Harcourt. 

As an elder, when I write on Igbo matters in Nigeria, it is not because of the sweetness of words in my mouth; it is because I see something, which the young ones do not see. I have observed with sadness, the Obis and the Adas that spend their time and money peddling a ludicrous, social media version of phenakistiscopethat Jonathan is an Igbo hero. He is not.

The repetition of the lie that portrays Jonathan as an Igbo hero is allowing public deception of Igbos to go unchecked. The political class of Igbo descent that enriched themselves and their families under him has circled the heart of Igbos with high walls of lies! 

It is, however, my duty to tell all Igbos that the truth is beyond the walls and without meeting the truth, we cannot meet our freedom! No one wants to be called fragile. But if you still believe that Jonathan is an Igbo hero, then, you are fragile and have low emotional tolerance for accepting the truth that will set you free. 

I get it; an offended heart is the breeding ground of deception. So, because of Buhari’s real and imagined marginalisation of Ndigbo in political appointments, we made our heart a breeding ground for deception? Too bad. 

Brothers and sister, the truth that will set us free is the realisation that Jonathan is not an Igbo hero. The very unfortunate thing is that the autopilot system of holding on to him as an Igbo hero is not well calibrated for the present political environment in Nigeria.

Jonathan belongs to yesterday, that yesterday is gone.We can’t change yesterday but we can make the most of today. We can’t go back – but we can move forward.It is not complicated.Let us think about tomorrow and stop wishing for Jonathan’s yesterday with aides, who grew the size of their stomachs and pockets while the rest of us are wallowing in poverty.

You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi

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