"Don't allow anyone to visit you" - President Jonathan tells Bayelsa youth
During his recent visit to his home state of Bayelsa, the president of Nigeria faced with disquiet, frustration and anger by the youth of Bayelsa had a hard time giving a short and what ended as a truncated speech in which he made some problematic and perhaps undemocratic statements.
The president whose speech was interrupted with "Boos" and "Noos," was infuriated from the beginning of the speech, having been warned about the discontent among the people of the state, who had among other things, warned that his wife, Patience (once popularly referred to as the "greediest person in Bayelsa) must not come to the state for the campaign rally.
Pure water sachets had thus been banned at the rally to prevent them being used as "missiles" as media reported.
Raising up a hand to stop them, the president began to bark orders at the youth trying to compel them into military-type, obedient formation.
After being booed when he introduced his speech by saying, "I know you love me and like me and I love you and like you," he began to firmly address the boos.
He told them right from the beginning of the speech that he knows some people have been coming to "spoil their mind." To this, he told the youth "and do not allow anybody visit you." He repeated this shocking statement a second time.
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Whatever the president could have meant when he told the youth of Bayelsa not to allow anyone visit them, cannot be imagined. Hopefully he was not instigating violent behavior on the part of the youth.
Democratic processes allow and encourage free expression, interaction, meetings and discussions. People, especially unhappy youth must never be encouraged to "stop" other candidates from visiting their communities and states. Though we trust the decency, patriotism, intelligence and progressive nature of Bayelsa youth, such a speech is a dangerous precedence.
The president continued to literally force the youth in what may be a very undemocratic behavior; whereas in democracy the choice to vote-out failed candidates or for them to even be impeached must always be on the table. He repeated several times, "you MUST work with the governor of the state."
He again threatened that for them to benefit from the Federal government; they must work with Governor Dickson, who the youth clearly rejected.
Upon saying that "0.0%" meaning some of them were "infiltrated by those who do not like us (the ruling party)," the youth responded "no," apparently signaling that that was not the case.
It is important to point out that when some youth pelted the former state governor, Timipre Sylva, the very president had promised the youth and warned the current governor, Seriake Dickson in 2012 that "if he (Governor Dickson) failed the people he (president Jonathan) will himself "stone the governor."
However after time was passed, as the youth anger represents, Governor Dickson "failed," rather than fulfill his promise to "stone" the governor and protect the interest of the state and its youth, the president arrived with contempt for the youth and rather embarked on attempting to subdue their genuine sentiments and force them to accept whatever the governor did to them in dictatorial style.
There are problems in Bayelsa that a lot of us are quite concerned about. And raising a hand up or telling the people they must be quiet and accept it is not the best way to address the legitimate frustration with the government. Denigrating them further, ‘adding insult to their injury,’ by insinuating that they must be under influence and are not thinking right is also not the working approach, nor is telling them to barricade the state and bar visitors. This approach certainly did not work on Friday.
I am not sure the president is happy that he could not walk through the stadium in his own hometown, but had to have his car backed-up right to the pavilion to scuttle into it… to safety.
It was a rainy day in Bayelsa. It actually poured.
The video with highlights and other comedy remarks on behalf of the Bayelsa youth can be watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TR5NBVGIH28
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