Former President Goodluck Jonathan reached a milestone of 60 years today in his earth’s journey, with congratulatory messages from President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party and notably, former senate president David Mark.
Although it is unclear whether there will be a ball to mark the day, what was conspicuously missing today are the usual adulatory newspaper advertisements from the large army of contractors, politicians, public officials and others.
They seemed to have abandoned Jonathan to his fate as they failed to sing his praises the way they did when Jonathan marked his 57th birthday in 2014. Jonathan had spent four years in the saddle and was preparing to run for re-election few months after.
Only ThisDay newspaper published six advertisements. They were from a forum of Jonathan’s former ministers, Governor Nyesom Wike, His Royal Highness A.J. Turner, Architect Reuben Okoya and Engineer David Omonibeke and President Azikel Group.
There was no advert in The Punch, arguably Nigeria’s largest selling newspaper.
The Vanguard published one advert from Governor Seriake Dickson.
The Guardian published none.
The Nation also published an advert from Azikel Group, whose chairman, Dr Eruani Azibapu Godbless prayed in his birthday message for God’s infinite mercies and blessings to Jonathan.
He also prayed for Jonathan’s continuous strength, good health and wisdom ‘all the days of his life”.
Azikel’s showering of praises on Jonathan is understandable. The company is based in Bayelsa, Jonathan’s home state. It started business just nine years ago with an ambition to be a fast-growing indigenous conglomerate. Its main business is dredging. On its website it says it has as subsidiaries, Azikel Air, Azikel Dredging, Azikel Construction, Azikel Petroleum and Azikel Farms. It is not clear yet whether the subsidiaries are truly functional
Jonathan’s abandonment by his friends was noticeable as far back as November 2015, the first birthday Jonathan marked out of office since 2010, when he succeeded former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
In 2015, Jonathan was 58, a few months after he was ousted by President Muhammadu Buhari, in the election of that year.
And what played out today also occurred then: the reticence of the friends of power : the politicians, hangers on, business barons, social and political groups.
Jonathan actually saw all this coming when he told the world, just some days before he handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari that he had been abandoned by all those he perceived to be his friends, as the phones stopped ringing.
The lesson of power has always been that those people, who usually strike romance with those in authority are not true friends, but fiends, mere fair weather friends.