Re: The Staying Power of Mrs Jonathan: An Intellectual As Hireling by Majeed Dahiru

Re: The Staying Power of Mrs Jonathan: An Intellectual As Hireling by Majeed Dahiru

Editor's note: Mr. Majeed Dahiru, a public affairs analyst and columnist based in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in this piece, pens down a rebuttal to an earlier article written by Chidi Amuta, targeted at former Nigerian president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

I'm always aghast at categorizations that cast Africa as though it were just a country and not a continent of diverse cultures. But the more I try to situate the motive behind a scurrilous piece written by Dr. Chidi Amuta, the more inclined I am to quote a proverb whose commonly ascribed "African" provenance is no less fraught: "Unlike the brain, the stomach alerts you when it's empty."

When the brain is empty, it breeds an illusion of knowledge especially in those who often pride themselves as public intellectuals. Indeed, if there was any doubt as to the validity of the foregoing, the sheer fatuousness of Amuta's essay titled, "The Staying Power of Mrs. Jonathan", erases it all.

Read also

Tinubu, Osinbajo: Are our people not tired of their suffering? Opinion by Festus Ogun

Patience Jonathan
Dahiru stated that Amuta's piece titled 'The Staying Power of Mrs. Jonathan' was targeted at ex-President Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Photo credit: Pius Utom Ekpei/AFP
Source: Getty Images

In the said essay published in ThisDay, Amuta strenuously sought to put an intellectual sheen on a clearly ignoble quest. This desperation to be perceived through an arcane lens ranks high on the wish list of intellectuals, even those who willingly toss their scruples in the mud when the stomach is empty. And there are few things in the world more pathetic than an intellectual scoundrel, given the often rarefied mystique conjured by society's "men of knowledge."

Seldom do true intellectuals peddle their skill to very untoward ends, like 5th Century sophists, in the manner that Amuta had done, deploying puerile subterfuge to conceal the pernicious intent of his essay. Amuta's essay was no innocuous piece that sought to dredge up satirical tropes - albeit largely invented and sensationalized - about former first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. Its real intention is to savage the reputation of her husband, the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and his rumoured ambition to run again for office, apparently at the behest of some political figures with far less dismal records. I'm not a spokesman of the ex-president, but this much would be apparent to anyone who have read the piece.

Read also

Adeleke's family rift: Is Davido contesting Osun state governorship election? By Adedeji Adebayo

Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through!

It's instructive, however, that he emerged from that attempt with a reputation much worse than that of the individuals he had so shamelessly tried to assail. Beneath the veneer of altruism and supposed civic-driven interventions that Amuta seeks to project is a hint of a writer who has no qualms putting their name to the most hideous agenda.

I have a feeling though that such odious reckoning matters little to him. Such is the scope of the tragedy that Amuta and his ilk portend, proof yet that an unscrupulous intellectual is a bigger menace than an armed felon is to society. When his empty stomach growls, the criminal simply grabs a gun to steal and is, sometimes happily, hunted down. But the unscrupulous intellectual pitch his craft and easily becomes a purveyor of falsehood and image assassin, earning some garlands, unfortunately, from the society whose fabric it so callously rends.

Read also

Opinion: Bello Matawalle swimming successfully against the tide

Amuta wrote that "a return to Goodluck Jonathan beyond the ritual of professional peace missionary or envoy of the incumbent president does not look like an object of much interest". It is inconceivable that Amuta - and the politicians speaking through him - would devote such elaborate attention and print space to what is as yet mere speculation if they truly considered the prospect of Jonathan's return insignificant. Indeed, the implicit belittling of the ex-president's mediatory role in conflicts sums up the intended goal of Amuta's vitriolic essay.

No matter how well-crafted, ad hominems can never equate to valid reason. Such arguments are, to all intents and purposes, the academic version of a mud squabble. Perhaps realizing that assailing the policies of the Jonathan years will be a futile bid, Amuta simply resorts to personal attacks. But Jonathan was way ahead of his time, conceiving bold and brilliant policies that today stand as undeniable vindication. The most fitting example is the removal of the fuel subsidy proposed by his administration. Few others include his administration's power sector reforms and Youth Enterprise With Innovation (YouWin), a national business plan competition launched to support aspiring youth entrepreneurs.

Read also

2023: Tinubu deserves to be president but I want PDP candidate to succeed Buhari, says ex-presidential aide

Facts are stubborn. They are like seeds. And even when the brashness of falsehood crowds them out and buries them, they still sprout nonetheless. The hard facts of the Jonathan era are self-evident and can't be wished away by cynicism. The economic metrics upon which the many positive development data, such as sustained GDP growth, stable exchange rate, and single-digit inflation, were derived are universal. This is the reality that Amuta finds disconcerting and would rather not confront, preferring instead to tread the disgraceful path of ridiculing the humbling circumstances of a man's childhood and casting aspersions on his wife.

Is it not curious - and even hypocritical - that Amuta denounces the former first lady's unpretentious and somewhat gregarious nature but gushes about the "delectable glamour" of another, ignoring the many scandalous details that had even seen shots fired in the presidential quarters over what could be termed a domestic turf war? Elocution may be one of Amuta's strong points, but it is not mutually inclusive with a forthright heart that abhors malice, which the entire essay reeks of.

Read also

I never wanted to become a lawyer: Man narrates how he switched from being medical doctor

There is sometimes a hidden old grudge in an inexplicable rage such as Amuta's. In noting that Jonathan's speeches seemed like an "apprentice campus seminar papers than lofty presidential pronouncements," and referencing his handlers in such condescending tone, Amuta unwittingly betrays a resentment at being overlooked for a job that would have granted him access to his favourite hunting ground - the corridors of power.

As the incipient politics of 2023 unfurls, we will increasingly be reading similar such interests-driven essays spliced with the sort of adroitness that the likes of Amuta are so adept at. Fortunately, the public has become a lot wiser, with its once gullible appetite now subdued. When such essays appear, they immediately discern that someone's rumbling stomach is passing on an urgent message.

So, unlike it was in 2015, there is now a continually shrinking space for the sort of shenanigans that helped nurture unprecedented intellectual deceit and foisted on us a retrogression that appears to be in a competition to outdo itself. If only Amuta realized that. Unfortunately, the false image he has long cultivated of himself as an arbiter of public taste in politics remains just as delusional.

Read also

Nigerians react as James Brown turns up for Papaya Ex's birthday party in red ball gown

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Your own opinion articles are welcome at— drop an email telling us what you want to write about and why. More details in’s step-by-step guide for guest contributors.

Contact us if you have any feedback, suggestions, complaints, or compliments.


Online view pixel