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A tale of two birthdays: President Jonathan and Davido

A tale of two birthdays: President Jonathan and Davido
November 22
08:56 2021

There is a lesson in the manner musician Davido celebrated his birthday, even for a former president.

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Davido celebrated his 29th birthday last Sunday. The event itself may have turned out to be an anti-climax. The famous performer already hit a shattering climax well ahead of the event. Before his birthday proper, he achieved an earthly nirvana. If he had a big party on the actual date, it will simply be a symbolic marking to shell out drinks and entertainment to his friends, maybe to even say thank you for the earth-shaking birthday they already helped him to achieve.

Whoever suggested the idea of donating N200 million from donations made to him and N50 million of personal money to charity has helped Davido create a full, beautifully rounded character. With this brilliant stroke, he has now completed the circle of true success. A great performer, a businessman (he has run his entertainment business profitably) and now a major philanthropist. Achieving a G for great in the 3Ps (performance, profitability and philanthropy) in style before he even turned 29 is already something to celebrate in a big way.

Davido has helped to set an example to his colleagues in the entertainment industry and even to those in business, to understand the power of philanthropy and its potentials to help reap unquantifiable benefits in building an individual’s personal brand equity. You can have all the money in the world, if all you do is keep it in your bank account and only take care of yourself by living a lavish lifestyle, you remain a liability to society and you set a bad example to those who look up to you. The best scenario for society is when the weak are able to look up to the strong for succour.

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In contrast to Davido’s spectacular feat, former President Goodluck Jonathan disappointed with his lacklustre and imitative “follow follow” birthday party in a private jet. I don’t think a president should imitate his “subjects”. This is an old and tired Nigerian “big man” practice. Nigerian big men throw parties in private jets all the time. They record their lavish parties and display their wealth in jets which are circulated to the rest of us through social media. Maybe they want us to imagine that being up there in the sky, the air they breathe is different. This is the country where a man whose surname has become synonymous with dollars, nicknamed “Otedollar”, can still engage in a plastic display of the sheer luxury in his private jet. Femi Otedola actually modelled for all of us to see. Looking a bit bored, he spent time sitting on the well-appointed furniture in the jet’s sitting area. Then he proceeded to lie down on the bed in the bedroom area. He even spread the duvet on his legs so we can know that there is actually a duvet!

The question for men of substantial wealth and power like Otedola and now President Goodluck, a former president, is: What point is being made? I can understand a wannabe “big man” like Dino Melaye swooning in Senator Kalu’s jet and splurging out the words, “This is the life”, between gulps of fine champagne. But I fail to see the usefulness of this exercise for a former president of Nigeria or one of Nigeria’s greatest men of means. I mean, authentic “big men”.

Jonathan is a good man. But he seems to always throw away the chance to make a substantial impact when the opportunity arises. He doesn’t rise up to the occasion. Nigeria, the country that he handed over to President Buhari, has become a shadow of itself with an escalation of insurgency, ethnic tensions leading to violence and all kinds of religious and criminal tendencies turning the nation into one of the most violent political spaces on earth.

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It doesn’t look like a good time to be pouring champagne or cutting cakes and showing off in a private jet. This is something that even second rate entertainers and social media buffs find a way of exhibiting all the time.

At a time this, you expect a true stateman to send out a message of hope and encouragement to mark his birthday. To show that he is conscious of the ills plaguing the nation and to offer comforting words at the very least. It doesn’t look like a good time to be pouring champagne or cutting cakes and showing off in a private jet. This is something that even second rate entertainers and social media buffs find a way of exhibiting all the time. I think I even recall the famed Cubana big boy, Obi Iyefu, having a small get together in one of those private jets after the exhausting extravaganza he organized for his late mother’s burial in the famous Oba showdown.

‘While I hold nothing against Obi and others in that league, I am not so sure that this is the company our former president should be keeping. Jonathan needs to realize that at 64 and a former president, he remains one of the most potent agents for positive change we have in Nigeria. While the likes of Obasanjo and IBB can continue to intervene, it is obvious that at over 80, these men need a rest. And if they won’t give themselves the needed rest either because of their commitment or other reasons, nature is sure to compel the rest on them.

In his case, he still, by the special grace of God, has many active years to live and his health seems very positive. He should use those years to help Nigeria become a better nation by continuously lending his voice to the need for positive change and adherence to the rule of law. He should aim to be a true statesman and always be found where truth and probity stand in our nation. This country has been good to him, this is payback time.

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While the calls for him to return to contest elections to Aso Rock may continue, he should beware of the ides of march. He has had a chance that very few individuals will ever have in their lifetimes and he had it virtually on a platter of gold. While he may have made mistakes, most now agree that his tenure was not that bad compared to the present situation. A fresh attempt at taking Aso Rock may or may not end so nicely. Should he attempt it and fail, and the odds are obvious, he would have been thoroughly roughened up and his currently admirable record may not only lose its shine but can be thoroughly dirtied along the line.

A word, I think, can add to the wisdom of the wise.

Adeoya is an imaginative brand strategist. To read more of him visit akinadeoya.com_

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