What is one to make of news of water scarcity in Otuoke, a community in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State whose claim to fame is that former President Goodluck Jonathan hails from there? With Jonathan’s influence in his power years, a federal university and a teaching hospital materialised on his hometown’s soil, but the lack of potable water takes the shine off these.
A report quoted Emmanuel Agede, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in the area: “You will not believe it that here in Otuoke, we use water from an unused soak-away pit dug near our lodge, for washing clothes and bathing. For cooking and drinking, we buy sachet water; life is very difficult here; we spend the bulk of our monthly allowances on water for survival.”
The reason for this scandalous situation, reportedly offered by the Chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Otuoke, Mr. Elijah Ateki, shifted the blame. It is unclear whether he did so innocently. “Otuoke community depends on rivers and now that all the rivers are polluted by oil, it is difficult for us to get potable water,” Ateki was quoted as saying. His explanation was simply simplistic.
It is relevant to take a look at Jonathan’s profile as the community’s most famous son. Jonathan was president for five years (2010–2015) and vice-president for three years (2007–2010). In Bayelsa State, he was deputy governor (1999-2005) and then governor (2005-2007). So, for 16 years Jonathan was in power at various levels, but failed to provide potable water for residents of his village. By extension, he also failed to do so at the state and federal levels, considering the revealing statistics that over half of the country’s 160 million population lack access to pipe-borne water.
Jonathan’s failure to use the leadership positions he enjoyed to better the life of people in his immediate community and the country at large is probably a reflection of his poverty of ideas and anti-people thinking.
This is the same character that spent public funds as if they were meant to be employed solely for self-aggrandisement and the pursuit of personal glory. It is generally agreed that the amount he sank into his doomed presidential re-election campaign ahead of the 2015 general elections contributed in no small measure to the ruin of the country’s treasury.
Against the background of the water problem, it may be said that Jonathan didn’t give a damn whether the people were thirsty or whether they could quench their thirst with drinkable water.
Jonathan himself was so thirsty for power that he focused on his own thirst to the detriment of the country. In the process, he rubbished the saying: Charity begins at home. To employ gardening metaphor, Jonathan failed to water the plant he was elected to tend. He was a lousy gardener.