If you are literate and politically conscious enough, but have not seen or heard about the Goodluck Jonathan’s interview with Christiane Amanpour (of the Cable News Network), you must be either living in a cave – or have just awoken from a medical coma. Amanpour is the award-winning and internationally-recognised Chief International Correspondent for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly interview programme, Amanpour. She has won practically every prestigious award in the field of journalism. Because she is so well-informed and thorough and professional, you have to be well-prepared before you agree to an interview – unless, of course, you want to make a fool of yourself, or be made a fool of.
This was the situation President Goodluck Jonathan was in on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 during a satellite-relayed interview from the grounds of Davos, Switzerland. Several world leaders and leading minds in the fields of economics, politics, science and technology and the academia had gone there to attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting. Once it was announced that Amanpour would have a chat with the President, the world – especially Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora –eagerly awaited what he was going to say. It was also an occasion for the President to articulate his vision and to allay the fears and anxieties of domestic and global partners in terms of democratic gains, security, investment, economic development and growth.
But, unfortunately, a golden opportunity — an opportunity to showcase himself, his country, and future possibilities — became a tragedy. The President blew it. As the Nigerian parlance goes, he made a fool of himself. He made Nigeria and Nigerians look bad. In fact, he missed the opportunity to rebrand himself and his transformation agenda. He looked timid and scared, for lack of a better word. He was nervous. He was unsure of himself and uncertain of what to say and how to say it. Frankly, he looked like a novice, like a man who was making his first appearance before the media. Many a times, he looked like a man who was about to be thrown under a moving train. And in the process, he mangled his answers. It was painful to watch!
In style and in substance, there was no hint of sophistication or cosmopolitanism in his responses to questions thrown at him. Why? How? Could it be that the snow and the temperature affected the President’s mind and disposition? Was it the long journey from Abuja to Switzerland? Was it the cold air, the food and the water? Or, maybe, the recent outbreak of flu epidemic caused him to miss his rhythms? Whatever it was, he looked bad. He was worse than President Olusegun Obasanjo. And that’s saying a lot because Obasanjo was terrible during one-on-one interviews. In a way, one could pardon the ex-general. He was not well-read. Jonathan, on the other hand, was a product of the well-respected University of Port Harcourt. And he is hyped as the first PhD holder to rule Nigeria. So, what went wrong?