You can’t know your true friends when the going is good. When you fall inside a ‘gutter’, you are on your own. Those who used to wine and dine with you will have excuses why they can’t be with you. How sad!
Just few weeks after President Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, his above, the Aso Rock seat of power, has become a shadow of its once boisterous self.
Most noticeable is the shrinking figure of influence peddlers who frolicked with the first family round the clock, including joining in the morning prayers at the Villa Chapel.
Sadly, none of the big men have time to come and pray with President Jonathan again.
Most of the visitors who hitherto made the place a beehive of activities have deserted the place.
LEADERSHIP’s investigations in the last four weeks revealed that while about 800 people daily visited the presidential villa before the election, fewer than 150 visited in the last couple of weeks.
Among the Villa absentees are top government officials, Christian leaders, lobbyists, politicians, principal aides to the president and business tycoons.
Prior to the elections, when special functions like retreats, seminars, dinners and other programmes were held at the banquet hall, Aso Rock usually played host to thousands of guests, including gate crashers.
It was observed that between March 28 and last week, the number of persons visiting Jonathan, VP Namadi Sambo, the First Lady and other presidential aides had dropped to just 150 from about 1,000.
Before the presidential poll, there were governors and former governors who visited the president in his office on a regular basis, sometimes twice a week or more, but after the election they have stayed away.
Sadly, many of those considered members of Jonathan’s kitchen cabinet have only visited once or twice since March 28. Some of them have been seen hobnobbing with members of the victorious APC.
Before the election, Jonathan’s regular visitors included governors: Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Olusegun Mimmiko (Ondo); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) and Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) among others.
Governor Akpabio showed up only once in the villa, the week after the poll. Mimiko came only last Thursday. Suswam visited the place last Friday merely to attend the meeting of the board of Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Ltd chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Jonathan’s associates in the business community, who had turned the villa to their second home before the election, have also deserted the place.
These include people like Femi Otedola, Arthur Eze, Jim Ovia, Jimoh Ibrahim and Emeka Offor, etc.
Since Jonathan lost his re-election bid, the hordes of Nollywood actors and actresses, musicians and sports stars have not come visiting the villa, unlike in the past.
This development has left security personnel at the gates, who usually had very hectic days clearing people, with little work to do.
To enter to Aso Rock, visitors are required to present photo identification with information exactly matching the name previously submitted for clearance to the security personnel at the gates, and individuals whose identification do not exactly match the name or date cleared would be denied entry.
The scanty turnout of visitors to the villa in the past few weeks became quite noticeable owing to the fact that during months and weeks that preceded the presidential polls, the place was hardly big enough to contain the hordes of people who came to show solidarity to President Jonathan’s re-election bid.
“They are simply fair weather friends”, one source confided.
“This will show you how hypocritical politicians could be. When it was obvious that the outgoing regime had what it takes to address their interest politically, even those who had no business coming here were constantly at war with security operatives, seeking to gain entrance to show their fake loyalty.
“I am sure the president and his aides would have learnt their lessons by now, although late, that power is transient and political power is quite ephemeral,” another source added.