Former President Goodluck Jonathan reached the milestone of 60 years on Monday, with congratulatory messages from President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and notably, former Senate president David Mark.
Although it is unclear whether there will be a ball to mark the day, what was conspicuously missing today is the usual adulatory newspaper advertisement from the large army of contractors, politicians, public officials and others.
They seemed to have abandoned Jonathan to his fate as they failed to sing his praises the way they did when Jonathan marked his 57th birthday in 2014 when Jonathan had spent four years in the saddle and was preparing to run for re-election.
Only ThisDay newspaper published six advertisements. They were from a forum of Jonathan’s former ministers, Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers; A.J. Turner, a traditional ruler from Bayelsa; Reuben Okoya, an architect; and David Omonibeke, president Azikel Group.
There was no advert in The Punch, arguably Nigeria’s largest selling newspaper but Vanguard published one advert from Seriake Dickson, governor of Bayelsa state.
The Guardian published none. The Nation also published an advert from Azikel Group, whose chairman, Eruani Azibapu Godbless prayed in his birthday message for God’s infinite mercies and blessings to Jonathan.
He also prayed for Jonathan’s continuous strength, good health and wisdom ‘all the days of his life”.
Azikel’s showering of praises on Jonathan is understandable.
The company is based in Bayelsa, Jonathan’s home state. It started business just nine years ago, with an ambition to be a fast-growing indigenous conglomerate. Its main area is dredging.
Jonathan’s abandonment by his friends was noticeable as far back as November 2015, the first birthday he marked out of office since 2010, when he succeeded former President Umaru Yar’Adua.
In 2015, Jonathan was 58, a few months after he was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
And what played out today also occurred then: the reticence of the friends of power: the politicians, hangers on, business barons, social and political groups.