Friday, 30 May 2008

Nigeria: The Nigerian Proclamation, my support for the President

A year on

I participated in the Nigerian Proclamation collective launched by SolomonSydelle last year where the goals were to seek the ideals of good governance through fair representation.

A year has past since this proclamation and a lot of commentary has been made about a year that has been tardy, uneventful, without vision and wasted.

I do not entirely subscribe to those views, I have written a number of blogs on Nigerian politics and have observed certain small steps and principled decisions being taken which may not seem radical but in the end would be far-reaching.

Nigeria is a big ocean liner, it cannot be steered like a jet ski or else it would list violently and capsize before our eyes.

Just above average in the circumstances

In my view, the President’s tenure so far has not been outstanding, I would place him just above average whilst expecting him to improve considerably in his second year or lose credibility and respect.

So many issues with his first year can well be teething problems; sorting his executive council out which has many times been hit by body-blows of corruption or ineptitude, the legislature has been involved more in internal politicking than oversight and enacting legislation until recently and the judiciary has been like the wolf at every politician’s door, not many have been able to settle down to their jobs.

This should all change for the better for the second year, I am quite hopefully that the seemingly intractable issues of power and the Niger Delta would see a bit more movement – so far, President Umaru Yar’Adua has my unqualified support.

Anniversary Proclamation

Reading the anniversary proclamation on Nigerian Curiosity yesterday, we have had opportunity to express disappointment and frustration, at the same time, we should dig deep to find areas for encouragement, praise and support – we have leaders who probably need to be chaperone with the carrot and stick approach.

We cannot always beat them to a pulp with the stick such that they completely unable to gain any nourishment from eating the carrot for their wounds and pains. This is food for thought for all of us.

Quotes and interpretation

The anniversary proclamation took issue with a particular statement that President Yar’Adua made in his interview with the Financial Times; I think we have a difference of opinion on that statement.

The truncated quote was “you find even in personal dealings, business dealings in the market place, between individuals, there is no respect for decent dealings that are governed by civilised behaviour. Respect for the rule of law is the basis for civilisation.”

The full statement in answer to the first question about the achievements of the President in his first year of service was – “I think my greatest achievement is the effort to institute a strict culture for respect for the rule of law in Nigeria.

All the problems this country is facing can be traced to breakdown of respect for the rule of law, regulations, procedures and due process in almost every aspect of our national life, including interaction between our citizens.

Once you have a system, where law and order, established regulations and procedures are not being respected, you find even in personal dealings, business dealings in the market place, between individuals, there is no respect for decent dealings that are governed by civilised behaviour. Respect for the rule of law is the basis for civilisation.”

Context and implication

It would appear the President’s statement was made in some Messianic poise to lead Nigeria to some civilisation, but I read the President talking about contemporary Nigerian society and the way we seem to do things that do not align with what was a foretime our respect for the rule of law.

I do not believe the President, intended or implied impugning the historical facts about Nigerian civilisations of old where I believe there was also respect for some sort of order, probably in this case where the king and his council were the law.

There again, would still have been a sense of fairness, truth, justice and humanity else the people would revolt and dynasties would have been toppled.

Maybe the President should have used civilised society rather than civilisation, but from my reading of this statement and this statement has to be read as a whole and never in part, it can never be misconstrued to mean that Nigeria had no civilisations as part of its historic past – the burden of society today is how to keep the values and mores of those civilisations relevant and valid for today.

That is not doing Nigeria down; in fact, I would suggest, it is asking us in the words of our national anthem to – Arise, O Compatriots to the task of making Nigeria great – or great again, if you feel ever so strongly about it.

Mr. President, you have your work cut out and I support the ideas you are trying to inculcate in our political, economic and social lives.

Good luck, President Umaru Yar’Adua.

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