Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Editorial: If in office, please be in power too

Instructively disruptive

In the space of two weeks the peace and camaraderie of the Nigerian Twitter community has been upturned with the sudden tweeting diarrhoea of a government apparatchik.

Now, one is hardly concerned about self-important people whose sudden closeness to power inflates their ego to the point that they take off like rudderless Zeppelins their feet never to touch the ground again.

Certain lives just have to take that course when they trade in their intellect for becoming fawning mouthpieces, at least they get paid for it having literally inveigled and worked their ways into the positions they now hold – it appears, that is the impression many have, with the situation being somewhere between unfortunate and the truth.

Swatted with the constitution

That said, every government that cannot make its activities have a direct impact on the people it governs needs a propaganda agent, a political strategist, someone in the mould of Joseph Goebbels who will find a way of conveying events and activities in spite of and despite the government as positive visionary acts of the leaders – that is really what they are paid to do.

Recently, each challenge or criticism of the government has been rebutted with an innocuous Machiavellian ploy; we are to read the constitution and by doing so we have a panacea for unrepresentative democracy because suddenly our knowledge will make politicians more respectful and fearful of the electorate. Bunkum!

I have had wool pulled over my eyes many times before that this was just beyond the pale; it is like saying, reading the Bible will make you a priest, maybe a medical encyclopaedia could make me doctor, a NASA manual an astronaut – the scale of absurdity is cause for amusement.

A false numbering of days

The fact is, Nigerians have expectations of their government, and whilst the cabinet of this current tenure might well be less than a hundred days in power, the President has been insisting he has only been in power for 100 days when in fact he assumed office substantively on the 6th of May 2010 after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua; that gives us an estimate of just 488 days.

That is not to consider the fact that he was acting President from the 9th of February 2010 and he exercised full executive mien by redeploying ministers immediately and then dissolving cabinet 3 weeks later whilst the comatose President haunted the corridors of power like a ghost.

Now, if we are to have the impression that over a year in the office of President was inconsequential and then the 100 days after inauguration with an almost lacklustre cabinet except for a handful of competent people the Presidency is still in planning stages, you have to wonder if the problems Nigeria has faced for too long and have been over-documented to the point of distraction have suddenly become invisible as to be literally non-existent such that the President risks being labelled as ineffective and clueless when there is every possibility he is not.

Paralysed by the sense of good fortune

Now, President Goodluck Jonathan did not always present this sense of unawareness bordering on rank incompetence, in March 2010, this was a man who appeared to show promise and had opportunity that his story shows would naturally have been well beyond his dreams of good fortune.

It would be sad that having been given the responsibility he is left paralysed by the incredulity of his personal achievement and attainment of office when he should be motivated to make the best use of the power that he now wields.

It takes a lot to be a Nigerian, a proud one at that if you have had to face the issues at home and the consequences abroad – we all, at home and abroad are unwittingly ambassadors of that great country, even those of us who have the convenience of dual-nationality where our citizenships confer better opportunities rarely ever deny our heritage or attachment and earnestly deep desire that Nigeria begins to operate in the realm of what has been its long recognised potential.

If in office, be in power too

What gets passed off as implacable criticism at most times is simply the refusal to be satisfied with low expectations, easy wins and gimmickry. Anyone who aspires for office cannot be so oblivious of the key issues that affect Nigeria and Nigerians at large that they cannot hit the ground running.

However, amidst this general concern we have those to whom President Jonathan has become an object of hero-worship, he can do no wrong, he is infallible that he has transcended humanity to the status of demi-god, the recounting of his amazing achievements dulling the senses with soporific boredom; the sun always rises in the East and you can be sure to see dark shadows if the sky is not cloudy – maybe I have seen too many circus acts to be impressed with the ability to sit in a chair.

In the end, of whom much is given, much more is expected – if one is in office, surely, it is only right to expect that the same is in power doing with all the hope and imagination one can muster what brings lasting change and progress to Nigeria and Nigerians everywhere.

The 1st semester report has long reached the landfill, maybe the next might find a file and the end-of-year report can make the dean’s list but it will be based on action and results not mere good intentions and propaganda – this time, whoever is President is not taking us for ride.

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