Thursday 18 February 2010

Thought Picnic: Giving the benefit of doubt

Justified rage

One can easily understand the cynicism and scepticism that accompanies issues to do with Nigeria. We have had such appalling leadership, dishonest intent and mangled processes that anyone and everyone is probably fully justified in believing the worst of any action taken by those who claim to be in political leadership.

At this time the issue that most exercises the Nigerians in their discourses is that of the health of the president, his current condition, the transfer of powers and every other activity that attempts to keep Nigeria in a sort of limbo, bereft of rulership and direction whilst pandering to the whims of faceless mandarins who portend to speak for the president.

A detective one must be

In other blogs I have written I have made my case about what I could deduce from the information that has been given – we all know that Nigeria is not an open book of readily useable information from which one can draw clear-cut conclusions.

Rather one has to gather information from different sources, analyse the information, make some deductions and draw some conclusions, in some cases the circumstantial evidence allows one to arrive at a number of hypotheses and maybe there is enough in the detail to allow for the process of elimination to move closer to fact.

For me, you do not only look at the information for the presence of preconceived ideas, sometimes it the absence of the expected results that allows for indications to where the truth of the matter might be – I hope that I try enough to apply those principles to my analysis of information when I write my blogs.

Not dismissing the seemingly frivolous

There is no doubt that such conclusions can be controversial or completely different from the norm, well, that is why one has an opinion or an idea ready to be tackled by other well reasoned ideas based on good sources of information.

In all and this applies to oneself, one should strive not to be swept by the sentiments that allow our preconceived and subjective notions of the Nigerian polity to forsake entirely the benefit of doubt when certain actions are taken.

Rather than condemn every situation to waste, damage, destruction and untrustworthy intent sometimes some things need be done either to prove or to test a scenario from which the results might well be unexpected and annoying.

It all amounts to evidence

We have all seen enough to walk away from objective discourse when it come to Nigeria but we probably have not given enough benefit of doubt to situations we can so easily dismiss with contempt – I suggest we be not so inured to the possible goodwill, information or the lack of information – rather all this must constitute relevant evidence in pursuit of a general truth.

If actions lead to failures we might have already assumed, there is no guarantee that the failure would have been tested if the actions were not taken to satisfy that context.

Privacy, secrecy and control

On the subject of President Yar’Adua, he is in Saudi Arabia for many reasons which include privacy, secrecy and control – in his interview with the Financial Times in early 2008 he said he had been having treatment in Germany for 22 years – however, Germany presents a society where privacy, secrecy and control cannot be guaranteed.

I suspect people have watched too many hospital programmes to feel that President Yar’Adua is in intensive care with transparent screens and observation rooms where any “authorised” person can stray and view the “as it were” comatose subject – I would suggest they try a better study of Saudi Arabia and Arabian culture and appreciate the kind of protection Arabian governments give guests who seek protection and refuge in their enclaves.

Case in point is the protection all of Saddam Hussein’s family who sought refuge in Jordan get from the Jordanian royal family despite the secular demands of justice sought by the Iraqi government.

The embarrassment is spreading

However, sending higher level diplomatic teams might break down the barriers put up to protect their guest and Muslim brother guest for that matter – it needs to be tested because the embarrassment is no more only on Nigeria it is spreading to Saudi Arabia too, at a particular time it would be impossible to continue to entertain Nigerian government guests without offering them what they have come for.

The idea that webcams can be installed to observe the president from afar is as much fallacy as it is ridiculous but then that is a matter of opinion, the issues at play are complex and difficult, what we have are snippets of information from which we draw our conclusions, appreciate our truths and draw are conclusion with a modicum of hopeful objectivity and the absence of passionate sentiments.

If we cannot agree on anything, let us agree on this for a start – Long live Nigeria.

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