by Azeenarh Mohammed (@xeenarh)
(closeted optimist, provocative writer)
I sat up yesterday to watch the presidential media chat aired by NTA and after an hour plus of staring at President Jonathan speak, I realised that he has acquired that enviable politician’s trait of talking but actually passing nothing along. What also struck me was his statements over the tenure elongation. Apparently, there really aren’t more important things for Mr. President to concentrate on, so in reaction to Mr President’s absolute conviction and commitment to the cause, I have decided to revisit my recycle bin to bring out this 2 month old article and let it see the light of day. Enjoy
According to Mr Goodluck Jonathan, the single term proposal was leaked to the public and he thinks the furores of reactions are premature.
Since that unceremonious ‘leak’ of President Goodluck Jonathan’s plan to push a bill to the national assembly for a single term/tenure elongation for executives, there has been a backlash from the public and the press: mine inclusive. In the midst of these loud voices, counter voices and strong reactions, the view I found most puzzling was that of my good friend (whose name I shall withhold) who dished out a scathing criticism of my hashtag #thingsGEJshouldbedoing instead of pushing for tenure elongation. She simply refused to listen to any point of view that did not go in line with the explanation that the presidency had put out. I was appalled and surprised at that reaction…in her words: “How dare you make fun of our president because he’s trying to do what is best for us at this point? I think you should apologise”
In that regard, I would love to go on record and address some issues with my good friend. And in line with her suggestion, I have decided to apologise to her, President Goodluck Jonathan, and to Nigerians as a whole. That’s what democracy and freedom of speech means, right? Not saying anything against the government in power huh? Right. Here goes:
First off, I’m really sorry…for the people of Nigeria who think it is unpatriotic to complain about bad and mediocre governance.
I humbly apologise for getting on twitter and mentioning the actions Mr. President took against the people who do not share the views of your government…special reference to El-rufai and Okey Ndibe. To invite them for chats or detain them with the SSS is more important than tackling the lapses they pointed out. As a result of that, I shall endeavour not to mention your failures or lapses but instead only glorify you like the rest of our ‘leaders’. Starting with this heartfelt apology.
Dear Jonathan, I’m sorry I criticised the giant strides you have taken over our security situation. I must have forgotten that my neighbours in the south are no longer blowing pipelines, my cousins in the east have released all their victims, sworn off kidnappings and found well paying fulfilling jobs, and my brothers in the north are not detonating bombs left, right, front and centre. Nigeria is a country of Good people, Great nation. No one sleeps with an eye open in the cities of Jos, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Abia, Bayelsa, et al. How dare I have suggested otherwise?
My dear Mr. President, I am also sorry for uttering a single bad word about the state of power in the nation. It is a topic that has been over flogged and as a result of it, you have ensured that electricity is available to all who can afford it. In fact, NEPA has not blinked since you where elected into office. The billions that have been expended in the past, completely recovered and put into good use. We should we waste more time talking about power, my fellow Nigerians, tenure elongation is the next item on our plates.
I’m also sorry I complained about being stuck in traffic on Thursday when you had to go to that PDP meeting at wadata house. After all, nothing is more important than you being there to explain to your fellow PDP henchmen (and the rest of Nigerians if they can walk) that the single tenure bill you wish to present to the national assembly was not even your idea. I’m not even sure I can criticise any of your acts or omissions because clearly, they all weren’t your ideas. Why should your humble self and patience not shut down major street every time there’s an occasion you wish to host or chair? I’m sure you sit in bed every night laughing at the stupidity of Fashola who has been widely praised for enduring traffic jams or even walking on foot when inconvenienced by traffic: just like every other Lagosian. If he chooses not to oppress the citizens with loud blaring sirens, pulling drivers off the road and generally flexing and showing his importance, that is his cup of modest tea. After all, you are Mr. President; you deserve a convoy of 30plus cars or whatever. Do we not have enough oil to buy those cars and run them around just to announce your importance? Let other Nigerian walk from town to town or ride bikes and enter those mini cars on those crazy roads. As for you…nothing is too much for your humble self sir. The sirens can never be too loud, the traffic can never be too thick, people can never be too inconvenienced, and moving cars off the road is simply a sport for your motorcade…moreover, you had no shoes growing up abi, so why not enjoy this while you can?
My comments about the curfews and roadblocks were obviously overkill too (pardon my pun). Going by the measures you have taken Mr President, it is quite obvious that Boko Haram and MEND perpetuate their acts only after 10pm and that they strike Abuja alone. Also, since security personnel make a habit of checking only car trunks, I guess it is safe for us to believe that bombs, guns, Molotov Cocktails, long range detonators and other sophisticated arms that can harm people can ONLY be found inside car trunks. I know as a fact that C4 can be dressed up to look like a book, Molotov cocktails come in fizzy drink containers, plastic bombs can come in letters, pens, guns can even be hidden under the car seats, inside bags, and an array of weapons like touch bombs, firebomb, fuse bombs Hindenberg and potassium bombs (please don’t ask me how I know all these) can be hidden in places that the police, army, road safety, civil defence who choke the highways for hours never seem to check. But all is well with Nigeria as long as out car trunks are empty.
I also made a mistake in voicing criticism on your health reforms (or lack thereof). It must have skipped my notice that people no longer travel out of the country for medical treatments and NOT a single kobo of public funds goes into sending public officials (or their families) out of the country for a plethora of checkups and/or treatments. Polio, HIV, Ringworms, Malaria, and maternal mortality are a thing of the past. Pregnant women, children and those who can’t afford pills receive fast, free and top class treatments in every nook and cranny of Nigeria. This is not a provision that is only available to the legislators and their families who can easily afford it. Why not concentrate on a single tenure bill sir? In fact, I am shocked we didn’t think of this earlier.
I also wish to take back any negative word against the actions you have not taken in the education sector. Have our Universities not improved beyond recognition? Are our schools and institutions not listed among the best 500 in the world? We no longer spend billions sending kids to study out of our shores and the standard of education, the structures, equipments and learning environments are top notch. Buying degrees, sleeping your way through the university, strikes, cheating in JAMB, and cultism are all a thing of the past. We have enough universities to cater to every student that desires and has qualified for admission, and our teachers are highly qualified. We now raise funds from international students who troop in from Ghana, South Africa, United Kingddom, Canada and as far as Malasia. All our problems in education have been sorted, why then should we not turn our attentions to single term tenures?
I also criticise the actions you failed to tackle in respect of capital projects. Now I realise my mistake and I am sorry sir, you have to know that it was an over sight. Our roads are no longer death traps…in fact we all can’t remember that last time there was a preventable accident. The aviation industry is the best in Africa, the old, shaky, recycled, hardly-ever-serviced planes have all disappeared, delays due to disorganisation are unheard of, and the airports are fluid in action and generally a thing of beauty. Additionally, the railroads have been paid for and swiftly completed (civil servants have nothing but thanks and praises for the ease this affords them), our ports and marines are top notch, and every regular Nigerian (not just 8%)can afford to fly using those airports you promised us in every state during the presidential campaign. I’m sure the contracts have been ceremoniously signed and work has commenced ages ago.
Corruption Sir? Not an area for Nigerians to be concerned with I’m sure. EFCC, ICPC, the police, SSS, the judiciary and other sectors are crammed full with genuinely convicted criminals. Not the ones who stole shoes, soaps or goats, or the ones that were simply picked off the streets for having no place to sleep or ID cards, but the real criminals who stole billions and spent it on women, booze, and grown men toys. The past and present governors who misappropriated public funds? All convicted and locked up. Our conviction rates set such an example that it scares other people from looting. I remember you went out of your way to criticise Bode George and his actions after he was released from jail. Did I hear you say something? Oh no, the thanks giving, those celebrations and aso-ebi where simply a figment of peoples imagination.
I am also sorry I complained about you being slow in action. I forgot that you have not even been the president for more than two months. Oh, the tenure before that? That was Yar’aduas tenure you took over…it doesn’t count ba? You were only the “acting president” and your hands where severely tied by invisible cords. And after the death of Yar’adua? Well to be honest, you eventually had an election campaign to run, photo shoots to pose for, and jingles to shoot on how you did not have shoes.
It has also come to my attention that I should not have mentioned anything to do with your ministers. After all, you painstakingly took two full months to pick them out, and they happen to be young, bright, full of fresh ideas, and experts in the fields and ministries they’ve been assigned to. This cabinet is the stuff of dreams and not a single square peg in a round hole exists. You did not bend to the will of the PDP, any supposed god fathers, or use appointments to pay back political debts. The Ghana-must-goes took care of that.
As for even hinting that you should concentrate on strengthening other sectors so we can be less dependent on crude oil…It skipped my mind that baba God has blessed us with this black gold and it will never, ever, dry up! I’m sure that a dibia somewhere (for the right price) will prophesise (if one hasn’t done so already) that the crude oil will last forever so we’re amply covered. This oil money shall go round and satisfy every Nigerian, it is our national cake. Our ancestors have decreed it, why waste time finding alternative sources of revenue my people? Tenure elongation is our priority.
This issue of gas flaring shouldn’t even be mentioned again. After all, the for fathers of the people in those oil producing areas have prayed well for them, and they are undoubtedly covered by the blood of Jesus. Why then should government put an end to gas flaring. We do not need the cooking gas…we have lots and lots of young boys who can walk for miles to cut firewood in the morning and the young girls are good for joining kerosene queues….If I recall correctly, you had no shoes too but Nigerians made you president didn’t they? Those youngsters should quit being lazy and obey their parents. Their turn will come abi?
I also have taken it upon myself to scold Bar. Bunmi for even suggesting that we should get our own refineries working and possibly go ahead to build new ones. That seems to be a taboo subject that no one is particularly supposed to mention. I mean for a country that mines and exports millions of barrels of crude oil annually, it should be expected that we should also import petroleum products. Tit for tat and all that, import some and export more so that the countries too can make so money, rub their backs and they’ll run yours…Nigerians should not look forward to processing theirs, tenure elongation is more important.
I want to finally go on record to say that my comment on the state of the economy was uncalled for. The Naira grows stronger than the Yen, Pounds, Euros and Dollar every day. Our foreign reserves are at an all time high and that backup excess crude account is plush full to the brim to take care of any disasters. My Naira is the thing of envy when I step out of the country…
N 1 to $50 at last count…Nigerians are truly in an era of economic stability. Why not handle tenure elongation since everything else is in place.
Others also made some references about job creation which I am certain you would have taken offence to. This is obviously a moot point since qualified people all have steady jobs, careers and art form which sustain their livelihood and that of their families. Moreover, banks and institutions are conveniently poised to support small and large scale businesses so no one else is complaining. A tiny voice says dissatisfied persons should join the entertainment industry which you’ve promised billions to during your campaign. Once again, you are right Mr. President. After all, it doesn’t take a whole lot of time, effort and thought to act in a nollywood movie abi?
Did I also mention anything about your popularity on facebook and the time and money you took out for the “lunch with the president”? I’m sure a lot of thought and research went into that venture and you invited the “youth” from every nook and cranny of the country. No? Ok, your trusted organisers must have forgotten some names and regions in their haste. I’m sure you spent the three hours wisely gathering information and input from all the balanced voices across the table…and least I forget, the send off/transport fare was NOT your idea. We all know you’re a good man with good intentions, only that the people around you tend to mislead you.
Did I mention Agriculture Sir? Big mistake, I forgot that we have such a dependable mechanised farming and where our fertile lands are put to use, we also run a swift system where fertilisers are cheap and readily available, irrigation is utilised to enable us to feed the entire nation and excess are imported at a profit. Yam, groundnut, cocoa and palm oil exports have sky rocketed…Agriculture is not a problem Sir. No wonder you’ve taken time out to help the legislature with their job even though we pay them 25% of the budget to pass laws. After all that’s what a good president does…his Job and that of the other arms of governments. Least I forget, the tenure elongation was not even your idea…but you still tackled it out of the goodness of your heart.
On that small issue of minimum wage, now that the legislature has taken their good time in passing the law to increase it, you should not at all be concerned with trying to implement it, I’m sure the single term proposal takes precedence. Abi? Plus labour can be persuaded to call off action by the swift change of the famous Ghana-must-go. Nothing is beyond a Ghana must go…
I also hastily drew people’s attention to the role of the executive arm being a source of checks and balances to the judiciary and the legislature. What? Oh right, that was just an academic topic in secondary school and should not be mentioned in the governance of Nigeria. As I said, you know best Sir.
hey, stop laughing, I’m being quiet serious in my apology and praises…
DISCLAIMER: As usual, a chunk (or all) of this article has not been researched and most of it was written in the dead of the night when I was half asleep. Try not quote to me anywhere. I REPEAT: TRY NOT TO QUOTE ME OH, but feel free to drop me a line or a long comment below just because you can. Yet again, the views I have expressed here is in no way the views of my employers, my political party, my faith or that of Love Nigeria.