“By doubting we come to question, and by questioning, we perceive the truth.” (Peter Abelard, 1079-1142)
8 Questions on One Single Loooonnnggg Term
Perceptor has been stirred from a rather long slumber by news that Mr. President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, has announced through his independent special adviser mouthpiece, Dr. Reuben Abati, that he intends to send a Bill to the National Assembly to provide for one single elongated term for Presidents and Governors. Perceptor is astonished. But Perceptor is also baffled. And when Perceptor is baffled, Perceptor must have questions …
1. Will President Jonathan be offering himself for election in 2015?
Yes, Perceptor is perfectly well aware that in his carefully crafted statement, Mr. President said that the proposed amendment would not be retroactive. But not being retroactive isn’t the same as saying that existing rights will be extinguished. And Mr. President has an existing right to stand for re-election in 2015. Perceptor knows Mr. P has promised not to run in 2015. But Mr. P also promised to hit the ground running, to have his proposed cabinet list before the Senate within one week of his inauguration. Yes yes, Perceptor is sure that there are reasons for Mr. President not hitting the ground running, or having his cabinet list ready as promised. It’s just that there is no reason why those sort of reasons, whether they are good and solid, or flimsy and ridiculous, might not crop up again as a prelude to perhaps another broken promise in 2015 …
2. When exactly did the painstaking study take place?
President Jonathan says that his “commitment to a single term for the president and governors is borne out of a patriotic zeal, after a painstaking study and belief …” So what Perceptor wants to know is whether this painstaking study took place before he was re-elected as President, or after?
If before he was re-elected, the next question is:
3. Why didn’t this form party of his and his Peoples Democratic Party’s election manifesto?
Why couldn’t the President have told us what he had in mind so that we could have decided whether or not we agreed with him that “four years is too short” by pretending to vote for him so that he could pretend to have got our mandate to press ahead with the results of his painstaking study?
But if the painstaking study took place after President Jonathan was re-elected, the obvious question is:
4. Wouldn’t it have been better to take care of other business first?
Perceptor can’t help wondering whether it wouldn’t have been better to “hit the ground running” by doing things like getting your cabinet ready, asking Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in advance whether she was interested in a job with you and boring things like that which might have fooled all of us into believing that you really were going to hit the ground running? And THEN undertake this painstaking study. After all, with Dr. Ngo in charge you would only have needed to sit back and take all the credit while she got on with sorting Nigeria out. And you would have had as much time as you needed to painstakingly study how to elong … er, em …
5. Perceptor must repeat: Didn’t you have anything ELSE to painstakingly study first?
Like finding out why the electricity supply which miraculously improved BEFORE your election but almost totally collapsed AFTER it was in the bag? Or why Nigerians have had to learn to live with bombing and kidnapping, no jobs, crappy infrastructure and an ‘educational’ ‘system’ (Perceptor uses the two words advisedly) that is the laughing stock of the civilised world? Perceptor mentions just a few of the things that might have occurred to Mr. Prez as needing his more urgent painstaking study, but Perceptor is sure, gentle reader, that you can think of a few more!
6. OK, even if this was the issue that you thought was the most important problem facing Nigeria, did you run it by anybody else before going public with it?
Come come, Mr. President. Surely you can’t be serious that nobody, NOBODY on your handpicked team that took you three months to put together did any kind of reality check? Nobody said: Mr. President, even if this is the thing that you really really really really really want to do, you just have to wait. You have to … er, um … rack up some achievements first. You know, stuff that might make people not even MIND if you’re planning to be the first beneficiary of the new extended loooonnggg term? Are you sure nobody suggested that you hold off on this brilliant plan? What? Nobody? Not even … ?
7. Wouldn’t it have been better to take care of other business first?
Yeeesss, Perceptor knows that Mr. President now has the People’s Voice as his own Independent Mouthpiece, but Perceptor refuses to believe that HE would have allowed Mr. Prez to make such a blunder, which makes it seem as though the People’s pressing and urgent concerns are not Mr. President’s pressing and urgent concerns. He would certainly … ?!? What do you mean – it was the People’s Voice that drafted the announcement?
8. Oh dear! Is that why Mr. President said that it wasn’t his idea?
See, Mr. Prez, it may have been an idea floated in 2008 or even 1998 or 1898 for all Perceptor cares to know. But the idea of floating it NOW? Before any of the important, pressing and urgent concerns? Whose idea was THAT Mr. President?
THE MEANING OF WORDS
‘Abusive’ as in Dr. Reuben Abati complaining that people complaining about President Jonathan’s single looooonnnnnggg tenure plan were ‘abusive’ and that they called Mr. President names. Reuben! Reuben! Reuben! How many times did Perceptor call you? Look, “patently fraudulent, deceptively self-serving and a terrible misadventure” “self-glorification” “unnecessary” “toxic” “mendacious” “delusionary” and so on are not, repeat NOT abusive. Why, they could almost be called terms of endearment! You go online, not to your President’s Facebook page, but to NaijaPolitics, NigeriaForum and so on. Then you will know what the word ‘abusive’ means!
Some of the headlines you may have missed:
ELDERLY MAN WARNS AGAINST UNEMPLOYMENT
An Elderly Man has warned against the dangers posed by leaving people without any work to do. He warned that it was particularly dangerous to make men who have had military training unemployed.
Said the Elderly Man: “I know what I am talking about. I had a job up to 1979 but then I became jobless. Although I tried to occupy my idle hands, I ended up in prison. I was able to get another job in 1999 but I found myself made redundant in 2007, despite my best efforts to keep my job until at least 2011. Even though I was compensated with a part-time appointment, it was really not enough to keep me busy. Speaking from experience I can say that I will be a complete danger to myself if I am not given something to do very soon. I am at grave risk of becoming totally irrelevant. Hey! Listen to me!”
However, another slightly less Elderly Man said that joblessness was good for old soldiers like himself and the Elderly Man. Said he: “I think that we should all be put on the trash heap. I myself have decided to retire. I made this important decision after I discovered that nobody wanted to give me a job anyway. I have already been completely irrelevant for 18 years, and if I like, I can go and jump off my hilltop mansion for anybody cares.”
BOMB BLAST AT NPF HQ
A senior police officer has debunked speculation that the recent bomb blast at the NPF Headquarters illustrated the failure of the anti-terrorism strategies of the security forces. Said he: “If you recall, the Inspector-General of Police himself went to Maiduguri to commission some Armoured Personnel Carriers with the specific objective of hunting down the Boko Haram terrorists and driving them out of Borno State. The Louis Edet House blast in Abuja, coming the very day after the IGP made promised to drive Boko Haram out of Borno, shows that the strategy is working perfectly because they have now come to Abuja. We are perfectly aware that some remnants are still in Maiduguri, and even exploding bombs and killing people there, but that is because the vanguard that has come to Abuja has to establish a base here before the rest can come out of Maiduguri”
NO CHANGE = TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE
Mr. President has explained the thinking behind his recent appointments, which to uninformed observers may have looked as though the same people who were in his government – or even previous governments – were going back to the same jobs that they had before. Said he: “As you know, the French people say ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’, which is to say, ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’ Now, since my own objective is to bring about TRANSFORMATIVE change, it will be hard for me to do that if I change too much, since the result of that, according to the French philosophers, will be that things will actually stay the same. I therefore realised that if I don’t change things too much, the more likely they are to be transformed. That is why I did not make any changes.”
Mr. President was not available to give his interpretation of a popular American definition which has to do with doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results, but reporters are expecting a statement from Mr. President’s Special Adviser on this aspect which has nothing to do with transformative change at all.