Skip to main content

Nigeria: Happy New Year, Mr. President

December 31, 2008
Tomorrow is New Year Day, Mr. President, the second you are witnessing as President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria's Armed Forces. A couple of months from now, on May 29, to be specific, your regime would be two years old.

Ordinarily, this should have merited a great celebration, by both the government and the citizenry, but as you and I know very well, Nigerians have tasted enough of real hell these past few months to imagine that anyone outside a lunatic asylum would find any reason to set the tables and roll out the drums for any form of celebrations in this nation.

As the very stressful year crawled away sluggishly to make way for a clearly pregnant 2009, the Supreme Court, in a landmark, most outrageous and widely denounced judgment, said that the results of the most obscene electoral manipulations prosecuted by Prof Maurice Iwu and his uncle, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, to dump you on Nigerians were valid. In some other climes, this was enough to trigger intractable crises and render the nation ungovernable, but the Nigerian masses chose to be calm and indifferent - a very kind gesture you are yet to reciprocate with any form of gratitude. Now, that we are stuck with you for another two years (or worse, six) let me take the liberty to offer you some suggestions on how to make the period a bit tolerable.

First, do everything within your power to erase this entrenched impression on the minds of most Nigerians that your greatest personal attribute, (which you have also elevated to an official policy) is gross insensitivity. I can appreciate your situation, Mr. President. A man heavily weighed down by your type of peculiar personal challenges is always given to unending irritations, and so cares very little about being or even appearing nice to anyone. But the problem is: you have not been open to Nigerians; and this has denied you their sympathy and understanding which you crave so much.

Mr. President, I don't know what you think about my views, but I have to still tell you the truth, which is that this image of an overly insensitive president would not take you very far, especially, in this era of unspeakable pain in a nation that ought to be 'flowing with milk and honey.' For goodness sake, Nigeria is not some "Obj-Yar'Adua And Sons And Daughters Ltd" and would never be. It belongs to all Nigerians. Certainly, this is not a conquered territory, or some kind of overrun colony of the motley crowd of parasites with whom you are (mis)ruling Nigeria. So, make haste and descend from the very unfeeling and far-removed Emperor's throne you have imprisoned yourself in and demonstrate clearly your awareness that even though Nigerians did not with their votes choose you as their president, the mere fact that you have been imposed on them should go with some responsibility. No matter what the fat cats, overfed rats and hefty cockroaches at the corridors and cupboards of power would tell you, any ruler that treats the people with scorn and rides roughshod on their feelings with reckless abandon always lives to regret it. The longsuffering of any oppressed people always has an expiry date.

So, commence the New Year by striving to achieve real, significant attitudinal change. Don't allow anyone tell you it doesn't matter. It really does. And please, don't seek to achieve this by unleashing your prophets on us with new set of lies. It can only compound the problem. Just level with the people and it would make things simpler. After this, the next thing would be to just find a good refuse dump for this your Seven-Point agenda which neither you nor those making a lucrative living by advertising it for you seem to believe in. After you have dumped the self-distracting slogan, then sit down and think of one thing you can do to affect the lives of Nigerians. And I will suggest the restoration of power supply. Don't even bother telling us you are declaring a State of Emergency in the sector; we have heard that so much that it has now become such a prominent irritant.

Nigerians have endured in silence the nearly two years you have been in office without achieving anything, so if you spend another year or even two and achieve only one thing, that is, uninterrupted power supply, bet me, they would not only bear with you, but would crown you an instant hero. Imagine a nation like Nigeria, with highly creative and innovative people, having an incentive like uninterrupted power supply! That would certainly make a huge difference! Imagine the multitudes of children already grappling with or may soon battle with premature eye problems for reading with candles and hurricane lanterns and what a difference stable power supply would introduce in their lives? Now, have you ever asked yourself how many Nigerians may have died or down with heart diseases or may soon develop one for continually inhaling the fatal fumes emitting from countless generators? Now think of the extent regular power supply would go to save a large population of these hapless people from these afflictions? Imagine how many industries that have either closed shop in Nigeria and relocated to Ghana and other neighbouring countries and how far regular power supply would go to bring back those industries, save those about to fold up and encourage new ones to spring up? Imagine the extent of reduction this will register in the ever-bloating population of unemployed graduates? The list is endless.

It is possible that some PDP bigwigs and the powerful characters that put you in power may be the same people raking in billions through the unreliable and harmful alternatives they are importing and selling to Nigerians, but, if you will take my advice, this is the time to now display that tough skin you have been flaunting before the Nigerian masses. Yes, put on the tough skin and call the bluff of those evil merchants who prosper on their nation's entrails, even if they were the very people that had deployed their filthy billions and daredevil thugs to rig you in, and solve the energy crises once and for all.

A New Year ought to usher in hope, brightness and upliftment to a people, but Nigerians, sadly, are embracing it with gloom, darkness and despair. So, light up the country and demonstrate to people that a living, active human being is occupying the office of Nigeria's President. You don't need a Seven Point Agenda, Mr. President. That appears to unduly overwhelm you, and you end up with Zero Point Agenda instead. Make it a One Point affair. Set a target and timeframe for yourself, so the end of the year does again not catch you napping and with nothing to show for it. Let the restoration of power supply be your New Year present to Nigerians. Tell those working with you that the survival of their jobs depends on your successful realisation of this One Point Agenda. Simple! You are the president now, so show your red eye to anyone attempting to sabotage the power project. And as you go about it, you have my best wishes and goodwill. Happy New Year, Mr. President!

By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye