A Christmas Without Mr. President

by Adepoju Paul Olusegun

All over the world, Yuletide seasons like Xmas are characterized with gratifications, adorations and magnifications of the Lord for the way He has positively shew Himself strong in the affairs of the group which could be family, workplace, institution or nation.

As a nation, 2009 has so far been a worthwhile year for the country as I elucidated in a past note on Thanksgiving. But our celebrations will not be absolute no thanks to Mr. President, who has fallen ill for the umpteenth time. While details of his ailment remain sketchy and securely kept away from public notice, the effect this has on the nation is quite unprecedented.

Firstly, the military is constitutionally out of our reach as the president is the only one that the Nigerian Constitution empowered to send them on peacekeeping assignments and wars. And from the last rumor I heard, the president can barely speak, talk less of issuing marching orders to respectable officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces (The Army). Nigeria is therefore vulnerable to attacks in the absence of its Commander-in-chief and till he returns, we dare not go to war!

Like 9ice’s latest album, Tradition, Nigeria’s conventional tradition of presidential address on the new year day celebration will be set aside this year. While some might argue that there is nothing great for Mr. President to say, it is worthy to note that since time immemorial, starting a new year with the presidential address has become part of our January One plans. This year, as it looks, will be an exception as the president is sick and in dire need of our serious prayers, not the ones said by political jobbers at the organized prayer session for the president.

Still talking of prayers, worshipers at popular churches, especially those whose General Overseers (G.O.) fraternize with top government officials, will have a longer prayer list as they will be praying, in addition to their inexhaustible long prayer lists, for the speedy recovery of Mr. President although we are still doubtful of the actual ailment or ailments as the case might be. And to those that are less affected by the largesses of Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s governance, their I-don’t-care attitude and predispositions to national affairs will expectedly and understandably assume another unprecedented crescendo.

These individuals are the sets of people who despite the precarious situations of the nation, they still go clubbing, partying, inguinal explorations, and pursuing economic inquisitions with reckless abandon. They are majorly the market men and women, angry civil service, frustrated students (and their lecturers) and perturbed cadres who see the Nigerian government as being more of an unfriendly burden than a friendly buddy.

The reactions of these typical average Nigerians, not those you see on TV, are preposterous enough to send him (the president) back to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the prestigious King Fasai medical facility. This makes one wonder how did things get this wrong?

The paths to Nigeria’s independence and democracy were very torturous, extremely bloody and horribly horrific. The labyrinthine journey was characterized with the inundating sacrifices, agonies and travails of vanguards who dreamt, ideated, strategized, staked their lives and dared the hangman’s noose in pursuit of a transmogrified better Nigeria. But when we finally got the much elusive ‘democracy’, the process was hijacked by professional opportunists who sort offices in pursuit of ulterior selfish motive of self aggrandizements at the expense of the entire nation. And where did Yar’adua go wrong?

The first time he slumped on his campaign train seems to be his first undoing. The cover up by the political geniuses at PDP compounded his unpopularity with Nigerians who felt used, dejected and severely punished with ex vice president Atiku Abubakar et al for refusing to give Obasanjo a third term. He also compounded his woes with his numerous false promises, evident inconsistencies and several ingenious actions.

All could remember the 10- point agenda, imaginary 10,000MW/6,000MW, longest ASUU strike since ‘democracy’, Obama’s shun, threatened oil deregulation, media clampdowns, shattered bank shares, and several others. In short, he and the rubber- stamping, money- loving, globe trotting and ego tripping National Assembly have long lost the confidence of Nigerians who are now creative at inventing survival instincts.

This is no longer the citizenry that cheered MKO Abiola, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe and Tafawa Balewa on. The tempo of activism is fading, the fate of the nation is dwindling and the stakeholders are sleeping. The days of state sacrifices are long gone and individuals only seek for themselves.

There is little or nothing to show as dividends of democracy and the largesses of governance. As unfortunate as the situations are, succor is not far- fetched.

The president should realize that like his campaign promises, he has failed us. He should therefore try as much as possible to regain our confidence. Not through more promises, agenda, visions and campaigns, but through realistic resource- oriented selfless services. Until then, presidential issues will continue to mean little or nothing to Nigerians. At least we still have the oath of secrecy in place.

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