President Goodluck Jonathan’s invocation of curses on his appointed ministers may look like falling into our primordial and juju heritage, but the action has proved a sound point. “May your road be rough. May you have hard time this year. May you have plenty of troubles”, are the curses hurled on his ministers to prepare them for the murderous task ahead. The President acted like a bear and when you are a bear few people question your manners. His admirable obsession to transform Nigeria through visionary prescient is a taking a rugged shape. He understands that he has to grapple with a Nigeria beset with social anxieties like unemployment, power failure and vexing of all, security.
Seriously, we need a rugged man with hungering and thirsting heart to take us through the social, educational, employment and infrastructural challenges hobbling and humbling Nigeria. What faces Nigeria is not an uphill task that cannot be unravel but essentially our journey out of the wood needs a man of uncommon leadership skill, stubborn boldness, restless intelligence, fearless ambition, single-minded work alcoholic, fighter and passion for the best. Beyond the President’s reassuringly calm but languid look is that penetrating and steely determination to deliver on his electoral promises and unplug Nigeria from its deeply diseased and despised image in Africa and beyond.
To transform a psychically traumatised nation, a president needs clarity of purpose and quickening desperation to avert falling into the usual quotidian utopian folly that had proved elusive for successive leaders since the renewal of our democratic aspiration. To President Jonathan, our past failure is a dissembling nightmare that needs to be addressed. That idealism for change probably accounts for his resurgent desire to act as this nation’s awaited messiah. His call for an inclusive, inspired and ingenious team has so far been enthusiastically embraced by both the political cabal and chattering classes. His speeches which are often studded with nationalistic, rather than narrow party pitches, have garnered converts and unfurled euphoric optimism of a new progressive dawn.
To back his vision with action, the President recently assembled a team of ministers and many of them are clearly offspring of Nigeria’s intellectual cartel. How does the president draw the best and the brightest to his political vision? Abuja, if I remember correctly, is not Haiti where a voodoo priest could foretell your future in seconds. Abuja is a cold, calculating wheeler-dealing political city of debauchery. There are ministers who made it into the final list through powerful lobbying, state quota, cash purchase, favour and Dame Patience ‘umblela’ Jonathan’s influence. Obas, Igwes, Obongs and Emirs would have influenced his decision. The political and Army class would have press their own button. The moneyed class would have sent their own nominees for consideration as guardians of their future business interests.
Above all, the most palpable influence will naturally flow from Madam Patience ‘umblela’ Jonathan whose reputation as ‘controller’ of her husband is no longer a secret. That she has her own nominated ministers is as predictably true as the sunrise. Admirably though are the ministers’ background. All of them are academic elite like our president and one must say kudos to timely recognition of scholarship here. Some of them reached the summit of their chosen professions through dint of hardwork and some through family connection. Many of the ministers had their education locally and internationally which, in a way, guarantees broad vision and broad mindedness. Few are probably Jonathan’s old classmates and colleagues at the university which then amount to favouritism and buddyism. Of course President Jonathan’s genial and expansive character is worthy of praise, but he has to cast off that effeminate ‘mugu’ syndrome. This time ‘bobo-no–dey-nice’ at all!
Also, in his carnal wisdom, President Jonathan unwittingly authored an unprecedented sexualisation of politics with his landmark inclusion of more women as Ministers. Fear is, Abuja may yet turn into one huge orgasmatron where screams of ‘O yeah baby…….O yeah baby….’ will replace transformation, Jonathan’s battle creed. Ministerial elite is kosher, but sexual elite convulses. Anyway, Jonathan needs not worry; intellectuals have never been known to have good orgasm.
What baffles was the hollow ritual of feign humility of nominated ministers before our Senate and the laughable simplicity of cross examination of each of their pedigrees. The most basic, gloriously psychological reason behind their desire for the ministerial portfolio was absent. Appointed ministers in Nigeria are not saints with sinless characters. The backstabbing, the relentless lobbying, the character assassination, the blood-splitting and the cash inducement for the post of a minister must foretell the prospect of power, influence and money for the lucky appointees.
If the reason to serve this nation is as stated above –power, influence and money – then Jonathan’s obsessive and manic messianism are already dead at inception. Many of the appointed ministers are achievers in their chosen professions which should then preclude them from nursing ephemeral, materialistic ambition. For all the ministers, the major plank of their life goal now should be delivery of service and the desire to write their names in gold in their given ministry and enduring legacy for the nation at large. Here, we have to warn the president that his rebuke must not be timid on errant ministers; his courage must not be silent on corrupt helpers, his vigilance must not waver on subversives of his dream.
The grand hope this time is performance or nothing. His ministers must have strong legs to run with, firm hands to place on deck and large, stubborn heart to finish strong. A transformation revolution is in progress and no power on earth will stop it. There must be hot hatred for selfish, stealing and sell out ministers to drive home the point that Nigeria is at a troubling cross road where old habit of greed, indulgence, vulgarity and unpatriotism have to give way for a new and inspiring vision of great Nigeria. He has to set aside any notion of political cowardice and sack inefficient and clearly corrupt ministers
That said, the Presidential ministerial team has been plangently criticised for being horrifically high brow. His admiration for the intellectual elite may soon attract the attention of Guinness Book of World Record as one with the highest collection of bookworms in the world. As a digitalised, post-modern city slicker, President Jonathan may want to push novelty to its limit, but he has to pause and remember thousands of obscure, hardworking and intelligent technocrats who trust in their dirty hands rather than in their academic laurels.