What A President – by Sam Nda Isaiah
Umaru has blown it again. When all the world leaders gathered in New York last week for the 64th United Nations General Assembly to deliberate on the future of the world and jostle for influence, he chose to go to Saudi Arabia instead. His mission?
To attend the opening of a university of science and technology. But our president, who is supposedly smart, failed to see the insult and derision in being invited to the opening of a university at a time when all the universities in his own country have been shut down. Even if the invitation was not meant to be an insult, it certainly had the effect of one. And it is such a surprise that our president would allow himself to become the butt of cruel jokes as is currently the case.
Those who invited him were obviously proud of their own strides in meeting the education needs of their people. I am not sure the same can be said of Umaru. At the opening, they said the new university would attract the best of the world. In the last NECO examinations, nearly all of the Nigerian candidates failed; only 10% of the children that sat for the examinations got five credits and above and we do not know whether these credits are in CRK, Geography, History or IRK instead of the science and technology subjects. Yet, since then, Umaru has not shown any distress or that he is even concerned at all. Nobody around the president has said or done anything to show that they understand the looming disaster that portends. After eight years of spreading mass illiteracy in Katsina – the state always comes last in NECO and GCE examinations – Umaru now intends to do worse things to Nigeria.
But, again, why should the president of a nation like Nigeria that desires a permanent seat on the Security Council of the United Nations be absent, with such crass impunity, at this level of gathering? Umaru attended the General Assembly in 2007. That was, in fact, the first time in his entire life he was travelling to the United States. That was also the time he received the invitation to visit President George W. Bush in the White House. A few weeks later, he was in the United States again, this time as the august guest of the United States president. Something very serious happened during that trip. Our president, the leader of an important oil-producing country with a population of about 140 million people, for a brief moment, forgot that he himself was president, as he declared that that day – the day he set foot on the White House – was the greatest day of his life. Most Nigerians allowed that to pass because discussing it in itself would be scandalous.
He did not attend the 2008 General Assembly and he has just missed the 2009 gathering. Under Umaru, Nigeria is losing weight and potency. We are gradually but surely being turned into an inconsequential country. Nigerians may desire to join the small elite group of nations on the Security Council of the United Nations, but their president certainly doesn't think so.
You wouldn't be so dumb to believe the university opening story. That's what happens to people who live a lie. Does the president need to be in Saudi Arabia for four days just to declare a university open? (He sneaked back into the country on Friday night.) And why him? Did anyone notice the calibre of officials that welcomed our president into Saudi Arabia? If it was an official or working visit (whatever that meant), why was he not received on arrival by King Abdullah? For those who still care, it was infradig that our president should be welcomed into a country by the governor of a province. In this case, it was probably because the king and other top functionaries were too busy with more serious issues.
But the story that is spreading around the corridors of power is that one of Umaru's senior ministers was the one originally invited to open the university. This minister, who is well-known in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because of his past involvement in the running of OPEC, had cultivated lasting relationships with a section of the Saudi elite over a long period. The minister was too busy to attend such a low-level event and had actually hinted the Saudis so. But once the president who was seeking an excuse to travel to Saudi got wind of this, it became a godsend. The formalities were arranged and that was how our president found himself at a ceremony to open a university. It was so obvious that Umaru needed an excuse to travel to Saudi Arabia that even the opening of a village primary school in the kingdom would have offered the opportunity.
The job of the president of a nation is too tedious even for a normal person, and I fail to see how Umaru can cope. In the last one year, the president has visited Saudi Arabia at least five times, and the only one he officially went on medical tourism was the one before the last one. Now, I am not saying that the president is sick. I am not so careless to say something as dangerous as that. What I am trying to say is that 2011 is a good opportunity as any to relieve Umaru of power and also save Nigeria in the process. Those who are currently clamoring for a second term for the man are jokers. Nigeria needs to take its rightful place in the cluster of influential nations.
E A R S H O T
Kidnappers & Company Kidnapping for ransom has suddenly become the most lucrative business in town. It started in the South-South where those who plied the trade made millions. Subsequently, Umaru granted them amnesty and made many of them heroes. And then, suddenly, it became stupid to be law-abiding as only the bandits made good. A section of the criminal gang in Kaduna apparently does not want to be left out of the boon since, they figure, it must be a win-win situation. They have therefore picked up the secretary to the state government. Two ministers recently escaped abduction. The question really is: if an SSG would be so vulnerable, what hope of security do we have in Nigeria? Was he not supposed to have free police escorts? Where were the policemen at the time of the abduction?