THE PRESIDENT WE DON'T KNOW
We know him. Yet, we don't. We hear him. He tells us to pray for him. That the burden on his shoulders are enormous. He's right. And we have been doing just that. But can we truly say we understand what he's been talking about or where he's taking us? We see him as the calm-looking, gentle-speaking man; the good luck man, the man who seems to have the hand of God in every of his affairs, but who can say if his famed good luck will rub off on us and bring good fortune to our beleaguered country? Who can say if this man with the shy smile and a bowler hat is the man who will lead us to the land of our dreams?
Answer: 'No one. No man is God.' No man can predict the future. Forget those futurists trying to play God. No man at the end of the day is God. Man lives and then dies. Even Methuselah died. Man invents, but God is the super inventor. God is 'inventor' of the inventor. God is the One who makes one man great and the other, ordinary. God is the One who makes one man vice-president and withdraws his boss for him to emerge president. A man who never dreamt he will be governor, became deputy governor and later governor after his master got entangled in some act and ran foul of the 11th commandment. A man who beat more formidable candidates in 2007 and was hustled on to the No. 2 seat got elevated to the No. 1 position, just like that.
What other proof do you need to believe that God makes presidents. Effortlessly. Goodluck Jonathan is, indeed, a living testimony to this truism.
But even though God makes presidents, presidents define their presidency. Men who find themselves in the presidency define for themselves and their nations the kind of president they want to be. Men make great presidency. Great men. Visionary men. Men of ideas. Men of courage. Men of tomorrow living today. In Nigeria, we haven't been lacking in men of vision and courage. But the trouble is that they weren't allowed to stay long. Murtala Mohammed and Muhammadu Buhari for example. Murtala had barely six months, Buhari was in power for 20 months. We have also had men who ruled and ruined us. They stayed longer in power. You know them, don't you?
Now, what's confounding is: how come the bad guys stayed longer in power, while the good men are shoved into the long night? How come, we, the people, have the elasticity to accommodate the bad rulers, while we do little or nothing when our beloved leaders are disallowed from building our nation? And how come God allows bad rulers rule for so long and allows a second opportunity for some, while others dream of another opportunity after a wasted chance? We can't question God, but we can ask questions, can't we?
But, how come that in our 50 years of nationhood, we have mostly been ruled by lousy fellows who place themselves above nation? We have had men who, were we to be in saner climes, wouldn't qualify to be local government chairmen or councillors, presiding over our affairs and becoming super-billionaires at the expiration of their tenures. We have had men who left us poorer than they met us. Living us still battling with food, water, shelter, roads, electricity and other problems that define us as a permanently developing nation or undeveloped. Majority of our people, over 60percent, live on 65cents a day while a few people and their cronies feed fat on our resources.
We live in a nation of greedy elite and their collaborators, while a change of guards occasioned by a new administration is an avenue for a new cabal to 'come and chop.' How can a nation hope to make progress that way? We can't be serious. We can't keep doing the wrong things and hope that with our prayers, God will help us to develop our nation and wipe our misery. Didn't they say work is prayer in action?
We must begin with our new beginning which the Jonathan presidency offers us to do things right. Shun cronyism, tribalism, nepotism and other negative 'isms' that constitute a hindrance to our march to greatness. But, honestly, my fear is that we are being governed by a president we don't know. We don't know his vision. The ideals that drive his vision. His road map to a greater Nigeria. We have none of his words on marble. No inspirational address that galvanises us to action, to the urgent tasks of nation-building. Are we in for a go-slow administration?
Well, we watch. We wait. Time, says the sages, unveils even the darkest of secrets. Time makes men saints and turn saints to villains. Time heals all wounds, and reopens new ones. Time differentiates true leaders from posturing fellows. Time, oh time. Just a little time and we will soon know the man whose news dominates the airwaves and whose face graces cover pages of the print media. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the 4th democratically elected president of Nigeria, may well turn out to be the nation's most enigmatic man to ever lead Africa's most populous nation. The man in whose tenure we may witness a lot of shockers. Don't ask me what I mean. Time will tell.
Good night, Teju Abiola!
She was barely in her teens when she met Chief Moshood Abiola, the flambouyant business mogul and politician. She had gone to Concord newspapers to see an aunt when the chief met her. One thing led to another, and other things followed. She got married to him, had four kids. Abiola promised to train her in school. He kept his word. She too loved him and took him as a father, husband, friend and lover.
Till he breath his life in his ill-fated bid to reclaim his aborted mandate.
Teju Abiola, like some other family members and patriotic Nigerians, took up the gauntlet from where the patriarch of the family stopped. She quickly aligned herself with other progressives.
She became a prominent member of the radical National Conscience Party, NCP, and ran as deputy governor for Lagos State under that platform. They didn't make it. But she remained undaunted. She continued to grant several newspaper and television interviews espousing her progressive views on the state of the nation and demanding justice be done to the memory of her murdered husband. She felt ex-President Obasanjo, like others before him, didn't do enough to immortalise MKO. She looked forward to the day Abiola would get his right dues from the nation he spilled his blood to water the tree of democracy.
Sadly, Teju didn't live to realise her dream. She's dead. The front page news in The Daily Independent of last Friday, May 21, 2010, announcing her death jolted me as I am sure it did to many of her comrades, friends and admirers. I didn't even know she had been ill. The last time she called me she wanted me to ask a reporter to do a story for her. She also talked about how tough life was for her, taking care of four children schooling abroad without a husband. I didn't know that would be our last conversation.
I was going through my phone book this morning and I saw her name in the contacts list. I had to delete her number. I would have no use for it anymore. Dead men and women don't make or receive calls. This life sef! Good bye and good night, Teju. And God be with the family and friends you left behind.