INTERVIEW WITH THE FIRST FACEBOOK PRESIDENT (A PARODY)
REPORTER: Mr. President, a great proportion of the citizens of your country spent the Christmas holidays in darkness thereby fuelling fears of worsening electricity supply in the country. What would you have to say to the citizens on this issue?
PRESIDENT: Firstly, let me thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be here today. I also want to quickly to wish all our citizens a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Now to your first question of this interview, I’ve already posted my policy blueprint for the energy sector in my country on my facebook page which encapsulates all the much needed solutions to the perennial problem of electricity generation, transmission and distribution. So you have to be my fan on facebook to understand my vision for the energy sector. My facebook fans already understand my timetable for revamping the energy sector which they know will start yielding positive results from next year when the privatisation process of the electricity corporation in the country would’ve been completed. I was told we have just one hour for this interview and the efforts of my administration in the energy sector cannot be exhaustively discussed within this time frame, but I can assure our citizens that everything’s on course according to our blueprint. You may proceed to other questions please?
REPORTER: Mr. President, I would’ve loved to proceed in accordance to your request but let me quickly draw your attention to the fact that the citizens in your country need electricity to access the internet that houses your popular facebook page. So pardon me sir, by allowing me to take you back to the electricity issue, as I would be failing in my duties if this issue was not discussed exhaustively. Now to the next question, your current stance denies the existence of terrorist groups in your country, would that position change with the recent and increasing cases of bomb blasts and the claims of responsibility by groups that bear semblance to terrorist groups?
PRESIDENT: What is there to say again on the electricity problem? Ok, let me help you, I think your observation vindicates the efforts of my government on electricity supply because I get no less than 2000 comments within the first hour of my posting any statement on my facebook page. This only means that the electricity issue is not as bad as the media had always painted it because, like you said, you need electricity to access the internet and my facebook fans are also citizens of our great country. The question now is: where do my facebook fans get their electricity from? I don’t make promises that I cannot keep. I’ve always maintained that the electricity situation in our country will start witnessing improvements as from next year 2011. Let me tell you the folktale of the popular talking village tortoise that was loved by everybody. The villagers woke up one morning to find that their beloved tortoise was missing and was no where to be found. A search party was constituted to travel far and wide to rescue the tortoise from any trouble it may’ve gotten into, all to no avail. After six months of a futile search and rescue operation, the tortoise was presumed dead and accorded a befitting burial in the absence of its remains.
One day a little boy, who went to obey the call of nature in a communal pit latrine, heard an unusual sound, distinct from the thumping sound of dropping human faeces. Out of his childish and innocent curiosity, he decided to light a wooden torch to see what was responsible for the strange sound. Lo and behold! He observed the small head of the missing village tortoise enmeshed and swimming in a sea of human faeces and maggots. The tortoise screamed for help as he noticed the fire light at the end of the pit latrine hole by promptly identifying himself as the popular village tortoise that had been missing for six months. The little boy raised an alarm which quickly attracted the attention of all the villagers and the king. The king immediately ordered that a strong rope should be lowered into the pit latrine to aid the tortoise to climb out; unfortunately the rope was too short. It was while the king was making arrangements for a longer rope that they started hearing the tortoise screaming and echoing from the pit latrine, “You people should hurry up. Can’t you see that this place smells of human faeces?” My question is: why do people display impatience when a solution’s already in sight after a very long period of torment from a common ailment?
Going to your question of changing my stance on the existence of terrorist groups in the country, you should’ve known by now that some of my policy formulations and decisions were influenced by the direct feedbacks from my facebook fans and I’m yet to get any confirmation from any one of them that acknowledges that terrorist groups exist in the country. Do remember that I rescinded a decision I took in July this year, banning the national football team from taking part in international tournaments, due to the outcry from my facebook fans that are currently numbering about 350,000, who I believe truly represent the common masses because they exploit the facebook platform to bare their uncensored and genuine views on the state of the nation. I feel the true pulse and mood of the nation through them and it gladdens my heart that I always do their bidding. I expect some appreciable commendations from the local media for bringing innovations in the channel of communication between the government and the governed like my American counterpart. The giant cable news giant CNN has dubbed me the Facebook President as I have more facebook fans than many of my counterparts in developed countries, in clear recognition of my ability to engage ordinary citizens in real debates to generate new ideas. I think I’ve adequately tackled that issue; you may proceed to other issues on the front burner.
REPORTER: But Mr. President, you’ve not addressed the issue of innocent citizens being killed by the random detonation of bombs that your government is yet to unravel their origin or unmask the faces behind the perpetrators. Don’t you think the citizens would feel better secured if they knew of the security measures being put in place to nip this frightening development in the bud?
PRESIDENT: Protocol demands that measures of national security are not subjected to public discourse hence you understand why security votes of government are never subjected to any independent scrutiny, public enquiry or audit. So I’m not in a position to talk about the measures being put in place by government but I want to assure all the law-abiding citizens of this country to go about their normal duties as government is not resting on its oars on this critical issue of threat to national security. People should not forget that this is a political transition period when some desperate politicians are seeking all possible means to make political statements. After all, some of my political opponents have threatened to make the country ungovernable if I do not drop my ambition to contest for the presidency of the country in next year’s general elections, even though it is one of my inalienable fundamental human rights, as enshrined in our constitution. Government is painstakingly studying the situation and will soon make its position known in due course, I guarantee you. I’d already posted my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this dastardly act, which you can also access once you become my facebook fan.
REPORTER: Mr. President, with all due respect sir, it seems as if every stakeholder in the polity is being coerced into signing up as your facebook fan to access information about your government, thereby downplaying the role of the media as the custodian of public trust, watchdog of democracy and Fourth Estate of the Realm. Is this a deliberate ploy to shore up an online popularity that will in turn boost your image in the international community? Why did you not choose a social network developed by your own citizens if you truly believe in their intellectual capability since the income accruing to facebook as a corporation is not empowering the youths of your country?
PRESIDENT: I’ve come to learn to be very cautious of my comments before the media because of the fear of being misquoted out of context all the time. We’re in a democracy where I head one of the three arms of government by implementing the laws made by the lawmakers who are yet to see the necessity for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill. You’ll agree with me that the media and other meaningful stakeholders are constrained by the non-passage of the FOI Bill in terms of access to government information coupled with the fact that some media practitioners have betrayed the cause of their professional calling of objective reporting. So I had to seek an alternative and innovative means of communicating with the youths directly that constitute a majority of the country’s population and actually hold the key to the nation’s future.
Let me also correct the impression that I coerce people into signing up as my facebook fans to boost my popularity among the youths. This is utterly incorrect and a blatant falsehood paraded by a section of the media to discredit my efforts in bringing government information to the doorsteps of ordinary citizens, since relying solely on the conventional media network is prone to communication adulterations and distortions. I would’ve loved to launch to my profile on a social network developed by own citizens as the Chief Promoter of the Local Content Policy of the government, if I was made aware of the existence of any popular one. In fact I was indeed amazed to find out that our ever-increasing activities on facebook have made the founder Mark Zuckerberg the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. There’s no president that would not to be proud to have such a personality as a citizen of his country. My administration has always given preference to local companies in terms of government patronage like you witnessed in the contract award of Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines for electronic voters’ registration. Next question please!
REPORTER: Mr. President, some of your actions seem to negate your policies. For instance, you just referred to yourself as the Chief Promoter of the Local Content Policy, yet your government is unbanning the importation of textiles, furniture, toothpicks e.t.c. that have potentials of domestic production and comparative advantage by the local industry. Don’t you think these economic pronouncements are tantamount to switching off the life support machines of the local industries that have been comatose for decades?
PRESIDENT: If I refer you to my facebook statements, you’ll say I’m coercing you to be my facebook fan but I expect you as a journalist to be versatile and open-minded in sourcing for information before drawing conclusions on our national issues. Like I said earlier, my decisions have always been influenced by the comments of my facebook fans whose views I hold dearly, cherish and assume to be the yearnings of the ordinary citizens. If you were my facebook fan, you would’ve known of the unprecedented and bogus stimulus packages my administration has put in place for the reinvigoration and revamping of the textile and entertainment industries that are big employers of labour in my country. I would say I’m the first president to use a social network as a tool of governance and publish a book on my conversations on policy and governance with my facebook fans. I’m sure the book will be a bestseller soon and prompt other world leaders to follow my novel steps. I also had a first hand meeting with some of my facebook fans as a way of inspiring them not to relent in their patriotism and reawaken a reading culture that’s about slipping into an endangered domain. These are some of the laudable achievements of my administration that the local media has not given adequate publicity.
REPORTER: Don’t you think Mr. President that assuming the views of your facebook fans to be representative of the true yearnings of the common masses is illogical and fallacious considering the fact that internet access remains a luxury to a majority of the populace who live in abject poverty and are unemployed despite your economic interventions? Do you believe that misleading assumptions can lead to misplacement of priorities?
PRESIDENT: I insist that the local media has not been fair and patriotic in projecting the image of the country. Research findings show that the number of our citizens on facebook today has increased to about two million out of the over four hundred million registered members worldwide since I launched my own profile. I guess that explains why one of my ministers was misquoted by the local media to say that I brought facebook to the common man. So if two million of our citizens are having access to the internet which the media still regards to be a luxury, then it would be logical to also say that the poverty level of the masses is exaggerated, to borrow from your line of reasoning. I dare say that it’s the media that still considers access to information in our country a luxury and not the youths of nowadays who see it as a necessity. My position as president and commander-in-chief accords me the privilege of access to research findings and intelligence reports beyond the reach of media practitioners and that places me in a better position to understand the priorities of the country and its citizens. My assumptions in governance are rooted in multifarious factors too many and complex to analyse in this interview. However, my intentions for my country are genuinely seated in a burning desire to bring about a monumentally positive paradigm shift in its economic and socio-political landscape. I’m looking forward to seeing my memoirs being used as references of inspiration to future leaders of my country irrespective of their ethnic or religious extractions.
REPORTER: Mr. President, you’ll agree that mere rhetorical statements without physical presence of government in the lives of ordinary citizens are exercises in futility. Does it not bother you that majority of the comments by your facebook fans are patronizing and sycophantic even when many of your urban dwellers could not travel to their villages in the yuletide season due to the deplorable state and insecurity of the major highways, all the universities in a particular geo-political zone in your country have lost a full academic session due to industrial strike, the results of your secondary school examinations recorded 80% failure, your debt profile is escalating as your foreign reserves are rapidly being depleted, many of your citizens are spending a sizeable part of their hard-earned income to pay ransom to omnipresent kidnappers and power generators?
PRESIDENT: My facebook fans identify with my economic blueprint and share in my vision to rescue the country from the pernicious clutches of underdevelopment that have hindered national progress over the years. They understand the current rot is the unfortunate consequence of decades of years of maladministration and uncontrolled corruption which they know will also take years of sustained dedication and hard work to reverse. Through my facebook fans I’ve been able to influence the lukewarm psyche of the common citizen who’d resigned to the unacceptable fate of waiting for crumbs that fall from their masters’ extravagant dining tables. You’ll agree with me that the current level of political awareness among the citizenry is extraordinary and commendable due to my strict penchant for instituting electoral reforms and entrenching the rule of law in all facets of government without betraying bias for my political party ideologies. The citizens have been reawakened to realise that their right to elect credible leaders is a potent weapon they can use to decide their fate. This new wave of political revolution I’m championing will naturally upset beneficiaries of the old order who are bound to resist it and fight it with every available means including the media.
REPORTER: Finally, your American counterpart that you’re trying to emulate is often seen typing on his blackberry phone in public, portraying him to be operating his facebook account himself. Do you operate your facebook account yourself or you have aides delegated to act on your behalf that probably filter out unfavourable comments? Do you think your facebook statements will still attract over 2000 comments within the first hour of posting when you’re no longer president?
PRESIDENT: Again let me correct another erroneous impression that I’m trying to emulate my American counterpart whom I respect so much. As world leaders, we share common responsibilities with varying circumstances that require approaches peculiar to our individual environments. I’ve just spent close to an hour explaining the importance and passion I attach to my facebook communications. I wonder why anyone would think that I would delegate such a vital task to a third party thereby defeating the essence of direct communication with the people I swore to serve and protect their interests at all times. Yes, there are aides who handle secretarial functions for me as president but they cannot capture my flow of thoughts based on a direct feedback. I cannot claim to read the thousands of comments that are posted on my Facebook page but with my experience in the academia, I know how to fish out highly useful comments and respond appropriately. So my facebook fans know that when they communicate with me, they know they’re actually communicating with the president and I commend them for their love and support that assure me that our efforts will not go in vain.
I thought I’d already answered your second question when I said earlier in the interview that I’m looking forward to seeing my memoirs being used as references of inspiration to future leaders of our country irrespective of their ethnic or religious extractions. In other words, I’m not planning for a passive retirement from public life. I believe that there’s still big task of motivating and mentoring young people while sustaining the people-oriented legacies I would leave behind upon the completion of my fresh tenure as installed freely and fairly by the peoples’ mandate next year. I intend to wear the toga of an international motivational speaker in my post-retirement life running an NGO geared towards creating a level playing ground in electoral contests of developing countries, thereby bridging and demystifying the obnoxious majority/minority dichotomy that has prevented the emergence of credible leaders in those countries. With these well-articulated plans for my future, I don’t see why my facebook statements will not attract over 2000 comments within the first hour of posting when I’m no longer president.
REPORTER: Well, Mr. President, it’s been a pleasure having you in this wonderful interactive session and I must confess that you’ll make a reporter’s delight any day. Thank you very much for making out time out of your busy schedule to be with us today.
PRESIDENT: Thank you for having me. The pleasure’s all mine.