Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: Stop being predictable (YNaija Frontpage)

Now, at the risk of sounding like ‘one of them’, let me remind our leaders that as they send out these great messages meant to inspire and motivate Nigerians to do better, they need to ask themselves one simple question; “What have I really done to actually do as I say?”

It’s Easter again and it means one thing in Nigeria. Yeah, we know the bit about Jesus Christ resurrecting, and the fact that many churches will be filled to the brim today with my countrymen and women loudly proclaiming their love for the Son of God, and trying to outdo each other with their colorful clothes and dance steps while taking their offerings in thanksgiving to the altar (thereby, funding their Pastors’ love for mansions and private jets). But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.

Of course, I haven’t seen any newspaper today but I can assure you that before you get to the fourth page of any national daily, you would have seen headlines like; “Easter message: President Jonathan calls for peace.” Or; “David Mark urges religious tolerance at Easter.” Or; “Tambuwal, Fashola, Chime preach peace at Easter.” The variations are pretty much endless but the message is always the same. 

Don’t misunderstand me here; there’s nothing wrong with sending messages like these to encourage Nigerians to live better together and hopefully build a better Nigeria. My only problem is with the sad predictable, repetitive and ineffective nature of all these. What really is the point?

Truth be told, this tradition did not start with the current administration. Our leaders, both ‘spiritual and temporal’ (Yeah, that’s another clichéd Nigerian term I’ve always wanted to use even though most Nigerians don’t really know what it means), have never hesitated to drop boring and irrelevant press releases at every opportunity just to come across as caring and sensitive. The Sultan sends a message to Christians at Christmas, the Cardinal wishes Muslims well at Sallah, and the list goes on. It has always happened. And this government has refused to be left behind.

Since President Jonathan assumed office, he hasn’t tried to slow down in his bid to give predictable press releases at will. There’s no doubt that his task hasn’t been helped by Nigeria’s many security problems. But then again, the security problems also amplify the ‘predictable press release’ issue, which has only succeeded in showing off Mr. President as more of a talker than a walker.

In the past year or so, the statements by President Jonathan’s Media Officer Dr. Reuben Abati, usually contain certain keywords, with Mr. President being “saddened by the loss of lives” following the “tragic events” that occurred. He also always sends his “condolences to the families of victims”; and then ends with a “promise to bring the culprits to book”. Then sadly about a week later, the cycle basically repeats itself. Is it great that the President sounds like he cares? Yes. But at what point do these words become annoying even to the talker? At what point does he stop promising to bring culprits to book and actually brings the culprits to book? When do we see action?

Sometimes, I start to wonder if the government takes the saying that ‘words have power’ a little too seriously. Like, someone in Abuja believes that continuously repeating something would make it automatically act out itself. You would expect that by now, someone would have pointed out the clear difference between the government’s mode of operation and that of the terrorists in our midst. The government keeps talking while the terrorists do all the acting. In saner societies, the reverse is usually the case. Post 9/11 for example, we were left with a world where Al Qaeda spent most of their time releasing videos and audio recordings promising hell to America, while America on the other hand slowly eliminated it’s leadership before ultimately killing Osama Bin Laden. That, is how governments work.

As things stand today, any Nigerian who has ever read a newspaper in this country, could do Dr. Abati’s job. When members of the political opposition criticize government, simply release a statement calling them “detractors” or “disgruntled elements who lost elections and are paid to destabilize government.” When international organizations rank us low in health or developmental indices, dismiss them for “not being in touch with current efforts at reform by the government.” When Nigerians complain that government isn’t doing anything to improve the economic situation, let them understand that “results take time” and that “government will continue to work in the interest of the people.”

Now, at the risk of sounding like ‘one of them’, let me remind our leaders that as they send out these great messages meant to inspire and motivate Nigerians to do better, they need to ask themselves one simple question: “What have I really done to actually do as I say?”

 

 

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Comments (25)

  1. Voltrons, vextrons and other stories.

  2. @Titanum: Thanks for pointing that cheap shot out. Every 'critic' these days has to take a jab at GEJ, pastors, churches, and their members. Easy targets that won't fight back, they have come to realise.

  3. @Akeem, FYI, ebuka was rabble rousing in this article! It is no match for an Abati! Roger this!

  4. Ebuka nice piece but you ruined it with ** while taking their offerings in thanksgiving to the altar (thereby, funding their Pastors’ love for mansions and private jets)** what does that have to do with anything? Unlike the country of your birth or (to some extent) your leaders going to any church or giving offering is not by force (that is no one is being disposessed of his/her offerings at gun point). It is entirely up to you! ALL of the critics of these pastors don't attend their church so they don't know what the members gain. Not everything is money mind you.

  5. Arrrgg…Ebuka don finish Abati oooo,,,brilliant piece bruv.as for voltrons chinwe and ugo, yu guyz shld get a life.enof of talking,what we want is action.

  6. I thought I was the only one who noticed the repetition of phrases by GEJ. Thank God o. As much as I don't like OBJ, I respect him cos I know that he would have fished out those miscreants from wherever they were hiding, but our dearest GEJ is busy speaking english and moaning about cabals.

  7. @Hephzibah, hold up! U call Hon. Patrick a grammarian? Someone dat manufactures words like we were in the medevial era. His English aint 21st Century! His subject-verb agreement totally sucks! Give honour to whom honour is due! Ride on, Abati. Ebuka wishes he were in ur shoes!

  8. Ebuka really brilliant piece. If only the likes of Abati can read this, maybe, just maybe, they would start by borrowing some grammar from Hon. Patrick, and come up with a different format. Haha. I'm just kidding!

    @ the other commenters let's be civil as everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  9. @M1MA u are a mumu. Of all the derogatory words u could think of it's a saw dust brain. Why are u offended? Get a grip! The idea behind commenting is airing one's view! @ugo-ene whoop! Whoop! Keep it coming!

  10. @M1MA you rave and curse like a juve! I'm highly disappointed onu nkapi! At least having saw dust inside one's brain is greater than having nothing, you ubulu okpo!

  11. @Ayo: If someone told me that there's an adult, a supposed educated person, who views the war on terror as an event that happened on 9/11/01, I would have disbelieved the person. But, voila! You pop up!

    Note: 9/11 was not the beginning nor the end of terrorism against the US.

    How ignorant can someone be about terrorism? Not very much more than you. How myopic? It doesn't get narrower than your view point.

    Please, I beg you, in the future before you comment on an issue, at least do yourself a favour – just Google the subject and take at least 10 minutes to read up on the subject before you chime in.

    There's nothing more disgraceful and destructive to this country than block-headed and loud commentary on the Internet.

  12. @KC: What is the use of the commentary space if it's not for comments?

  13. @Chinwe, please get a grip as ebuka is entitled to his opinion. @Ugo Ene and Ebuka, it is all about how u choose to see the cup. Could be half empty or half full, but like I said earlier, you both are entitled to your opinion. Ebuka, nice article. @ Ugo Ene, you may want to write your own article instead of filling up the commentry space.

  14. @Chinwe d attention seeker! I fink ur an okpo! Who are you kwanu? Ebuka needs attention as a celeb? Complete dunce u are. Go back to school. Re-read d contents of his write up and crack ur saw dust brain.

  15. @ ugo.. There was only one 9/11. I have lost count of how many boko haram attacks in Nigeria. Latest one was today. Besides what is happening to the huge chunk of 2012 budget that was meant for security? I can't see any of that money at work. Or maybe I don't have access to data. I don't need any data I want visible results not data. Anybody can cook up data..

  16. Ebuka, you said, "At what point does he stop promising to bring culprits to book and actually brings the culprits to book? When do we see action?"

    * You write like someone who doesn't have access to information. Hello?! Haven't you been reading the news of arrests of Boko Haram operatives? What about the raids, and gun fights between security operatives and Boko Haram? This is the kind of dishonest, partisan and – as Chinwe said – attention-seeking criticism that doesn't help this country move forward.

    You said: "In saner societies, the reverse is usually the case. Post 9/11 for example, we were left with a world where Al Qaeda spent most of their time releasing videos and audio recordings promising hell to America, while America on the other hand slowly eliminated it’s leadership before ultimately killing Osama Bin Laden. That, is how governments work."

    **Bro, this reeks of inferiority complex and double-speak. Here you admit that US war on terror was 'slowly eliminated' and you say that how a sane country works. Fine! But you fail to give your government the same allowance for the war on terror to be fought and won slowly.

    I always say some of the worst enemies of Nigeria could be find among the community of government critics. They take delight in talking down on their country and comparing Nigeria unfairly with other countries.

    Take for instance the recent polls in Senegal. They jumped up and started asking Nigerians to take a cue from Senagal. Forgetting that Nigeria's democracy doesn't permit the man in power to manipulate the constitution to extend his tenure in the first place. (Obasanjo's failed 3rd term bid.) In Nigeria, have hold elections and the losers step down and don't try to manipulate and deny the winners access to the office for months. Yet, Nigerian critics will say we need to learn from Senegal whose democratic structures are far behind ours. Does it make sense?

    Most Nigerian critics come from a very dark place and a place of insincerity.

    Bottom line, we can't afford to have government critics who ignore facts, make up their own to back up predetermined anti-government or GEJ bashing positions, and we surely can't have government critics whose love is not for country, but the sound of their own voices.

  17. @seun, biko mechie onu nsi. Ebuka follow ur leader, MrFixNigeria. Join PDP and get the president to read it asap. It's simple like that!

  18. On point! Ebuka on point.

  19. Well done Ebuka. This piece is impressive. Someone should send it to the President. We're tired of his empty promises!

  20. Very apt Ebuka!!! Preach oo!!and er….madam Chinwe…u are the attention seeker actually!!

  21. Brilliant writing Ebuka. We are tired of the platitudes and really want to see some action. I fear though, that talk is all this Government can ever do.

  22. Attention seeking Ebuka, don't worry GEJ will read this article in Aso Villa! Like Stella Oduah did!

  23. Thank you for this article. You have said it all.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail