We are in the hands of a government painfully and tragically oblivious to history. This inability to ‘remember’ (without memory there can be no appreciation of irony, no?) may end up being their greatest undoing.
My plan today was to write a piece titled: In defence of Goodluck Jonathan. Now that will have to wait until next week. At the earliest.
Recent events have compelled me to come to the conclusion that … Ok, I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Sometime last week news filtered out that the First Lady was in Germany for medical reasons. Her office denied, saying she was not ill, and had only travelled abroad to rest. Which is not unexpected; the demands of First-Ladying a country like Nigeria must take its toll on even the most superhuman of persons. I’m not sure Mrs. Jonathan has had much rest since the elections last year. Add to that the unquantifiable stress of a new job as Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa, and you’ll realise why all the rest in the world is needed.
But then it turned out that the handlers of the Mother of the Nation were not telling us the whole truth. Apparently Mrs. Jonathan did not exactly travel – she was ‘travelled’ (there’s a distinction).
In the week or so since a magnificent theatre of the absurd has played out. So first we heard it was food poisoning (which is of course not the same as poisoned food). Then it changed to appendicitis. And yesterday or so at least one medium wasreporting (quoting a Presidential source), uterine fibroids. We don’t know what they will say next: menopause, maybe. (Pericarditis has been taken, alas).
The ridiculousness of it all is staggering. We are in the hands of a government painfully and tragically oblivious to history. This inability to ‘remember’ (without memory there can be no appreciation of irony, no?) may end up being their greatest undoing.
Last week I reminded a presidential spokesperson of the fact that the same social media crowd he now effortlessly dismisses was obsessively cultivated and fawned over by his boss barely two years ago.
This week I’m compelled to offer another reminder: of the circumstances into which Nigeria stumbled in November 2009, when President Yar’Adua fell ill. It started like this, just as Dame Jonathan’s has started, and quickly unravelled into a mass of dissembling, and outright deception.
Now the first thing you’ll say is that Mrs Jonathan is not the president, and has no constitutional role. Which is true. To however use that to insist that she owes us no information regarding her comings, goings and doings is to miss the point entirely.
One, Mrs. Jonathan’s trip to Germany is being underwritten by public funds (I’m willing to be corrected on this), and so should, as a matter of principle and best practice, not be immune to public scrutiny.
Two: the manner in which the Jonathans and their handlers have managed this situation is a pointer to the fact that they would not handle this any differently were the person at the heart of it the President himself. What this says is that the presidency has learnt no lessons from the sequence of events that led Dr. Jonathan to the position of C-in-C.
Three: the presidency’s reticence on the matter of the First Lady’s health combined with the casualness with which it has allowed lies and rumours and speculations to flourish point us to one thing: this is a government that sees nothing wrong with employing falsehood and deceit as weapons of governance. After the vicious lies of last January the obfuscation machine is back, oiled and primed, ready for Season 2.
Public trust evidently doesn’t count for much in the eyes of these ones.
Now to my main point: The actions of the Villa make me wonder: might it be that these people think we are fools? By we I mean all of us Nigerians, of course. Or why else would they be digging up the Yar’Adua Manual barely 3 years after Nigerians fought to rubbish it? And if they indeed think we’re fools, could it be that we’re really and truly helpless fools caught up in an eternal (self-preserving) delusion of sense and agency?
Until I find any solid evidence to the contrary, may I posit that Nigerians, as long as we continue to sit down and allow ourselves to be taken as fools (by our so-called leaders) – are indeed nothing short of fools. And might I therefore suggest that the opening lines of the Nigerian Constitution be immediately rewritten to read: “We the fools of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”
Shall this be the case, until we can prove, to a sufficient degree, that we are indeed in possession of a capacity for ‘awareness’, the sort that drives people to rebel against the myriad condescensions and taking-for-granted that daily assault them.
Until that happens, the dysfunctional script of the past will continue to dictate the tone and mood and lighting of the unfolding present and the unwritten future.
And we will be of all citizens the most to be pitied.
* Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.