Tolu Ogunlesi: Nigeria, rocket science, and other life’s mysteries (YNaija FrontPage)

At that time I remember thinking to myself: with bomb disposal expertise like this, who needs bombers?

Last week I got into an extensive back-and-forth on Twitter (oh yes, Twitter again!) with someone – a stranger – who eloquently defended President Jonathan and his achievements. It’s impossible to tell if this person works for the president or is simply a self-appointed Jonathan believer. But I was impressed. The defence was so clear-headed and intelligent that I was compelled to admit that it would be grossly untrue and unfair to completely dismiss Mr. Jonathan’s efforts as president.

Yes, we have a Sovereign Wealth Fund, an FOI bill, tax policy reform, back-end power sector reform. Jonathan supporters would also like to include ‘Cassava Bread’ as one of the achievements of their principal.

Yet you can’t shake off that sinking feeling that a great deal remains missing – there is no sense of urgency, no sense of an overwhelming desire to take the “transformation” agenda beyond the realm of rhetoric. There is too much same-of-the-old thinking, and it appears we have a president who has a lot more bothering him than the desire to confront, head-on, a messed-up status quo.

Mr Jonathan’s big-picture vision of Nigeria remains as elusive as the text of his PhD dissertation.

Let’s backtrack a bit. No doubt this was a man who never expected to be President. That’s not so much a big deal. The world is full of people who didn’t want to get married, found themselves married, and, surprise, surprise, did a good job of it. The world is full of such. Or is it?

No matter. Mr. Jonathan is now president. And he will be for at least another 3 years. He might as well sit up and do some real leading, even if almost belatedly.

In his most recent New York Times piece Thomas Friedman raises some interesting questions about about inspirational and “extraordinary” political leadership in today’s super-wired world.

I now realise that Mr. Jonathan’s biggest challenge at this time is getting Nigerians to believe, and continue believing, that their country is in competent hands. By now it’s no longer news that our dear president, with many of his antics and utterances, makes himself an easy target for public ridicule. It is becoming increasingly tempting to believe that Nigeria’s progress now definitely lies in the realm of rocket science.

Yet I refuse to believe that. I think that more often than not most of Nigeria’s most intimidating problems are not so complicated that a bit of old-fashioned common-sense mixed with a bit of clear-headed thinking and a bit of integrity cannot solve them. Call me an armchair critic – and I invite you to join me on the armchair and let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in Kaduna, Northern Nigeria, a suspicious looking package was brought to the attention of security forces. As expected of them they decided to investigate the package. An officer was assigned – or maybe he assigned himself – to this task. He marched up to a suspicious looking bag, scanned it perfunctorily with a basic metal detector and then, with a crowd watching, proceeded to rummage through it. An explosion, and then a mass of body parts blown sky-high. The man died. Just like that. [If you think this is some apocryphal tale, or parable, then you need to watch this video – viewer discretion advised!]

At that time I remember thinking to myself: with bomb disposal expertise like this, who needs bombers? Now let’s assume we didn’t see that video, and had to make do with hearing the news of a cop who was killed by bombers in Kaduna. One would have conjured images of a sophisticated clan of bombers perpetually one step ahead of security forces.

The video of course shatters that illusion, and makes it clear that this man was killed by nothing other than a display, by none other than him, of shockingly poor judgement within those circumstances.

Now extrapolate that to our leadership, at local, state and federal levels. Think of how many acts of poor judgement are displayed every day, by people who simply can’t be bothered. And come to the terrifying conclusion that perhaps we should even be thankful that things are not worse than they currently are.


Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


Leave a reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

Comments (8)

  1. Sighting some people criticizing this article, I decided to read it. Honestly, this is a very good piece. Nigerian's problems can be solved with mere common sense – not rocket science.

  2. Hahahahaha! I agree, Ynaija needs to hit the refresh button on their front page. Bullocks

  3. Just like you, I find it disheartening that our leaders are worried about our lack of trust and faith in them and so I wonder why they wouldn't just do what we expect – help the nation grow – and leave us to our conscience! After all, if a man calls you a thief, its only expected that you'll become honest/faithful and prove him wrong as opposed to printing 101 reasons why you shouldn't be labeled a thief!

  4. Nice One Tolu. We all should use our heads more often. @Jimmy, all Tolu is saying is [email protected] you don't need rocket. Science to solve some issues. Common sense might just do the trick.

  5. More like a Comprehension passage to me..For those who don't stay in Nigeria, this is just an article that narrates an incident to them..No offence meant but its not Educative and its really poor

  6. Nice lettering,all art and not much substance….you did not state specifically what those achievements of Prez Goodluck Jonathan are- maybe taking direct quotations from the Twitter character you had an encounter with, breaking down the stimulating and, convincing discussion with him, or highlighting the certain fundamental achievements the man has recorded so far…

  7. My dear Jimmy Anonymous, I've read this twice. Permit me to take a break and return later, in the hope that I might understand it then. You know what they say about third-time lucky. In any case, thanks for at least making an effort to produce a comment. Your efforts, even if un-understood, must not go un-appreciated.

  8. This article is a joke. I think the joker probably didnt have anything to write so he decided to put this rubbish up. In the beginning he went around saying the 'solutions to Nigeria's problem' (a common buzz phrase among many – no longer arm chair but BB-tweeting critics) are not that complicated meaning they are fairly easy.Then he goes ahead to give an illustration of how a simple (though he interpreted this as poor judgement) approach to a problem resulted in drastic consequences. That's like he's refuting himself. There was nothing he was really driving at. The piece is titled Nigeria, rocket science and other….mysteries. but the piece bore no resemblance to the heading. Atink its time Ynaija clicked refresh and got in new columnists the present stock are spent; same lachrymose pickup lines weekly. That brainless Reuben Abati did better in his 'Guardian' days. rollover pass the mic!

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail