By IDANG ALIBI
Ever since the news was given out that beginning from last Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan would remain in Abuja for a more or less one -week working leave, I have been watching out to see if some of my compatriots will buy space in some of our leading newspapers to wish the President a happy, restful, restorative, regenerative, recharged and re-invigorated leave. Apparently, none of our ever inventive, creative and crafty compatriots has hit on the idea of catching the president’s eye with such a sycophantic outing. I am very surprised because sycophancy has been horned into a fine art in our country and no one seems to have exploited this golden opportunity. I think we have been spared of it on this occasion only because our people were caught napping by the suddenness or rather, the belatedness of the announcement. The news came when the President had already begun to enjoy the skeletal, working leave.
If some of my sycophantic compatriots had been given a chance to do what best they know how to do, we would have had quite a lot to read in the newspapers. Some would have taken the line of lamenting the enormous burden that has been the lot of Jonathan in the past two years in leading a most difficult-to-lead, ungrateful, unappreciative, ever arguing, ever murmuring, ever grumbling, and ever -complaining , corrupt and stiff necked people like Nigerians. They would have concluded that they had thought of the need to remind the President to take a break and have some rests but that they feared that such counsel would imperil his transformation agenda. That the President has seen the need himself to demonstrate his sagacity in recognising that although he may be president, he is after all a mere mortal and deserves to take a break from a very hectic schedule and have a rest like every other human being.
Since I am not a sycophant with several wads of Naira to buy a newspaper space to wish the President a happy, well deserved leave with an eye to currying his favour for either an appointment or an allocation of a lucrative or marginal oil block, I wish to use this humble medium to wish him a ”meditative” and ”transformational” leave. Now, Mr. Idang Alibi, what is a meditative and transformational leave? Do not be in a hurry. I will explain.
Simply defined, a meditative leave is one in which a leader of a struggling country like Nigeria with so much problems should embark upon in which he is required to fast and pray and generally reflect on the fate of his country. During such a leave, he searches his soul and asks himself a number of very patriotic questions such as: is the ship of state under my captainship sailing well or whether it is in danger of sailing into stormy waters and if so, what do I do to steer it out of danger? During that time, he also calls on the heavenly bodies or the celestial authorities to give him wisdom, guidance, direction, strength, courage and to order his steps aright so that he can offer his people purposeful leadership. Coming especially at this time when Christendom is gearing to celebrate Easter, there is nothing I think of that is better than wishing Jonathan to engage in this sort of leave. Jonathan needs it and his country stands to benefit enormously from it.
Jonathan needs to embark upon this type of leave in order to reflect on what is fast turning out to be the sad destiny of our country Nigeria. Today, Nigeria is becoming a good example of how things should not be done. A most shameful example is that if any country is reported to have struck crude oil in commercial quantity, that country is advised by everybody not to ”go the way of Nigeria”. As a patriot sold on Nigeria, I feel so pained and ashamed each time I hear this type of counsel. The most frightening thing about all this is that most of those leading us do not seem to care about the fact that our country has become emblematic of ”the way not to go”.
If I had any power to so decide, I would have called on Jonathan to add two more weeks to the one he has chosen so that he can have sufficient time to truly reflect on the state of affairs of our country. He should abandon any notion of skeletal work; hand-over the reins of government to his Vice, closet himself somewhere and be very far away from the warmth and charms of the First Lady and away from his children who will want to savour the pleasure of the presence of doting father; away from friends and favour-seekers and far away from relatives with an entitlement mentality, all of which could be so distracting, and truly concentrate on thinking about his tasks and accomplishments, his strengths and weaknesses so far and which direction he wants to take the country. I am saying this because in truth, this country is not running well in spite of what seems like Jonathan’s well -meaningness and his best efforts.
And one is not blaming Jonathan for all the travails of our country. Our problems have accumulated over the years and all of it cannot be laid at his door steps. One is speaking to him now only because the country is now under his watch. I want Jonathan to come out of this leave a transformed man- a man filled with a little more passion, a little more action, a little more bravado and with some little more razzmatazz. This country at this time stands in need of something dramatic or something drastic to shake all of us out of our lethargy. We have not done well for our country. If since the discovery of oil we have prudently spent even ten per cent of the earnings every year on the development of the country, we would have been somewhere today. And if each Nigerian gives ten per cent of his God-given ability to the development of the country each day, we would today have become one of the leading nations on earth. We have not and that is why today Nigeria is at the bottom of every development index. We should all bow our heads in shame and our President should take a much longer leave so he can engage in a serious spiritual exercise and come out with a better navigational chart to steer Nigeria to the Promised Land. Despair is fast enveloping our country and I fear for Mother Nigeria if we continue with the leisurely, unhurried and cavalier manner we are currently approaching our developmental aspirations.
From the account of the creation of the world in the Bible book of Genesis, it is clear that even God himself was engaged in retrospection every once in a while. In the six days he was engaged in the business of creation, God would pause and reflect on what he has just created; satisfied, he would carry on. That is why we are told in five places in that creation account: ”…And God saw that it was good”. Any modern leader, whether that of a country, a business empire or even an ordinary household, who does not engage in periodic introspection and retrospection is not fit to lead.
So far, President Jonathan has presented one side of his persona to Nigerians-the easy going, genial, self effacing and totally harmless man who means well for his country. That is good. But it takes much more than these types of attributes to govern a nation as fractious, as flawed and which needs quick fixing as Nigeria. Some of us desire that Jonathan should begin to show the other side of him as a leader who has enough gumption to clear the terrible mess in our land. Jonathan needs to begin to take hard decisions because this country is in serious need of a tough talking; tough acting president who is desirous of taking some tough but necessary decisions that may hurt some people.