By Tony Ekata
‘This government is not doing anything’
‘Jonathan is clueless’
‘Nigeria is like a ship without a captain’
Bla bla bla!
Jonathan bashing has become a pastime for many in Nigeria. Listen to any call-in programme on radio discussing any issue tangentially related to federal government activities and you are sure to hear a litany of vituperation, obloquy and aspersion on the person of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ),GCFR.
The most annoying thing (for me) is to hear clueless people parroting the views of others on the airwaves. They listen to one station, call up another station discussing the extant issue and pour out what they have just heard someone say, especially if that someone lambasted the president or his government. No wonder GEJ holds the unenviable record of the most abused president in the history of Nigeria. And some say, the most tolerant. (Which I think is not a bad thing)
People’s frustrations are understandable. Who wouldn’t be irked by the colossal resources that have been squandered on dubious white elephant projects, cronies-support programmes (stomach infrastructure)* and party-propping propositions? But let us pause and ask: Did all this begin in the last few years? Or have we just awakened from the complacency-induced stupor of a siddon-look citizenry?
I am not a Jonathan apologist. I would like to see effective and impactful service delivery to be the mantra of this government and indeed any government in Nigeria. But for anyone to say that this government has done nothing is nothing for the President to be worried about. Rather, it is something that should galvanize GEJ to do everything that will make his stewardship something for everyone to remember – maybe not in the mould of Madiba but to be remembered all the same – for good reasons.
And that appears to be his attitude to the whole horrid hoopla,judging by what he said at today’s inter-denominational memorial service in honour of Nelson Mandela at the Aso Rock Chapel, which I was privileged to attend. Talking about politicians playing little gods, threatening, intimidating and showing hate in their communication, President Jonathan said, among other things:
“They will call you all kinds of names at the beginning but the end matters so much….”
Just as Mandela was once called a terrorist!
Meanwhile, let us count our blessings under our breath, as we breathe fire and molten magma like some disgruntled dragon, in condemnation of the perceived (true or false) inertia of this administration. A time there was in this country when people slept at filling stations for days to fuel their cars. God forbid that we should return to those days! But memories of those hazy days have a way of spiraling out of the subconscious as I experienced on Friday morning.
My friend’s ox-blood-coloured Honda Bullet car that I was driving to work suddenly (but not unexpectedly) stalled. I needed no mechanic to tell me what was wrong. The previous evening, the reserve fuel warning light came on as we were returning home after another long day at the office. I told my friend we needed to get fuel from the next available gas station. But he took one look at the gauge and told me we had enough to take us home. Besides, he lectured me; the filling stations from that point home were notorious for adjusting their metres and defrauding unsuspecting motorists.
I deferred to his ‘expert’ advice and proceeded. But we didn’t reckon with one of those ‘go-slows’ almost always waiting for you when your fuel is low or your engine is not working slow or your gear is not selecting well or your radiator is over-heating, and at the end of which you find the cause to be the indiscipline of some motorist who left his broken down scrap right in the middle of the road.
The fuel did indeed take us home eventually. But taking me to the nearest filling station in the morning needed serious prayers – and that wasn’t exactly one of my prayer points that morning. My friend left for work very early, saying he had an early appointment. He joined a neighbour and left the car for me. If I didn’t know him well I would have thought that was an excuse to dodge the impending wahala.
As soon as I started the car, the reserve light winked at me. I said a silent prayer. Too late. I hadn’t driven two poles when it lurched and stopped. And the nearest filling station was at least two kilometres away. Hoping against hope, I tried to start it. Khia!Khia!! Khia!!! Khia!!!!,the engine replied; it was as if the bloody car was laughing at me. ‘I no blame you,’ I muttered, thinking of options.
I opened the trunk of the car in search of a container to go get fuel with. Nothing. I remembered the petrol jerry can sitting not far from the ‘I pass my neighbour’ generator at home, walked back home and found some fuel in it. I took it to the car, opened the fuel tank and made to decant the fuel into it. But there was a plate-like metal lid blocking access to the belly of the tank.
I had seen a rubber hose near the generator. I walked back home to get it. I recalled that with the hose I could push that lid down. Back to the car, I inserted one end of the hose into the fuel tank, the other into the jerry can and blew hard into it – as we used to do in those days. Fuel bubbles came tumbling around my mouth while noxious fumes drifted up my nostrils and went straight down to hit an empty stomach. Breakfast served!
It was then that memories of the dark days of fuel queues and black market came back to me. If only the filling stations we passed the night before were not in the habit of cheating with their metres….. Perhaps I would have had enough fuel to take me to the filling station. If only the driver of the abandoned car that caused the go-slow had been disciplined enough to push his car off the road…… Perhaps I wouldn’t be belching fuel fumes even now as I write this piece. If only and only if……..
What about you? What are you doing in your place of work, in your business, in your school, in your hospital, in your church, in your mosque, in your shrine, in parliament, in your opposition coalition,condescension or defection political party, and in your little space, that you know you ought not to be doing, and you know that doing such undermines the progress of the country and the welfare of the people? Oya now, talk true. I no go tell EFCC.
So, next time, before you open your mouth to condemn whoever, open your heart and introspect. Look around and thank God for what you have. Yes, steady electricity supply is better than ‘I pass my neighbour’ generation and transmission but there are people running away from countries with steady electricity because there is no peace.
Let us learn to adopt the attitude of gratitude, as Bishop David Ibiyeomi counseled in his sermon at the Aso Rock Memorial service. The renowned tele-evangelist said:
Only those who are thankful will have their tanks full
Those who are never grateful are great fools
If you don’t appreciate God for what you have, what you have will depreciate
If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never have enough
Complaints complicate issues
Offering time! Blessing time!!
God bless Nigeria.
*Stomach infrastructure is an addendum
(This piece was originally posted on Facebook on December 8, 2013)