[Analyses]–I emerged from a difficult 48 hours to read Rotimi Amaechi boasting in Premium Times that he dredged the river Niger for N100 million. And I noticed people rejoicing.
When we tell government to be prudent and responsible with public funds, we do not by any means imply that government officials should assume that we all have porridge in the spot where our brains should be. How much does Rotimi Amaechi think it costs to move one ‘katampila’ to the work site? And if he alone had the secret to such miraculous reduction in costs, where was he when we needed him to repair the Abuja Airport Runway for N5 million and import Bukola Saraki’s bulletproof Range Rover for N500,000?
Do the dredging properly and give the people value for money. Quit propaganda. It is true that the corruption of the Jonathan administration was stratospheric and I believe all revelations thus far are only a tip of that sordid iceberg. However, unless you have due diligence to show me, I want a situation where you can exercise agency without the constant hint, two years into your tenure, that your predecessor’s heists account for your own failures.
Yes, the causative link between the corruption behemoth of the Jonathan administration and present difficulties should not be played down but there is a problem when you still haven’t identified spheres of your own independent agency two years on. And you are yet to successfully prosecute anybody.
What then do I mean by due diligence? You cannot announce the criminal wastage of N34 billion and mop it over casually with a N100 million propaganda plaster. Who has been investigated? Who has been indicted? Who is facing any kind of trial? Where is the contractor? Where are the officials who awarded the contract and failed to ensure performance?
I am also saddened by the fact that we keep lowering standards and benchmarks in terms of the functioning of statehood. It is proper and human to be relieved by the appearance of President Buhari at the mosque today – despite his ongoing health challenges.
However, it becomes depressing when folks turn the President’s choreographed cameo appearances to the singular benchmark for the fulfillment of presidential obligations and duties to 180 million people.
It makes members of the citizenry who dance and rejoice because they have reduced the benchmark of presidential office to the ability to make choreographed cameo appearances look like unsophisticated simpletons.
Those who are choreographing the President’s cameo appearances are also not thinking about the implications of what they are doing. I come from a faith rooted in the Benedictine philosophy of “ora et labora” – work and pray.
Work and pray – generations of Christians have mouthed this dictum for centuries. Many of the foot soldiers dancing on social media and celebrating cameo prayer appearances by the President are in fact Christians from the work and pray tradition but they don’t even know the precepts of their faith. They thereby legitimize the assault on presidential duties by the president’s handlers and managers.
What the managers of the President and their Greek chorus in the public sphere are saying in essence is that the president cannot work but he can pray. Or he cannot walk to work but he can walk to pray.
It would even have served their purpose better if they had moved the Jumat service to the President’s living room. At least, they would have been able to make the case that the President works from home and also prays from home. For now, their ill-reflected choreography seems to be saying that in matters of statehood and the exercise of presidential duties, the president’s ability to pray is more important than his ability to work.
Cameo appearances do not resolve the fundamental issues:
1) The integrity and functions of the highest office in the land are not amenable to the personal whims and partisan emotions of the enablers of any incumbent.
2) Your ability to shout and scream that the only obligation of citizenship is to pray for the President and rejoice at every cameo appearance, failing to do which translates to callousness and indecency, does not in any way affect the stringent, secular daily requirements and obligations of the duties of the President. These obligations are onerous, completely secular and empirical. They are not subject to your emotions. They are subject to only one question: is the incumbent 100% physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to fulfill them?
3) Wole Soyinka recently joined the chorus for complete honesty and openness about the President’s condition. Yet, those who have been part of an orchestrated orgy of masking, hiding, dissimulation, deception, and denials since the President went to London are the ones screaming the loudest about decency. What is decent about lies and deception?
4) There has to come a time when the enablers and applauders of the tragic drama around the President’s health need to stop trying to blackmail citizens who are raising questions and look critically at themselves. Who really lacks empathy and decency? Those asking a man to go and devote himself 100% to his health or those putting severe physical strain and stress on such a visibly weak man, egging him on at the expense of his health and dignity, just to satisfy the demands of their own egos, their own personal and political agendas?
5) I continue to wish the President well in his gallant march towards full recovery. I pray that he gains the courage to close his ears to political opportunists and ego-driven hailers who are trampling on his dignity by exhibiting him in cameo appearances like a museum exhibit. I pray that he gains the courage to place his duty and obligation to Nigeria above every order consideration whispered in his ears by man, selfish man, interested man.
6) Mr. President, look within. Check yourself. If you can no longer give 100%, resign and go and take care of your health. You will enter history and posterity in a much grander way. Those who are currently exploiting you are too petty to be able to fathom this.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg