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Archive for October 3rd, 2008

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
I have never been a fan of President Yar’Adua. This is not about any personal beefs, I guess I am simply not a great fan of people who steal their way to power, agree they stole it, but then, refuse to leave. Right from that day I and other voters including the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, waited on end at the polling station on campus for voting materials that never arrived, I knew that what ever government that came out of the whole charade would not at the least, enjoy my admiration what so ever.
So, I have since May 2007 treated Mr. President, his seven point agenda, and his vision 2020 hullabaloo with suspect and wherever possible, I had offered my words of criticism, whatever its worth. Recently, however, I thought it might just be fair if I (on a personal note) gave the man a chance to convince me-beyond the annoying seven point balderdash adverts on NTA- that he really had any worthwhile plans for this Country. ‘Plans’ at least.
The October 1st, National day Presidential broadcast looked like a good opportunity to really listen to the rarely talking President and I had looked forward to it. I woke up early and graciously there was light. I was in high spirit that morning, I even sang along as the national anthem was played just before the broadcast. By the time the rather short speech was over, I felt like some one who just received the news of the sudden death of a loved one.
Without sounding insolent (I hope the SSS doesn’t pick me up) and being very honest, that was one of the dullest, drabbest, frailest and almost banal speeches I have listened to in recent time, delivered likewise in the most uninspiring and unmoving of ways.
Perhaps I have had a little too much of moving rhetoric’s on television following the build up to the US elections or may be I was expecting too much, but what I got was simply not it. It looked more like an unsure and stage frightened nursery pupil, reading a rhyme before the school assembly.
From my understanding, a leader should be someone who can by his words and actions drive his people into doing something without even thinking. He should be able to make them see success even when every where looked gloomy. He should at the least be very informed and convinced of his ideas and plans and should be able to dish it out to his people with a passion that would make them not only share the vision but also own it. Mr. President was far from this module of leadership last Wednesday.
At this critical state in our national life, when every thing is upside down, one would have expected a speech that would wake us up from our depression, reassure us that we are on course, and ultimately set us on a path to achieving the much desired national re-awakening. If only wishes were horses…
Aside the fact that the speech was delivered in the trade mark slow, dull and easy going style, it lacked any thing tangible which a people so desolate and confused can hold on to as a ray of hope for the future. The essential message of the speech was that: we should prepare for more suffering.
There is nothing to remember about the speech, no line you could commit to memory, no cheering news that you could take to the bank. Mr. President took time to reel out economic indices and all those jargons a greater percentage of Nigerians (both literate and illiterate) do not understand about a very fat external reserve, about a 6.9% growth and about a single digit inflation rate. So what? How does all those grammar affect the life of many Nigerian families who could not afford rice for the sallah celebration? Or the many more who would sleep tonight on an empty stomach?
Then somewhere along the line he said something about a Concession Commission that would give out our roads to people who will rehabilitate them and collect payments from we road users-the ordinary Nigerians- until they recoups their investment. By the arrangement, Government spends nothing on the roads, it is we, the impoverished lot that will at the end indirectly pay for what ever repairs the roads get. Indirectly, we are repairing the roads ourselves. What kind of idea is this?
Since when has it stopped being the responsibility of Government to build and repair roads? Have we so failed that our Government will so openly admit its incapability to function by conceding her duties to individuals? Did I hear this same people say they want to make us a first world country in 2020? Nonsense!
Then as if to restate the fact that the journey to his fantasy 2020 will be one slow and unsteady one, Mr. President, quite frankly warned us that there is no quick fix to the Problems of Nigeria. Little wonder he had been nicknamed ‘Baba go-slow’ a long time ago. I guess, we all appreciate that the task ahead is enormous and can not be handled over night, but then, all we ask is that if it has to be slow, could it be at least steady?
Nigerians have proven to be a never say die people, and are ready to patiently follow their leaders. All we ask for is a show of genuine will, backed up with concrete developmental plans and actions that can-even in the remotest ways- restore our eroded confidence in the entity called Nigeria.
Incase, they-the Government- are not aware that the people have lost confidence in this nation, they could take out time to visit either the British or United States embassies or even that of South Africa, and see for themselves how Nigerians especially the young-the so called future leaders- are enduring all sorts of hardships and insults just to get out of this enclave.
If that speech, contained all Mr. President has to offer, then we might as well all start praying that something positive happens at the Supreme Court or else, we would simply be marking time until the end of his tenure.
And as an advice to Mr. President’s Speech writers, go and read the works of Churchill, Thatcher, Luther king jnr, Obama, Ghandi, Zik or even our own dear Oshiomole, to find the right words to employ in inspiring a confused and desolate people, for as it is now, one might not need a lullaby to sing a child to sleep when President Yar’Adua is making a speech.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
nzeifedigbo@yahoo.com
http://www.nzesylva.wordpress.com

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