(Swans - March 22, 2010)
I will praise thee, o my savior, I will praise thee for ever more.
Hey, Alhaji na wetin bring you to church? And na you dey sing 'I will praise thee' like a zealot? (pidgin English)
I beg, make you leave me alone. Didn't you hear the good news? I will praise thee, o my savior, I will praise thee for ever more. I will shout hallelujah, I will worship thy name, o, me I go worship my lord o, my God is too good for me. (typical Nigerian grammatical construction)
And you, a Moslem, shouting 'I will praise thee, oh, my savior,' in a Christian church! Wonders shall never cease.
Comout there, my friend. Good news does not know religious or ethnic boundaries. The good Lord has delivered our nation very good news, indeed. All that a patriotic citizen can do is to show some gratitude to the almighty father and his son. Tomorrow, I am going to join the traditionalists in pouring libation to the Gods of Africa. Look, I already bought my Original Schnapps.
Alhaji, are you telling me that you're going to partake in the drinking of liquor?
What's wrong with that? Me, I go drink am for ebrything. Kai, this news is too good to be true. Akoi Allah! (Hausa speak)
Good news, what exactly are you talking about?
You! I thought you were a journalist...
Yes, of course, I'm a journalist.
And you're asking me what good news -- which other news is dominating our airwaves?
Corruption in high and low places, kidnapping here and there, the yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots, rigged elections all over the place, brutality by the police on the citizens and, of course, the rumors that President Yar'Adua is back in the country.
You! You called the triumphant entry of our great and popular president rumors, kai!
Great and popular, anyway you're entitled to your opinion, but have you seen him?
No, of course not.
Have you met anyone who has seen him?
No, but it was on the television and all the papers.
Do you believe everything you read in the papers or see on television?
No, but it was said that two planes landed at Abuja Airport and that they came from Saudi Arabia and we all know that the First Lady is in town. Do you think that she'll abandon her husband in Saudi Arabia or that the whole officials of state will be telling white lies to Nigerians?
It has been known to happen before. But, for me the presidency of a nation is far too important to be toyed with the way our president's handlers are going about it. You claimed that he made a triumphant entry into the country. What is triumphant in the president of a nation of 150 million people sneaking into the country like a common fugitive?
Are you saying that our great and beloved president is a fugitive? Kai!
I say no such things. I'm just saying that the going and coming of our president, of any president, should be more dignifying, more edifying than what we are seeing in Nigeria. The presidency of our nation demands more respect that what we are witnessing. If our president is sick, we can understand and he shall have our sympathies and prayers. If he's hale and healthy as we're being told, they should present him to us. Let him speak to us. We didn't elect a president to run the affairs of our nation by proxy. They took him to Saudi Arabia without our knowledge. They made him speak to the BBC when we have thousands of radio stations in our own country. Now, they sneaked him back into the country, and we are being made to believe that he's the epitome of good health. If such is the case, let him show us his face. Let him speak to us. How would you feel if your father is sneaking into the house like a wanted criminal?
My father is not the president.
I didn't say that he was. I was just asking you how you and your family would feel if your father is sick and his handlers will not tell you and your family what's ailing him, and then they surreptitiously smuggle him into your house in the wee hours of the night.
That is a totally different thing. Our great and beloved president is back and to me that calls for great celebration. I don't know why you journalists are always so spectical.
It's skeptical not spectical.
I told you to leave me alone; grammar is not my language.
You meant English is not your language.
Whatever, kindly leave me alone and let me get on with praising our Almighty Jesus Christ for bringing back our great president hale and hearty.
Are you sure that he is hale and hearty?
That's what his people say and I have no cause not to believe them. Allow me to praise my God, o jare!
Since when did Jesus Christ become your God?
You journalist people, you like to pry into matters that do not concern you. What does it matter to you to whom I pray? On Friday I was at the Mosque to offer prayers to Allah; today I'm praising the mighty name of Jesus for bringing back our president so that he can continue to vigorously pursue his Seven-Point Agenda.
Seven-Point Agenda, what's that?
You called yourself a journalist and you don't know what agenda our great president has been pursuing in the last years! You see how unpatriotic you journalists are?
Sorry that you feel that way, but do you remember what the agenda is?
How am I to know? I'm just an ordinary citizen. But the president's people said that he's back to vigorously pursue his agenda so that he can transform the lives of ordinary Nigerians. That's good enough for me.
Why don't you ask yourself what the president can do when he's now totally medically incapacitated? The man was elected to a four-year term, he's spent three years in office and registered zero as far as performance is concerned. Today, he lays down in bed virtually a vegetable, and some handlers are telling you tales about his vigorously performing some agenda and here you are celebrating.
There's nothing wrong in celebrating the coming back of our great and beloved president.
Great and Beloved are not adjectives we should carelessly throw around. Nigerians have really been very charitable to this president even though he has treated us with the greatest impunity. For 93 days, we have patiently waited and offered prayers for his recovery. The least he could do is to show some appreciation and gratitude. But here we have a situation whereby the president's handlers continue to rub our nose in the sand, and continue to insult our collective intelligence, with some baloney about his recovering and pursuing his agenda. The man is terribly sick. His handlers, if they truly love him, should allow him to resign so that he can pursue his recovery vigorously. They should forget any agenda that does not concern his recovery for now. What we have now is a truly ruthless and selfish cabal manipulating a comatose president to pursue their nefarious agenda. What, tell me, did President Yar'Adua achieve in this three years in office?
Now, you are the one who is being uncharitable. Even his worst enemies admitted that the man is a very humble, god-fearing and that he loves Nigeria.
Ah! God-fearing, maybe it is time that Nigerians start asking for leaders who will fear them rather than those who are in awe of some phantoms of the air. All the leaders we've had since independence also claimed to be god-fearing and very patriotic. That, however, has not stopped them from looting our treasury dry. They all claimed to love us, yet they refuse to give us the most basic of life's essential - water, light, food, and shelter. The truth is that all our leaders, without exception, have taken us for granted for too long. Some years back, some idiots in colonel uniforms seized the reins of our government, proclaimed themselves generals, and started to systematically mess up our lives. They left us more impoverished than they met us. For the last twelve years, the civilians have been doing the same with us. They continue to treat our dear country like a conquered territory, and our treasury like war booty that must be looted with haste. The truth of the matter is that the Yar'Adua presidency is in no way better than that of any of his predecessors. In actual fact, he's worse in many areas. Take the fight against corruption as an example -- the whole world gave his immediate predecessor kudos for his attempt to fight corruption. Yar'Adua came and totally dismantled the agency responsible for the fight against corruption. And you're here telling me about a great and beloved leader. Beloved by whom; and Great in what sense?
But are you not forgetting something?
Ah! And what would that be, my brother?
Our great and beloved president is the first university graduate to rule our great nation.
And so what? How has his being a university graduate reflected in the type of leadership he's given to us?
And are you not forgetting another important fact?
And that is?
He's a Chemistry Lecturer.
And what is that supposed to mean?
You are forgetting that chemists operate at atomic, sometimes subatomic levels that might not be so visible to people like you and I. The man might be doing a real great job at those sub-particle levels -- maybe that's why his achievements are not so glaring. There's another important fact the detractors of our great and beloved president are forgetting.
And what would that be?
It is said that chemists don't die; they just don't react. Maybe our great and beloved leader is in a state of perfect inertia; a state that's not unknown to many great chemists, and Nigerians are just making obstreperous noises.
I think that you're talking utter bunkum. The president, chemist or no chemist, has spent three-quarter of his term, and if he meant well at all, we should be seeing some of his achievements.
That's another problem with us in this country; we're always in a rush. That's our number one problem. We all claim to be Christians, but we forget the Bible injunction that slow and steady wins the race.
I thought you're an Alhaji, a Moslem. When did you start reading the Bible, and where in the Bible did you read that?
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About the Author
Femi Akomolafe (see his profile on Swans) is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/. (back)