*Because I Care #05
No human is above sin. Even great humans. The great Winnie Mandela was getting warm with one small boy while Oga Madiba was breaking rocks on Robben Island. The brilliant Churchill spent too much time with the bottle. Bill Clinton was so worked up he fell into temptation and allowed pretty Ms Lewinsky relieve him of presidential stress away from Hillary’s prying eyes.And I lied about liking a piece of clothing my partner was wearing.
As someone seeking high office I shouldn’t have lied. But I am human. My partner will read this with a scrunched up face and say, ‘How could you? Look in my face and lie to me?’ But through all the tears and disappointment, my partner will forgive me. Like South Africa and Nelson (in spite of the divorce) forgave Winnie, like history forgave Churchill, like Hillary forgave Bill and started allowing him to hug her in public, like Nigerians keep forgiving Gowon. My partner knows I am only human.
Our current president has many flaws. He ambushed Nigerians who went to the village and increased fuel prices on January 1st last year. He is not athletic. He quarrels with elders nearly 20 years his senior like General Obasanjo. Sometimes his clothes are too big for him. Sometimes he frowns for photos. Sometimes he has froth at the sides of his mouth when speaking. But in spite of these little things, Mr Jonathan, like god, is merciful and forgiving. He must be what they call a ‘child of god’. And a child that follows after his father is a good child. This is the one area where it will be hard for me to defeat him in the eyes of the people come 2015. He looks at the hearts of convicted-of-stealing-from-the-masses remorseful sinners and turns their crimson into snow. Because he cares.
This is the one policy of Mr Jonathan I will continue when I get to power. I will posthumously forgive Lawrence Anini. Anini may be regarded by some as a diehard armed robber. I think of him as the Nigerian Robin Hood. I read that he used to share part of his loot with market women. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor. If that isn’t remorse, then I don’t know what is. I will forgive Bishop Oyedepo for a career of slapping witches- (but this will need a criminal conviction for assault so I will ask prosecutors to work on convicting him and then after his jail term, I will forgive him. Then I will suggest that it might be easier to just neutralize their power than to keep slapping. I mean how many slaps can break a witch?) I will forgive Nasir el-Rufai, former de-facto Vice President, for going behind Obasanjo’s back and opposing ‘third term’. That’s a bit like snitching. And in the book of the streets, snitches won’t make heaven. I will forgive Abacha for dying before he was able to transform into a democrat. Me, I consider Abacha’s heart attack as remorse- he must have thought such long painful thoughts of leaving before the project was done, that his heart just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s remorse.
There are some international figures I want to forgive too. Like the Pope that just resigned without notice. Before we could arrange a Nigerian lobby for Cardinal Arinze. Before we had a chance of making history - the first European state led by a black Nigerian man. If the Pope emeritus knew he was tired, he should have told the rest of us early enough so we would have started trying to convince the Latin Americans that Africa and Nigeria, sorely needs a Pope. Things would have been different. Think of the contrast- white robes, dark skin- perfect. But I understand. I will forgive him.
There is one thing though that I will not do. Mr. Jonathan is too humble, too decent to take the glory for his good work. I hear he has credited the Council of State with forgiving the remorseful sinners. Me, I like the fame and the glory. I will make each announcement of forgiveness personally and wait for the applause. When I do it, I will have no apology because honestly, there is nothing wrong about pardoning a sinner who is remorseful.
Ps. This week I have become very, very afraid of Nigerians. For the first time my resolve to become leader of this country was slightly shaken. Nigerians, especially the ones on social media are unforgiving when they decide to make fun of a person. I watched an interview clip of the Lagos State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp. One would expect that if Mr Obafaiye Shem made a gaffe, people would understand since, in all honesty, he was not the ‘oga at the top’. But no, Nigerians on Twitter and Facebook circulated the interview where the man did not know the website of his organization like they were circulating a cure for poverty. People even put quotes from the interview on mock t-shirts like ‘My Oga at the Top’ or ‘ww.nscdc’. I am happy this man is black. These are the kind of things that make Japanese people fly out of a 20th floor window. I am afraid of Nigerians. As we say in Hausa, if you are stooling, (not in a WC o! in the open, like off a bush path- otherwise the saying won’t make sense) and you see a Nigerian passing, sit on the stool and pretend you are just sitting. It is that bad. What gave me the courage to continue however is that Nigerians only have this resolve for public embarrassment in matters that don’t matter. Like bad English, like a premiership team that never wins trophies, like a public servant that needs his oga at the top to verify what the website of his office is. Not things like atrocious governance, corruption or outright disrespect for the Nigerian people. So I think it is still safe to run.