Our current, soon to be deposed King, Mr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is a powerful man. As the only viable opposition candidate, I can barely get my 8,000 followers on twitter talk about my tweets for a full day. But my soon-to-be predecessor has been able to get almost 500 people talk about his 28-page national conference inaugural speech for close to three weeks. At 3 minutes per delegate, the delegates were allocated the total talking time of 24 hours and 36 minutes in all to talk about what the President had already talked about. Growing up there was a reason why I didn’t like Indian movies. I enjoyed the dancing and singing and crying; but I almost always fell asleep during what seemed to me like six hours. Granted, nobody was paying me 12 million to sit through those Indian movies. But it shows how compelling Jonathan is as a leader and speaker. I may be smart and the strongest contender for the office of the president come 2015; but if 500 people between the ages of 30 and 100 are talking about a thing, then I might as well talk about it. Let us take a moment to consider the King’s speech. I will talk mostly about the parts of the speech I agree with.
(…) we set up the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) on the National Conference in October last year and charged its members with the responsibility of designing the framework and modalities for a productive National Conference. – King Ebele
And what better way to begin a productive National Conference than spending three weeks discussing the president’s opening speech, especially seeing that they have only three months.
The Committee which submitted its Report in December, 2013, was able to reach out to all Nigerians and various interest groups, socio-political groupings, regional and religious elements, professionals, civil society, the organised private sector, labour, youth, women and others to ascertain their views on the initiative. – King Ebele
I agree that they indeed reached out to all Nigerians. In fact, like I said before, they were even going to nominate me, an opposition leader, to be a member. But of course I proactively turned down that invitation, a decision I wonder about daily. The only people I know they didn’t reach out to, are Ifa worshippers and Okija shrine members, and we all know that Ifa and Okija know how to sort out their internal issues. So it’s not like they really need this conference anyway.
The National Conference is therefore being convened to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of our fatherland. – King Ebele
I know I said I will only talk about the parts of the speech I agree with. But being a feminist, I cannot sit back and let this pass. Why fatherland and not motherland when we refer to Nigeria – even in the national anthem and pledge – as a she and not a he? What if, after dressing up in his baggy male clothing and bowler hat, a foreign journalist refers to him as Her Excellency? Would he be pleased and nod in response? If he is not sure about the sex of Nigeria, he should ask. After all, the Hausa say that the one who has questions never gets lost. Or is this a case of the one who is lost never asking questions?
(…) in the truly democratic nation we are striving to build, we must never ignore the loudly expressed views of the majority of ordinary Nigerians. – King Ebele
Aha! And here was I thinking that he was insensitive to public opinion about my suitability to lead Nigeria in 2015 and his inability to tackle the problems that now exist. I respect what he is doing, because he knows the value of democracy.
In the 60s, our country was ranked along with some developing countries including India, Malaysia and South Korea. Today, those countries have moved far ahead of us in several areas. – King Ebele
Again I want to make a slight variation, using Nollywood, which was recently added to our GDP calculations and contributed to making us the largest economy in Africa. I would say that only India has surpassed us. I mean, Malaysia can’t even find a plane that got missing, whereas we are churning out hundreds of movies every week. That has got to count for something. And really, have you tried watching a South Korean movie? Pfff, please!
We must seize this opportunity to cement the cleavages and fault lines that tend to separate us. – King Ebele
Cement the cleavages? That sounds painful. This is why I will write my speeches myself. Before some frustrated civil servant will write nonsense like this and make me look like a pervert. Our King may be clueless. But he is not a pervert.
(…) there must be only one winner, and there can only be one winner if we do everything right, and that winner must be Nigeria. I urge you therefore to focus strictly on the Nigerian Agenda. – King Ebele
I agree with this wholeheartedly. But I must say that the leadership of the national conference is doing its best to truncate Jonathan’s hustle. Imagine, it took the former Deputy Governor of Anambra State to personally raise the issue of the absence of tissue paper in the toilets on Wednesday. I know it is in my favour for Jonathan to look bad; but I like to fight fair. In a case where people trying to move the country forward cannot conveniently empty their bowels, the only loser will be Nigeria.
I do not possess Ebele's power to keep you glued for 28 pages so I will stop here for now.
Ps. Can our government amend our laws to include "kidnap and disappearance" as a legal method of law enforcement? Otherwise, can they stop making people disappear in 2014?