*Because I Care series #11
I have been busy these past two weeks at the Caine Prize Writers Workshop in Uganda. Among the many benefits of this prestigious writing workshop, it will ensure that no ex-newspaper editor will end up writing my speeches. The risks of allowing people write your speeches cannot be overemphasized. Speech writers being ambitious are wont to give in to excesses and temptations- they are bound to chip in thoughts of their own just to feel powerful and relevant. Many years later after you will have left office, when you are battling diabetes, erectile dysfunction and other diseases that old age visits upon you, some young overzealous journalist looking for glory will dig up that speech and come to your country home to interview you. He will quote the 20 year-old speech verbatim, putting it in the most scandalous context. The tragedy is, you will not remember a thing about it or what you ‘really meant’. Because you did not write the bloody thing. And old age plays nasty tricks on you. You will look at this small boy who barely knows how to shave trying to rubbish all the blood you shed for this ungrateful nation and you will snap. Do or say something stupid. Worse still, he will catch it all on camera and post it on YouTube or whatever cool internet program they have at that time. He will become popular and Nigerians will forward the video, make jokes and t-shirts from your puerile, anger-driven responses. They will spit on you. Your blood pressure will rise and you will slump and die with a heavy frown on your brow. All that people will remember will be that last interview. Not your sacrifices. Not how you saved the country from destruction. So, no, thank you. I don’t want a goddamn speech writer.
One of the things I did not find a lot of in Kampala was generators. I learnt some people in that city recently protested because of a two-week power cut. I blame King Museveni. Those 25 years in power haven’t taught him much. Once in my home state of Kaduna we had no electricity for 13 months. Did my people protest? No. Those who did not have money for generators came together, formed informal cooperatives, did asusu or adashe and one by one, bought generators. Those who couldn’t, became nicer to their neighbours so that they could frequently take their phones to charge. Why? Because our governments have been sensible not to start something they can’t finish. (Uganda has about the best weather on the continent- not too hot, not too cold. In fact, in my residence by Lake Victoria, I tried to ask them where the vents of the central AC were and the lanky Rwandese-speaking manager informed me that there was no AC in the hotel. That’s how lovely the weather is.)
It is a simple matter. Museveni spoilt Kampala with electricity. Next time, he should send those ungrateful protesters to tiny airless rooms in humid Port-Harcourt or sweltering Kano. By the time their necks begin to bend because of meningitis, they will learn gratitude.
Reading the news upon my return, I saw a quote from Labaran Maku which said that Social Media critics “offer fiction”, “slander freely to the public without conscience” and “continue to destroy the well-earned reputation of worthy citizens and leaders for selfish reasons”. His advice to them was that “they should leave this ignoble task and embrace God and decency for the good of themselves and the society.” I have not heard better advice. Increasingly Goodluck Jonathan and his men impress me. I only insist on running for President because apart from the fact that I am younger, drink less, and can do better, too much of anything is bad- whether it is drinking schnapps or living in Aso Rock.
To further deal with this menace of Social Media critics, Mr. Jonathan seems to have awarded a 40 million dollar contract to an Israeli firm to monitor the Nigerian cyberspace. I commend this act of wisdom and foresight. I did some research on the issue and I will list a few of the uses of this policy which I must state I will continue when I take over office from Jonathan:
- It makes sure that not everyone can just join Social Media and start insulting the president.
- It makes sure that not everyone can just join Social Media and insult the president’s wife. This is worse than 1. above. We all agree that it is better to persecute a man than persecute his loved ones. Think of the trauma our dear leader goes through when wicked people say things like Dame Patience is corrupt, interferes with appointments and collects kickbacks from contractors.
- It makes sure that the government can gather useful Intel on wicked people and their sinister operations online. Many wicked people usually have skeletons in their malicious cupboards. Some of them are in extra marital affairs with other women or even men. Some are addicted to pornography. Monitoring Social Media and the internet will provide useful evidence of these so that when it gets too much, these wicked ones can be made to shut up. Nothing is more effective in shutting up an opposition politician than the real threat of a sexual scandal.
The only thing I will add to that will be that bloggers and internet critics during my regime will be made to wear red triangles on their clothes to identify them as the dangerous persons that they are. Because, I care.