Perceptor on "Nigeria prays", Comrade Governor and Ibori's fiscal federalism
“By doubting we come to question, and by questioning, we perceive the truth.” (Peter Abelard, 1079-1142)
Eight Questions on ... Nigeria Prays
ABC! Perceptor has not been particularly surprised by all the sanctimonious admonition of sensible people who think that it is only prudent to consider what might be done if Mr. President is (a) absent from duty (b) not feeling very well (c) feeling extremely very sick (d) in a coma and unable to communicate (d) dead (e) dead and buried and (f) politically dead and buried. All we hear is that “Nigerians should pray” for Mr. President.
Perceptor of course, is only human (yes now!) and can’t claim to speak on behalf of the Almighty. Still, even to ordinary human beings like Perceptor, there are a FEW questions that arise about this “Nigerians Pray” business ...
1. Shouldn’t that be Nigeria Gives Thanks?
Mr. President, according to Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, is “Hale and Hearty”. Media spokesperson Segun Adeniyi tells us that this hale heartiness includes acute pericarditis for which Mr. President is receiving treatment and “responding remarkably well.” So surely, rather than Nigeria praying, Nigeria ought to be giving thanks; celebrating Thanksgiving (so to speak) along with the Americans?
2. Er, what are we praying for?
3. What difference will it make?
Perceptor only asks because as far as Perceptor can see, Mr. President has been more or less Missing In Action since the 29th of May 2007. At least, mentally, intellectually and emotionally. Now we can add ‘physically’ to that list. But really, in these days of telecommunications and video-conferencing, what real difference does that make?
4. Is Mr. President YOUR prayer priority?
Perceptor is sorry, but even without all this hale heartiness and remarkable response being exhibited ... er, well, said to be taking place in the Presidential body behind closed and inaccessible Saudi hospital doors, when Perceptor makes a list of the people and things that Perceptor wants to pray for, Mr. President and his remarkable hale heartiness just isn’t at the top of it. Not even near the middle of the list. Perceptor would think that prayers are best directed to those who need them. Those who have problems. Problems that need solutions. Not hale heartiness. Sorry. Call Perceptor hard hearted if you like. But that’s just the way it is.
5. What is likely to be the reception of the prayers of the pray-ers?
If Perceptor were the kind to be worried about such things, Perceptor would have doubts about whether Nigerians can really be sure that the hearts of those sanctimoniously calling for prayers (as opposed to say, constitutional calculations and political positioning) have the necessary degree of purity or at least, sincerity for them to get a good reception Upstairs. Because what Perceptor notices is that this sanctimonious set (or SS, as Perceptor can’t help thinking of them) come mostly from the PDP. And what Perceptor thinks is that the main reason this mostly unsavoury crew has for wanting to stop the rest of Nigeria doing anything about Mr. President and his remarkable hale heartiness except “pray”, is to give them time to slog it out amongst themselves!
6. Within the unsavoury crew, which faction will triumph?
That is, slog it out as to whether it will be (a) the “the Constitutional provisions are quite clear” and Goodluck Rules OK? faction, or (b) the “let Goodluck take over but appoint Bauchi State Governor, ex PDP, ex ANPP, now PDP again Isa Yuguda as VP, vanish Goodluck and let Yuguda – son-in-law to both Mr. President and First Lady Turai Yar’Adua, i.e. the Turai Rules OK? faction or (c) let any existing vacancy in the Vice Presidency be filled by the Number Three citizen, and who knows when there may arise a vacancy in the Presidency, i.e. the Senate President David Mark Rules OK faction? Maybe it will be (d) the Sule Lamido for VP faction, in which case OBJ Rules OK? Honestly, Perceptor can’t be bothered to wonder which will be worse – after all, as Dr. Samuel Johnson observed about three centuries ago: There is no settling the precedence between the flea and the louse!
7. What is likely to be the reception of the prayers in view of the pray-ee?
Of course, all those are only contingency scenarios. After all, we are dealing with a situation of remarkable response and hale heartiness, so really, we are actually only praying for that situation to continue. But even if, just in case, Perceptor means, supposing that there might have been any falling off in the hale heartiness, or the response might be a little less remarkable than at first described, in short, just supposing that there ARE problems that need the intervention of the Almighty, Perceptor would be worried that He might not feel all that inclined ...
Perceptor recalls, you see, that last year, the prayee did rather take the name of the Almighty a bit for granted, when he claimed that he was going to Saudi Arabia in His service, i.e., going on lesser hajj. Because in reality, it turns out that he was only using that as an EXCUSE. Perceptor thinks that if the prayee had said that he was going for a secular purpose, for instance ... opening of a stretch of road, or an oil refinery, or a new university ... something like that, then there wouldn’t be this uneasy feeling that ... well ...
8. Is this “Nigeria Prays” business now the official policy of the Federal Ministry of Health?
Perceptor only asks because Health Minister Professor Babatunde Osotimehin has been lamenting that Nigeria is “not on course” as regards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal of providing quality health care to all who need it by the year 2015. Perceptor is not going to join those making predictable remarks about how badly it reflects on the quality of health care at home when Mr. President has to travel overseas for ordinary checkups, because Perceptor happens to believe that if the country is exporting crude oil and importing refined products, it stands to reason that it would also be rich enough to export sick patients and import healthy people back. Frankly, the only problem that Perceptor can see with this new export-import national healthcare scheme is the extent to which it will add to our national carbon footprint. Perhaps the patients can be transported by boat? But those are mere details anyway.
So while Perceptor assumes that part of the plan to achieve this particular MDG will naturally include taking any Nigerian patient to the (possibly Nigerian) doctor in Saudi Arabia, or Germany, or the United States or anywhere else doctors can be found, rather than bringing the Nigerian (or possibly foreign) doctor to the Nigerian patient in Nigeria, Perceptor also notes that the “Nigeria Prays” component appears to be in addition to the patient export component, at least, going by the case of Mr. President. So what Perceptor wants to know is whether the Ministry of Health has officially endorsed this programme. Can we please hear from Professor Osotimehin?
The Meaning of Words ... “Hale and Hearty”
As used by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice in describing the condition of Mr. President. ‘Nuff said.
The Meaning of Words (2) ... “Unruly Behaviour”
As used by the Oyo State Police Command in describing the one-man-riot that one of its police officers unleashed at the Oni Memorial Children’s Hospital in Oyo State. Unruly behaviour which resulted in the death of two children! And Perceptor thought that it was only the British who knew how to practise the art of understatement!
Comrade Governor Watch
Perceptor doesn’t know whether the Comrade Governor has indeed been promised the Presidency in 2014 (2014??) – Perceptor thinks that quite apart from the mathematical issue, the Comrade Governor would be well advised to borrow from m’learned friends and remember that ‘nemo dat quod non habet’. And Perceptor doubts that even the nonsense that power makes of people’s heads can have so scattered CG’s head that he won’t think to himself that there may be other people ahead of him on the ‘Nigeria’s Next President’ list.
Still it is becoming difficult for Perceptor to even pretend to be surprised at the extent to which the Comrade Governor has been hobnobbing with the Peoples Democratic Party, the party of reactionaries and anti-people policies. Being mathematically challenged, Perceptor of course cannot say what should happen with our refineries or ‘deregulation’, but Perceptor thinks it a sign of the shift that the realities and the attractions of political power that CG has even fallen out with the Nigeria Labour Congress on the sale of petroleum refineries and deregulation!
Despite that, Perceptor wants to sympathise with Comrade Governor over the kidnapping of the General Manager of his Edo State Rapid Response Agency, Mr. Osahon Isaac. Hmmm. Rapid Response Agency GM kidnapped. Not very encouraging, that.
Another kidnap victim for whose early release we must all hope and pray (yes ke! Nigeria prays now!) is Ms. Isememe Ejodame, who rejoices in the title of Special Adviser to the Wife of the Governor on NGO Matters. Still, Perceptor cannot help wondering ... Special Adviser to the Wife of the Governor on NGO Matters. Is that a full time JOB or what?
That Ibori Lecture on Fiscal Federalism ... digested
Perceptor knows that many of you may have decided to boycott the address by ex-Delta State Governor, James Onafe Ibori (but not THAT James Onafe Ibori) at the University of Benin last week. Never fear. Perceptor has digested the lecture and distilled it down to a few sentences which capture the essence of what was said by the distinguished lecturer on Fiscal Federalism ...
“I’m worried that even with all the money I now have, I and other people like me might not be able to get ourselves elected President of Nigeria. Therefore, we should be allowed to control our money at source. Especially if it’s oil money. Our unemployed youths? You just leave us with the money and we will know what to do with them.”
But seriously, Perceptor wants to know where CACOL was? And what sort of mumu students are studying at UniBen that they sat down quietly to be lectured by the former Governor? Perceptor is worried that if all ex-convicts see are smiling sycophantic faces, how will they know that people don’t like them for stealing?
The Politeness of Kings
The reason why punctuality is described as the politeness of kings, is that since everybody has no choice but to wait for the king, he shows his respect and politeness by not keeping them waiting.
Governor Sullivan Chime however, is not a king. As a matter of fact, he’s just a public servant! Yes, Perceptor knows you will say that so are Kings and Queens nowadays – all maintained from the public purse. But Kings are born to it and can’t be remote ... well, even if a Sultan of Sokoto has been deposed and a Deji of Akure is being threatened with removal, they aren’t supposed to sackable.
Anyway, Chime is not a king sha. Apparently that fact dawned on the organisers of the Nigeria Media Merit Awards after only four and a half hours waiting. No doubt they said to themselves: Hang on! Chime isn’t a king anyway, so why should we wait for him. And they prom..., well, perhaps ‘promptly’ isn’t quite the word, but they finally decided to stop waiting and get on with the presentation of the Merit Awards. It seems that by the time the event commenced, more than half the guests had left. Perceptor cannot imagine why!
Still, Perceptor thinks that Governor Chime, apart from realising that he isn’t a king, and therefore, that people don’t really have to wait for him, could have picked a rather more obscure bunch of people to hit with a ‘no-show’ or a ‘late show’. If it had been the society of engineers, for example, who would have known about it, after all, if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear, is there a sound? The assembled ‘cream’ of the media world however, is probably not the best place to practice ... er, executive non-politeness.
Most blame however, has to go to the mumuish NNMA organisers. Whether Governor Chime was poisoned, ill, a little bit tired, late getting back from Isi-Uzor LGA or just couldn’t be bothered, why should they wait so long? Perceptor recommends that the organisers stand in front of the mirror and practice that bit from William Shakespeare’s HAMLET, you know, the part where he says: “Oh! What a rogue and peasant slave am I!”