Rather than rant and rave about all the things that are wrong in our beloved country, I’ve decided to focus a little more on the positives.
After-all, we could all do with a visit from Mr. ‘Feel Good Factor’.
So let’s look at some of the progress that Nigeria has made during the past few years.
‘What flipping progress??’ I hear you remonstrate.
Let’s have a look. Stay with me now.
From November 2009, the late president Umaru Musa Yar’adua (may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace), was out of the country for over six months.
Very few people knew where he was.
Very few knew what was wrong.
The political situation was precarious to say the least.
I’m still wondering how we managed to escape another coup.
Let’s face it, coups have occurred in Nigeria for far less than what transpired between November 2009 and May 2010.
But somehow our nascent democracy managed to survive.
The army did not relent in its support of our young democracy; and by and large our political leaders showed a maturity which, quite frankly hadn’t been witnessed in Nigeria’s polity for, – well – ever!
The fact that we didn’t experience another coup; that Nigeria’s democracy remained in-tact, was in itself a monumental step forward in our albeit slow, but steady march towards our desired goal of being a ‘developed’ nation.
In the run up to the 2011 General Election, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, then the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, assured the world that the elections would be free and fair.
He most definitely kept his word.
He created an environment in which the electorate – you and I – believed that it was not only safe to vote, but also worthwhile.
On the 16th April 2011, Nigerians went out en mass to vote.
I remember that day – so wonderfully surreal.
It was not only the first time I had voted, but also the first time I had witnessed voting of any kind in Nigeria.
A momentous day!
I recall a gratifying sense of anticipation whilst waiting in line to vote.
We showed the world that we are more than capable of conducting free and fair elections.
We can be proud of the fact that it was a free and fair election.
The General Election was a positive step for our nation’s democracy.
A huge step forward in our nation’s development.
For much of the last ten years or so we had grown accustomed to the frequent interruption of the distribution of electricity and PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) across Nigeria; not to mention the frequent kidnapping of expatriates in the Niger Delta region.
The country at large was often held to ransom by the all too regular kidnapping of expatriates and Nigerians, as well as the vandalism of pipelines in the Niger Delta region.
The Amnesty programme has restored peace to a once restive region, thereby giving hope and much needed respite to the effective distribution of public utilities across the
As a result of the Amnesty programme, a once so unfairly treated and hence agitated people are being rehabilitated and re-orientated into the Nigerian society.
In my view this programme is an excellent human rights programme, as well as an effective solution to a problem that had plagued our nation for decades.
There is of-course still an awful lot to do.
Security is a major concern.
My heart goes out to victims of the many atrocities committed by Boko Haram.
The nation’s fragile security has been further exacerbated by the spate of bombings we have witnessed across much of Northern Nigeria.
As well as the dire humanitarian consequences, the Boko Haram issue is a potentially lethal threat to the development of our dear nation.
I hope and pray that we are able to find a peaceful and long lasting solution to this unfortunate and tragic problem.
Corruption is also still a major concern.
As we enter another milestone in the development of our nation, I can’t help feeling that we need to work on improving relations between the government and the electorate – in order for all concerned to partner with one another to arrive at our desired destination.
I genuinely believe that we have a president who sincerely cares about the people he is leading.
In this regard, I humbly offer this simple suggestion.
Mr. President – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
“You need to appoint a Public Relations Minister.”
To do what?
1. To teach government officials how to communicate effectively, thereby building positive rapport with the electorate.
2. To be a mediator between the government and the electorate.
It will enable us to have a better understanding of who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.
It will also give your government a much greater chance of obtaining the electorate’s sympathy and support.
I am talking about someone that conveys
genuine empathy with the public; someone that will always tell you and all other government officials the truth; someone that will encourage government officials to listen, to serve; to respond with humility, care, respect, and yes, affection.
Trust me Your Excellency – this will go a long way towards improving the image, credibility, and overall performance of your government.
Once again, I am saying this as someone that sincerely believes that you are a president that genuinely wants the very best for the people you lead and serve.
It is so important for government officials to convey a sense of humility and empathy with the electorate whenever they venture out on public assignments.
I remember walking down High Street Kensington, London, on a warm and sunny afternoon many years ago.
There I was, casually walking to the tube station after a stroll through the park, when all of a sudden three or four policemen rode by on their motor cycles.
Once they had passed by, traffic wardens halted the traffic.
Then came a couple of Cadillac’s with tinted windows; followed by – ‘Oh My Word!!! It was only The flipping Beast!!!!! (The car of the President of the United States of America).
Bill Clinton, at that time the President of the United States, and hence the most powerful man on the planet, was passing by.
The windows of his car were not tinted.
So I waved to him.
And guess what?!!
He waved back at me!
To be honest I was so shocked that he waved back that I naturally assumed he was waving to someone else.
So I looked around me to check.
Nope. I was in fact the only person on my side of the road. So assuming he wasn’t waving to the trees behind me, I can safely say that Bill Clinton waved at me!
At ME!! Little Segsie!!!!!!
I was so chuffed!!!
My point here is not that Bill Clinton waved at me. Although it does make a pretty damn good point!
My point is that the most powerful man in the world was passing by and there was no fuss.
There were no road closures.
There were no aggressive policemen telling this rather short but devastatingly handsome black geezer to get off the street or stand to attention!!
How did this make me feel??
It made me like, respect and appreciate President Clinton even more than I already did.
So – public relations, in all its’ ramifications is something that needs to be addressed – across all levels of government.
For the rest of us – we the electorate, I have this to say;
During the past couple of years we seem to have finally woken up to the fact that we do indeed have a voice.
We have the means – through voting, to partner with governments to ensure that Nigeria continues to progress in the manner that we have witnessed during the past couple of years.
Yes yes yes I know, there are still many things that are far from right.
There is definitely still plenty of work to be done.
But for once, rather than wallow in doom and gloom, let’s look at the positives.
Which ever way we look at it, we have a government that is making progress; maybe not as quickly as we would have liked; but progress is definitely being made.
Rather than criticise from afar, let’s focus on how we can contribute towards our nation’s development.
Things will continue to improve. Of that I have no doubt.
But we also have our part to play.
Remember – little steps lead to giant leaps!
I wish you all a happy, safe and peaceful remainder of 2012.