Recently I applauded the Presidency for the Progress Report on the nation. I am not pleased with the Presidential Independence day speech, for the simple reason that it was lacklustre, with borrowed phrases and examples from the Presidential Progress Report, so very repetitive. The words ‘less is more’ could not be more apt in reference to this speech. Most importantly it was not memorable, in other words it should not have been delivered. I took away three things from the speech:
1) The potential displeasure of our founding fathers about progress today
2) Corruption discrediting technocrats
3) A misplaced analogy which I have refined below
Independence Day is a Birthday for a postcolonial country, it is a celebration of identity and purpose; an opportunity to emphasise we fought for a future of our own, our ‘story’. Ironically the speech starts off with a respectful remembrance of our founding fathers who sacrificed their youth to save the nation, but this same self sacrifice is not evident today. In fact starting off on such a high note made the contrast more glaring, reputable men to look up to in the past, versus disreputable men and women of today with no real soul.
Technocrats today are trying to fill in the shoes of our founding fathers. The Independence address glamourised the power sector, because this is perhaps the only ministry with evident/ real results. The power ministry has had its minister removed, before the case was tried in a court of law. Why hasn’t the Oil Minister been removed from office because of the conflicts of interest with her position also? The PIB yet to be released (no result) is mentioned by the President in his speech, this only confuses the listener, because why was this mentioned at all, because to most, it is an epic failure in the Nigerian Bureaucratic process. This indicates on a very basic level that the technocrats who sacrifice for the nation are raped of their knowledge and discredited of their dignity. Also on a basic level the reason why one technocrat is left behind and not another is corruption.
Corruption was highlighted during the Independence speech, and this in itself was a fraudulent insertion. In my opinion this was the worst part of the address because of the incorrect/unverified fact used. For an extremely important address the speech should have been scrubbed better to prevent the President from claiming our position on corruption has improved by a global civil society organisation, Transparency international (TI); their response was “Transparency International does not have a recent rating or report that places Nigeria as the second most improved country in the fight against corruption.” Someone could have done a basic search on the TI website; it took me less than two minutes.
What struck me most in the Presidential address was his relay race analogy – ‘the baton is now in our hands. Let me assure all Nigerians we will not fail’. It took me back to the London 2012 Olympic women’s 4×4 100M relay final. The Nigerian team’s seasonal best, they were good, they did not win, however they did not fall, they ran together and almost brought home glory. This is a starting point for a very good story and good analogy if redefined. The political race post Independence is not a sprint, it is a marathon. We are lucky because in a sprint the race is lost with only one weak link; our founding fathers have set the pace of the marathon, even if we slow down considerably in the middle after they have set the pace, there is hope that we regain momentum at the end to bring about a great ‘story’.
What if there was a ‘believable lie’ a great story that we Nigerians could embrace as we ran the race together and supported our leaders. What if there was something great we believed our country could become, the story we all bought into about our future. My advice to President Jonathan is, your starting point about a Transformation agenda is a great campaign story and progress report card; however are we being transformed to the Nigeria of old, or a new Nigeria that you are yet to give an apt description/story of?
Let us CREATE our new story- Corruption Kills!!!