Goodluck Jonathan: Drunk Drivers Driving the Nation?
I guess, when it comes to social media, not as many of us still like the face or name of our president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, as we did three years ago – when the story of his “remarkable luck” fascinated the nation. Well, perhaps it’s “just my luck” that I chose to put his face on the cover of my last book – Fellow Nigerians, I Wish You Good Luck.
Yeah, I know not many of you got around to read that – (it’s still on sale now, though, $8 in the US and less than ₤5 in the UK, I’m not sure what Jumia.com are saying but soon sha they will finish sleeping and you would be able to get it from them too) if only to avail yourself of the many “amusing” jabs and some really thoughtful controversies in there.
Not that I am always deliberately “controversial” but the truth is that we live in a society that breeds natural conflicts – conflict of religious persuasions, conflict of political affiliations, conflict of sexual preferences, conflict of choice of language, conflict of personal perspectives about what someone else writes on his own Facebook wall, et cetera, et cetera.
A friend took a copy of my Fellow Nigerians, I Wish You Good Luck and noticed the dedication page:
To Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR . . .whose first name and the history of his many “lucky” attainments . . . inspired me to write this book. And to the many Nigerian citizens and residents who go to bed hungry most nights, . . . while even the exotic dogs of their wealthy neighbours have more than enough to eat.
That friend wondered if I was deliberately being provocative by juxtaposing the “lucky” success of Mr. President with the abject penury that plagues our country amidst wanton waste of wealth. Well, not really. I’m a “pure breed”. Pure breeds don’t go out looking for trouble, but if trouble comes looking for us, we don’t budge. A ma ta tan sibe ni. We always give the situation whatever it takes. And when the situation requires telling the truth as it is, without mincing words; we do just that.
On November 28, 2011 – TELL magazine was saying concerning the book, that it is “structured to have a conversational tone, [it] gives the reader the feeling of being part of the writing process”. That editor did get me feeling a little flattered when he concluded, “Undoubtedly, Oyetomi has done a good job of recording some part of Nigeria’s history, while expressing his candid thoughts”.
Wow. I like candour. I always like to say precisely what I mean; only sometimes just a little less, but very rarely more. I have been tongue-tied for a little while now, at least because of distractions and detractors. Yet once more, I feel like saying a few things – only that I can’t shout. As in, I nor fit shout. The Naija palaver tire me small.
Nevertheless, it’s an appropriate time to talk. And I will be talking soon. In fact, I have started to clear my throat, so that I can yanu bi apere (open my mouth wide like basket mouth).
If I remember correctly, there is a page in the Fellow Nigerians book in which I said something like “drunk drivers steering the nation”. I must have been comparing the nation to a moving vehicle, and those in political leadership as drivers of that vehicle. That analogy makes sense to me because I have had a good share of rides in public buses. I remember travelling from Ibadan to Akure one of those nights, and I was sitting in the front, beside the driver – chatting with him. Most other passengers had slept off. We chatted about many things, and allowed our conversation to steer itself. When we got to the issue of “substances”, he told me “igbo na fine food” (i.e. marijuana is good for the body). He said, if I had slept off like the others, he would have allowed Mary Jane to keep his company somewhere along the way. My eyes widened a bit. I smiled. “And your eyes won’t get cloudy?”, I asked him. “Of course, not”, he replied me, “It does make me very balanced. I cool down with it. Especially, if all my passengers have slept off and it’s a night journey like this”. How very interesting!
Igbo na fine food! That expression stuck. Don’t quote me o, and don’t try it. And if you have been trying it, stop it – if you can.
Sorry, that was a digression. I was saying something about steering the nation. Nigeria is a moving vehicle – I can’t determine precisely what kind of vehicle it is. It could be an aeroplane, but I doubt – because it’s not moving that fast. Possibly, it’s a molue bus or gbadigbadi canoe. Whatever it is, it’s a vehicle and we are all in it. And it does have operators – a large crew, headed by a captain, or driver. They seem to know what they are doing. The confidence they exude shows that they are convinced that the nation is moving in the right direction, following the right course, and progressing at the appropriate speed. So, it’s a little controversial when I come on social media and see all the noise you all are making. Yet, I know that igbo na fine food.
Please kindly don’t quote anything I have said so far – but you can quote this one: I, Temitope Oyetomi, I believe in Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and I am praying for him to succeed. Someone said that’s a bad prayer, and I was wondering what that person meant. Have you ever seen a situation in which people are riding in a bus, and praying that the driver of that bus should not succeed? Or, rather, would you pray while flying in a plane that the pilots should fail?
[From this pointforward, again, you can’t quote me.] Well, I know say igbo na fine food but I am praying for every driver and every pilot in this world that they may always succeed. And I am praying for all the passengers too, may we not all sleep off to the extent that we won’t be aware when drivers and pilots start eating “fine food”.
Anyway, to stop perambulating, very recently I wrote to some people that matter – including Mr. President and Vice-President Namadi Sambo, and some other “timbers and calibres”. I have informed them that soon, I will be publishing a sequel to the Fellow Nigerians book. The new book is titled, Understanding Transformation. I should avail you of this paragraph from my letter to the Presidency:
Positive national re-orientation, and entrenching best practices values in society, is not just a matter of political office alone. It is boils down to quality leadership in every sector as well as motivation for those who follow. If we must build a truly great nation, we must inspire all hands to be on deck – and that inspiration must start with you, and I, and indeed everyone that we can get to understand how the process of positively transforming a nation works.
I will be keeping much of the rest to my chest until the book comes out of press. Meanawhila, you might want to catch up with where the conversation began by ordering a copy of Fellow Nigerians, I Wish You Good Luck from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca The links are inserted below:
And for a parting shot, I was growing through my files and saw some letters I had kept. I decided to share one of it with you here. It was from the Office of the Speaker House of Representatives. They were describing one of my books as “intellectually engaging and challenging”. I think, apart from when I am being deliberately jocoserious, that’s always how I love to write. I like books that are intellectually engaging and challenging, and by God’s grace, my Understanding Transformation will certainly be one of such.