“You have aptly demonstrated that you are achievers willing to work hard…:I wish I had spent more time at the office.” Vince Foster, Dep.counsel, President Bill Clinton.
I had only just woken up from a slight nap and in the ten minutes or so duration, I saw a picture of a damask tablecloth with a pattern woven into it that is visible on both sides: a three equal vertical hands of green (hoist side) White and green and a crowd of people singing and whooping with glee.
On this jumbo 747 UAE flight this early evening, I was expecting my usual vein pulsating on my fore head as the aeroplane commenced its landing procedures at the final approach. Yes! I winced. Here it comes! The sensation in the pulsation(s) of the blood in the body. The increased pace of the pulses produced several butterflies in my stomach.
On my approach to the arrival exit, I came in contact with the flight attendant, who looked at me and giggled in her professional manner, her eyes sharp and anxious. I was very pleased to make her acquaintance, as we exchanged numbers.
With the Abuja airport seamless checkout formalities done with, I found myself a town service cabbie and in a twinkle of an eye we were soon heading towards the inner ring road,into a city area that encompasses five ecosystems:upland evergreen forest, deciduous forest,upland dry savanna, savanna wetlands and forest wetlands all rolled into one.
At one spot we saw ahead of us what seemed to be a cloud of colourful leaves filtering across the road. The “leaves”,however, turned out to be butterflies, (magical, isn’t!) and we were not the only observers. A platoon of hungry lizards were scampering about, feasting on their hapless prey.
With the LED on my quartz Rolex twinkling at 22:30,I alighted from the taxi into my hotel room, took a quick shower and was soon occupying a seat in the restaurant. But I lost my appetite to jet lag and fatigue. I left for my room after having downed two bottles of lager.
Lying on the bed,sleep deserted me,the white two by twos of the ceiling turned to a cinema screen of some sort.
At about mid night, I rose up and drew the chair from under the bedside table and opened my laptop.
My mind filled with so much,was muzzy from sleep and cold.I felt as if my Muse had deserted me, that I could no longer write. A writer’s block, you are wont to call it. We all experience it; especially after my romantic novel full of mush,and with so much on my mind, I remained sleepless till about 5:30.
A cup of coffee perked me up as I made my way to the National Assembly complex. A few minutes after 8:00 I was looking resplendent, confident and charming as I strolled about, looking very debonair in my elegant new suit,in a NASS complex, proud of its exclusiveness and looking virtually on high holidays.I gathered activities would pitch at frenetic pace from about 10:00.
I was in a quite upbeat mood,intent on discussing with the NASS management to collaborate on a retreat/workshop/seminar on HEURISTICS – a method of solving problems by learning from past experience and investigating practical ways of finding a solution.
Its apt for the nation, since the nation have not really made any headway since 1999,an eighteen years of marching on the same spot and noted for its notoriety of leaving its citizens high and dry in a difficult situation especially without help or money in a ‘strange’ country without a passport.
Add to this, the picture of a nation that does not know how to look after its senior citizens,its helpless young men and women, boys and girls 83 of which were reported stolen at Dapchi -Yobe, last week. You’ll recall glowingly the Chibok experience.
These were encounters whose global shock waves is telling the nation that things would never be the same again. It’s amazing that these often unexpected, swift and violent attacks leaves so many tears, deaths and sorrow on its trails; and often caught security operatives unawares,the once they responded to got them scampered for safety, when confronted with superior firepower of the marauding assailants.
This occurrences becoming fairly regular have began to shake the people to the core and exemplified a jarring reality: the existence of enemies in the land. It portrayed the nation as fragile, porous and weak in an age when from cell phones to computers, technology has found its way into every corner of the world – even crossing the divide between rich and poor -and has become a part of life for many. And multimedia smartphone according to a report in the Washington Post newspaper “now has more processing power than did the North American Air Defense Command in 1965. The world is witnessing the birth of the fastest global diffusion of technology in human history.” What is really wrong with us?
I, in all honesty admired the resilient Nigerian spirit in its men and women, boys and girls, orphaned, but whose enthusiasm and idea of life,fun and living hung around the ceiling, like steam gathering in a shower.
They seemed so sure,so stable, so unassuming in spite of the uninspiring and inconsistent government’s plosive conflicting philosophies and uncompromising posture on providing for the people even with the embarrassment of riches at its command.
Everything that’s born needs time to grow and develop into maturity. But this groppy compatriots holding on to the government’s promises, desirous and expecting an immediate powerful, all- inclusive metamorphosis feel there’s something wrong with them and the government when either of them never seems to measure up.
I remembered when I was a child and dressed up in my dad’s work boot’s. No matter how much I wanted to fit into them,I couldn’t. Now I realized that it wasn’t as if something was wrong with me; it just meant I was exactly where I should have been for my age. Could this be the same with the nation? Could it be having problems with where it should have been for its age!
I was still pondering with this on my mind while I was ushered into a giant waiting room festooned with cobwebs. (I hereby elect to be a disinterested observer in this narrative, so that I could be fair in ‘judging’ all that I feel and see,because I am not involved).
I see a waste of space, superfluous furnishing and an abuse of economy and frugality. The problem with its maintenance is that it won’t be simple and plain and costing little this lean times.
Ever wonder why the NASS with its inherent powers could not excoriate the executive for its failures to act and provide palliatives.
I sat by myself in the well-furnished waiting room. Sitting still,the thought of the prevalent educational myopia at national level and other demands made by the myriad on existence today hit me, attempting to finish the crossword of the jigsaw puzzle by myself was a no mean task.
The conclusion I arrived at was that Nigerian politicians need to come alive at whatever they do,whether in word or deed,and they must so do conscientiously.
Notice two words here:1)’Word.’ That covers skills of communication and information. 2)’Deed.’ That covers skills such as creativity and building. Rather than sit lamely and give a not seeming sincere glib remarks while conceding the acceptance of failure on the part of leaders to the chagrin of the electorate.
One would have thought that with the sense of exaggerated self importance, opulence around their edifice, a senator or a honourable member,or even a minister,with their Jekyll and Hyde reputation,the trappings of their high office but no real powers,but facing the challenges of realpolitik, would come alive when looking at the nation’s financial spreadsheet and enriched the world around them, by been concerned with actual circumstances rather than general theories, to do otherwise,these politicians cannot be fully human without creating value. They would always make a zero GPA return.
There comes a point when some action is necessary,such is the present times, But what is missing is the flow. Research shows that the best moments of our lives don’t come from pleasure or leisure. They come when you’re immersed in a significant task that’s challenging, yet matches up well to your highest abilities. In those moments, you’re so caught up in an activity that time some how seems to be altered; your attention is fully focused without your having to work at it. You are deeply aware,without being self-conscious; you’re being stretched and challenged, but without a sense of stress or worry.(That’s why you earn the fat paycheck.) Let’s earn our corn!
You have a sense of engagement with what you are doing. This condition is called ‘flow’, because people experiencing it often use the metaphor of feeling swept up by something outside themselves. Ironically, you experience it more in your work than you do in your leisure time, in fact, your flow is discovered to be at its lowest ebb when you’ve nothing to do. The true idea be hind it is that you invest your abilities to create value for the nation and its people.
A number of questions came to mind:
a)Are our politicians flow not at its lowest at work?b)Are our NASS members caught in this web? c)Shouldn’t they by now engaged in damage limitation, by trying to stop the political scandal of their tacit admission of having failed the people, in spite of the colossal amount of money they take home?
d)Do they have the passion to serve further or they still want the perquisites of office for doing practically nothing?
e)With a grossly bastardised economy and a nation finding it hard to pay its civil servants, shouldn’t the nation’s elective and political offices be part-time and voluntary, with only sitting allowances?
Now,with 2019 around the corner, politics up to the Wards at the grassroot level has suddenly took on an urgency and a new meaning. The paradox could be explained this way. When one expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything that one does have. It’s like when you’re told you have only a limited time to live, it transforms your whole perspective on living. Things you overlooked, and people you neglected, took for granted assumed new names and suddenly become meaningful.
It’s miserable, playing a part for which you’re ill-suited. It’s like walking in shoes that don’t fit. If money wasn’t the consideration, how would you fit your days in the NASS,Executive governor, as minister, etc. Generally, what have you learned about your tenure through this failure as some of them admitted. Have your constituency any indication of how poorly you’ve performed. If you could write your obituary, what would you want it to say? What would you like to be remembered for?
As the nation wounds down in preparation for another round of election, get your eyes of the rearview mirror to which they have been glued and on to the road ahead. It should not all be about acquiring, acquiring,acquiring and me,me. When your back is against the wall,awash in a sea of moral and ethical questions, to join the fray or not, the suffering and patent lack of security in the nation, unemployment etc didn’t come from the absence of things, but the absence of direction and planning.
It’s natural to be appre hensive when one is facing change and uncertainty. It involves a challenging stretch, our abilities are not what strengthen us for the journey. But our faith and hope is in our hands and it gets placed on the altar of our perceptions. If you are like me, you often fear what’s be hind the curtain of PMB’s mind,
and -frustratingly -he won’t let me peek,so I can’t see how he’s working in the nation’s present circumstances. But one do not have to flounder around for the right answers to the nation’s predicament, or wonder if he is right for the nation.
However, one thing that I do know, is that,leaders have to constantly adapt their approach, neither fixed or flexible. Successful generals, it is said, make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans. When you have a clear plan of reaching your destination, there’s a danger of becoming inflexible and trying to stick with it, no matter what. Sometimes it’s wiser to explore other options.
When you’re,or better still,your people are having a hard time or simply put, when your policies are causing your people to have a hard time moving forward,don’t be quick to revise your dream or change your servo. Revise your plan instead.
It’s amazing how long we put up with things before we decide to act. We complained to friends, families and colleagues, at home, at work,at joints, beer parlours. We wrestle with the situation in our minds, yet we fail to avail and take advantage of the simplest solution, because we have been sold with the warped logic of things going bad before they get better, and so have resigned to fate.
Consequently, we’re carrying burdens we don’t need to carry, and life is harder than it has to be because we don’t realize how powerful we are. We can’t all be heroes. Somebody has to sit on the kerb and clap as they go by! So when you think you’re too small to do big things, try doing small things with a big heart,vote! You’ll never know what it can do until you try.
The greatest forces in the universe are never spectacular. Hot afternoons do more good than rainstorms, but they don’t get a lot of publicity. Don’t get discouraged and give up as 2019 dawns on us;not criticising, writing letters and or passing judgement. On unemployment,the status of the old crude oil refineries and expansion plans,the state of our hospitals, pervasive poverty, the spate of persistent unforgivable acts of brazen savagery and scant regard for the bereaved and victims feelings,the supranational connection and the scant information on their migration routes, kidnapping,no light, general insecurities et al;problems that suddenly got thrown into sharp focus.
But there are times when silence isn’t ‘golden’,it’s deadly. For example: 1)Silence is deadly when you use it as a passive, retaliatory means of expressing your anger or displeasure. So we should use pretty assertive be haviour as we seize the initiative in addressing the leaders wrong. 2)Silence is deadly when it results in your making an undesirable decision by default.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.
The questions that face PMB, as the arrowhead of the present administration today therefore,is not what the nation should do tomorrow, it’s what do we have to do today to be ready for an uncertain tomorrow. The best way to go is to face that uncertainty, remain flexible, and consider your options as events unfold. While still tossing the coin on 2019,to go or not,PMB would have to simultaneously, deploy Radio/TV jingles that Hope Brings Happiness. The present state of surefooted scepticism never can,it can only dull the peoples cause of hope.
The free and unsolicited advise to the question on the lips of everyone, should PMB ‘step into the water’,throw his hat in the ring and leave the stage with the applause ringing in his ears. The simple answer is that, he only need to look back at 2015-2018,consider his health status while personally making up his mind and even then,timing is of essence.
In politics, time is a precious commodity and a limited resource,that you get absolutely serious about making every minute count. Each time you say,I’ll take care of that tomorrow, you’ve lost another day you can never get back and just like yesterday 2019 beckons.
May be I should rub it in here, that It is eternally unpardonable that Nigerians, in spite of its romances with parliamentary democracy,and marrying religion,politics fused with ethnicity in the last eighteen years, have suddenly become what the German philosopher Schopenhauer compared with porcupines huddled together on a cold night: the colder it gets outside, the more we huddle together for warmth. But the closer we get… the more we hurt one another with our quills.
Even when we force ourselves to rejoice in the worst of circumstances, but at the back of our minds there are despair and truckload of anxieties.
The nation with its change agenda has drifted to a point where PMB does not have to focus on individual incidents, but the big picture which focuses on patterns, so as to be able to get a good grasp of the suffering in the land;suffering that has no boundaries. By creation and design, it’s intended that no one living on Nigerian soil must suffer,not with its embarrassment of riches.
The patterns would provide predictability and predictability provides comfort, control and security, all of which would help defuse reactive emotions and establish an environment where a people constantly stressed out and confused, with tingling sensations and discouraged all life feel valued and hopeful of a better tomorrow.
The flip side of legalism is licence, and PMB’s office guarantees him such soft powers and licence to act as a grand strategist who intuitively should develop complex plans and implement them with prevision,but first, he must be visionary in outlook. What good is a
well-planned strategy if it doesn’t yield good results. To quote Winston Churchill:”However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
Were our hopes and aspirations projection unrealistic to start with? Hey! When every avenue looks like a dead end and you feel as if you have exhausted every possibility, even in the ranch – you haven’t. Please step up and step in. This is the nation’s defining moment.
From Abuja with love.#
Jimi Bickersteth is a blogger and writer.
He can be reached on Twitter