Time to Give President Jonathan a Bear Hug – By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

We, Nigerians, are funny people. When it is convenient, we like to compare ourselves to unserious countries like the United States. But when it is inconvenient, we compare ourselves with serious countries like Gabon.

Like many of you, I, too, saw that picture of that Florida pizza shop owner who gave President Obama a bear hug. That hug, when November 6th comes, may be the most singular factor that lifted President Obama over the threshold against Mitt Romney.

Unlike all you pessimists who think that such a thing cannot happen in our own part of the world, I beg to differ. According to my shrink, a man like our dear President who has been complaining of being the most hated and criticized president in the world is actually crying out for a hug- any kind of hug. So the desire is already there. What is missing is, who will bell the cat?

By now it is clear to all of us that what we have been doing has not worked. Our criticism of the president all these years has not yielded any fruit. Instead it has hardened the heart of the president and those of the people around him. They are beginning to ignore us. When they don’t want to ignore us they preempt us with an attack. Deep down, they are desensitized to our whining.

I will give you one simple example. On January 1, 2012, when the president announced the removal of the so-called oil subsidy, he said that, “to save Nigeria, we all must be prepared to make sacrifices.” It was not a long time ago. But we seem to have forgotten. The removal of the subsidy increased the prices of goods and services for all Nigerians. But look at what happened to the President’s travelling pattern. Before the election in April, he went to London in February for a Somali conference. After the election his rate of travel exploded.

Here is an incomplete snap shot of his travels after he was sworn into office on May 29. On June 6, he was in South Africa. On June 21, he was in Brazil. On June 26, he was in Brussels. On July 30, he was in Trinidad and Tobago. On July 31, he was in Jamaica. On August 9, he was in Ghana. On August 22, he was in Senegal. On September 3, he was in Ethiopia. On September 9, he was in Malawi. On September 10, he travelled to Botswana. And by next Thursday, he will be in the United States.

And you all know what happens whenever he gets to the United States- here, Obama commends him. This time, Obama may invite him to be a special guest at his inauguration for a second term, the same way he invited Bola Tinubu to the Democratic Party Convention. Wink, wink. Do you blame President Jonathan for having affinity for people and places where he is loved? To our own embarrassment, we all saw the picture of the president planting cassava in Malawi. Have you seen the president plant cassava in Maiduguri before? Didn’t you all feel ashamed of yourselves when you saw that picture? Chances are that when he comes to New York next week, he may plant Nigeria’s greatest product in New York soil- crude oil.

I have since concluded that we are literally chasing the only president we have out of the country. Whatever we have been doing has not worked. Beneath that reckless smile boils a lava of anger. It is time to try something new. I propose that we spoil the president with love.

Our new paradigm shift should be this- it is not about the president. It is about us. If there is anyone who is clueless in this relationship it must be us. If there is anyone who failed to deliver, it is us. Trust me, this is not a radical idea. It doesn’t even rise up to what is called social engineering.

To win an election, presidential candidates seduce the people. But after the election it is the job of the people to seduce their president. How a president deals with the people that elected him depends on how much seduction the people can use to rock the world of their president.

We dream of our president seducing us but it is our job to learn how to seduce our president. We need to learn how to play our part. And we need to learn it now. And it starts with a hug, bear hug for President Jonathan.

Here are some Top Ten Ways by which we can give President Jonathan a bear hug.

10.) Instead of taking embarrassing pictures of crumbling Lagos-Ore-Benin road and posting them online for the world to see, we rename the whole stretch of the road the Goodluck Jonathan Highway. Heck, he won’t let a highway named after him go into disrepair.
9.) Rather than call him clueless, we all should call him an intelligentsia.
8.) Commission Bruce Onobrakpeya to paint his official portrait with a promise that it will grace the wall of Aso Rock for 1000 years.
7.) Ask our Nobel laureate to edit the president’s collected speeches for worldwide publication.
6.) When any Nigerian abroad is going home, decree that each of them must buy the president a nice pair of shoe.
5.) Rather than publish debilitating pictures of our hospitals online, name at least one major hospital in every local government area Goodluck Jonathan hospital. Mandate all hospitals and maternities in Nigeria to at least name the first male child born each day Goodluck Jonathan.
4.) Bring peace to Maiduguri by simply renaming it Jonathanstan.
3.) Create a software that tracks money laundering and name it Jonathan.
2.) Rather than take embarrassing pictures of crumbling schools and posting them online for the world to see, we rename one school in every local government area after Goodluck Jonathan. Lo and behold, he won’t let a school named after him to remain in disrepair.
1.) Keep the president in Abuja by renaming the city, Jonathanville.

Once we are done, we mandate all newspapers in the country to publish each day, on their front page, how many people died on Goodluck Jonathan Highway and Goodluck Jonathan hospitals.

This is a not reverse psychology. This is just a hug- a bear hug, if you will. After all, a hug by any other name is still a hug.

Please correct me if I’m right.

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