"I actually died. I passed out for more than a week. My intestines and tummy were opened. I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost. It was God himself, in His infinite mercy, that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days"- Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan; Nigeria's First Lady.
LAST Sunday evening, Nigeria's nomenclatura gathered inside the Banquet Hall of the Aso Villa, to celebrate one of the wonders of modern Nigeria; the return from death of First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. It was a solemn spiritual event; a power show; a fashion statement extraordinaire and a political gathering, all rolled into one.
Never mind the weeks of spin and outright lies by the presidency and the First Lady's handlers, an "in-your-face" celebration of Madam Patience's life brought to a head, all that was kept away from Nigerians, in a show of disrespect and contempt, as the First Lady had her near-death experience.
For watchers of presidential body language, there was a lot to deconstruct in last Sunday's display at the Aso villa. Why did the presidency and First Lady handlers persistently tell Nigerians lies for weeks on end as the normally intrusive Dame Patience suddenly went AWOL and all kinds of speculation filled the national space?
Wasn't there something fundamentally defective in the inability to learn lessons from the recent past, when Umaru Yar'adua also disappeared into a black hole of ill-health that tragically consumed him, but was similarly mishandled? Why did the administration feel disrespect was the best way to deal with Nigerians?
And didn't the trend of lies continue when the returnee First Daily openly stated that she never entered a hospital? What then changed that led to a manipulative expression of "openness" by the First Lady and the elaborate celebration that dominated national television last Sunday night?
What was Dame Patience intention telling us how she "out-died" the Biblical Lazarus? Lazarus died for only three days, while Nigeria's First Lady was dead as a dodo for SEVEN whole days?
There is political advantage in the manipulative use of religious symbolism and President Goodluck Jonathan recently confessed that Nigerians politicians regularly exploiting religion to serve their selfish ends. Madam Patience who brazenly told the lie that she did not go near a hospital, then regaled her listeners with "testimony" of how she went through "eight or nine operations within one month(for an ailment about which Nigerians were still kept in the dark)" which she courageously demanded: "people are always afraid of operations (surgery) but in (her) own case, while (her) travail lasted, (Dame Patience) was begging for it".
The reason was that "after the third operation...I was going to the theatre everyday". It was without doubt a reason for a liberal dosage of piety: "it was God who saw me through. I did eight or nine operations within one month". And to underline the Biblical parallels, Dame Patience whose "intestine and tummy were opened", matter of fact said "I actually died, I passed out for more than one week", reminding that "I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his".
It was no wonder therefore, that President Goodluck Jonathan decided that such a day as last Sunday must be shoved down our throats. It was a day "to appreciate what God has done"; President Jonathan is "not too good in celebrating, but for this particular one, I think we have to thank God for keeping the life of my wife".
And trust the wretched and thieving ruling elite, it was indeed a Who-is-Who of Nigeria's bandit elite that "graced the occasion". Dame Patience claimed she got a second chance from God who knew she had not completed "the assignments".
Henceforth she vowed, "I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the less-privileged". Well, the multi-million Naira "celebration" was a controversial start to touching the lives of the less-privileged; the original lies told will make it difficult for the "less-privileged" to trust Dame Patience and the "not-too-good-at-celebrating" President Jonathan.
What Nigerians deserve from those in power ostensibly on the basis of our votes, are respect and openness; unfortunately, Dame Patience and President Jonathan failed the test with the lies which accompanied the First Lady's ill-health.
Last Sunday's in-your-face multi-million Naira celebration, merely underlined the vulgarity of the entire episode. The wonder world of magical realism that our First Lady resides in, must really tickle the fancies of the Latin American writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
No agreement; there is agreement
THERE must have been some indigestion at the Aso Villa on Sunday at the Dame Patience's Thanks Giving bash, when Sunday newspapers reported the Niger Governor, Mua'zuBabangida Aliyu's revelation, that President Jonathan reached an agreement with PDP leaders and governors in 2011, "to serve only one term as president". Not only was such an agreement signed, according to Aliyu, the president also said in Kampala, Uganda, that he would do only a single term. The revelation was the political equivalent of a scud missile scoring a direct hit on the presidential bedroom inside Aso villa. Naturally, there will be serious collateral damage, especially since other governors were quoted by the media, as having concurred that they had copies of the said agreement, which they promised to release at the appropriate time.
Aso Villa swiftly replied that those campaigning to stop Jonathan from contesting in 2015 (never mind that Jonathan has not explicitly declared an intention, even when body language states the obvious!), "were either ignorant of the law or were doing so out of selfish political interest to intimidate Mr. President out of the contest", according to Ahmed Gulak, Special Adviser on Political Affairs. Gulak (who sounds out of Solzenitzen's Gulag?!), said Jonathan's "tenure would have been abridged if he does not contest in 2015"; his political mathematics would befit an inmate of those Stalinist Gulags, but they make for interesting calculations in a "democratising" Nigeria: "Jonathan would have done only five years if he decides not to run in 2015 and would have done ONLY NINE YEARS even if he contests and wins (in) 2015, WITHOUT VIOLATING ANY SECTION OF THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION (all emphasis are mine), because his first tenure actually started in May 2011 and not 2010 as often claimed by ignorant and mischievous politicians". Our man from the Nigerian Gulag, Ahmed Gulak added the interpretative powers of the Supreme Court to his calling as presidential political adviser.
The most absurd defence of President Jonathan must be that from the Niger Delta chauvinist, Aniko Briggs, who suggested that were there to be an extant agreement signed between Jonathan and the PDP governors and leaders, then such an agreement must have been extracted from Jonathan, under duress. Therefore, it would be null and void. From that springboard, Jonathan should naturally get "ONLY NINE YEARS" that Gulak said he was entitled to without violating any section of Nigeria's Constitution.
As for the Niger Governor, wasn't he shouting long after the horse has bolted from the barn? We had warned Northern Governors between 2010 and 2011, that by supporting Jonathan, they were taking Northern Nigeria to a fate worse than what befell Northern Cameroun, after power slipped from Ahmadou Ahidjo to Paul Biya. They ignored the portents and today, the consequence is the Hobbesian State of Nature that dogs Northern Nigeria.
The emerging scenario is that Jonathan will run; the likes of Gulak will fervently work to save their own personal perches and as is the wont of the PDP, the elections will be rigged and warts and all, Jonathan will sit pretty for a total of nine years!
"No agreement; There is agreement". The political dice is loaded heavily against those who abandoned principles for expediency in 2011; Nigeria's sorry state under Jonathan's watch is an expression of their folly and utter contempt for our country!
Kaduna teachers fail primary four tests
LAST week, Kaduna State Education Commissioner, Alhaji Usman Muhammed, revealed that 1,300 teachers failed in tests generally set for primary four pupils.
A total of 1,599 teachers selected from across the state were given primary four tests in Mathematics and Basic Literacy. Only one of them scored 75 percent; 250 scored between 50 and 75 per cent and 1, 300 scored below 25 percent.
The same exam was conducted for 1,800 primary school pupils with a larger percentage failing woefully.
That was no surprise "because how can they know it, when their teachers don't know it". In November 2011, it was revealed that "no fewer than 2, 000 teachers with fake certificates were employed in (Kaduna) public schools"; while "out of the 36, 000 teachers in the state, 15, 000 are not qualified".
These are mind-boggling facts about Kaduna's educational sector. The Kaduna state governor, Muktar Ramalan Yero was scandalised sufficiently to warn that if needs be, he would declare a state of emergency in the education sector.
I don't know how a state of emergency in a sector works, but there is need for urgent and radical rupture in the way we have been doing things.
We are gradually becoming a Federal Republic of Illiteracy and Half-baked citizens!