Leaders that cannot cook, cannot pray, and cannot plan

August 23, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Prince Charles Dickson


How do you make God laugh? Tell Him of any plans by Nigerian leaders

It’s funny really, the things that bother us as people. To the fact that we were once the happiest people; add that to, the fact we are equally in the top tier of the most religious people on earth, we also have a high level of endurance and persistence, perseverance and patience.

I dare say we are either the most unserious people on earth, that is at the expense of saying that Nigerians are just comedic people; we bother on the minors, minor on the majors, and major the minors when in national discussion.

So, after all the hullaballoo following the comments made by devout man of God, Pastor E Adeboye to HIS FOLKS, notice my intent in caps, we have slowly let the matter die down. Talking about matters that are either dying down or even dead already…you may want to recall the cattle grazing versus ranching. You may want to recall that even the “paddy-paddy padding” of the budget is also nearing its end course.

We have left the Bruntai Dubai Apartments, Snake and other animals’ farm episode, how about that I saved the money story that followed. Or the body check of Dambazau also owns quite a few properties…

Anyway, I am not dwelling on all these issues, but you see none of these matters are devoid of the typical Nigerian malaise of prayer, and now cooking has been added.

I have often wondered what kind of prayers the Nigerian political class engage in, what they tell whichever “god” they profess to serve.

So, I am privileged to be part of the Federal Executive Meeting, and an ambassador XYZ the Minister of onething-something led the prayers (it was a Christian prayer). Mind you it did not last for one hour, and it was a touching prayer. He prayed against the enemies of the President (eye service, although our eyes were closed), he prayed without mentioning names, that those against the ruling party would fail, he cursed enemies of Nigeria, and those speaking ill of Nigeria will meet their waterloo. (In my mind, I felt no wonder the Wailers Inc, are getting larger by the day; answered prayers I am sure).

After the prayers the meeting commenced with the regular ministerial briefing, where every Minister in attendance gave a brief of activities, more like a progress report of which ingredients had entered which soup, and if it was tasty, if the bitter leaf was properly washed, the about of pepper inside, if anyone was experiencing scarcity of tomatoes for the stew, if the kitchen cutleries were in shape, and in some cases, if we were nearing the stage of praying before eating the meal.

The Education Minister took the podium, and as he talked, someone rudely interjected, “People are not happy at whatever you are cooking, this is certainly one meal that Nigerians in the long run, may not be able to afford, already there are complaints that not many can enter the kitchen of education, and yet the meals that are coming out of there are getting out of the reach of the ordinary Nigerian.”

The potpourri of increase of school tuition and the associated levies all coming up to some 65K against the backdrop of an 18K minimum wage is not short of a food well cooked from the table of Nigerians, no prayer, no matter how many hours would make it possible for a civil servant with four kids to afford such a miracle except by “kwaruption”.

While education is not cheap, it should not be at a cut-neck price…the nodding of heads in acknowledgment hardly had died down when another Minister summoned up some courage and spoke, “There are other areas our prayers have been answered, at least the improvement in power supply despite the marauding escapades of the Avengers, most Nigerians can testify that electricity has increased.”

He was yet speaking as mutters of Hallelujah and Alhamdulillahi followed, because until recently electricity was gradually becoming like the eclipse of the sun in many a neighborhood only to be seen once in a while, so whether we prayed an hour or less, this was one prayer answered.

At this point, it was obvious that the session had taken an all comers affair with everyone and anyone interjecting and speaking his, and a few of ‘her’ minds. I then raised my hand, I was acknowledged and my question was straight to the point. Sirs/Mas, I am not so interested in the padded budget, but I am concerned that Nigerians are berated delay about this government’s fight on corruption, but I have a few concerns.

The concerns being, an African concern doing business in Nigeria was given a record fine, the monies were halved, did they pay, how much did they pay, to whom did they pay and where is the money, what would the monies be used for?

Put in proper perspective you go to the Wuse market, you pay a toll, where does that money go to, what is the money used for, or do we need to pray for an hour to find out what the monies are used to cook. Who should be held accountable?

If electricity is improving, do we not need to know why, what is being done, if it is a result of a roadmap, and the expectation for citizens and requirements for it to be sustained? There seems not to be a consistent effort to do things differently from the past, and no one is being punished.

While the ministers nodded in agreement, I took the opportunity to take a dig on the Minster from Burkina Faso, I asked him if he did not think it was important to tell Nigerians clearly what transpired in Samba-land, where all our best efforts in the kitchen was a golden bronze meal.

I asked the Thomas Sankara or is it Blaise Campore copycat why should we only be deserving of a golden bronze, is it that we had no plans, or we did not pray enough?

We cannot continue the ‘indomie’ approach to state affairs and expect results. It is sad that Nigerians cannot get decently cooked meals, and trust not that they have got it in the past, however the sad realities is that for many of us who supported this “CHANGE”, a Shehu Garba telling us that the current President would be one of Nigeria’s best is like telling a hungry man to pray, or that the aroma from a big man’s table means food for poor man.

Let me end in this manner, I continue to listen to Nigerian leaders, and their recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and I think, well, that’s not going to happen. However I do pray that it does happen, when, how—only time will tell.









Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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