Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The President fights back, By Ose Oyamendan

Published:

Ose Oyamendan

One of the worst parts of the Nigerian life is that everyone is in a haste to condemn our leaders. It’s like everyone skipped that part of the holy books where the leaders are supposed to be supreme. Worse, no one sees any good in anything. Manna could be falling from heaven and people will scoop away a month’s worth of supply then complain why champagne didn’t accompany it.

But, thank God for people with four sights like me. And, I mean four sights literarily – eyes and glasses. We tend to see before others. You see, the last time I was caught in a terrible traffic in Lagos, it was because the president decided to come to town to seek the blessings of a preacher.

So, when I was caught in traffic on the upper week on account of another presidential visit, I didn’t fuss like the cab driving dragging me around in a car whose air conditioner, “broke down as I was coming to pick you up, sir”. Nor, did I curse like the commuters all around me.

I knew there must be a divine reason for a president to hold up traffic in the name of a preacher every time I’m in Nigeria. I just wished the man would ask his preacher to set up shop somewhere on the massive Aso Villa grounds. They’ve got plenty of space there.  They could actually fit the Catholics on one side, Ayo Oritsejafor and his CAN on another side and there will still be plenty of room to spare for other religions.

That way, the president doesn’t have to run to Lagos every time he needs a shower of prayers. And, given the way Nigerians sometimes think and talk about him, you know the man needs either a helmet or umbrella to ward off all those ill thoughts. Since he wears a bowler hat, a helmet is a nonstarter and an umbrella is very un- commander-in-chief. So, it’s gotta be prayers.

It turned out the president was visiting the Police College in Ikeja to check on the health of the future gatekeepers of Nigerian law. As he discovered, the police college ain’t what a college should look like. It looked more like a home for prisoners than future police officers.

I spent part of my growing up years up the street from that police college. Back then, it was a cool place to go and watch the cadets march, walk around in the white vests and shorts and sometimes kick our butts in a game of soccer. But, the last time I drove past it, someone had to remind me it was still the police college. I thought they privatized it, the new owners ran out of money and homeless moved in. It looked like what the white man had in mind when he put the word “eyesore” in the dictionary.

Bravo to the president. He went, he saw and he got angry. I think it’s the first time in recent memory that the president had been recorded to be angry publicly. More often, we see a worried president, a sad president or a cheerful president. Anger, we thought, was not part of this president’s DNA. But, trust the police, they always brings the worst part out of you. I just used to think they only did that at traffic check points.

I, for one, was impressed by the president’s visit. I think he may have been watching James Bond’s latest flick and he got the inspiration to go on the field and turn the tables on his lean Inspector General of police and his pot-belied assistants.

Whatever his motivation was, this was a president in action. He said 2013 was the year Nigeria will learn to appreciate him. And, boy did the police top brass get a shocker of their lives? Imagine the president asking a commissioner of police if he knew how bad the state of the college was.

The man must have done a double take. Why would a police commissioner care about a police college? It’s not like it’s a police checkpoint in a rich neighborhood. These are cadets, for heavens’ sake, the commissioner must have thought. I’m still not sure why the president was really angry after that. Is it that he was disgusted about the college or he just realized that given the rounded mid section of the police officers, he suddenly realized why they police are slow in apprehending criminals.

I think this is the president everyone has been waiting for. In one visit and in his demeanor, he has shown that business would not be as usual before the next elections. You can say he has his eyes on 2015 but who doesn’t? Even my cab driver does too. During elections he doesn’t drive low tippers like me. He moves ballot boxes for men hungry for power.

Time will tell if this is a new president or if the presidential jet just needed refueling and the president decided to stretch his legs. A nation’s health and security is tied to its police Force. When it falters, the nation is lost.

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