When I was a child in diapers, I came across a newspaper, read some lines with my infantile, yet-to-see-a-school eyes, got on my knees even though I wasn’t crawling yet and prayed that I won’t grow up to be a critic or a columnist. I know what you’re thinking – this kid must have been a genius. I won’t deny it, especially since I discovered five new ways of drinking gari at age three.
I believe President Goodluck Jonathan wished he had prayed the same prayer as I did as an infant. I’m sure great men know their destiny even as they redesign the house with infant poop. I’m sure he would have seen a big house in an isolated part of a new city and seen himself sleeping on the prime bed in the house. That was when he should have gotten on his baby knees and prayed that critics and columnists lose his picture and number.
I have never seen the usefulness of columnists and critics. They scream with ink, slap you around with words you need a stack of dictionaries to understand and drive you to the edge of your patience with diatribe that makes you long for diarrhea. Every now and then, I still get on my knees and pray to whatever it was I prayed to a long time ago and thank it for making me a guy that types words on a computer, which makes me a typist, not a critic or columnist.
If I were a columnist, I have no clue how I would have lived with myself this past week when the tribe of critics and columnists seemed to be suffering from an epidemic called Jonarhea – a state my doctor describes as criticizing the President.
And, what did the good president do? He forgave his ex-boss and some dudes he forgot had previously been forgiven! What is bad in that? When did we become a nation of stonehearted people who would not forgive a convict, an ex-money launderer and a black stain on the image of country?
In the whole madness, the only man who has made any sense is presidential spokesman, Rueben Abati. He called the whole criticism “sophisticated ignorance”. It took me a few minutes to figure out how the grammar fitted but the man is right. We are all sophisticated and ignorant at the same time. Only a man who had grandly condemned the forgiven man less than a decade ago would know that.
What is it with Nigerians and forgiveness anyway? If the non-Christians don’t see it, you would expect the Christians to bring their attention to it. The president is a great Christian who holds up traffic so he can go to a religious revival. His aides make sure the country knows he is at the Villa church service every Sunday. Now, a presidential man of God knows that to be truly spiritual, you have to get your Lord’s Prayer right.
Right in the middle of the prayer is the cliffhanger, “Forgive us our Trespasses as we forgive all those who trespass against us”.
That is one hell of a conditional prayer. This is one prayer that is designed to cause go-slows on the road to heaven. Whoever designed it must have boatloads of degrees in heavenly law.
How do you forgive a man who stole your bike? How do you forgive the girl who stole your money-miss-road sugar daddy? How do you forgive a man who overthrew you while you were busy disciplining your rotten fellow Nigerians? How do you forgive the businessman who set you up and have video evidence to prove it? Or, in my case, how do you forgive the girl that blew your three-month salary and ran to Dubai with an Honorable the same evening you were supposed to enjoy the fruits of your labor?
Now, everyone has been lumping every ill in the country on the doorstep of the president.
Threw the nation into darkness. Guilty.
Keep the long lines at petrol stations. Guilty.
Destroyed Nigerian roads. Guilty.
Makes grown men cry on account of being perpetually broke. Guilty.
Paid an Honorable so much allowance he can take my girlfriend who spends my monthly salary to Dubai. Very Guilty.
Bankrupted Nigerian airways. Guilty because President Olusegun Obasanjo who did it used to like him.
Rigged the elections? Guilty because he had that meeting with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and next thing you know everyone in the South West voted for him.
And, the laundry list goes on from the sea to the dessert.
The president wants to take Nigerians into the future, he wants to do it with a clean heart and he wants God’s guidance. He knows may Nigerians accuse him of so many things and he knows he must forgive them as a father and as a man who wants God’s help, especially in 2015. What’s a president to do when he hasn’t passed the conditional prayer. So, he simply forgave the man who gave him a political break. Simple!
We should be praising the President instead of blasting him. The path to good leadership is a clean, open heart. His supremely kind gesture gives hope to the hopeless, like ex-Governor James Ibori, ex-police boss Tafa Balogun and every public office holder who simply want to ensure the future of their unborn great-grandkids. His laudable act tells everyone “every sin will be forgiven”. Now, what is more Christian than that.
Ose Oyamendan, a Hollywood-based Nigerian film maker regularly commutes between Los Angeles, Lagos, and Nairobi. He writes a weekly column for Premium Times