Ghost of “Change” Hunts Mr. President By Olalekan Adetayo
Whether they admit it or not, one word that is currently giving President Goodluck Jonathan, his handlers and indeed the hierarchy of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party great concern ahead of the much-expected 2015 general elections is “change.”
The six-letter word is now synonymous to the main opposition party, All Progressives Congress, that has adopted it as its slogan. It is common to hear the party stalwarts shout “A-P-C!!!” at rallies and at other party functions and the crowd will respond with resounding “Change!!!”
Although I am not a member of the party, I guess the concept of this catchy slogan is to express the party’s readiness to change the government in power at the centre and in states where PDP is currently in charge.
Lately however, Jonathan himself has started embracing “change” without necessarily defecting to the APC.
For instance, the President has over the years been known by his trademark Ijaw dress and Fedora hat. He stands out easily anywhere, including at international functions outside the country. Along the line, many of his men, chief among whom is Vice President Namadi Sambo, caught the bug and started dressing in that manner.
The President is so attached to his traditional wears that some Nigerians criticised him when at some points, two of his pictures went viral on the social media. One showed him watching a football match involving the national team, Super Eagles, in the midnight still completely dressed in the attire with his Fedora hat on. The second picture also depicted him as reading a book late into the night and yet still dressed same way.
Once in a while, however, Jonathan also wears traditional attires of the different ethnic groups in the country, especially when he is on state visits.
For the better part of his administration, what he avoided like a plague is to wear suits to official functions. I guess his plan is to promote “local content.”
Recently however, Jonathan started embracing change gradually when he started wearing suits in some of his foreign trips. Yet he avoided being seen wearing them in any official functions in the country.
But as it is, the President can no longer resist the change. On Tuesday, he was at the old Banquet Hall of the Villa to launch the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme and the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria. When the Master of Ceremony announced the President’s arrival, many of those in attendance were looking out for his trademark hat. When they could not easily sight it, they concluded that he might have sent a representative.
It was later discovered that Jonathan did not attend the event with his hat. He was dressed in suit.
Interestingly, he made reference to the change in his dress code during his speech at the event. “You can see the way I dress today. I want to look like a young Nigerian farmer, that’s why I dress like this,” he told the excited youths who clapped in admiration.
Change has also been witnessed in the way Jonathan now delivers his public speeches. He now reads his speech with the aid of teleprompter.
He started with the speech he delivered during his declaration of intent to run for the 2015 presidential elections at the Eagle Square on November 11. A lot of rehearsals went into that speech presentation. I am aware that he was scheduled to do his final rehearsal at the venue on the previous night but it was not clear whether he made it there.
He used the teleprompter publicly the second time to present his acceptance speech at the conclusion of the PDP national convention penultimate week.
At the Tuesday event, the President used the technology again. He is showing improvement with the last presentation better than previous ones. He was able to pause, speak extempore and return to his speech without losing track. As he improves by the day however, his speech writer can do a better job by making his speeches a bit shorter.
To confirm that Jonathan has caught the “change” bug, I leave you with excerpts from his acceptance speech, “During this campaign, some office seekers will say it is ‘time for change,’ but while they were changing from one name to another and from one party to the other, we had already brought change to Nigeria. My dear delegates, has change not come to our railway system? Has change not come to our airports? Has change not come to our roads network? Has change not come to our agricultural sector? Has change not come to our electoral process? Has change not come to Almajiri education? Is change not coming to the power sector?”
Now, “change” is the word!
Jonathan now the Koko Master
At the Tuesday event, popular musician, D’Banj, was on hand to thrill the youth, including members of the National Youth Service Corps who attended the event. The young singer popularly known as Koko Master had also been chosen by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as the project’s ambassador.
The youths as expected were excited seeing him on stage. Many of them, especially ladies, jumped to their feet and twisted their waists while he rendered some of his hit songs.
As it later turned out, D’Banj was more excited than his fans. His excitement stemmed from the fact that he was performing before Jonathan, Sambo and other top government officials. He was ready to utilise the opportunity maximally.
The Koko Master presented a gold-plaited customised headphone to the President. He said he chose gold to show that the nation is rich in natural resources. He added that the President’s name is inscribed on the headphone.
The musician was pleasantly surprised when Jonathan received the headphone from him and decided to put it on immediately. He nearly jumped off the stage out of excitement. “I never expected it’s going to turn out this way sir. In fact, Your Excellency, you are now the Koko Master!” D’Banj screamed into the microphone as he relinquished his title to the President and posed for photographs with him.
At the conclusion of the event, the singer also took pictures with almost all the state governors at the event. He obviously had a fulfilled day. I am sure his joy knew no bound the following day when the photograph he took with the President made the front pages of many newspapers.
With love from Ngozi
Ministers on Wednesday got surprise Christmas gifts from the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The gifts came in small carefully wrapped boxes. Attached to them are very tiny cards that bear the names of the sender and the receiver.
I overheard a minister joking with the CME, as she is fondly called, that somebody must move a motion that the boxes be accepted.
They apparently understood the joke and laughed over it.
Since today is the last Saturday before Christmas, it is appropriate to wish you, dear readers, well in my own little way: Merry Christmas and please celebrate moderately. Stay away from trouble please.
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