Dear President, don't drop the baton. (Again)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

 Image result for sports relay

As a child, I was very fascinated with the Olympic games. Glued before the television, I would gaze on; drinking in every detail.

I still cannot pinpoint what mesmerized me particularly: whether it was the conglomeration of various people from different ends of the earth in one place, or the colourful Olympic rings (reminiscent of lollipops), or the drama of the games itself.

Of all the games featured in every Olympics, I enjoyed track games the most. I loved it so much that I nursed the dream of becoming a national athlete…

Until I fainted during my first (and last) marathon in secondary school. Expectedly, that dream died.

But it did not kill my fascination with the games, or with competitive running. What thrilled me the most was the relay races; watching baton after baton being handed over, while the runners were in motion.

Sometimes, the baton fell, thus cancelling the relay for the team involved. Sometimes, the passing of the baton was so protracted that it cost the team involved precious seconds, pushing them from a potential first place to an actual fourth place.

In all of the relays however, once a baton is handed over, the recipient runs right to the end of that leg with it; stopping only at the end of that leg to hand over to the baton to the next team member.

While I can no longer boast of unwavering dedication to watching Olympic relay sprints, I have come to understand that in real life, the concept of national governance is quite similar to an unending relay race.

Every government has a given time to run its race, at the end of which the baton is handed over to another government, which - even if of varying parties - is expected to continue with the race of running the country.

All pun intended.

Nigeria is no different. Thus, at the inception of this present government, expectations were beyond sky-high. Some, realistic, others utopian.

The Nigerian populace at the government’s inauguration could be likened to the enthusiastic crowd in the Olympics Stadium, watching a relay-event. Charged with excitement and chanting “Go! Go!! Go!!!”

Slowly... the expectation metre dwindled, even as the government indicated that it was in no hurry to disclose its Ministerial super-stars... the bulk of whom when their names were disclosed, "we don see finish".

Same ’ole, Same ’ole.

Despite this delay in a head-start, hopes were still raised that the race will continue to be run, and that the results at the end of the four years will justify the late start.

Sadly, this race has not been a seamless one, what with catering to the President’s frail disposition and obscure speculations surrounding his long absences from his elected seat of power, coupled with the wave of general disunity in the nation, borne of mutual distrust and fostered by malignant politicking.

We have watched this government's race kick-start and stop, and kick-start and stop, and kick-start; even as the baton is given to the legal 'sub', and retrieved, and handed right back, and retrieved.

It is not that any ordinary human cannot cave in to the sheer weariness of life. The peculiar thing about this race of national governance however is that (in this case), the future of over 180 million people are tied to the actions of the sprinter-in-chief i.e. the President.

There is nothing ordinary about being THE President. The expectation is that whoever occupies that position should run the race from start to finish with all gusto, and be able to shoulder the burdens of the position, with the least interruption possible

For this administration, the time is far spent. Soon, it will be time to account for their leg of the relay race, and (perhaps) hand over the baton to another administration.

It is imperative that this administration be remembered as meeting the expectations it sowed during the years of campaign, rather than be etched in our memory as the administration more pre-occupied with managing (the secrecy surrounding) the President’s health for the duration of its tenure.

Even as we sigh in relief that the President is in good enough shape to (once again) retrieve the baton and climb back into the seat of power; even as we pray for his sustained good health, we cannot afford anymore start and stops.

Let this baton retrieval be for good, and let him run his race for good. If there is any more need to pass the baton, let him move over, and allow his constitutional ‘sub’ run the race to the finish line.

Lest we forget, it is the President that is elected for the people; not the people for the President.



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  1. You hit the nail on the head. If PMB falls Ill again, he should resign and allow a more capable and healthy Osibanjo rule us and stop using tax payers money to cure his incurable sickness.