By Chimdi Maduagwu

I am a little confused about the things I hear and things I see. We seem to be romancing with a certain demon that ensures that we remain at the level of beginning all the time. My confusion is simple: when it appears as if there is going to be a measure of advancement, then we see ourselves slipping down again and I wonder; why? I ask, is it possible for us to, at least remain, at a spot, for some time, so that we don’t really degenerate. I am only asking that we be given the grace not the move at all since if we must, we always slide ‘downward’. There was a mad man, I mean a crazy man, not really an angry man, in my home some time ago who advanced this philosophy of “remaining where one is.” He had come to sympathize with some folks who were bereaved.

Naturally, the deceased was “lying in state” amidst serious wailing and mourning. The crazy man walked in like any other to pay his last respect. He could not help noticing the deep expressions of a sense of loss by mourners. He, however, had a piece of advice; not for the living who mourn, but for the dead. He then addressed the dead man directly: “Mr. Man, you see all these people who are sobbing and crying, ignore them and just as you are looking unperturbed, keep going where you are headed. Do not get distracted; do not move; do not turn because should you listen to them and stand up from there, they will desert you, and you will feel denied.”

This might be one more of the typical babblings of the mentally deranged; another inconsequential gibberish from the disturbed human mentality. But I look at it differently. I see a lot in it and I know the truth in that seemingly meaningless expression is golden. I am interested in “distractions.” There is no serious minded individual that does not have to battle distractions. Each time one sets his goals and develops a matching determination to actualize the set goals, one needs to be ready to battle distractions. They are the principal enemy to advancement. Most times when they come, they do not present like a major problem.

•(l-r) Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, President Muhammadu Buhari and Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina during Buhari's meeting with State House Press Corps.
•Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, President Muhammadu Buhari and Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina during Buhari’s meeting with State House Press Corps.

They creep into the main cycle of affairs surreptitiously and major players may not even be aware of them. President Goodluck Jonathan might not have set specific goals at the assumption of duties as the president, commander and educator in chief of the country, probably because his presidency was a child of circumstances, but he was aware of the enemy called distraction. He once insinuated that he was not going to be distracted by the deliberate efforts of the operators and promoters of insurgency, because he had a work to do. To him, neither terrorism, insurgency nor any other evil of similar magnitude, was going to deter him from discharging his duties as the custodian of the instruments of advancement of the federation. His insinuated vision was clear and he pursued it zealously. He tried to escape, rather than battle distraction. Sooner than we all expect, history will deliver judgment on all these.

President Buhari has been greeted in office by “distractions.” This, I suppose is as expected. The uninvited guest of all successful persons must make an appearance, indeed, several appearances. His is approaching from rather unusual angle; from the domestic front. His political party is a huge one. It kicked off with the National Assembly Inauguration confusion. Mr. President refused to be distracted. He gets a high grade in that first test. But I also am not too sure that he deliberately ignored that distraction.

Could it not be that there was a greater distraction somewhere and as the Igbo will say, “when something more overwhelming than the farm confronts a person, he does not hesitate to sell even his barn.” President Buhari could not be giving attention to mere political chicanery at the local level when there are obvious threat to peace and security of a section of the country through some calculated international onslaught. He needed to (sorry, needs to) confront the Boko Haram menace. These are preliminary issues. Well, I have no doubt that more are on the way. Let me anticipate more but what I am unable to envisage is the angles from which they will emerge. First, there will be a barrage of allegations that are far more than what is happening now, of corruption and corrupt practices on past and present leaders. These will put pressure on the present leadership of the country as to what to do. If care is not taken, all other issues may have to suffer while all attention is given to pursuit of corruption. Those who will champion the anti corruption crusade should be watched carefully because they are likely to end up removing others they want to replace so at the end, nothing would have happened, except … another monumental act of distraction.

There is a massive act of agenda setting going on now and Mr. President has deliberately remained unmoved by all of it or so it seems. In fact we are counting minutes, hours, days and weeks and even months, right from the time election results were announced and from the moment of swearing in to the present, which is usually assumed to be tomorrow. We are in search of achievements, even though we are yet to see a road map to such. Those who cried change are becoming impatient and those who saw no change in view are waiting to assert that they were sure the country has make a mistake. Leadership bashing is fermenting underneath and will soon start pouring out from the various breweries to quench the thirst of expectant citizens. All these will exert undue pressure on “focus,” even though we are yet to get a grasp of such. I am still talking about distractions.

What does Mr. President do in the presence of all these? National Assembly does not seem to be advancing; some State Assemblies and Assembly members are trying out their skills in martial arts; Permanent Secretaries are making policy statements because they do not see their bosses (But by the way, it appears beautiful without the bosses; I am sure you know who I mean: The Honourable Ministers and Ministers of State of the Federal Republic); the revelation of an “almost empty treasury” … and I wonder how empty a treasury that announced an income of over a billion dollars on the same day it claimed to be empty, could be); governors who rise against national assembly; governors who are unable to pay salaries; projects stunted … and the list is endless.

The President can at least do something; take the advice of the crazy man and like the unmovable cadaver (this is only a metaphor, Mr. President shall not die!) look toward his destination and ignore all who mourn and wail. They are all DISTRACTIONS; they are all ENEMIES. It shall be well!



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