THE PRESIDENT I WANT - By Chimamanda Adichie

Found this on LIB.

Award winning author Chimamanda Adichie writes on the
kind of President she wants. Read below..
Some of my relatives lived for decades in the North, in
Kano and Bornu. They spoke fluent Hausa. (One
relative taught me, at the age of eight, to count in
Hausa.) They made planned visits to Anambra only a
few times a year, at Christmas and to attend
weddings and funerals. But sometimes, in the wake of
violence, they made unplanned visits. I remember the
word ‘Maitatsine’ – to my young ears, it had a
striking lyricism – and I remember the influx of
relatives who had packed a few bags and fled the
killings. What struck me about those hasty returns to
the East was that my relatives always went back to
the North. Until two years ago when my uncle packed
up his life of thirty years in Maiduguri and moved to
Awka. He was not going back. This time, he felt, was
My uncle’s return illustrates a feeling shared by many
Nigerians about Boko Haram: a lack of hope, a lack of
confidence in our leadership. We are experiencing what is,
apart from the Biafran war, the most violent period in our
nation’s existence. Like many Nigerians, I am distressed
about the students murdered in their school, about the
people whose bodies were spattered in Nyanya, about the
girls abducted in Chibok. I am furious that politicians are
politicizing what should be a collective Nigerian mourning,
a shared Nigerian sadness.
And I find our president’s actions and non-actions
unbelievably surreal.
I do not want a president who, weeks after girls are
abducted from a school and days after brave Nigerians
have taken to the streets to protest the abductions, merely
announces a fact-finding committee to find the girls.
I want President Jonathan to be consumed, utterly
consumed, by the state of insecurity in Nigeria. I want him
to make security a priority, and make it seem like a
priority. I want a president consumed by the urgency of
now, who rejects the false idea of keeping up appearances
while the country is mired in terror and uncertainty. I want
President Jonathan to know – and let Nigerians know that
he knows – that we are not made safer by soldiers
checking the boots of cars, that to shut down Abuja in
order to hold a World Economic Forum is proof of just how
deeply insecure the country is. We have a big problem, and
I want the president to act as if we do. I want the president
to slice through the muddle of bureaucracy, the morass of
‘how things are done,’ because Boko Haram is unusual
and the response to it cannot be business as usual.
I want President Jonathan to communicate with the
Nigerian people, to realize that leadership has a strong
psychological component: in the face of silence or
incoherence, people lose faith. I want him to humanize the
lost and the missing, to insist that their individual stories
be told, to show that every Nigerian life is precious in the
eyes of the Nigerian state.
I want the president to seek new ideas, to act, make
decisions, publish the security budget spending, offer
incentives, sack people. I want the president to be angrily
heartbroken about the murder of so many, to lie sleepless
in bed thinking of yet what else can be done, to support and
equip the armed forces and the police, but also to insist on
humaneness in the midst of terror. I want the president to
be equally enraged by soldiers who commit murder, by
policemen who beat bomb survivors and mourners. I want
the president to stop issuing limp, belated announcements
through public officials, to insist on a televised apology
from whoever is responsible for lying to Nigerians about
the girls having been rescued.
I want President Jonathan to ignore his opponents, to
remember that it is the nature of politics, to refuse to
respond with defensiveness or guardedness, and to
remember that Nigerians are understandably cynical about
their government.
I want President Jonathan to seek glory and a place in
history, instead of longevity in office. I want him to put
aside the forthcoming 2015 elections, and focus today on
being the kind of leader Nigeria has never had.
I do not care where the president of Nigeria comes from.
Even those Nigerians who focus on ‘where the president is
from’ will be won over if they are confronted with good
leadership that makes all Nigerians feel included. I have
always wanted, as my president, a man or a woman who is
intelligent and honest and bold, who is surrounded by
truth-telling, competent advisers, whose policies are
people-centered, and who wants to lead, who wants to be
president, but does not need to – or have to- be president
at all costs.
President Jonathan may not fit that bill, but he can
approximate it: by being the leader Nigerians desperately
need now.
By Chimamanda Adichie


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