The Nigerian Politicians Guidebook To Handling Disasters.

April 15, 2019

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the Nigerian big leagues! Whether serving as a governor’s deputy or a local government chairman, no longer will anyone be able to make even a whisper of your name without the very dignified prefix of ‘Honourable’, ‘Excellency’ or ‘My Lord’ if your subjects are feeling particularly subservient.

And while yes, you will put in the requisite work and spend hour after ungodly hour deliberating and acting on processes to make lives better, at least you’ll do so with the very important perk of going home traffic-free. Do you know how well loud sirens a 16-person motorcade work against regular people stuck in third mainland traffic and its inter-state relatives? A Nigerian politician never wait, least of all in lowly traffic. Congratulations again!

Now, while you undoubtedly got read the riot act detailing the many processes and nuances of your office; one thing no one ever quite prepares you for is the incident of a disaster – whether national or in your locale. Unfortunately, Nigeria has had many run-ins with scenarios of this sort, so here is a repository of actions to guide you, dignified Nigerian politician
—  in the event that disaster striker:

House of Assembly Member

So I have maybe good news for you buddy. Despite worsening the environment with bales and bales of campaign posters and spending some time in your community during campaign season, no one really knows your name, or your role, really. So feel free to lay low at any time of national disturbance, like say a building collapses in your ward or a plane worryingly crash-lands in the area you represent; your best bet is to lay low and have the big boys i.e President and Governor send in messages of light (more on this shortly) in your stead. Aren’t you the luckiest?

Local government chairman

Like your colleague, the house of representatives member; feel free to lay low until such a time as is absolutely necessary. As it currently stands, should a local incident occur to rile up the community, like the recent spate in police killings, chances are the first stop of the people will be  the traditional ruler in the area, as opposed to you, who was supposedly popularly elected to hold office.

In the event that you do get called upon to act; simply put a statement out expressing your deepest sympathies, make no real effort at correcting the issue and wait until the whole situation blows over. Again, you’re welcome.

Governor

See, you made one too many campaign jingles and had your face pasted on too many parts of the state to not be the first point of call in a state-wide disturbance. Here’s what you do: show up to the scene in your crispest of shirts, sleeves rolled up with your most somber expression. Then be sure to have at least 3 photo-ops of you pointing into the distance at a vague, nondescript thing. Get these things right because you have just one shot at doing, seeing as you’ll probably be making only one highly publicised visit to the disaster zone in question.

Absolutely make no reforms to ensure disaster doesn’t strike a second time — like say putting measures in place to make sure buildings that collapse before completion are eradicated through appropriate safety permits are duly collected or putting welfare systems in place to make sure people don’t have to live in fire hazards hanging over water.

Nope, a little too much hard work. Just make sure to have the next shirt ironed.


President

Now, I need you to remember these four phrases, ‘thoughts and prayers’, ‘we strongly condemn’ and ‘hold you in our hearts’. You’ll be needing them the next time you have to fire out a tweet to your grieving Nigerian followers, when disaster strikes due to the abysmal conditions in the country. The next thing to do after sending those tweets out is to immediately have a committee set up, which will in turn set up a sub-committee to look into the disaster, before promptly forgetting about the whole incident altogether.

Should disaster strike when you’re in the midst of a campaign season, a separate approach will be taken. Please shut down whatever feelings gnaw at your heart, asking you to abandon 30 minutes of shaking party paraphernalia in the midst of a probably rented crowd, to personally empathise with victims in the affected region. That is of course, unless the site in question is a momentous swing state, then by all means dust your slippers and make to the affected state tout suite.

For international disasters, no disaster zone is too far, no commemorative event too distant to travel to show your concern to the victims. But make sure to pay much smaller mind to events of the same nature in your home country. Again, remember your key phrases the next time Biafra comes up and  forget the Aba Women’s Riot and its cohorts altogether, like your predecessors.

There you have it, your quick and easy guide to dealing with disaster as a Nigerian politician. Don’t thank me too much.




Boyin Plumptre

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