By Adedotun Eyinade
I have just hit on an idea that is sure to yield some good returns. I am not going to hoard it since it is in the interest of the common good and posterity to have this queer idea brought into fruition. The inspiration for this idea is from none other than the luckiest woman this side of the Atlantic and the “mother of the nation”, who recently promised to ‘mother us a ll.’ Whilst, I am not content to wait on the whims of fate to gift this lucky couple yet another office, I hasten to add that young Nigerians should take their destinies into their hands since the odds are high that nothing radical indicative of a marked improvement in their material fortunes would be effected on Goodluck Jonathan’s watch. For pointers as to the shape and what to expect of a Jonathan presidency post May 29, you need not look further than the slew of gerontocrats, the vilest crop most culpable for Nigeria’s parlous state who have made their depraved wisdom available to Mr President in his determined quest to win the April. The sage who said that it was madness to do things the same way (read in the context “use the same set of heads”) and expect different results perhaps had Nigeria in mind.
But I digress. The Facebook crowd and the denizens of social media like Twitter and Youtube are currently having a field day peddling the innumerable gaffes of Dame Chief Dr Mrs Patience Jonathan during her stumping the country for votes for her husband, Goodluck Jonathan. All thanks to the ‘Prolific’ first lady, we have amongst other varied side-splitting additions to the growing list of memorable Nigeriaspeak and official gaffes, “Umbrerra”, ‘ mother all of you’, “fellow widows” and many others whose volume and innate capacity for comical relief form the thrust of my business idea. Whilst the PDP presidential campaign rallies have been largely drab, devoid of quotable quotes (apologies, Dr Chuba Okadigbo) the rented crowd notwithstanding, Mrs Jonathan is stealing the spotlight by unwittingly providing a beleaguered citizenry unending jokes and indelible sound bites. Her malapropisms are fueling new Youtube videos and spurring amateur creatives to churn out blackberry broadcasts that are becoming increasingly viral, casting her Excellency in the mould of cyber celebrities like Rita of Koko Mansion infamy. Nigerian Twitterati would one day wake up to the sudden realization that Dame Jonathan’s malapropism is trending on Twitter. It would be the best complement for the Facebook President.
Truth be told, while Dame Patience Jonathan is not alone in her presidential struggle with the English language, she beats previous denizens of exalted ‘gaffedom’ in the pedestrian nature of her unending verbal slips up. No thanks to her effortless gaffes, she has found good company in the ranks of eminent men and women both in and out of the corridors of power with notorious penchant for misspeak. The immediate past President of the USA, George Bush was famous for malapropisms like “They misunderestimated me.” An online blog, Slate, could not resist the allure of collecting “Bushisms”, an euphemism for Bush’s gaffe. That literally spawned a cottage industry of collectors of “Bushisms”. Sarah Palin, the Republican party Vice Presidential candidate is equally amassing a huge following of ‘Palinlogists’ who not only study her seductive appeal to the average American but also chronicle her unending gaffes in public. Palin and her rival, Joe Biden, incumbent vice president constantly outdo each other on the political gaffe-o-meter. We have Sarah Palin to thank for the word ‘refudiate’, one of her bespoke gaffes.
Back to our own Dame Patience Jonathan, her verbal slips has notched her profile not only as Nigeria’s first Niger Deltan first lady but also the first presidential spouse to become the inspiration for a viral Youtube video and numerous blackberry broadcast. First ladies the world over make the headlines for their outfits, their charity events and some other sublime contributions to humanity. Not in Nigeria, our ‘national mother’ churns out admonitions that encourage Nigerians to “have love for our fellow Nigerians irrespective of their nationality.’ Her verbal slip ups are making the rounds on blackberry broadcast and they come at a speed that rivals the people’s capacity to duck for cover under the” umbrera”. She thus stands a chance of plucking for herself a Sowambe award (the social media awards) just like her husband just recently did.
In view of her excellency ability to deliver side -splitting malapropos that would make Sarah Palin earn soap-box infallibility, I am proposing that we borrow a leaf from the God’s own country by inventing our own gaffe-o-meter to track not only the frequency but the comical value of Dame Jonathan’s gaffes. This is imperative before her creative efforts stand the risk of being misappropriated by smart denizens of the in famous Alaba market for compilation into a hit CD. To forestall this cheap profiteering from our collective patrimony, Twitteratis and Facebookers can subsequently start to catalogue her malapropisms and even trademark a term ‘Patiencism’ a la Bushism, to describe the first lady’s misspeaks. Comedians who try to parody the jokes at their sold out stand-up comedy shows would be expected to pay royalties to the curators of the website and the gaffe-o-meter, at least a modest token for their efforts at compiling quotable quotes for posterity and most importantly for a long suffering citizenry whose daily existence is shorn of mirth.
In furtherance of His Excellency’s quest to ‘bring back the book’ again, a compilation of madam’s extemporaneous speeches can be made into a book form for an elaborate launch. The launch should be held before the general elections for strategic reasons and proceeds should be channelled into stocking up our decrepit libraries with literary texts and primers to forestall the recurrence of a generation of mothers whose dream is to ‘mother all of us.’
On a sublime note, the inexplicable rise of Dame Jonathan, like her husband of many years, to prominence is the climax of the logic that Goodluck’s spin doctors feverish pitch to ever hopeful impoverished masses of Nigeria: “If the poor boy from Otuoke who walked barefoot for kilometers to school daily can become the president, so can you all.” The morale when extrapolated would read like this: if a Patience Jonathan as first lady can work the crowd with her unending gaffes, then wart and all, anybody can become Nigeria’s first lady.
Even as young people nurse the hope to become the celebrities of their dreams, I add that they look out for the forthcoming Nigerian best seller: ‘I will mother all of you and other gaffes’. Available in good book stores near you.