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Obaseki and the mystery of Nigeria’s sleeping politicians by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

Obaseki and the mystery of Nigeria’s sleeping politicians by Buchi Obichie (Opinion)

Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, mocks Nigerian politicians for falling asleep during important public functions. She wonders if they have no regard for their office, or for public opinion; but notes that in spite of how embarrassing their actions are, it elicits no outrage among ordinary citizens who have simply resigned themselves to the fact that it as a normal occurrence in the national political space!

I love to sleep. I love the activity so much that my younger brother calls me ‘Madam Sleeper’! Whenever I have some free time at home, if I am not reading a book, watching TV or just 'gisting with the brov', I’m usually asleep.

I’ve been this way since childhood. In fact, when I was a child, a robbery could be going on, and I wouldn’t know. I was such a deep sleeper. Thankfully, I don’t sleep that deeply anymore. And I guess because my sleeping hours have shortened - no thanks to the rigours of ‘grown-up life’ - I value being able to snooze even much more, these days.

However, in spite of my affinity for sleeping, I try not to engage in the activity in public spaces - especially during work hours, while attending professional engagements, or even at Mass. Maybe it’s because I have shame…lol…I just don’t want to be caught dozing off during very important public functions.

If I were a Nigerian politician though, maybe I wouldn’t care so much.

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Our politicians are known to doze off soundly during public events. They are like little children who just tune off whenever and wherever they like, without warning! They sleep everywhere - in the Senate, the House of Reps, at national functions…even at international functions. They just sleep when they feel like it!

They sleep without regard for their office and without care for the waning respect for them such action could lead to. They sleep in spite of the subsequent ridicule, the jests, even the memes. They just sleep.

From Independence and the First republic, Nigeria’s politicians have slept on duty…within and outside the country.

A quick Google search will reveal the picture of a sleeping Jaja Wachukwu, Nigeria’s first foreign affairs minister, at the United Nations General Assembly. An obviously fatigued Wachukwu, while decked in native attire, simply placed his face in the palm of his left hand and dozed off in the hallowed UN chambers while the diplomat from Norway stared, aghast!

And just like that, the trend caught on! From Wachukwu, various politicians began sleeping on active duty.

Nyesom Wike, the executive governor of Rivers state, fell asleep during a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) retreat, while Imo’s Rochas Okorocha decided to take a nap during a meeting between President Buhari and the World Bank president.

Among governors, however, Umar Ganduje of Kano gets the prize for sleeping. He is known to snooze at public functions; so much so that he has been nicknamed the ‘sleeping governor’.

In the Senate, Barnabas Gemade and Godswill Akpabio have fallen asleep in the middle of proceedings…without a care in the world!

It doesn’t mean a thing…they just fall asleep…they can’t be bothered by the seriousness and importance of the occasion – they just sleep!

And just like his ‘shameless’ compatriots, the Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki, was also caught sleeping recently, while President Buhari delivered a speech at the UN.

Obaseki threw caution to the wind. He didn’t care that the eyes of the world were upon the Nigerian delegation at that moment. Dude just crashed…like a baby!

It didn’t matter that his president was speaking…he couldn’t be bothered. Or maybe he felt like it wouldn’t make any difference whether he slept off or managed to stay awake…it was Buhari speaking afterall…the man is not known for 'compelling oratory'!

So, Obaseki just did what Nigerian politicians know to do best…he just slept!

And true to form, Nigerians were not particularly bothered about what the image of a sleeping politician could do for optics, as regards the way the country is viewed in the international community. We simply laughed. As we always do. It was funny.

Obaseki isn’t the first, and he surely won’t be the last politician to fall asleep in the middle of a public function. We know this.

However, when the laughter subsides, maybe we need to start asking ourselves deep questions. Questions like: Why do Nigerian politicians fall asleep in the middle of such important activities? Why do they keep rubbishing their offices (and the country) in such manner? Are we of such little importance that they cannot even be bothered to will themselves to stay awake during functions that directly or indirectly impact our lives?

When you come to think of it, the most annoying thing is that we all know that politicians here do little to nothing of consequence on a daily basis. They get driven in AC cars to AC offices and deliberate on issues at their convenience. They don’t labour like the rest of us. So, why can’t they manage to stay awake when it matters? Why?

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Oh well, I can’t even be surprised at this point. Another sleeping politician…so what? We’ve seen more baffling things in this country.

However, I just hope that we won’t wake up one day to find that our country has gotten itself into a deep mess because a politician could not be bothered to stay awake in the middle of sensitive proceedings; and so, missed key details.

In any case, at the end of the day, this is just Nigeria. Here, politicians sleep and we laugh. It’s of no consequence…none at all!

This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.

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