The news that President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria had created a Facebook page eventually got to me through Google Buzz where comments had been made to the effect that the power infrastructure issue should be easy to solve.
Apparently, the President had zeroed in on a comment and arranged for his aides to contact some “visionary” who appeared to have a sort of solution to the power problem.
Power is a tough nut
Whilst some comments on Google Buzz were less than charitable about this crowd-sourcing approach to problem resolution, I felt for the first time we had a leader who was seeking advice, ready to listen and responding positively to suggestions.
More importantly, the power infrastructure problem is really a difficult one for too many reasons to recount here as I threw the idea that if it were easy to solve the least competent leader would have done it and the most political leader would have built on it – The fact is radical ideas are needed on that matter and it would do well that we restrain our criticism and cynicism for an opportunity to listen first and keep our peace for a while.
A new leadership approach
Meanwhile, Goodluck Jonathan as he has plainly identified himself on Facebook has the profession of a politician rather than a zoologist, I suppose, that is what he had become now has 100,335 people who like him since he joined just 11 days ago on the 28th of June 2010.
His first status post was – Today, in fulfillment of the promise I made at the 26th convocation of the University of Port Harcourt on Saturday, 15 May 2010, I have created a facebook fan page to interact with Nigerians. As I said on that day, there is an unchallengeable power of good in the Nigerian nation and her youth and through this medium I want Nigerians to give me the privilege of relating with them without the trappings of office. GEJ
This is a laudable goal, in the main that he first kept the promise and in recognising that the trappings of office might prevent him from getting a feel of the people he leads.
More humility than hubris
For his profile, he writes – My life has always been about service. I am focused on serving my Creator, family and my country to the best of my ability and with your help I aim to be better at doing that.
This probably is something Nigerians can relate to as a very religious country; it does appear to say a lot in terms of his priorities which puts his faith and immediate responsibilities first and then the country for the greater good.
He recognises that his abilities are not omnipotent or omniscient as many African leaders tend to demonstrate by never allowing others in power thinking they only have the wherewithal to rule like emperors whilst failing to mentor suitable successors to their “thrones”, with our help, President Jonathan hopes to improve on what he is doing – for once, a sense of humility rather than hubris is expressed by leadership.
A voice in the wilderness
I cannot help but think after reading many of the postings by the president than they all sound quite professorial almost to the extent that it is impossible to identity the substance of his statements. The voice is too collective sometimes relayed in platitudes that border on the rhetorical, where the 1st person is used there is almost a conflict between the assertive and the acquiescent – it makes you wonder if you are being lead or you are half-persuaded to follow.
I would think that the president does read many of the comments but he would definitely have to engage a Facebook management team that weeds out the chaff and highlights the wheat.
Yes sir, yes sir, 3 bags full sir
The comments are presaged with unnecessary and flowery obsequiousness each one seeming to try to out-praise the other with all the religious padding that detracts from getting straight to the point – verbosity is our undoing in many cases being succinct, concise or precise is too good for our expression.
With an average of over 1,500 comments per status, this a Facebook page I neither want to like or leave a comment on, for this one page the responsible thing would be to switch off all notifications or streamline your settings to take notifications from lists of friends whilst excluding the traffic generated at the President’s page.
There are ways in which this looks like taking suggestions from a crowd at a political rally, the noise, the heckling, the robust supporters who will listen to no one but their patron and much worse – this is for a particular followership and audience that needs to extend their Facebook footprint to include politicians, celebrities and passing fads or trends.
The new talk shop
As a forum for ordinary Nigerians to engage with their president, this a welcome development; as an opportunity to glean new ideas for issues that Nigeria faces, this widens the resource and talent pool beyond the fossils that crowd the political space in Nigeria – it would become the new Nigerian talking shop but for the wise, this is best observed from afar.
You probably need to be a member of Facebook to visit http://www.facebook.com/jonathangoodluck
As the first wired President of Nigeria on a popular social network, all one can say is Goodluck Jonathan – welcome to Facebook.