Thursday, March 30, 2006

Changing time, usual suspects and hoping for grace

The clocks here changed while I was in the US and I am still struggling to cope with the suddenly longer days. Two weeks ago before I left I was used to darkness falling quite early.I tend to work till about 6 and I often gauge the time from how bright it is, looking through my office windows. Imagine my shock then yesterday, my first day back at work when I kept at it till darkness fell only to realize that it was nearly 8 pm.....which reminded me of my first encounter with changing the clocks. It was soon after I arrived in the UK and it was a Sunday morning.I made my way to church only to find the doors still firmly locked and no sign of life anywhere about. The streets too seemed oddly emptier than I had noticed on previous Sundays- as I stumbled through the streets wondering what had happened- some nuclear accident that I hadn't been told about-I decided to buy a newspaper, and the kindly news agent noticing my perplexed expression explained that the clocks had gone back the night before....and so while I thought it was 10 am, it was only actually 9 am. Later a friend taught me the handy mnemonic of spring forward and fall back, (probably imported from the US) to keep track of when you added an hour and when you subtracted an hour. The whole business of changing the clocks just underlines how subjective the concept of time is- it is whatever time we say and agree that it is.......

Meanwhile I was reading Thisday's analysis of where the various legislators stood on the question of amending the constitution to allow a third term for the President. What struck me was how you could almost predict which way a certain legislator would fall and in most cases it had nothing to do with principle. You could see those who had benefitted from the President smoothly falling into the "Yes" camp, those who had clashed with the President falling into the No camp together with the IBB boys and girls and the Atiku boys and girls. And then there were the ethnic blocs- all the legislators from Ogun, the President's home state solidly in favour, most of the Northern states their legislators solidly against.....

Why can't the president see how divisive an issue this is, and the potential dangers and nip all this nonsense in the bud?

In the same issue of Thisday I glimpsed what seems to be the official line of the Presidency on this- which goes along the lines of if the Nigerian people beg Obasanjo to stay, then he has no choice. That argument is, to use an indelicate English phrase -utter bollocks- Nelson Mandela was begged to stay, he wisely ignored the begging and retired gracefully. I know grace is not a word one usually associates with our often ungainly President....but we live in hope.

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