A Wasted Day

The central area of the Federal Capital Territory was almost shut down on Thursday. A majority of the residents did not know the reason until they listened to the radio and television hours later. The Federal Secretariat, which houses a number of federal ministries and agencies, was unduly closed to workers without protocol or a simple formal announcement of an impending “holiday”. Other parts of the city were also affected with unusual traffic gridlock. The great event that necessitated this action is yet to be fully comprehended.

Now we know the event: the “Nigerian Women Rally for Peace and Empowerment”, which was organised by the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) in collaboration with the Office of the First Lady. On the occasion, an award was given to President Goodluck Jonathan for championing the cause of women in Nigeria.

It is absurd to reduce the admirable achievements of our mothers and sisters to a mere carnival. The puzzle lies in trying to discern what the underlying motive or message really was. Why was it a hush- hush affair – something many a stakeholder was barely aware of?

Man-hours lost to the first lady’s event on Thursday will remain incalculable. Those who went to work rued the day with its many unsavoury consequences: some were stranded; there was the mental agony of motorists and commuters as well as other ordinary citizens of the country. Yet, this was an event that could have been planned to take place on a Saturday and announced to all and sundry so that concerned people could properly plan their day. The women folk are not known for being inconsiderate; so the organisers, including overzealous security agents, should have considered the effect of grounding an important part of the city on their fellow compatriots who had to travel from different locations around the city to work.

The presence of armed security officials who were battle-ready was inimical to the public’s mental wellbeing. And what about the additional shock of arriving for work only to realize the day could have been put into better use? Clearly, the organisers had little idea of the message they wanted to convey. Simple courtesy dictates that if a planned disruption must be carried out, a polite notice must be issued well in advance. That is what civilisation is all about.

And, by the way, which Nigerian women were represented in this all-important event? It is high time we collectively got serious about issues of great import to our development instead of organising frivolous events with little significance on our socio-economic lives. We have seen enough of politicians and their jamborees.