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Peeping tom and rose-tinted glasses

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My friend’s neighbour is a nosey parker; his inquisitiveness is on steroids. His flat is opposite David’s flat. Unfortunately for my friend David, his peeping Tom neighbour occupies the middle flat where he could see right into flats in the other block.

More worrying is the fact that the walls are thin and from his vantage position, beyond eavesdropping on conversations, he could peek right into the living rooms of his neighbours.

To provide good cover, at night, he would switch off his lights so that passersby and neighbours can’t look into his flat as well. Understandably, he knows that many people don’t mind their business; they like salacious gossip and scandals. While he can harvest other people’s stories, he doesn’t want his own antics to be good fodder for dinner table talks.

To lend credence to this assertion, he recently tinted the sliding glass balcony doors. I thought a curtain would suffice, but I guess it is better to hide behind the “tint” rather than a curtain. For all you know, perhaps he has a lot to hide, just like so many people – from average man on the street, bloggers, professionals, artisans to even politicians. The quote from Mark Thomas’ The People’s Manifesto that “ those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear” comes to mind.

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I have been in stitches reading Mark Thomas Presents the People’s Manifesto. The policies, if implemented in any country, will not be funny. An example: “ We need to know in whose interest our MPs are working, so we can see who has dibs on them. Therefore they must wear tabards with names and logos of those they have financial links with whenever they speak, both inside and outside the House.’’

I love the hilarious ideas in The People’s Manifesto. I kept wondering how the suggestions would play out in Nigeria. Before I delve into some of them, let me give a background to how the Manifesto was developed.

Mark Thomas is a comedian, activist and satirist; during a tour around UK to find out what people really wanted, he got the audience to come up with policies to take power back to the people. The best policies – as voted by the audience – was included in the brand New People’s Manifesto.

Okay, let’s contextualise the policy ideas with Nigerian scenarios. For example, the policy “that declared that politicians should be hooked up to a lie detector every time they spoke in the House… or were interviewed on the news.’’

Debates will be fun to watch. Coverage should be live and a rule established that microphones should not be switched off, no matter the circumstances. Without a doubt, it will garner a large viewership. Just imagine the drama, the comedy – from slapstick to standup. It will be primetime television; advert spots will be sold out. I can imagine people beating rush-hour traffic to catch the show.

Also, if a lie detector is used during job interviews, ministerial screenings, budget presentation and defence, appearances before Committees, and press conferences, likely outcome will be straight answers. Anybody who can beat the lie detector successfully should never be saddled with the responsibility of information dissemination.

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Let’s take the scenario of job interviews; a very stressful process, especially when the role is a position of a lifetime.
Interviewer: Tell us about your education?
Candidate: I went to Harvard…(Lie detector beeps)
Interviewer: Your resume states Awoyaya University…
Candidate cuts in: “I meant to say I went to Harvard to visit a friend who recommended your company to me.” (Another beep from the lie detector)

They also suggested “MPs should also be wired up to an electro-shock device that would be activated by untruths…” I see the mischievous glint in your eyes; your imagination is running wild now. You are already thinking of a scenario where this is an essential requirement for all office holders. Egungun be careful na express you dey go.

I personally do not subscribe to your view. However, a bit of a saving grace; the lack of regular electricity supply will ensure that the devices are never charged. So, this policy idea would be dead on arrival.

The People’s Manifesto outlines different ideas, some grand, but many really hilarious. An idea I particularly like is the one about “Everyone should be given the day off on their birthday.” I completely agree we all truly deserve this policy. Anybody who opposes this policy should be declared a menace to society and killjoy.

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In this article:
Sam Umukoro
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