Slowly, hopes of rebirth are fizzling out as the leadership gropes for answers that people thought were well-articulated during the campaigns.’
First, let me confess my failure to live a vow to shut down on all political commentaries or news items concerning my country during my 40-day absence from this page. Tried as I could, there was always that pull to catch a glimpse of developments at the home front, just to be sure that the growing band of wailing wailers had not succeeded in shouting President Muhammadu Buhari out of power. Okay, I may have blown things out of proportion with that allusion. Yet, the drumbeats of verbal war mongering through the screaming headlines suggest that the former ruling party would stop at nothing to make life uncomfortable for those who shoved them off the seat at a time when they were barely halfway through the 60-year delusory master plan they ‘eyemarked’ for themselves. And so, it was difficult not to keep an eye on the unfolding scenario as Buhari dribbled his way through the perilous political landmines primed to ensure his failure.
It is understandable that, having been technically knocked out by a self-inflicted political hara-kiri, it would amount to double jeopardy for the hawks in the Peoples Democratic Party to watch the ruling All Progressives Congress make a mess of governance with its trial and error approach. If we are to say the truth, the APC appears to be feeding the opposition with the ammunition to ridicule its seeming inability to deal with the enormous tasks before it. It is quite easy to finger the PDP’s megaphone, Chief Olisa Metuh, as typifying that surly individual that cries more than the bereaved or that impostor that relishes blowing things out of context just to satisfy his paymasters. But for how long can we continue to give excuses for a Presidency that wrings its hands in confusion as things go from bad to worse? Is it not an irony that the PDP now sees its 16 years of misadventure in governance as better focussed in terms of policies than the APC that’s still grappling with the rudiments of the power game in its sixth month?
When a government that rode on the change mantra becomes criminally slow in discharging its responsibilities, it gives the opposition much vigour to shred its intent. To my mind, Buhari’s lethargic cadence has fired Metuh’s latest vocation in which he issues truckloads of press statements that question every action of the government. Surely, this is not the time to lecture hapless Nigerians about how change is a process and not a transmutation spurned through a magical wand. I bet those who voted for Buhari knew it was never going to be an easy, short walk into the Nigeria of their dreams. Unfortunately, they also did not bargain for the snail speed with which Buhari has confidently kick-started the metro jet. With Metuh and Co baying for blood, there is no better time than now for someone to remind the President of the need to cut down the laughable drama that seems to characterise his leadership style, including the wobbling and fumbling that give the likes of Metuh the impetus to rant endlessly.
Besides, the President needs to employ some diplomatese in his public conduct. There is a world of difference between the deployment of raw, brash language in explaining the Nigerian crisis to the international community and employing diplomatic finesse to address the same issue. For example, I do not subscribe to Metuh’s allegation that the President was deliberately de-marketing the country by telling the international community about the damage that corrosive corruption has wrought on the resources and psyche of the nation and its people. That is the grim reality of our existence. It is one truth we must confront if we truly desire to positively move forward and break away from the motionless movement of the past.
Be that as it may, quite a number of Nigerians are eager to see a Presidency that takes decisive and visible action to address the rot instead of whingeing at every international gathering. In other words, they want to see a can-do-it President, not the one that is all talks without action. After all in the last general elections, the nation voted for active change, not passive lamentation and endless jeremiads. And I write that with a twitch on my fingers!
You may ask, was Metuh justified in asking Buhari to take a deep breath and weigh the consequences of his utterances on the general health of the nation? The answer is: Yes! Was he urging him to paint the image of a hollow white sepulchre while the putrid smell fouls the air? No. Metuh may be the last person to admit that the PDP raped the country to its feeble knees. But he would not be that daring to ask the President to lie. Hear him: “We insist that Mr. President’s unceasing blanket negative labelling of citizens, in a county where millions of honest and hardworking individuals/firms are genuinely contributing daily to the development effort, is indeed a disservice and injurious to the nation and the people. His recent announcement to the world that the nation is broke and cannot pay cabinet ministers not only sends a discouraging signal but also exposes the ineptitude of the present administration to meaningfully and sincerely exert itself and work with industrious and innovative investors to create and manage wealth. How can any reasonable investor still have the confidence to invest in a place where its President continues to alert that his country reeks of corrupt people and that the country is broke to the extent that it cannot pay cabinet ministers?”
It is amazing that the Presidency has reduced this wise counsel to a simplistic theory of a subtle attempt by the PDP to encourage the President to lie about the parlous state of the economy. Nothing could be farther from the truth which, like trust, is a burden. When Nigerians trooped out to vote for change, they did so with the belief that Buhari would pump some positive vibes into a dying economy and failing nation. They were tired of President Goodluck Jonathan’s swansong of blaming the past for his inability to fix the decay. The whining was not a tonic for growth and Jonathan’s time was up. He was flung out of Aso Rock door and, with high expectations; a no-nonsense Buhari was saddled with the onerous responsibility to set the country on a better direction. If Jonathan was confused about the similarity between official malfeasance and corruption, no one had imagined that Buhari would be that confused. And so, when it became a key nugget in his foreign speeches, we should feel concerned. Like Metuh pointed out, what the international community craves is a spread sheet of the Buhari policy thrust that would attract investments and not his chest-thumping noise about his battle with thieves that always strut the streets laughing back at him.
By now, the APC should realise that the honeymoon is over. It cannot be on a driver’s seat and still be heckling like it did as a shadow government. If the APC fails to exert itself in drafting a clear-cut developmental strategy that is visible for all to see; if it struggles to put its cabinet together; if the President keeps lamenting about the encumbrances imposed on his performance by a constitution that spells out how things should be done in a federating union, then it should not blame Metuh for his cacophonous and sometimes annoying refrain about a confused party that only thought of grabbing power before thinking of what to do with it!
Buhari needs to understand that citizens no longer smile in the streets. They now wear long frowns as the economy bites harder. Slowly, hopes of rebirth are fizzling out as the leadership gropes for answers that people thought were well-articulated during the campaigns. They thought Abuja was poised to do things differently post-May 29, 2015. Now, they are not sure again with the persistent heckling over intangibles while the season of anomie appears to have taken permanent space in their daily life. Will Buhari provide an answer or will he, like his predecessor, continue to put the blame at the feet of a ruinous past?