For about six years, he was the leader of Africa’s biggest economy. If you described him as a preacher fond of bishops, pastors, and apostles, you will not be wide of the mark. He held high numbers of prayer vigils probably more than anyone else in the history of Nigeria’s presidency. Much more than all of these, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the very calm and patient husband of one wife called Patience is unmistakably a prophet.
The following were words he spoke publicly before last year’s presidential election:“… I will not even expect praises now because hardly do people praise serving leaders. It is when you leave, people will begin to say good about you”. Who said Jonathan is not a prophet? What he foretold about his successor is coming to pass. Did God talk to him in dreams and revealed in visions what was to come? I am sure that experiences of leadership must have helped the former President berth at this sequitur.
According to a one-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill, a man will have enemies as long as he stands up for something sometime in his life. Although some people thought Jonathan stood not for much, his successor, Muhammadu Buhari, is also believed by some to be wobbling and not standing for a whole lot either.
The shade and colour of criticisms hurled at Jonathan when he was in power and the quarters the opprobriousness came from are hectares apart from the fiefdom where Buhari’s castigations are dashed out. Among other things, Jonathan was liberally criticised for waste and corruption in government. Buhari on the other hand, is being chastised for scarcity and lack in the land among other things.
Swift and unrelenting salvoes against this President are coming more from expected places and palaces. The dilatoriness and languidness of Nigeria’s economy crossbred with dire despondency is one of the handful of reasons. The human stomach, they say, is the most ungrateful organ of the body. The filling of it yesterday does not hinder its longing for a refill today. Freebie ammunition are now in the hands of gazillions of people who lampoon the President on matters that range from the frivolous to the significant. If the heaven withdraws its rain, and the sun does not rise early enough now in Nigeria, Buhari’s once-aching ears will be full of acerbic chatters from quidnuncs. Eschatologist Jonathan had foretold it.
Over the next couple of weeks or so, I am going to be honing in on this discourse as I probe a bit into the three categories of people where I believe the criticisms of our President, justifiably or otherwise, are coming from. Let’s check them out one by one.
The first group of people are those from whom power was wrested from in 2015. These are career politicians and business-as-usual businessmen from far and near. A bastion of them is very cruel and corrupt if mammon is in play. Some of them were the ones spoken about by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, recently at the World Economic Forum. According to Kerry, the US received a report that about 50 people stole $9bn from the treasury. “… there is nothing more demoralising, more destructive, more disempowering to any citizen than the belief that people in positions of power are crooks who are stealing the future of their own people…” I call them human hyenas and hawks who were assigned to watch over Nigeria’s goats and granted leadership oversight on the nation’s chickens. These fellas are devourers!
From them, more than $10.3bn (£7.1bn) in looted cash and assets have been recovered in the past year. Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the funds include $583.5m in cash and $9.7bn in cash and assets. If you muck about and snoop around a mercantilist’s cash stacks and bank account, you are stirring up the hornets’ nests. That is what is going on now in Nigeria with this group. And they are mad as hell! They are ready and steady for a prolonged fight with all available weapons including stolen money warring against those who war against them.
The second group of people are tougher to mollify. If Buhari raises the dead and makes the lame to walk at the flip of his fingers, these people will not clap their hands. With them, nothing good can come from a man named Buhari. The seizure of billions of naira in stolen funds to them are nothing but “witch-hunting and ethnic cleansing”. They are acolytes of bandits screaming from the roof top that “Na everybody dey do am na, why you come dey catch us alone?” Only people with depraved minds will desire a country where things work and at the same time justify robbery by men trusted with power. Many of them, unfortunately, are driven by deep and incredible ethnic hate and religious detestation. Their venoms of despisement and abhorrence of this President or anyone who sounds like him can be smelt from miles away. If you are a social media freak, the sardonic vituperation you read will make your stomach turn. Indeed, we are one Nigeria.
The third group of people are the middle-of-the-road opinionative Nigerians. They don’t give a hoot who is the President as long as the system works. They are unhappy with the rising hunger level and a system that seems to be on a break neck speed into Tophet. Why must the dollar be sold for N430 and foreign exchange becoming foreign for real are questions they keep asking with no answer. Some of them in this group are business men whose enterprises have been torn into tatters and choked up in flame before their eyes because of the frantic forex foofaraw and unstable financial system. Concerned they are about airlines withdrawing their services from Nigeria; and survivor home-based airlines like Arik imploding and sliding into extinguishment.
N145 per litre fuel price and the N2,400 cement price hike are too heavy a cross for some of the people in this group to carry. Their loved ones may have been kicked out of the hospital for inability to pay health care bills. Many of them or their relatives have once become prisoners in care centres because they couldn’t meet up with their obligations. As a result, they buried their loved ones prematurely. These people have no cushions to be granted exemptions from the current recession, and many of them worked for Buhari and his party to win the Presidency. Why is the President still hanging tight to 12 aircraft in the presidential fleet when Nigerians have no good air to breathe and no good roads to travel on? Why is the corruption fight hammering Peter and allowing Paul to walk around free? These are some of the questions men in this group are asking.
Don’t these people know that many of the challenges Nigeria is facing have been in existence for decades even before Buhari came aboard last year? Yes, they do! But they also believe that the troubles have been made worse through hazy and foggy government policies.
Are the shots thrown at Buhari foul play? Are they too extreme, deliberately inciting, readily instigating, and borderline seditious? Or, are they fair and balanced expressions of frustrations by ordinary Nigerians who believe the system has always been rigged against them and their families for many decades? I will answer the questions and much more in the concluding part of this treatise next week.
…to be concluded