Mr President, lead the charge!
Muhammadu Leko Buhari took the oath of office yesterday for a second term as President and Commander-in-Chief of the defence forces of democratic Nigeria without a speech to outline his vision for the next four years.
That was fine, given the explanation that he would do so two weeks from now on the day he has graciously and appropriately consented to as Nigeria’s real Democracy Day.
While he deserves all the good wishes for a successful second term, the president, however, needs to be reminded of the confidence Nigerians have reposed in him and the need for him to pay them back with better performance than he has put up so far.
It is no exaggeration that the appalling current state of affairs in Nigeria, despite some improvements in infrastructural developments, remains a source of concern, four years after. Life has continued to be difficult for a huge swathe of the population as many families can barely feed and live on less than the equivalent of one dollar per day. Even the international rating agencies, contentious and inaccurate as their figures can sometimes be, put a finger on the level of human suffering in Nigeria by labeling the country the poverty capital of the world, having over-taken India and some other countries in that ignominious race.
Industries are yet to be revived on the scale promised and unemployment continues to rise. Basic income of the average citizen can hardly support the ones lucky to earn any. Power supply improves and ebbs, making planning impossible and condemning the people to a life of frustration.
The economy has seemed to be in hands less than adept at managing it.
When Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, took over power, four years ago, hopes were raised that the nation would be placed on the path of good governance. It began with justifiable, up to a point, excuses of how woeful a shop the ousted Godluck Jonathan government ran. But soon, the hand-wringing took on the tone of mere excuses for poor preparation and even cluelessness.
The new government, to be fair, then set to work, tried to do much more with less resources especially in infrastructural upgrade. But while no one expected miracles, the failure of economic policies, sign-posted by the abysmal performance of the much-touted Economic Recovery and Growth Plan has been spectacular.
All indices of development have been far from encouraging, economic growth rate is very low and it is hard to find any investor overly enthusiastic about Nigeria.
As the new term begins, Buhari needs to be reminded that trite as the saying may seem, it is an incontrovertible truth that the values of the elite usually constitute the dominant value that drives the wider society’s values. The Nigerian elite – political, traditional, religious, intellectual, business – has killed the rest of society with selfishness, avarice, and mindless ostentation
And no society has ever developed on the greed and wasteful conspicuous consumption of its elite. None.
Therefore, the duty of redirecting Nigeria to the path of progress and repositioning the country for unity, peace and prosperity rests squarely upon the shoulders of the nation’s leadership. Buhari should lead this charge vigorously by strengthening the institutions of governance to curb waste and greed. He should also strengthen those institutions for fighting corruption to curb rampant theft as obtains today.
He is renowned for his strength of character and integrity. These attributes have been put to question by his seeming helplessness in certain instances. He will do well therefore to do all he can to disabuse the minds of all citizens and prove his sharpness as an arrow.
The current state of comprehensive insecurity, with herdsmen on rampage, kidnappers on the prowl, terrorists holding ground against the nation and widespread corruption in the midst of escalating poverty is the perfect slaughter slab of a nation’s future and the graveyard of its manifest destiny.
The times are tough. But Nigerians must deploy their long-held values of hard work, resilience in battles, love of one another and unity of purpose as a people to overcome the challenges the nation currently faces. And Buhari must lead this charge.
Poverty and mass illiteracy all over the country have combined to create a new, united tribe of Nigerians, the poor, the deprived, the oppressed, the uneducated and the alienated, whose religious or ethnic affiliations have not in any way made them any better. Bad as this is, there is redemptive value in it: that is the majority tribe in Nigeria! And Buhari should make that his tribe, his religion and his primary constituency, because that is the authentic Nigerian tribe and it is the one that needs to be saved if Nigeria would be safe and be saved.
Against the background of so much fulmination over diversification of the economy in the last four years, with emphasis on agriculture and mining being touted as the key to Nigeria’s prosperity, it is a fact that all kinds of things are available in all the states of the federation but they are yet unexploited in a way that can prosper the country and its people. This is a disgrace that must end immediately.
Buhari’s seeming insulation from the fallacy that is Nigeria, and his convenient denial of the contradictions in the polity, is a dubious luxury he enjoys to the detriment of the unity, progress, prosperity and the sustainable future of this country. Buhari must work for real change in Nigeria! He won the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief by promising change! Change of personnel is good. But it is not the only change Nigeria needs, even now! It is substantial change! Substantial change to substance and to symbols! A complete departure from the norm, as it is known, to a grundnorm upon which the future can be built!
But to seek change without a wise or knowledgeable notion of what kind of change is possible upon a foundation that is anything but strong is self-deceit of the worst kind. The foundation of Nigeria today is weak and needs not be so. It can and should be re-built so the country can stop living a lie.
It is as a result of Nigeria living a lie that the giant upon which the rest of Africa and, indeed the Black Race, ought to gaze with awe and reverence, with pride and joy, currently carries itself with so much slop in gait, odium in aura and often appears a blight to the sight.
The president must know that this country has deep and profound problems and needs the best energies of all Nigerians, talented, patriotic, young and old, men and women, on the plough, in order for the desired progress to be made.
Buhari and his government have done a few things right in the first term but the country remains a long shot from the great country it longs to be. The tragedy is that, as a result of the faulty foundation on which peace, progress, unity and prosperity is being sought, Nigeria has all these years run in ways and directions that take it farther from the desired destination.
Today, his first full day at work, Buhari should lead the charge to direct the attention of all Nigerians to their country’s unanswered seemingly simple questions: what is Nigeria and what should it be? And he should lead the quest for a clear answer, which is in plain sight, and lead the charge for its articulation as well as implementation.
To change it from what it is, a lie, and make it what it should be, a nation not afraid of itself, not intimidated by its diversity but enriched and united by same, demands and deserves the best in all of Nigerians, beginning from him, Buhari!
Even as he elected not to lay out his vision for the next four years via another inaugural address, choosing to do that on June 12, the historically and appropriately chosen Democracy Day, Buhari is well advised to find, anew, wisdom for knowing his real assignment at this juncture in Nigeria’s history. That assignment is not just to repair the economy, build roads and bridges, fix power or catch some thieves, significant as those are!
His assignment is to rebuild Nigeria, block by block, from a deep and strong foundation. His assignment is to build a beautiful quilt from the rainbow of colours that is this great country, in a way that makes the individuality of black, white, blue, red, green, or whatever colour enhance each other in a final edifying, beautifying piece of clothing.
His assignment is to lead the charge for Nigeria’s renaissance in all of its ramifications!
God’s speed, Mr President!