Where are the footprints?
With a mixture of great surprise and astonishment, I read the article, “Buhari’s footprints from home to diaspora” by Femi Adesina which appeared on the opinion page of The Guardian Newspaper on September 16, 2022. It came as a very interesting image laundering and would captivate the attention of the very few in the corridors of power.
Of course, it would make party faithful of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and those who are blinded by ethnicity and religious sentiments thumb their chest and crow in ecstasy over Buhari’s footprints as painted by the writer. But for those the writer described in his opening sentence as the discerning type, who listen to daily public discourse in the mass media that centres’ around insecurity in the country, the article is praise in futility or applause with one hand.
The writer should be reminded that the discerning type has many reasons to listen to public discourse. One of such is to have a broad understanding of what is happening to fellow Nigerians across the country as well as keep abreast with the various challenges facing the country. Yes, there is no denying the fact that, insecurity and banditry are getting nastier by the day as the kidnappers and terrorists are becoming audacious and arrogant in their actions and statements.
Therefore, the insecurity issue must become a shriller national conversation and there is no point in calling people names, such as mischievous or cynical just because they listen to or discuss the insecurity issues on television, radio or social media.
In fact, no day passes without the sad news of people being killed or kidnapped by bandits on their way from one point to another or being adducted into their homes. This writer like many families in Nigeria lost a dear friend to banditry, a man who served the nation meritoriously as an Air Force officer until his retirement and later as Commissioner of the National Population Commission in his State.
Late Zakari Umaru-Kigbu was brutally murdered in his house by bandits at Azuba Bashayi in Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State and two of his children were taken hostage by the bandits, before being released.
Without mincing words, insecurity makes it harder for people to live peacefully or travel across the country without a phobia of being kidnapped, and talk less of doing business.
No doubt, insecurity is one of the many issues driving the rising cost of living in Nigeria today. Farmers are scared of going to farms for fear of being kidnapped while the age-long herders/farmers crisis remains unabated.
Nigerians back at home are much at a loss if charity now begins from the diaspora. This is because it is hard to find any footprints so-called mentioned in the article that started from home.
It is nice to know, as revealed in the article, that in 2017 President Buhari saw to the enactment of the Nigeria in Diaspora Commission (Establishment) Act, which provides for the engagement of Nigerians in the diaspora in the policies, projects and participation in the development of Nigeria.
Rather than shows of bravado with the diaspora, a truly committed leader would show courage at home by dealing with insecurity to a standstill as well as other home front challenges like unemployment and re-positioning the weak economy. Tackling these challenges frontally will make it easier for those who chose not to ‘japa’ but salvage the country by investing to develop it.
Again, it is important to note that majority of those in the diaspora that the Buhari government set up a diaspora commission for the purpose of utilizing the human capital and material resources as well as to maintain links with the country are the same youth the President once referred to as lazy.
There is no doubt that the lack of enabling environment makes our youth look unproductive and seem like a looming danger waiting to be harvested by the devil as their minds remain idle. It is for this reason, therefore, that I find it difficult to identify Buhari footprints as emphasized by Mr Adesina.
If one may ask, aside from the diaspora remittance establishment Act, does President Buhari have footprints in education, healthcare and job creation to mention just a few? The lingering Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike has kept students idling away at home for over six months, while the dilapidating healthcare facilities and poor treatment of healthcare personnel see them in droves seeking greener pastures abroad.
Let us pause for a moment and take a holistic look at the few diaspora investments in healthcare in the country. You will find out that, many of these healthcare investments are established in big cities and ordinary Nigerians cannot afford to pay the medical bills of the hospitals.
Indeed, over-rating President Buhari before the 2015 election is a huge mistake many Nigerians now pay dearly for in several ways and would not forget in a hurry.
Unless it is magical President Buhari’s campaign promises, his political party and several party faithful grandstanding to positively turn the country around by hitting the ground from day one to accomplish what they promised may still happen.
Over seven years in government, the postulations of former governor Babatunde Fashola in November 2014 leave one in great distress.
He said that “a serious government will fix power problems in six months” and further queried in December 2014, “Why is the nation’s currency, the naira trading for N180 per dollar, while the South African Rand is trading at R11 to one US dollar?” In the same context, President Buhari asked a rhetorical question in February 2015 when he said, “Why do I need to go for the foreign medical trip if we cannot (sic) make our hospital functional?”
Today, these questions and comments do not only expose the party and President to leadership deficit, but it has also widely derided and swiftly reminded the ruling government about the scale of unfulfilled promises and pressing problems facing the country under its watch.
A truly bold and responsible government could transform the economy without reliance on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which would help to boost its annual GDP. The Federal Government should stop neglecting its responsibilities and should create a conducive environment for policies on local investments.
His biggest worry is that political dysfunction poses a great risk to democracy. Therefore, human face reforms and policies must be put in place to break the ‘japa’ syndrome and ditch the political filibuster that keeps the system motionless.
Again, if we must move forward, democracy cannot survive when one side believes that it is doing wonders with self-appraisal of this sort.