Buhari and the state of the Nation

By Julius Oweh, Asaba

Three years ago, hope and optimism was in the air as the nation was gripped with a prospect of a new president on voyage of history and to make a mark. His integrity credential got a lot of political capital and confidence from Nigerians that were agonizing under a clueless, drifting and indifferent leadership of which the Jonathan administration acquired notoriety. The message of `change` caught the attention and imagination of Nigerians that wanted things done different. President Muhammadu Buhari`s inaugural speech was the energy that ignited the spirit of patriotism among Nigerians. And his famous speech ala `I belong to nobody and I belong to everybody` was the needed tonic for which the greatness and development of the nation was to be built.

Today, three years down the line, Nigerians are sorely disappointed for placing too much hope and confidence in him. Despair, despondence and destitution stalk the streets of the nation with many of my compatriots wondering what is happening to the ship of the nation. The first shock from the new president was the mode of appointment, giving lie to his inaugural speech of being president of all. Buhari and his inner circle believed that only those best qualified to take control of affairs of the nation could come from Daura or his ethnic group. And in one of his visits to United States of America, a president popularly elected by the people told the world media that those who did not vote from him should not expect appointments or dividends of democracy. His media handlers tried to do the damage control but the harm had been done.

Instead of the president and his team to mint out ideas of tackling the ills plaguing the nation, up to this moment of writing, they are contemplating their political navel and still blaming the Jonathan administration for the problems. Nigerians did not vote for him to be involved in blame game but to fix the problems within the province of human weaknesses and availability of funds. Strategic and pro-active leadership is simply on holiday.

It would be uncharitable of me to insist that Buhari has not achieved anything for the past three years but given the hope and trust invested on him, his report card is a poor reading and is clearly below average. I shall restrict myself to security, welfare of citizens, fight against corruption and restructuring of the nation. True that during the Jonathan administration, Boko Haram was occupying some local governments and their flag was flying in such areas. Yes, this government was able to push the terrorists back and the areas recaptured. But in the words of Lai Mohammed, `the degraded and decimated` Boko Haram are still bombing the country and were involved in the abduction of secondary school students under the Buhari watch. This is not a good testimony for a man who is a trained solider, a general at that and promised to deal with the terrorists.

Apart from the Islamic insurgency, the plagues of kidnapping, killings and the Fulani herdsmen onslaught and insanity are issues that make mess of the government. What is the government doing to address these spates of killings and insecurity? Clearly, something is wrong somewhere. Political scholars agree that the chief purpose of governance is the security and welfare of the people. The Buhari administration is not better than the Jonathan administration as far as security issues are concerned. The government is even worse. As for the Fulani herdsmen`s unrestrained killing of people, I refuse to believe that the president is treating them with kids glove because they are his kinsmen. Equally not explainable within the province of reason and reality is the view of the president that those claiming to be murderous herdsmen are men trained by former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Even for the sake of argument, if these invaders are from Libya, what are the functions of the commander-in-chief and the army in protecting the territorial integrity of the nation?

As for the welfare of the nation, hard times are here to stay with most state government owing salaries and pensions to workers and senior citizens who spent their salad years in developing the nation. The president may not be aware but let me give him a secret. Today in market places, churches, mosques and other social places, the name `Buhari` is a byword for hard times. But this is a government that promised Nigerians jobs and that food will be placed on their table. I am aware that the government cannot do everything for the citizens but it should have the capacity and will to create a fertile environment for the citizens to fend for themselves. That fertile environment is missing.

For a government that promised restructuring of the political space and fight against corruption, the performances in these areas are very dismal. On restructuring, the government is equivocating despite the glaring reality that the structure of our country is not working and grim reminders of the country description by Obafemi Awolowo as `mere geographical expression` and Ahmadu Bello`s `1914 mistake`. History has given Buhari a unique opportunity to create a new Nigeria. As for corruption, let the fight be above party and tribal considerations and those who benefited from corruption either of the APC hue or PDP stripe should face the music. Nigerians are yet to see the differences between Buhari and other former leaders. It is a painful and agonizing state of affairs.

Julius Oweh, journalist, writes from Asaba, Delta State. 08037768392

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