Where is my President?
I am deeply troubled about my president. My worries stem from the painful reality that President Muhammadu Buhari is hardly at his desk and that informed the title of this piece. I am fully aware that my president is in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend an investment summit. This is coming barely after the visit to Russia on investment and oil and gas. I am simply confused about the love of my president for foreign tours bringing the nightmarish image of the legendary Yoruba Ajala who was infamous for travelling around the world. The president is not in a hurry to return to Abuja soon because according to the media handlers, he will leave Saudi Arabia for a private visit to the United Kingdom.
There is nothing wrong with a president with the consuming passion of attracting investment to his country for that would boost the standard of living via economic activities and employment. But there are many things wrong with a president who makes his vice president or the foreign minister redundant. Some of the president`s foreign trips can be undertaken by either the vice president or the foreign minister. Furthermore, in the quest for attracting foreign investors, you must put the home front in order. At the risk of sounding boring, the problems plaguing the country are many and it gives the impression of a president who is either indifferent or incapable of tackling them. Rather, this is a government that believes in blame game. You cannot continue to blame your predecessor for almost five years on the driver`s seat. What have you done in this space of time to fix the problems? Insecurity is choking the nation to the extent that a top military brass talked about prayers in fighting insurgency. Kidnapping, armed banditry, economic depressions are the signature tunes of this country. And when you add the fact that Nigeria is now the home of the world poorest people, you can decipher why the president must stay a home to solve the problems. You cannot expect investors to put their money in a country that has deficit infrastructures and electricity supply is not regular.
A national newspaper (The Punch) analysis of the president foreign tours in three years of first tenure showed that Buhari was outside this country for 404 days, making it one year and thirty-nine days. The newspaper also said that the president had visited thirty-three countries. In 2019 budget, N1.3 billion was earmarked for travel and in the 2020 proposed budget, an estimate of N3.3 billion is meant for the travels of the president and the vice president. But this is a president who on coming to power in 2015 promised to reduce the number of planes in the presidential fleet.
It is unfortunate that the president has made a profession of foreign visits and he may well enter the Guinness book of world records as the most travelled president. Nigerians did not vote for a junketing president. Neither are they happy with a president with the mindset of a tourist. Those very close to the president should advise him that the job is very demanding and requires his undivided attention. The Information Minister Lai Mohammed should advise his principal on the beauty and usefulness of staying at home to address the domestic issues rather than the present goose chase of fishing out the purveyors of fake news in television and social media. The agony of Nigeria is that our elected leaders campaigned vigorously as giants for elections but became dwarfs the moment they are in office.
If the president must travel, I will recommend local travels and see whether his ministers are carrying out their assignments. He should leave the office and go on unscheduled tours of the states and constructions sites. Today there are many recruitment scandals in various ministries and departments; we are yet to get firm order and direction from the president. Today the Police Service Commission and the Inspector General of Police are in court over the mode of recruitment. Corruption is everywhere and the primary job of government which is the security and welfare of the people is taking nose dive. My president, please stay a home and do the job for which you are elected. I rest my case.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.