President Muhammadu Buhari is unfortunately facing tough times in leadership of Nigeria. Afflicted by a mirage of national problems, Nigerians expected quick-fixes to the miseries of the nation as payback for the “change” canvassed and they massively supported on the banner of opposition APC.
Nigerians have held strongly to this covenant pact of “change” with the President. In the past months, President Buhari has taken steps to solve these national maladies, known to Nigerians and the entire world. Already, some measure of attestable success have been recorded in areas like insecurity, anti-corruption war, and fiscal discipline in government business, (Treasury Single Account), bailout funds to salary indebted states, rail and roads projects among others, despite dwindling national resources.
But recent commentaries from some Nigerians in the media on the Buhari presidency have been quite unimpressive. Others have gone to the extent of passing a verdict of incompetence on him, icing it with calls for his resignation.
These pungent anti-government feelings, as even confessed by Buhari are understandable. However, in the haste to crucify Buhari by these dissatisfied Nigerians, on the dais of urgent expectations of accomplishments within time frames, (set out by these same critics), there is an obvious, anxious over-pricing of the cake that strips it of any fancy.
This clique of Nigerians forget easily the democratic bottlenecks inherent in the system. They also prefer not to understand that some supportive organs of government are peopled by renegade personalities who do not necessarily share in the spirit and vision of Buhari’s “change agenda.”
More to it, the convenience to overlook their own lapses in the small places they head, the sum total of which is the silent pulling of the strings of anti-change against the center, is hardly measured.
At market places, in bus stops, private homes, public or private offices and everywhere, Nigerians reaffirm the oath in infamy. They blissfully ignore the exhibition of positive virtues of patriotism to one’s country, but expect that Buhari shadows should loom everywhere in the land to reprimand them.
Differently put, Nigerians erroneously thought Buhari is the man to do everything for them, while they slumber and wake up to wine because the President rode unto power on the highest puritan pedestal.
To say the least, they expect to see in Buhari a Zombie, standing erect before a dry cleaner, with a horse whip to cane him for dubious acts. They think, he must be present in every church or mosque on Sundays and Fridays to stop the clergy in indulging in acts that are suspect and injurious to national image and progress.
Buhari in the estimation of these critics must be the Senate President or Speaker of the House of Reps to preside over plenary sessions and, so the country should not be told such nauseating tales of budget padding or delay in its passage by the legislature.
The president by the reckoning of some Nigerians should split himself in a dozen images to head all the MDAs in the country. By this fantasy, they feel chief executives would not engage in nepotism or other corrupt acts.
That they still find Buhari the upright and incorruptible man in public office today, as he was 30 years ago is not commendable. And it’s a vow that it must not be appreciated. Recently, Buhari almost tearfully lamented why fate never made his second coming as Nigeria’s leader on a dictatorship platform. His message was decoded as only that platform would have ensured the speedy actions of government.
But no nation drives a successful change simply on account of the puritanism and solo trip of the leader. Everyone in his remote corner of the country must believe and contribute his little energy and integrity to it before it works. Criticisms of a government are good, but imbibing the tenets the critics expect of the leader is better.
Having assessed the Nigerian temperament, which often tilt towards the bad and the ugly, President Buhari has come to the inevitable conclusion that Nigerians need a fundamental reorientation. This has become imperative because from ordinary Nigerians to the elite, the mentality and perception of life in negativity is similar. But it stuns how citizens expect progress from a country they have blatantly denied the essentials of this progress.
Therefore, the enactment of the concept of “Change With Me,” (CWI) by President Buhari a few days ago is apt and timely. Many would say, it’s the reincarnation of the War against Indiscipline (WAI). Yes, it is and Nigerians need it. WAI subscribed to brute military force and fiat, CWI is its civilian equivalent, but rather mild, persuasive and prone more to pricking the conscience of sane and progressive minds in the democratic leadership engagement.
Nigerians must comprehend that they may lament from now to eternity, but nothing would change, unless, the school boy believes that stealing the text books of his classmates is a sin against God, humanity and the nation. The lecturer must know that it is wrong to demand un-receipted monies from students before he endorses their courses or compelling them to mandatorily buy textbooks authored by him as condition for passing his test is frustrating the “change.”
Youths must begin to respect the sanctity of human life, by denouncing cultism as anti-progress. The clergy would stop collecting proceeds of stolen public funds as tithes or as donations for church development in the guise of religion. Parents would not hire professionals to write basic school certificate exams for their children. The transporter would not unconscionably hike fares under the pretext of rising FOREX.
Nigerians would step on the same podium with Buhari for “change” when medical doctors stop crippling public hospitals in favour of their private clinics. Judges would restrain themselves from passing pervasive judgments; much as lawyers would stop demanding frivolous injunctions for palpably guilty clients.
That is the national obligation. It is the change Buhari is sermonizing. It is the tonic the President needs to deliver. Only the collective observance of these virtues can truly save Nigeria. And the only luck and perhaps, opportunity the country can grip is the Buhari presidency. It explains the launch of the concept, “Change With Me,” and failure to heed to this appeal and a call to patriotism, Nigeria might never even sight the gates of the promised land. This is the bottom-line and the call on Nigerians for self-re-examination as embedded in the philosophy of “Change With Me.
****Agbese is a UK based human rights activist and contributed this piece from the Middlesex University, London.