Perhaps, ambled into wakefulness from slumber, quite angry too, a Nigerian, symbolizing the mindsets of millions of other voiceless Nigerians assert this rather affirmative melody, as reflected in the caption. “Yes, President Buhari is Still the Change.” It is the most auspicious time to call a spade a spade.
As Christians, congregants are only told about the second coming of Jesus Christ; but the same scriptures and pastors who sermonize it would neither hint of the day of salvation nor the hour. But after crucifixion, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples, as the messiah, but some doubted him. Today, that misstep is widely celebrated as a religious mythology euphemistically encoded in the parable of doubting Thomases. It’s even an axiom used in sacred or less sacred places.
This is the fate of President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigerians have taken themselves too much for granted. They carelessly malign all their leaders, yet fail to present a better alternative. Baffling too, some otherwise respected intellectuals in the country have also contracted their intellectualism to these past vermins of power, still pained at losing a stranglehold on the reins of governance. To denigrate the present government of President Buhari is a favorite pastime.
The media space (No thanks to social media) has been inundated with acerbic criticisms of the less than one and a half year, civilian leadership of Nigeria by President Buhari. Reading through the emotions and anger antagonists express with such venom, what instantly strikes a discerning mind is the penchant of Nigerians not to only forget history, but also, bury it in the most isolated of graves.
These critics mask differently. But, their trademark remains unconcealed, exposing an unjustified destructive mindset. It runs unhindered, mostly in the shadowy cloaks of yawning hate sentiments.
They are either political chieftains or party financiers; community leaders; Civil Society Groups; decorated human rights activists; untouchable godfathers of the land, or some queer High Chiefs, some amazingly without even a kingdom to preside, much more a voice to command respect.
But to the estimation of these Buhari’s critics, the regime has accomplished nothing and the verdict has been inexplicably mouthed loudly in places that hold no significance. They forget that power belongs to the Nigerian masses in a democracy and not the flavour of their veiled sponsors in whatever guise. They vaguely goad Buhari that payback time is 2019, if he dares to seek another mandate.
It is this clan of a few elites, who have been on the saddle of leadership since Nigeria’s independence and unwilling to quit or their latest intellectual collaborators that configure the new clique of the anti-Buhari campaigners. They have recently morphed into critical columnists not of any scientific breakthrough or quantum of knowledge in any academic field, but about Buhari.
They delight more in writing to articulate his failures and wrong deeds, than sighting any of his progressive feats. Some even condescend to the incendiary, by deriding Buhari’s voluntary confession of the rot in Nigeria and the burden of cleansing the mess bestowed on him now, as in 1983 as military Head of State.
To this camp of Nigerians, it’s the President’s self-admittance of leadership incompetence. They claim the masses are deprived meaningful leadership and impoverished. They claim the economy is bad and heap all sorts of blames on the Presidency.
Therefore, infinitesimal issues such as allegations of Buhari’s failure to publicly declare his assets in violation of his campaign promise have become issues of national homilies. These critics migrate from the mundane to the auspicious, with nothing cogent other than hurting the draperies of the administration.
Their rhetorics question everything but provide little or no insight on the way forward. They also forget easily, the decay or degeneration of the system, they blackmailed Buhari through the ballot to inherit. They are the unseen hands in Buhari’s frustration in efforts to reinvent and redefine Nigeria. But in public, they cry louder about the delay in settling these national malaises.
An African proverb queried this disposition, by scolding the wisdom of a frog which spent days in the water- well, without liberation, but cried of suffocation on the fourth day of rescue.
This clan of Nigerians in secured places, least expected to stop reaping from the institutional rot, deeply entrenched in the system. They are not happy that these channels have been blocked by a regime of change. They are sad that even stolen cash stashed in vaults of private mansions or graves, cannot be spent freely.
There is no more family holidaying in Durbar, Europe or the Caribbean Islands with Nigeria’s stolen wealth. Tax collectors on behalf of the government are scared to corner part of proceeds to grease the palms of benefactors. Not many are happy with Buhari’s implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which has netted over N3 trillion in the last one year. Why would they be happy with Buhari, when government officials no longer fleece the state with meaningless foreign travels, workshops and seminars?
If twice Buhari has remitted bailout funds to states to clear outstanding salaries and some governors embezzle it, yet those affected keep quiet, should the President double as governor of those states where citizens are docile?
Their sponsorship of Boko Haram insurgents is no longer yielding fruits, as President Buhari through an energized military has caged the outlaws. Thus, avenues of bargaining for negotiation with terrorists; initiated and fruitlessly pursued by dubious politicians, where millions of naira were hitherto guzzled are closed, at least within Buhari’s eternity in Aso Rock.
Definitely those who sold public assets to themselves, like PHCN or NITEL, would certainly not embrace the Buhari game. They know it might be recovered someday. Contractors awarded city rail contracts or those engaged in roads construction, know it’s dangerous to corner mobilization fees as usual. Cleaning up the mess in the NNPC, a cesspool of corruption by Buhari is distasteful to many. So, why must Buhari be a good President?
So, from sobriquets like “Baba go slow,” to “ Change the Change,” and multiple others, all invectives have been dishonestly flung at Buhari by adversaries of the administration. They pirouette in same circles and even curse their ancestors for this change. They drum that Buhari is not the change Nigerians anticipated.
But henceforth, it is going to be a battle between the few rich Nigerians who debase the nation and the majority poor, who still adorn and cherish President Buhari for exposing and prosecuting perennial looters of the nation’s economy. Despite instigation in sacred shrines by the corrupt elites, Buhari is still the change Nigerians would never sacrifice.
****Agbese writes from the United Kingdom.