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Nigeria: Struggling for survival ahead 2023

By Kassim Afegbua

Here are the words of General Muhammadu Buhari during his campaign in 2015. “Is the naira in your bank account of greater value today than it was four years ago? How can we allow the cowards of Boko Haram to take over any part of this country, a sovereign state?  How can young people die looking for jobs in Abuja and justice is not met?  What is going on here?  Is this our country?  Allow me prove to you that in our lifetime you and your country can be proud of this country.” If President Buhari had not become President in 2015 and he lived his life althrough without being a democratically elected president, following the seriousness and import of the above statement, many of his supporters and followers would have always referred to him as the best president we never had. Thank goodness he won the election and has now used his own hands to demystify and demythify his persona and his perceived capacity to lead a country that has so many challenges. His leadership almost six years on, has led to a total catastrophe, colossal damage on the psyche of Nigerians, distratrous on all fronts, as the citizens now pray fervently to keep the country afloat till 2023.
The greater challenge now is not about dealing with all the manifest challenges alone, it is more on how to sustain the country till 2023 before president Buhari does irredeemable damage to all of us. Rather than be part of the solution to our bedevilling problems, he has become the real problem of Nigeria. His media handlers say the president has a style, but it is obvious his style has tremendously exposed his leadership atrophy, incapacity, and inability to tackle the challenges staring at us on a daily basis. And the blame is entirely his. His inability and refusal to take result-driven decisions has become his nemesis. The Buhari product has become contaminated. Those who came out willfully in 2015 to give vent to his statement above, are beginning to wonder if they were not hypnotised to travel the Buhari route. If 2015 was a product of inexcusable ignorance, that of 2019 has become unforgivable jeopardy. How president Buhari was able to win the 2019 election despite his colossal failures remains a consternation of unimaginable proportion. And those who manipulated the elections are part of the consequences that have now befallen us. Thank God they are sharing from the abysmal failures and drawbacks.
Dissecting the above statement of president Buhari invokes a feeling of pity about a president who wants to give what he does not have. You cannot give what you don’t have. The value of naira in our hands today is nothing to write home about. He met naira to a dollar at N162. That has multiplied four times in depreciating value. A Dollar now sells for between N490 and N500 naira. When president Buhari sits back to recall some of his campaign statements, what exactly does he think about? The president seems to have been abandoned by his party, the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) because he chooses to offer individualistic politics and abandoning the convenant that earlier bound the party together. He did not only abandon the manifesto of the party with its 41 issue-based items, he has somewhat become the sole administrator of the party. He moved for the dissolution of the National Working Committee, set up an illegal Caretaker Committee, that has recently been given additional six months to put the dithering party in shape. The President seems alone in this leadership journey. The voice and role of the party has been swallowed in the labyrinth of confusion and self-inflicted maladies. The Governor of Yobe state, Mai Malam Buni, has become the number one foot-soldier of a government that lacks bite and tact. A Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, such a cerebral mind, has been relegated to the background by nebulous politics of those who want to play God about 2023. Rather than allow him to be the government’s poster boy to attract some semblance of direction, Aso Villa errand boys, would not allow the VP a breather.
Go back and watch the video of President Buhari’s responses to Kadaria Ahmed’s interview in the build-up to the 2019 elections, you will see the disconnections in his mental rectitude, no disrespect intended. That interview clearly exposed the president as one of a troubled mind and absentee mentality.
Aside from stuttering, it took the intervention of the Vice President to alert the president on the kernel of what was being asked or presented to him on a number of occasions during the interview. And his responses showed clearly that we have just bought one-way ticket, the one they call, “one chance” in local parlance. The sympathy and empathy that should have become our neighbours as a result of president Buhari’s health challenge, have disappeared because the man himself does not realise the enormity of the damage he’s doing to our collective psyche. And those who are feeding fat from this leadership gap, would tell you, in unequivocal verbiage, that this is their time to shine and make money. They are the boys in the Villa, the “mai-shais”, the “mai-ruwas”, the marabouts, the spin-doctors, the propagandists, the PAs, the SAs, and the inchoate Ministers who are daily battling to save the country with their limited brains. They have brought hunger and poverty to replace our hitherto prosperity. They have continued to squeeze and squeeze the populace with neck-breaking policies; petrol pump price increase, increase in electricity tariffs, amid all the dislocations of COVID-19 pandemic.
The President’s handlers have perpetually kept him in the Pudah, a self-serving detention, to deny the citizens the opportunity of interfacing with their elected president. His current visit to Daura is the first in 15 months in his second term journey. He has not visited any state of the Federation no matter how deep the crisis. He is a master in delegated responsibility. As if to dare him to do his worst, armed bandits struck at Kankara in his home state and took 333 students in captivity. Rather than just walk across the road to pay visit to the school and share in the misfortunes of their parents, a delegation had to fly in from Abuja to examine the crisis at hand. God, where did we go wrong? Not done, parents of the students who went on protest were dispersed with tear-gas. God, please, I ask again, where did we go wrong? Could it possibly be that the President is not aware of the happenings around him? Could it be that those who are his foot-soldiers are not briefing him adequately? Has it become so bad that the president no longer has feeling of empathy for those who are agonising over their abducted loved ones, the future of tomorrow? Where is the concern? Where is the leadership? While the dust raised by the Zabarmari pogrom is yet to settle, we are yet again confronted with one abduction too many, as if students have now become cattle in somebody’s farmland. What is happening?
Katsina has been a hotbed of armed banditry for sometime now, and each time we raised concerns about the dare-devil criminalities, the authorities involved, will downplay it. At some point, the Governor, Bello Masari, had to travel far into the forest to negotiate with bandits, sheer criminals, on terms designed by the bandits. What impudence! But that is what you get with limited knowledge on the art of governance and the politics of it. Chibok girls kidnap became a campaign issue in 2015, and president Buhari spoke so bravely, as one who would finally seal the coffin of insurgency. Alas!, insurgents have become more daring now than ever before. Blame the president and his fatigued service chiefs, men and officers, who have reached the nadir of their creativity, and left with nothing to offer. We have told the President repeatedly to sack the Service Chiefs and appoint fresh hands to add impetus to the fight against Boko Haram and other associated criminalities. The president has remained adamant and the general insecurity is digging deeper and deeper daily.
At a time when the country has plunged itself into another round of economic recession which may not abate till 2023 following the projections of the World Bank, Nigerians, under president Buhari must invoke the spiritual dirge. After all, the Chief of Army Staff had earlier declared that the Army invoked spiritual prayers to face the Boko Haram insurgents. Once a trained killer like soldiers now believes in the efficacy of prayers and not his skills and ammunitions, then we have come to the end of the road. Like one of my Lecturers once told me, leadership is the key to solving problems, but the absence of leadership leads to bigger problem. And once the problem becomes the leadership, it will take more than a committed effort to get solutions to challenges. At present, president Buhari has become the problem. And his leadership keeps raising more doubts on a regular basis. This is what is called “one chance” or “one way ticket. May God help Nigeria.

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