Pendulum

Pendulum: Helpless Nigerians in the Hands of President Buhari  

By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, it is difficult to ignore the helplessness and hopelessness which hapless Nigerians have suffered since the year of our Lord 2015, when our presumed Messiah descended upon our section of this planet. Before then, Nigerians had reasoned that there was only one saint standing and he is no other than Major General Muhammadu Buhari, our brutal disciplinarian and former Head of State. In our selective or collective amnesia, and out of an incredible frustration and pathological hatred for the ruling party, PDP, and the President  fate had contrived to foist upon us, Goodluck Jonathan, it was generally assumed there must be a regime change, by all means. At that time, we believed that anybody was better than President Jonathan and his rambunctious PDP, and that things could definitely never get worse than it was. However, to make the choice easy and palatable for Nigerians, we believed that there was a godsent replacement waiting in the wings. One who commanded the mythical stature, status and authority that was capable of driving the fear of God into our recklessly profligate politicians. His name was Muhammadu Buhari and he had no equal in Nigeria’s political firmament, or so we thought. As events would show sooner than later, after he was sworn in jubilantly, and after a stentorian inauguration speech which we found out had been plagiarized, the scam we sold to ourselves, at a premium, began to crumble, before our very eyes. Perhaps that speech was the harbinger of the level and depths of misery and calamity that we were about to sink into. However, in our euphoria, we paid little or no attention to the tell-tale signs that things would never be at ease, that the falcon would no longer listen to the falconer!  In short, we generally lost our brains, and our minds, and with them, our sense of history, not just momentarily but almost permanently. Today, the rest is history.

I do not know what Buhari’s fanatical supporters, or his combative aides, tell him now, but I can fathom a guess that at the time of his ascension to power, when he was still himself, his big ego was already being pumped up and massaged regularly and endlessly. Nowadays, nobody seriously knows what the President thinks or believes. Too many stories abound, some so far-fetched that they can only exist in the realms of fairytales or Aesop’s Fables, some so unreal and surreal, others still fictional but speaking to some kind of morality or truth. Yet, nothing can be discountenanced or discounted anymore. We may just as well be living in a world of make believe, like a virtual Alice in Wonderland scenario! That is how bleak and depressing things have become.

On an even more serious note, and I have been quite serious thus far, the office of the Nigerian President is too powerful, and our current experience is the reason why we must never again let just anybody occupy that “supernatural” position. Just in case you didn’t know that fact and you mistakenly find yourself working in the Presidential villa, you will immediately discover that your options are limited. One. When in Rome, you must live like the Romans. If you can’t, please, have a quick dialogue with your feet and vamoose at the speed of light. End of story. All our friends who went into the accursed Villa with their seemingly towering and impeccable credentials were soon forced to forgo or forget their lofty aspirations and ambitions and climb down their high horses. It has been that bad! Many were turned into robots, and some became a complete mimicry of circus clowns. Only a tiny few returned home with some sanity. The simple truth is that you can hardly enter a place that has become a den of iniquity and treachery and hope to return to society with your head still sitting on your neck.

Since 2015, we have practically been in a state of stupor, waltzing from one monumental crisis to another, like a drunken somnambulist. In all fairness, President Buhari was, initially, slowed down by his undisclosed ailment that kept him outside Nigeria than inside in those early days. But while we submit to that reality, the fault still remains his. No one expected him at his age and with the fragile state of his health to be in top form or operate at full capacity. He was expected to do the proper thing in such circumstances by delegating his duties and roles as required by the Nigerian Constitution. However, he stoically refused to delegate to the right people. Instead, he chose to play games, by trying to be a political strategist when that has never been his forte. It was a ploy doomed to fail and it did so spectacularly.

Buhari’s government lost steam once he kowtowed to the whimsical dictates of a cabal that started ruling by proxy in his name. He gave this otherwise cowardly group the fillip they needed by his taciturnity and egregious overpowering silence in the face of humongous atrocities and brigandage. While they could bully and intimidate as a collective, backed by the unseen hand of their protector, the few times they felt the absence of that protection the façade crumbled, and they were shown for the pitiable specimens that they really were. Since then, It has been obvious that this government is not likely to achieve anything tangible at the expiration of its two terms in office, because the ship of State has floundered on the high seas rudderlessly and is taking in water at an abnormally rapid rate such that the State may sink imminently if care is not taken. In the meantime, like the proverbial Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burnt, our President goes to Katsina to milk his cows, whilst marauders, murderers, assassins and terrorists annihilate us like cattle.

The biggest problem bedevilling Nigeria today is that of an unprecedented insecurity. Only this past week, hundreds of schoolboys were brazenly abducted by bandits and gangsters in the President’s home State of Katsina. Just imagine that level of embarrassment for one of the strongest and most powerful leaders in the world. The shame is that this leader has lost all sense of propriety and decorum that he didn’t even seem embarrassed, despite the public and international outcry. He turned up in his home State, went to his hometown and thereafter, mum was the word. The world remained dumbfounded and flabbergasted.

As always, the international media went to town massively on us and our perpetual incompetence and this must have helped to secure the immediate return of the boys so that we would not end up with another Chibok Girls fiasco and nightmare. Mercifully, the young boys have all returned but with unending and horrendous tales of woes. Many Nigerians are still not convinced that the boys were just freed like that without the Federal Government paying some outlandish ransom to the abductors or compromising our territorial integrity and sovereignty, or otherwise paying a yet unknown price too great. It is symptomatic of the times we live in and the unfathomable depths to which we have been plunged that Nigerians have become so paranoid to the extent that many of our people actually believe President Buhari is not the man in The Presidential villa. It is a regular debate I have not been able to win to the extent that I myself am now beginning to feel too weak to engage in such conversations. Such people have asked me to secure a live Instagram interview with him. I am hoping to succeed with the President one day soon, no matter how much management is being done right now. I won’t give up, not only because I want to satisfy my teeming followers, but also because I believe that it is imperative that our President answers some hard questions if we are to survive as a nation. There are too many pending questions for me to ask him.

The first question is whether the President is aware the country is collapsing over his head or if he feels this is how a normal country should be run! Does he know that due to his own careless and lackadaisical attitude and approach to issues of grave dangers, Nigeria is speeding fleet-footed towards the way of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and other such failed nations where insurgency is rife, and anarchy is the order of the day. There are Nigerians today who believe that the sponsors of terrorism are right inside the seat of power and that President Buhari is not serious about fighting banditry, hooliganism, or even terrorism. It is said that he seems to have some soft spot for the people of his clan who indulge in wanton destruction of lives and properties, or at best that he will turn a blind eye to the terrible damage that they are doing to the Nigerian State because he actually aligns with their beliefs. It is my fervent hope that this is untrue!

Two. Is it that our military guys have become so cheaply powerless or some senior officials are unwilling to allow them apply maximum force to obliterate the threat posed to our nationhood by the insurrectionists? It is naturally tempting to associate with those spreading the conspiracy theory that the government is over pampering the terrorists, including rehabilitating them into the military while they wasted no time in proscribing IPOB and other Southern militant groups who have more worthy causes and declaring them as terrorist groups and organisations. This belief is given significant traction by the fact that the insurgents seem capable of being visibly invisible, blindingly oblivious and carrying on as if they are an integral part of our security, or, in fact, the armed forces itself. The equipment, armoury and arsenal at their disposal beggars belief and it is totally astonishing and disturbing. A motley collection of ragtag individuals is making a mockery of our highly trained and supposedly sophisticated military personnel and might. The kind that was so gung-ho and trigger-happy in dealing with peaceful and unarmed #EndSars protesters but timid, fearful and pusillanimous when confronted by Boko Haram and the wicked minority Herdsmen given their kinsmen a bad name.

Three. Is the President aware that our economy has virtually collapsed or someone is lying to him that it is so buoyant that a Naira is now equal to one US Dollar, rather than the reality that the Naira now equals about five hundred US Dollars and is still going south? Please, with due respect, what was the reason the Southern borders between Lagos and Benin Republic were shut down while the porous borders in the North remained in business? And after severely punishing the poor hapless petty traders that trudged and hustled along the Seme axis, the same erratic government suddenly wakes up to tell us that reopening that route will re-energize our economy! Was that not taken into consideration in the first instance? Please who manufactures these political and economic somersaults to assail and assault the sensibilities of poor, forlorn Nigerians?

Four. What exactly is our strategy for protecting Nigerians globally? Just there in nearby Ghana, Nigerian businesses have been shut down and our traders made to look like pathetic orphans, yet not much intervention or succour has come from our government and the minimal effort deployed has naturally not achieved anything worthwhile. Why have we become so despised, disrespected and disgraced in many countries around the world?

Five. What are we doing about unemployment? Our young ones are mostly frustrated and disillusioned. The palliatives being distributed are more concentrated in a particular region of the country. If anyone denies this fact, let them release a comprehensive list of the beneficiaries, if any such exists. The money being thrown around can be better channelled. Nigeria must as a matter of utmost urgency invest in vocational studies instead of promoting idleness and laziness.

Six. Education. When will this government and ASUU resolve their intractable problems and crisis? Why does education not have a pride of place in the priority of this Government? And why is it that budgetary allocation to the sector is paltry and derisory?

Seven. Health they say is wealth. When are we going to have world class facilities in our dear beloved country? When will our leaders stop flying abroad to seek medical attention to the minutest of ailments because of the lack of faith in our medical infrastructure which they bludgeoned into a comatose state by their inaction and ineptitude?

Eight. Infrastructure. Nigeria is generally backward infrastructurally. Something drastic must happen. What is the government doing about sustainable and regular power supply, good roads and the rest?  I can go on ad infinitum…

This snail speed won’t get us anywhere…

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