By Ochereome Nnanna
MY people have a saying which I will tell in my “inner” Igbo dialect and then translate. We say: “leruo enya akala nari zuru ife”. When you visit someone and you are about to depart, he will usually tell you: “fare well” or “take care” or “be careful as you go”. In some cases, a departing visitor also expects a parting gift, especially if the gift was the original reason for the visit.
When you tell such a visitor: “take care” without the parting gift, he feels disappointed and will usually consider visiting you a wasted effort. Leruo enya akala nari zuru ife is a reminder that a person who wishes you well gives you something that is more precious than silver and gold. A person who wishes you well will probably also give you a parting gift if he could afford to.
I wish to seize this opportunity to offer our President, Muhammadu Buhari, an unsolicited and unpaid-for piece of advice. I will say it in our Nigerian patois: “Presido, look your front”.
We have entered the sixth month of the four years he was given to try and fix Nigeria in line with his campaign promises. He was not elected to come and keep drumming how bad the Jonathan administration and the sixteen years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was.
If Nigerians thought Jonathan and his party were the best for them, they would have renewed their mandate in the 2015 general election. It was because they felt that the former “largest party in Africa” had exhausted its goodwill with the people that Buhari and his party were elected in the first comprehensive democratic regime change in our history.
Since Buhari came back to power, he and his party have told us little else except the “depth of rot” left behind by the dethroned PDP, the magnitude of “looting” perpetrated under Jonathan and the PDP and Buhari’s determination to recover stolen public funds and jail looters.
Meanwhile you look around, and, apart from one or two political opponents such as Bukola Saraki who rebelled against the wishes of Bola Tinubu, you do not see the “looters” who have been apprehended or put behind bars.
The former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Madueke, who is alleged as the “chief looter” of the Jonathan regime has not even been arraigned for trial in London, where the law actually rules. If anything, what you see is a large number of APC politicians with mindboggling cases of corruption to answer being made ministers in total disregard of the touted “zero tolerance for corruption”, on which he campaigned.
You look around and you ask yourself: where is the Itse Sagay anti-graft panel? Have they gone to sleep? Why has the federal government failed to disclose the identities (and amount) that Jonathan’s former officials and friends “returned” as claimed by Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State?
Why hasn’t the Jonathan minister who allegedly stole six billion dollars been identified, arrested and put on trial with efforts to recover the money made public? Six billion dollars or over N1.2 trillion can give our economy a massive shock therapy for recovery from depression.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is still high on its triumphal euphoria, and never misses any opportunity to remind us how they defeated PDP. Do you hear Barack Obama of the US or David Cameron of the UK make any reference to the elections that returned them to power in 2012 and 2015 respectively?
APC leaders should show some maturity. When a party wins an election it immediately faces the challenges of victory. Election victory is not an end but a means to an end: a platform for delivering on campaign promises.
It is in the interest of President Buhari and the APC to take my advice: Look your front. Start governing. Get to work. Start solving the problems of the country for which you were elected. There is nothing more you can tell us about the “rot” allegedly left by PDP that can justify six months of serious economic decline and roller-coaster ride towards depression.
Instead of the two million jobs per year we were promised (by now about million jobs should have been created going by the APC campaign promises) there have been massive job losses, especially in the banking, media and real sectors of the economy.
The Naira, which Buhari once boasted gained in value when he was elected is under pressure to be devalued to save our foreign reserves. Whatever rot the PDP might have left behind is being exacerbated by the cluelessness, directionlessness and actionlessness of the Buhari regime.
This tendency of Buhari and the ruling APC to keep talking about corruption, deep rot and what not, especially when the president visits foreign countries inflicts heavy injuries on Nigeria’s image. Buhari should change emphasis and tell the world his strategies to right the wrongs he met and put Nigeria back on the path of rectitude.
This is what we want to hear, and that is what our prospective foreign partners are waiting to hear. We want a genuine war on corruption, not a manhunt of political enemies and the use of coercion to capture some juicy oil-producing states for the ruling party.
Nigeria is not the only country that has corrupt people. But Nigeria is probably the only country in the world whose president spends primetime damaging its image.
Is Buhari really telling “the truth” or merely trying to ensure that the opposition never recovers to challenge him in 2019? If you have a household full of daughters and you keep telling everybody their mother is a thief and a prostitute, you must be ready to take the blame if suitors stay away.
But Nigerians are beginning to lose their patience after waiting for six months. Unless Buhari begins to address the “deep rot” left by past administrations (including his own) his 2019 dreams will be dead even before the date arrives.