Finally, the stretched debate and extensive controversy over President Buhari’s ability to lead Nigerians to the so called promised land is now over. On this, Nigerians owe Mr. President huge debt of gratitude especially for his recent guileless revelations.
No sooner than President Muhammadu Buhari returned from a prolonged medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK) and started making physical appearances at state functions than my heart momentarily leapt for joy.
The guess then was that there could still be optimism for Nigeria’s recovery. It did not matter that Mr. President had reportedly been on hospital bed for the better part of 2017 during which governance was in abeyance and the ship of State was adrift.
Indeed, I was tempted to join the today supporters of President Buhari to rain curses on Governor Ayodele Fayose, the enfante terrible and Chief critic of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government for earlier insinuating that Mr. President was brain dead.
Actually, I told few friends that Fayose was a man whose hate for the Number one citizen was totally irredeemable. How could anyone have imagined such evil against our President, I wondered.
Of course, Buhari’s handlers helped to further confuse me, that the media, civil society and opposition political parties were wrong in speculating that the President’s health was deteriorating so badly that even if he returned from the UK, the man would at best be a vegetable.
These handlers insisted that their boss was as fit as a rake. All we heard, as soon as Buhari returned was ‘did we not tell you’. In fact, when President Buhari returned, what we saw on the outside was a reasonable variety of a brand new President even acting stronger than when he was elected in 2015.
Rapidly, suggestions about the President contesting for a second term in 2019 started emanating from his followers, most of whom are undoubtedly sycophantic. Again, they portrayed their benefactor as a bull ready for a long haul, as far as campaigns were concerned.
These so called loyal party men have also told anyone who cared to listen that there is no vacancy in Aso Rock Presidential Villa because Buhari won’t be leaving office in 2019. The clear message from Buhari’s band of followers is that the man is not only very fit but can also run for another four year term as president in 2019.
Despite how hard this may seem believable especially given that old age naturally steals a man’s vitality, yet every day, spin doctors are unleashed to convince us that it is an achievable project.
The utterances of President Buhari’s followers are no doubt many but recent statements credited to Mr. President during his “74 or 75” year birthday celebrations and the realities of the day have combined to raise so many contradictions that should give any discerning mind enough food to chew, especially on his continued stay in office and political aspiration for the 2019 presidential race.
That Mr. President, an aging human being, practically opened up on his clear case of emerging senility, no doubt eats up hope on his capacity. The consequence of his personal disclosures is that it has well affirmed the suspicions of many Nigerians over the failing competence of a President.
According to President Buhari: “I thought I was 74, but I was told I was 75. I have never been so sick…even the 30 months civil war (when) I was stumbling under farm of yams or cassava, but this sickness I don’t know, but I came out better.”
Again the President remarked that “All those who saw me before and when I came back said I look much better, but I have explained it to the public that as a General, I used to give orders now I take orders. The doctors told me to feed my stomach and sleep for longer hours. That is why I am looking much better.”
Some of these recent comments by the President of Nigeria on the state of the nation and his wellbeing have overwhelmingly confirmed some of our existing fears about the degenerating governance in Nigeria.
The President’s remarks which dominated the media have no doubt inflicted grievous concerns on some Nigerians about their future under the remaining months of the Buhari administration.
For avoidance of the doubt, let me state that old age is golden and it remains a divine gift which most men seek. However, from the above statements of President Buhari, it is obvious that Nigeria has a President who either likes cracking expensive jokes or a leader that had to be reminded of very fundamental things because of old age.
Whatever, it means to remind a man in the prime of his life of his age may not be too far from partial loss of memory or seeming senility.
This issue of Buhari’s disclosed forgetfulness should not be treated with levity because if a man cannot remember his age, what are the chances that he will remember why he was elected in the first place even when reminded?
Maybe this is why Mr. President recently appointed Senator Francis Okpozo of blessed memory as Chairman of a parastatal.
For emphasis , Senator Okpozo died about a year ago and the President commiserated with his family in the national media. Yet, the President forgot that he had wished the man eternal rest . It is possible that the President has forgotten too that dead men do not function, which is why he appointed into boards of agencies and parastatals the likes of Rev Fr Christopher Utov , DIG Donald Ugbaja(retd) , Garba Attahiru , Umar Dange ,Magdalene Kumu, Dr Nabbs Imegwu and Comrade Ahmed Bunza who have all transited to the great beyond.
The list of Buhari’s new appointees was also stultified with clear cases of redundancy of names, with some people appointed into more than one board. Sabo Nanono who was appointed member of the board of the National Agency for Science and Engineering, NASENI while also appointed chairman of the Board of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Kabiru Matazu was also appointed chairman of FCT Universal Education Board and also made to chair the board of Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta.
Then, there is the disclosure of the doctors’ instruction for Mr. President to have enough sleep, which according to him, is mainly responsible for his looking very fresh. Should this not mean that we now have a President who sleeps ad infinitum? Whereas important State matters might be left in the hands of surrogates and a corrupt cabal?
The truth is that those who think Nigeria has witnessed the worst profligacy since the country gained independence in 1960 under Buhari’s watch might have sufficient reasons to substantiate their claims. From budget padding to $26 billion NNPC scandal, from Mainagate to $48 million Ikoyi Towers and disappearance or outright stealing of houses and huge sums recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerians have witnessed the stealing of public funds in a manner never expected from a government that parades itself as a champion of corruption fight.
Simply put, Buhari may just be alone in believing that his fight on corruption is working.
Realistically, despite claims of corruption fight in Nigeria in the past thirty months of Buhari’s reign, no high profile conviction of indicted public officials has taken place. Of course, it is not surprising that under Buhari, the APC government has not been unable to fulfill its electoral promises since it came to power in 2015.
Obviously from the increasing suffering and hardships experienced by the majority of the Nigerian population in all sections of Nigeria, the ready conclusion is that the nation’s number one citizen has not exhibited the capacity to avoid what makes Nigerians miserable.
The recent fuel scarcity adduced to the government’s ineptitude at a peak period when Nigerians need petrol to meet their commuting needs, is thought provoking. Indeed, this does show that Mr. President may have forgotten that he was elected to fix Nigeria in line with the promises of his APC party.
Unfortunately, today, there is excruciating poverty in the land.
So, must President Buhari be reminded that it is his duty to restore public confidence in governance, arrest decaying infrastructure, improve power, halt the declining economy, bring back the chibok girls and ensure safety of live and property?
With all these failings, it is difficult to believe that the Buhari administration has a vision that can guarantee the future of the nation called Nigeria.
It’s enough that Nigerians will be compelled to endure the ruling party’s underperformance until 2019 but it would be democratically insulting and wicked to the many suffering Nigerian citizens for any fair minded person to engage in or encourage any activity that may suggest the re- election of a President that has disclosed that his doctors have in their wisdom advised him to observe excess sleep for the good of his personal health and survival.
For now, our dear President has spoken and it is just natural we show compassion as it is about a certainty of nature that man will get weak with age.
However, in our collective pursuit for a great Nigeria, the only assurance will be to seek fresh and able leadership in 2019.
The hope on Buhari has been quashed with abundant evidence on his dwindling competence, lack of fulfillment of the many promises of the APC and limited memory capacity.
Frankly put, the opportunity extended to President Buhari has been squandered and May 2019, will remain the expiry date of his failed leadership and wasted opportunity.
By Phrank Shaibu: Shaibu, a Public Communication Consultant writes from Abuja .