By Rotimi Fasan
WHILE the venue he chose to make the announcement might have come to many as a surprise, certainly not the news that President Muhammadu Buhari would be running for a second term. For many months now, probably less than a year after he was sworn in for his first term in office, supporters of the president had been rooting for his return to office.
It was shortly after Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP gang had been booted out of office and memory of their corrupt profligacy was still fresh. Expectations were yet high and the romance between Nigerians and the new government was still very hot. Then it was fashionable for Buhari surrogates particularly his two spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina, to tell the busybodies clamouring for a second term for Buhari while he was yet to give a convincing account of the first, to be patient. They often did this with an air of self-satisfaction, basking in the euphoria with which they were ushered into office.
But the enthusiasm of this category of Nigerians as were the rest of us who wanted a change from the wastrel administration of the PDP would soon prove to have been misplaced. Our accommodation of the apparent incompetence of the government that some of us took for a teething problem would become untenable.
But that realisation was yet months ahead, at least not before the one and a half years mark when, like a baby plagued with developmental challenges, the Buhari administration showed its developmental milestone were unachievable. Until then, Nigerians hoped for the best and expected the best. Three years down the line and we can confirm for a fact that many things have fallen apart in the present administration.
The facts before us are undeniable. And while I don’t miss the Jonathan administration, I am not keen on the continuation of four more years under Buhari. Who knows if things could turn out better if this government wins the next election? We expected things to change for better under Buhari but they appear to have got worse in some respect even while I would not deny the fact that the failures of the present government are traceable to the administration before them.
Buhari and his co-travellers in the All Progressives Congress promised changes they have been incapable of achieving. This is where we are today. It is the reason another term of four years under this administration could prove disastrous. Now, we’ve experienced what it means to be led by a civilian Buhari, it would be foolhardy to wish for a continuation of our misery under him.
President Muhammadu Buhari has in the main failed to discharge his remit as president. Neither has the APC as a party. While these are enough reasons to let the government go, the more aggravating fact is that this has been a government that has been slow to change if not completely opposed to it. This is ironic for an administration whose campaign mantra was change.
Not only has Buhari failed to offer salutary changes to the inadequacies of the Jonathan years, he has been deaf to the clamour for correction. The administration has not had ears for the cries of the people of this country. Not in terms of its failure and even refusal to fight corruption among its innermost stalwarts, nor its failure to ensure security where it has allowed under its very nose the replacement of one form of religious insecurity (Boko Haram) with an agrarian menace (Fulani herdsmen). The economy has not fared better either. Yet, these are the cardinal objectives the government set out to achieve at inception.
In terms of his readiness to listen to alternative views, Buhari has proven no better than he was as military leader. He is not only tone deaf, his administration has shown itself incapable of self-correction. The manner the government has held forth, completely ignoring not just the voice of opposition elements but that of ordinary Nigerians, was the reason some people within the polity started looking back with nostalgia to an era of the military, a place where only soldiers are capable of rescuing them from a growing dictatorship.
The instances when this administration showed itself totally impervious to the voice of Nigerians are too numerous to deserve mention. We simply have to recall one of these latest cases of arrogant dismissal of a people’s cry: the January 2018 massacres across Benue and Taraba states that elicited nothing but accusatory remarks from presidential surrogates like the Inspector-General of Police and the Minister of Defence. The president through it, had himself remained totally silent.
The latest fence-mending gestures by Buhari, namely, his renewed courting of Bola Tinubu that he had all but consigned into oblivion soon after his election as president; his visit to Benue and Taraba and his weak attempt at showing interest in the affairs of the APC, are all aimed at watering the ground for his re-election. The present silence among Buhari’s horde of relations by whom he is surrounded in Aso Villa is a smokescreen to ensure that nothing happens to rock the boat of their principal’s bid for re-election. Once that is over, we can foresee a more truculent posture from the president’s male relations and associates. But Nigeria is not about family governance. What we demand is a government that is responsible and responsive to the electorate not one that sees itself as a representative of just a section of the country.
The president did not show full awareness of all that has transpired in his administration and where it looked like he knew of the shady deals going on around him (if we could excuse him), he showed himself too weak or unable to act. He is a president under hostage to people, unknown quantities and shadowy characters that have chosen to govern this country from behind the doors of the presidential villa. Under the watch of this group of relations and associates, the president may fancy himself in government but he is not in power.
He would continually be an outsider in his own home. That is not the kind of president Nigeria needs at this time of her history. Buhari’s advancing age is also a factor that does not make his return to Aso Rock Villa after May 2019 an attractive proposition. Surely, he now looks much better than he was at the beginning of the year but Nigerians need more than a president who will stay in the presidential villa doing half a day’s job or spending much of his time on bed rest. President Buhari has served this country and Nigerians are grateful for his service. But it’s time now for him to go home.