Once upon a time there was a man who had no shoes when growing up. Providence smiled on him and he became the president of Nigeria. In fact, it was almost because of his reference to his humble beginning that won him the support of ordinary citizens many of whom believed if Goodluck Jonathan, the son of a fisherman from riverine Bayelsa could rise to the number one seat, anyone else could. He was lucky. But it soon became clear that you needed more than luck to succeed in such high office. His first campaign slogan was ‘a breath of fresh air’. But by the time Jonathan left the saddle, the whole atmosphere had been fouled. He was hated more than loved. Not that he didn’t try, his best didn’t just measure up to expectations. Many things were said about Jonathan, a lot uncomplimentary. He squandered his goodwill; He condoned corruption; He was weak, leaving some of his appointees to turn the nation’s treasury into personal till.
All the good things that President Jonathan did in all his years in power simply paled into insignificance. He suffered the same fate as previous rulers, most of whom left power discredited.
Not too long ago in this column I wrote that most Nigerian rulers, might be suffering from Abilu, an evil affliction that makes every step someone takes to turn the opposite of what is intended. When a person suffers from Abilu anything he says would be misinterpreted, any step he takes would be a mis-step, any action he performs would attract condemnation no matter how good his intentions are. No one sees good in anybody suffering this evil spell. If he was popular at the beginning, he would end up with scorn and disdain.
How many of those who have had the privilege of leading this country ended with wide acclaim? I asked in that previous column, who could have placed a curse on Nigerian leaders? Or maybe there is no curse other than they just exhibiting their low leadership quotient. Or is it that anyone we entrust our fate to as leader simply gets overwhelmed by the weight of the task? Does anyone need to look too deep to see that another of our presidents, the Mai gaskiya, our Sai baba, Muhammadu Buhari is now losing the levers. Here’s a president who came to power with a great promise to make the country great. Widely acclaimed as incorruptible and principled, Buhari mounted the saddle with the determination to kill corruption that has for long held the nation down. He has in less than three years recovered hundreds of billions of naira stolen funds and ensured that mindless stealing and profligacy are no longer part of the national way of life.
But is Buhari getting any credit for the feat? Is anyone hailing Buhari for halting the run of Boko Haram over Nigeria? Does anyone still remember that fuel scarcity was one of our profound problems a few years back? Are the people noticing the improvement in electricity supply?
The reality today is that the list of doubters who don’t believe in Buhari’s capacity to take Nigeria to the Promised Land is swelling. His flagship programme, the anti-corruption war is dubbed a ruse and the accusers reel off instances of allegations of corrupt practices involving men close to the president, which nothing had been done about. And there are actions by some of the president’s appointees that suggest his presidency lacks coordination. The glaring conglomeration of influence mongers within the administration isn’t as troubling as its condonation by the president himself.
The latest of the several instances of the rudderless leadership is the recall and promotion of former chairman of Presidential Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina into the civil service. Maina was dismissed for absconding from duty and refusing to surrender himself to answer fraud charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). What’s holding the president back from stamping his authority and stemming the drift? Is it the Abilu spell?
What’s making the president run a system that allows his subordinates to take unbridled charge and actions at the expense of his brand equity? Whatever it is, President Buhari must help himself. He must demonstrate that he’s a president who is not only willing, but able.
Re; Epidemics, Army and killer vaccine rumours
Abdulfatah, the issue of exchanging one infectious disease with another is given in Nigeria’s medical scenery. Has the issue of doctors’ strike, over their emoluments and perquisite been resolved finally? Where, in the world, are doctors treated with ignominy than Nigeria? And under such treatment, should any fair mind expect anything different from what the medical experiences are in Nigeria when the body that would stem frightening diseases is treated with levity? Besides that, Nigerians generally are less caring about maintaining hygienic practices. Visit a building site and watch labourers and bricklayers mixing plates of cooked rice, scooping them with stained hands; washed in an obviously cement-polluted water solution. Are the enlightened class absolved of such a practice too? How many of them wash their hands after each handshake with someone else who might be carrying a virus, before wetting finger-tip with saliva to flip paper-sheets in their files? Aside from all these, corrupt practices such as earmarked by Aisha Buhari, the first lady, in respect of misused budget allocation for State House Medical Centre, which is a common feature across board, also contributes to failure at combating infectious diseases in Nigeria. In place of monkey pox might be “lizardpox” because the poverty bracket of Nigerians has initiated lizard and bush-rat hunts, as alternative to goat meat. Denied Military medical concern for left-overs of their operations in the east, where many died, wreaked of silly comics. It would be clownish to imagine such as an aftermath of a military incursion; such as was the circumstance. One’s worry is why Military has taken over police duties, as subtly enunciated in your piece, under a democratic rule and other arms of government are numb on it. May God save Nigeria.
Sir, I love you for telling the truth for those who love it. I think the Army are trespassing to another peoples work. Advise them to go to their barracks and leave internal security for the police and other security agencies. PMB should recruit and equip the police. But I know that PMB hates the police more than any other Nigerian leader did. God bless Nigeria –08168069***
Abdulfatah, talking about ‘Epidemics, Army and Killer Vaccine Rumours’, I attribute the whole of these occurrences to lack of understanding of the reason why governments are put in place on one hand, and the absence the knowledge of the art of governance in our clime for some time now on the other. Anybody that is above fifty years of age in this country today on a casual reflection, will remember the dread the presence of sanitary inspectors or any hint of their impending visits to any community used to strike on such communities. And the results were clean environments, cleared drainages, cut down bushes around the homes and healthy inhabitants. In those days, government officials took their jobs seriously, and so were highly respected by those they had to deal with. They took no bribes nor did they allow themselves to be compromised in any manner. So things worked. In those days also, clean pipe borne water was provided for the citizenry by the government. There were no water merchants to feed the people with water from less than wholesome sources the way we have them today. Our mothers who fried akara and such other delicacies were made to display them in small show glasses to avoid flies and dust lodging on them. Today, akara is fried and sold at most busy bus stops and displayed in open bowls, exposed to everything it should be protected from. In primary schools in those days, pupils were made to line up outside the assembly hall for either the headmaster or any set of teachers he would assign to inspect the nails, the teeth and the state of the pupil’s hair. By so doing, pupils at very young age were thought how to maintain personal hygiene. School inspectors used to visit schools unannounced to ensure that these things were diligently done. In all of the situations mentioned above, you see failure of governance particularly at state and local government levels. When the environment is not clean is filthy, no clean water, food is exposed and personal hygiene is lacking, what definitely follows is disease. On the other hand, any government that understands the art of governance respects the feelings of every segment of the country it presides over. It appreciates the fact that groups respond warmly or harshly to any government in place depending on how much that government involves their people. If they feel inadequately represented or completely alienated, they will be suspicious of any of the policies of that government no matter how noble the reasoning behind such policies. Traditionally, the military had never been known to be administering vaccines on people; and curiously, for this attempt to come while these people were still sulking over what they termed a discriminatory and humiliating treatment meted out to their people by a military in which they feel not significantly represented, obviously amounts to taking people too much for granted.
People reacted the way they did because they did not trust the government, which that military represents so every step it takes must be regarded with suspicion no matter how supposedly beneficial. If a man does not have the strength to fight a bully, he at least has the right to frown his face. Thanks.