By Chukwudi Nweje The Nigerian Third Force Movement has rolled out its action plan for the 2019 general elections. Prominent members of the group include former Cross River State governor, Donald Duke, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, Tafawa Balewa, and Prof. Pat Utomi….
Some things confound and confuse. Some things are hard to believe, difficult to understand yet happen every so often as part of a people’s ethos. Some things simply beggar belief. You really have to experience it to believe it. They sound like fairy tales from the distant, make-believe world of fantasy. Dreamy, esoteric, illusory and sometimes mind-bending, yet they are real as they are true.
Nigeria is one of such things. This country, it is now obvious, is God’s special carving on creation day. God made Nigerians with character traits from all the nations of the world. That makes her a hybrid nation combining the best of the Americas with the worst of the Europeans and a queer mix of the Asians plus a sprinkling of other Africans. This might just help to understand why Nigeria is one huge theatre of the absurd and the rational; a concourse where reason and unreason co-exist; where vile men write the rules and make laws for the decent and the humane.
Ever imagined where those who make laws are the first to break them and with unabashed impunity? Ever imagined a community where those who mouth anti-corruption are actually the real crooks and thieves? Think of a nation whose youth with all their energies end up huddled in small groups as whiners and murmurers while the aged and senile in spite of their frailties seize the stage as leaders and rulers exerting energy on the otherwise energetic youth. It’s a case of the weak herding the strong.
Imagine a nation where motor-park touts and unschooled political thugs occupy the political space through sleight of hand and appoint professors and sundry professionals as aides; a nation where politics is a profession, a full time vocation in which the practitioners have no other trade, calling, duty or alternative address to their political office address. Then, imagine Nigeria, a nation of contradictions and paradoxes.
Today makes it exactly 92 days to the end of this year. In a calendar year of 365 days, our President has spent 152 days out of the country on medical vacation; meaning so far he has only spent 121 days supposedly on duty. Out of the 121 days, some days he spent at home, supposedly working from home. Nothing wrong with working from home especially for a President who has at his disposal multiple comfortable offices anywhere and everywhere; but it should be expected that when such leader resumes having stayed away for so long, he should face his job with renewed vigour. But that is not the case here. Since President Buhari’s return , he has cancelled the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting twice in three weeks.
First time, the nation was told that rodents have made the President’s office very un-presidential hence unfit for the President. We needed to sanitise the fouled air, fumigate the ambience and fix the damaged furniture and air-conditioning units. The nation was amazed at the reason and bemused by the effrontery of the rodents. The people long inured to inanities and Presidential flip-flops endured the pain knowing full well that the real reason was beyond some audacious rodents.
Just last week, another bewilderment for an already befuddled nation. The FEC meeting did not hold and it has nothing to do with rodents. This time, it was the Sallah holiday that was to blame. The holiday (Friday and Monday) did not allow the relevant persons to prepare their respective documents for the meeting. This is both amazing and amusing. The public holiday did not drop from the blues. It was announced by the same government and every minister or cabinet member including the President ought to have prepared in advance or during the holiday at home (since we have all learnt to work from home) the documents for the Wednesday meeting. That is the least any committed cabinet member would do. If Nigeria were a private enterprise, all documents would be ready. It’s a matter of get the job done. Period!
Lai Mohammed, the spokesman for the Federal Government, a gifted propagandist, told Nigerians that a Sallah holiday declared by the government is the newest culprit in a long list of enemies of the Buhari government. And you just wonder, does this man think all Nigerians are mentally dense and indolent so much that they are unable to reason or make simple deductions?
Those who dribble Nigerians with lies and fibs just to spruce up reality do damage to Mr. President. Every Nigerian knows that President Buhari is having a health challenge. I know some Nigerians who genuinely pray for his return to full fitness. They pray for his full recovery because they know he is unwell. The President himself has not shied away from the fact that he is having a health challenge. Such Nigerians, and they are in their millions, get the short end of the stick when they hear Presidential aides and cabinet members trot out untainted lies just to prove a dubious point that Mr. Buhari is as fit as fiddle even when the President himself has admitted that he had never been this sick before. And again you wonder, why do Nigerian public office holders tell bold-face, most times unintelligent lies, to the people just to look good?
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has just put a lie to the claim by the Police hierarchy that Senator Isah Misau deserted the police. Calling him a deserter places a tag of ‘criminality’ on him. Senator Misau is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy. He was the man who blew the whistle that there is a culture of bribe-for-promotion and bribe-for-posting thriving in the Nigeria Police under the leadership of the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. For daring to challenge ‘constituted authority’, the IGP through the police spokesman addressed a world press conference where he accused the senator of deserting the Police Force since 2010.
But the appropriate authority, the PSC, after investigating the allegations against Senator Misau said his retirement from the Force followed due process. In other words, the IG of Police boldly lied to the nation just to smell like rose flower. Anybody who watched the devotion and seriousness exhibited by the IGP through the Police spokesman during the press briefing would easily believe that the senator is an integrity-challenged person. Now, who is the criminal here?
President Buhari came to power on the crest of integrity. For a former Nigerian military ruler, a former petroleum minister and retired Army General not to boast of the same stupendous but inexplicable wealth like most of his colleagues, including his juniors in the military, there is strong reason to believe that Buhari has some honour. But the same Buhari has all around him men and women who have little or no regard for honour. When an IGP appointed by the President openly lie about the disengagement status of a senator, when cabinet members bandy rodents and Sallah holiday as excuses to explain away leadership inertia all to make the President and his government look good, there is a problem. Such acts, void of honour, only rubbish the profile of a leader who came to power to cleanse the country’s moral cabinet which has over the years gathered mould and mildew.
Globally Nigeria has a dubious reputation. Many thought Mr. Buhari is the man to fix it, but the actions of the likes of Lai Mohammed, Idris Ibrahim among others do not lend credence to the President’s redemptive allure. If anything, the actions of these men only add to the cocktail of cruel paradoxes that define our collective existence.
This government, much like the Jonathan, Yar’Adua and Obasanjo governments, is advertising Nigerians as a people shorn of honour and makes you just wonder if Collin Powell, former US Secretary of State, was not right when in 1995 he described Nigerians as “scammers” and a people who “tend not to be honest”. Buhari must do something fast about his image and the reputation of his government. Too many lies do not make a good government. To lie to a nation is an act without honour.