Prior to the general elections in 2015, many of those who stood against the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan, were aware that the only real option was a gamble.
There were many candidates that do not have reasonable presence across the country, and so, cannot realistically be expected to mobilise, campaign and garner votes.
It was only the APC and their candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, that stood toe-to-toe with the then ruling party, the PDP. So, the choice was quite limited. But the urge not to compensate mediocrity as demonstrated by President Jonathan, made the gamble seem worthwhile.
I do not intend to dwell on how Dr. Jonathan showed that the pressure of being the President was too heavy for him to handle for another four years. For those who may have forgotten, many of those who fought for him at the twilight of President Umar Musa Yar’adua’s reign, stood because they saw in Dr. Jonathan, an opportunity for the minority nationalities in Nigeria to ever become President.
For four years, the blueprint for addressing the structural imbalance in the country was left on the shelf. The President didn’t have the courage of confronting the monster. So, what’s the point.
Like Buhari, President Jonathan also showed he was not really in control of affairs. I will mention a few examples. In December 2011, a team of federal government officials came to Lagos to engage stakeholders on the need to stop subsidizing petrol. Then Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, led the team made up of the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison Madueke and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Some other officials were there too.
At the end of the heated intercourse of ideas, leader of the team promised to return to Abuja for further consultations before a position will be communicated later in the coming year.
While Nigerians celebrated the dawn of the new year, 2012, pump price of petrol changed without notice. Petrol dealers relied on a midnight memo from an unknown person in NNPC to increase the price of petrol with about 100% to N140 per liter. The instant protest that greeted the development jerked up the President back to Abuja from Otuoke, in Bayelsa state, where he was holidaying.
Government was confused and unprepared. The President kept asking questions which no one could provide answers to. The team that was managing the ‘subsidy headache’ felt betrayed. As the dust of the confusion settled in the Presidency, it was clear that someone up there felt the need to help the President take a hard decision.
In February 2015, during his last media chat as President, Dr. Jonathan admitted that the general election was postponed without his knowledge. While some people clapped and celebrated his ‘non-interference policy,’ many were concerned as the reason for the shift in election date by INEC was hinged on an advice by his own adviser of National Security.
There was also an expectation that security agencies under the President as the country’s Commander in Chief will be more adventurous in confronting insurgency in order to recover some grounds in two weeks. Yet, the President was not carried along. Is anyone still wondering why the result of that 2015 election went the way it did?
Now, more than six years into the Buhari administration, there is no iota of doubt that electing him as a cure for Jonathan’s ineptitude was tantamount to a cock attempting to outrun a dog, impossible. We simply applied a rusty analogue solution to a digital problem. It was a jump from fry-pan to fire.
The President has repeatedly shown he lacks the prerequisite knowledge of the real issues confronting the country, so expecting he has a thought about the remedy will be foolhardy.
Check this; at the peak of attacks on communities in Benue state, not by unknown gunmen because Miyetti Allah gave reasons why they attack and kill the people, President Buhari ordered the then Inspector General of Police to relocate to the state and restore calm but he did not. He remained at the force headquarters in Abuja.
Within a short time, another attack took place and the President visited, expressing surprise that Ibrahim Idris disobeyed his directive. The interesting part of the development was that there was no consequence for flouting the orders of the President. If you do not know how President’s orders are obeyed or what happens when they are ignored, ask Olusegun Obasanjo
Why should anyone be disappointed when the President goofs in an interview? Why should anyone be surprised that the President claims ignorance of the concept of restructuring? Who will realistically expect that Buhari will change his mind on dragging Nigeria back through the path of the colonial grazing route?
Can anyone sincerely be shocked that the President turned verifiable economic indicators to the mere calculations of the interviewer? He wasn’t bothered about the numbers but simply wants people the ‘return to the farm.’ The nexus between worsening insecurity and dwindling farming activities perhaps, remains rocket science to our President.
Those of us hoodwinked with the war against corruption mantra are struggling to understand what the government has achieved in six years. The intra-agency clashes and conflicts of interests among officials of government haven’t helped matters. Budget is still being padded. Contracts are still awarded without due diligence. Nigeria Customs Service, Immigration, Police and even the civil service are still drowned in the pool of corrupt practices.
Even if the government may have recorded some success, it remains insignificant for a government that came in bearing a sledge harmer to crush the monster.
Prior to 2015, insurgents had control of a few local government areas in Borno and Yobe states. President Jonathan was considered unfit to deal with the task of keeping the country safe and secure. It became an easy decision to elect a retired soldier, a General in the Nigerian Army and former Military Head of State. General Buhari’s campaign made the expected claim of ending insurgency within months of assuming office.
Six years down the line, insurgents did not only overcome ‘decimation’ and ‘technical defeat,’ but have enlarged their coast and expanded areas of influence. Like corona virus, insurgency has mutated from Boko Haram to ISWAP and to bandits. Even herdsmen came like a strain of the plague. They are no longer restricted to a far corner of the country but are now even knocking at the door of sit of power.
Not long ago, early November last year, bandits struck at the University of Abuja and kidnapped six persons. This incident came weeks after the governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello, warned that the federal capital is under threat with the rate at which his state, is being over-ran by bandits.
I must admit that it has not been all gloomy. Infrastructure has received significant attention, though at a cost that can swallow the entire country and turn everyone and everything to a sub region of China. Despite that, can the much talked about change still come? Will there ever be a next level, albeit in making progress? I have my doubts.
So now, enough of these lamentations. We already know where we made mistakes and can no longer live in denial. I also believe those who chanted the “I told you that the man is stale and a wrong choice but you never listened” chorus for more than six years must have been tired by now. People with objective outlook are deeply concerned so there won’t be a repeat of the last mistake; error of sentiment and judgment.
In the next few months, before the rush begins, get your PVC if you do not have one. If you do, ensure you know where it is. If you relocated to somewhere far away from where you registered, apply for a change now. Prepare to ask questions and be ready to verify the answers when they come. Never again shall outdated imaginations form the basis of electing a leader.
We must demand to assess the intellectual capacity of individuals, supported by evidence of recent achievements. Whoever should get our votes must understand where the world is headed and must have the cognitive ability required to lead a nation like Nigeria.
Let’s allow Buhari rest, not in peace yet, but away from all our failed expectations.