There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of new order –Machiavelli
TODAY the matter is crucial and very germane to the recreation of this nation. For this reason I will talk straight. The matter is about the proper examination of the activities of the Buhari administration so far. Those who read my work regularly would agree that I have stated that one year or two years is not enough time to pass verdict or initiate scorecards on governments with four-year tenure; rather what ought to be done is to review the leadership attitude, policies, processes, actions and see whether they are in line with the desire for positive change. I have refused to be part of the crowd that behave like the tortoise who had been in the pit for six days and on the seventh day when rescue was in sight, began to scream to his rescuers, “please hurry up, the environment is very hostile.” Our circumstance is bad, if you like terrible and like I observed last week, it did not begin in the last 16 years nor during the military era even though they contributed their own quota to the mess. It began the minute the tricky colonialists handed over power to their less imaginative local successors who didn’t see the need to create a productive nation.
To cap it all our nation in 56 years of nationhood has never been a value driven society, this perhaps explains more than anything else why things we “ate” in the past and felt it was good have gone sour, causing pains and bringing on us international opprobrium. Any nation that thrives in false life would inevitably come to a point where it must wallow in confusion, dislocations, deprivation and constant internal strive, often of the worst kind; situation remains so until such a society either explodes or summons the courage to reinvent itself. Staging a comeback is not always easy, if the lessons from Russia, China, even America, are anything to go by, rediscovery can be distressing, usually a source of discomfort, sometimes including annihilation. China for instance closed her world to the outside society, insisting that they will only enjoy what they have, not what the world offered, and the progenitors of change created entirely new culture including new work ethics. The Chinese suffered hardship and millions of them had to be killed for the new order to emerge. So when I see my fellow compatriots’ desire magic or quick fix I laugh and wonder where they are from, perhaps it is one of the distortions imposed as a result of military intervention in our politics.
In last week’s discourse, I said three things were necessary for a nation to begin the journey into positive statehood. The first is the mood/ desire for change. I said the objective conditions for change must be visible and those who want to pilot the change must be able to see the mood, understand it and convince themselves they have the capacity to cash in on the prevailing climate to put the nation, particularly the citizens on the path of change. I would explain the latter somewhere in this article because of its importance. I said last week that Buhari is aware of the mood for change, it was this knowledge that sustained his repeated quest to be a civilian president. From his speeches, one can deduce that Buhari also knows the essence of the kind of change we want, which is to recreate the Nigerian nation and even the people, bring up a society that is productive, where life is full and which has capacity to make unique contributions toward civilization. I am also convinced that he knows that mere wish will not take us there; what would is nationalistic vision driven by hard work, sacrifice and discipline. I take the issue of discipline for instance and what comes to mind is the ease with which fellow citizens forget issues that have contributed to their misery. By this time last year, one major complaint most Nigerians had against the PDP leadership and even the military leaders that preceded them was that of indiscipline and the poor disposition of supposed servant leaders becoming emperors, the atmosphere was really suffocating. The introduction of Buhari is a refreshing one to those who recall vividly what the misbehavior of the political class had been like. Buhari has not only brought integrity but added honesty and am glad to see a Nigerian leader say publicly I won’t “chop” public money and insisting his officials must follow this line of sanity. This is the kind of trend all who wish this nation well should support rather than get bogged down by few correctable missteps that are bound to happen in a complicated human task such as nation building. I am still trying to fathom the kind of situation we would have had on our hands if Buhari were not the president at a time our national income has dropped as result of a drop in the oil prices.
From what I see, this administration has discipline, and I can also see political will and even though some Nigerians demand a blueprint, I can from what they are saying see where they are going and the strategy is to start from the known and start from the basics and approach the bigger picture; the sound bite is good for the first time. We are talking diversification and doing everything to give practical effect to it. Buhari is committed to change but what I am not so sure is whether they appreciate the scope of what is at stake and particularly the hazards often associated with any change venture; people loathe change, they can resist it when not properly explained and change can turn awry if the requisite structure to carry it is also lacking. I feel hesitant to make this remark but in the interest of the nation I have to, Buhari media team needs to be straightened and a proactive approach clearly established for its operations, some of the issues that have tended to subtract from the Buhari push has come because the caliber of people who should project and defend the administration are in short supply. The controversy that attended new pricing for petrol could have had the government coming out stronger if the communication section had constructively and massively engaged stakeholders and explained to them the good intentions behind the laudable policy, if after this government went ahead to do what it has just done, it will certainly have more supporters and stand a better chance to win over more people. Even the timing was very wrong; a tactical administration will at least celebrate its one-year that is just by the corner before jumping into very serious matters. Democracy requires tact and if there is one advice I would want to give, it is that Buhari must learn to always talk to Nigerians here in Nigeria and play politics.
For Nigerians it’s time we know that nothing of value happens without a cost, the quality if price determines the prize, as Pastor Ibiyemeo let me know that it took Brazil 20 years to change levels even after massively borrowing, they went through hell before things turned around; India had to ban textile and luxury cars from abroad and today India is the best in textile and produces her own cars. Our problem is that we don’t want to make sacrifices yet we want to succeed, it won’t work. Next week we will look at forex, corruption, petrol and insurgency among others.