Vice President of our country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who technically speaking has been absent, in the last few weeks has regained visibility. He was guest at the recently held Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) annual conference where he spoke on governance in the country and on the controversial amendment of the Corporate and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, which could make it possible for Federal Government to take over headship of charity organizations, churches and mosques at the slightest of reasons.
In his statement, Osinbajo described the law as a good one which unfortunately has attracted a lot of concerns particularly misinterpretations from the church. He asked those aggrieved with any section to seek redress from the National Assembly or through the law courts. Good laws hardly would attract massive repulsion, only manifest bad ones do. That law and many others like it have combined to add to the administration’s many headaches. This government is not having things easy with the people; the citizens know this much and thank God even those in power know too.
President Muhammadu Buhari speaking at a summit organized last week in Abuja, told his officials that given the magnitude of the challenge they met on assumption of office in 2015, give what the administration has done to provide solutions, he said that it has done excellently well. He said he was pained that the people have not come to terms with it because of negative inferences from disgruntled elite class. Put the statements from the two chief executives together and you get the conclusion that these truly are not the best of times for the administration. The officials are worried.
What is baffling is the fact that they don’t seem to know what the problem is. They have good intentions and striving to perform, yet getting negative reactions. Nothing can be as traumatising. The truth is like leaders in the past, these ones are floating far above reality, when in actual fact reality should be the game. As a saying in my place goes, you can tell a blind there is no oil in the food but not that there is no pepper or salt, because he has ability to detect these. Another metaphor holds that taste of the pudding is in the eating. Our leaders always ascend to power and authority by talking about patriotism and hoisting very high the flag of nationalism but once in power they find out that governance is far bigger than wishes and flying of those flags. Governance is an onerous task that requires amazing intuition. Once in power, reality dawns on them that in addition to wishes, one needs to bring dreams to reality, that uncanny ability to turn vision into workable and relevant blueprints. There must be a competent team that ought to have over a long time bought into the dream and then possesses the requisite energy to drive those dreams into reality within specific timelines.
When the President cried I laughed, I did so because it was a confirmation he was running on old pattern that has over time become a culture like alienation and manipulation in place of influence, running a top-to-bottom approach, where the leader believes his vision and aspirations tally with those of the state. Nothing can be as dangerous as this. It not only removes the citizens’ interest from governance process and resurrects challenge of legitimacy, it distorts and can provoke conflicts like we see it doing already. There are ideas that are germane or which time has come when a leader fails to identify or recognise them but fails to expertly handle them, a disequilibrium in the system becomes inevitable and very costly by reason of negative indices thrown up; if for instance, Buhari managed to touch on some areas of restructuring even by words in a consistent manner, let us say security, quick apprehension of vandals, their trial and conviction, then state police and even corporations keeping armed securities, I can bet he would have entered the rank of national heroes with just five years in power. People are dying as in war and yet our supreme leader holds on to ethnic aspirations of community policing, rain of bad and even misplaced policies.
I have heard that the South East should be happy over Enugu airport and Niger Bridge but the truth is that Ndigbo can’t rejoice over these which are not Igbo but national. By the way, with what they see happening around them they are not certain if they would be alive to use these facilities if ever they would be completed in this life time. Threat of killer herdsmen is real. The point I am making is that programmes and policies must in 80 per cent of the time align with the citizens’ aspirations, needs and expectations, to make more sense and attract accolades. Cattle routes couldn’t have been an issue in 21st century Nigeria where with technology and sound organisation one state can meet the meat needs of the whole country, but it is not so, for reasons we know. The truth is citizens have been suffering untold hardship to live out their existence in the country, they do in the hope that tomorrow would bring respite but it never comes, rather each successive day increases on the existing burden by means of unreasoned policies lacking in ideological depth and compassion.
Of the major challenges plaguing our country, petrol and electricity have remained central. Each administration comes to power riding on these, claiming to have a magic wand, but in the end they worsen the situation by choices they make, leaving citizens in rising hardships. Few days back we woke up to the ugly fact that the Federal Government had raised prices of fuel and electricity very high at the same time. Reasons are the same old ones not based on standard findings: no funds for subsidy, effect of COVID-19 pandemic, corruption, deregulation policy, suffer today and enjoy tomorrow. Same old excuses and one is tempted to ask, why take over if you have nothing new?
The answer is in new refineries, this government promised that; Niger Republic built one in three years. How come our leaders couldn’t effectively fix old ones or better still build new ones in five years? Government has been mute on this all important solution to this perennial trouble. We are oil bearing and are told to buy at international prices. Fine! Do our leaders create jobs and pay international salaries? I heard Niger Republic now supplies us refined fuel. How much lower can a “giant” fall?
Even untrained hands in Niger Delta region refine crude into fuel and sell yet our leaders tell us it is a impossibility. Power, now we have to pay very high for services not rendered before we can contemplate if services would be offered at all before we can see the very efficient levels. In the issues and handling one would find the culture of insensitivity and incompetence. At a time COVID-19 pandemic had made living worse, government found it very auspicious to come down very hard. If our President is wondering why we can’t cheer him, he should know we are too frightened and weak to raise our hands and voices to clap and shout.
There is ideological challenge. The philosophy of the Buhari administration is vague. It came in under the progressive bent but now wants to dance in a conservative manner; it can’t do well in this because it lacks men with deep roots in Western metropolitans. It doesn’t have men who understand the tricks. Sell off, borrow, deregulate is no cheap play. It is time Buhari leans on the Yoruba side of his alliance to move his administration and the country forward. His alienation of that side is becoming too costly. Dissonance in focus, policy and execution is almost at the breaking point. There is plenty of attention and expenditure on irrelevant programmes. It is hurting. Those who love our President should be bold to tell him there is need for complete turnaround for the good of all.