A broken nation. Polarized. In need of healing. Nigeria is bleeding. No doubt, it has been a frustrating, anger-filled period in Nigeria. Across the land, tensions flare, insecurity is squeezing everyone to a corner. The citizens’ patience is growing thin. Nigeria is gradually becoming a cemetery of some sort. It’s as if the country has lost its soul, and the leadership its direction. Perhaps never before has the line between speculation and reality become thinner than now. It’s not for nothing. Bad leadership has consequences.
But those who are concerned about the direction the country is going are not keeping quiet. Just recently, tried and tested former governor of Anambra State, and Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Peter Obi captured the mood of the moment when he lamented the alarming indifference of those in power of power and authority to the present condition of Nigeria. Mr. Obi spoke at St. Joseph Catholic Church during the service in honour of Prof. Linus Ilika, who passed on recently. Prof. Ilika served as the State Commissioner for Health during Obi’s administration.
The pain of how Nigeria has come to this horrifying moment was largely because those who should take responsibility carry on as if all was well when the opposite is the case. Nigeria is collapsing and polarized down the middle, he lamented. His words, “when I see the waste that goes on, perpetrated by individuals and government officials, one is prompted to to believe that we are yet to realise the depth of the rot in the country”. This is evident in all sectors of the economy. What pains most is the lack of attention to critical issues confronting the nation, dragging it to the gate of hell, of a failed state.Living in denial is the worst form of leadership. When things go wrong about how a country is governed, it’s not unusual for statesmen to raise their voices. That’s exactly what people like Obi, Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka, Alhaji Yakassai, former Deputy Governor of CBN, Obadiah Malaifia and many others, across the country, North and South, have been doing. One thing is certain : Nigeria is crumbling under All Progressives Congress(APC). As Yakassai said last week, “I have always known that President Buhari cannot solve Nigeria’s problems”. Is he right or wrong? Is Buhari a talk-and-no-do President? You answer!
As historians have always said, a leader’s authority comes mainly from the public belief in his right and ability to govern, and in the willingness of the citizens to suspend their own judgement and offer help to the leadership. But that can only happen if the leadership is willing to listen and take the people into confidence, and not take them for a ride. That exactly is what the present APC administration has done in almost six years in power. It has squandered the trust of Nigerians.
To say that is not to suggest that Buhari is ill-suited for the office of the President and Commander- In- Chief. But measuring success in the presidency demands responding with speed to the challenges confronting the country. A President, who fails on that score, has failed on the scale of leadership. That’s exactly the point Obi and others are making. Whether Nigeria is collapsing under the leadership of President Buhari is a matter of individual interpretation. But the undeniable fact is that Nigeria and Nigerians are worse off under the present administration of APC. The questions are: Are you better off with Buhari’s almost six years in office? Has this government’s record of performance within these six years shown steady progress, peace and public trust? Is the record the presidency is bragging about, such that any administration that has the mandate of the people should be proud of? My view of this government is well known. The lies of APC is the sort of delusion that almost destroyed PDP prior to the 2015 election. The same virus has creeped into the APC. The leadership of the party has since discovered that it’s perhaps easier to win elections than to govern. In six years, the party has suddenly found itself caught between reality and democracy, between calamity and Change. Success has a pattern. It is anchored on taking the people along. To a large extent, the current discontent in the country is the result of APC not managing the goodwill that brought it to power in 2015. For the President, it’s not unkind to say that he has not responded as he should, to the challenges of the time and the yearnings that brought him to office. He has promised much and delivered little. As Obi stated in his May Day statement, at no time have Nigerian workers been through the kind of hardship as they are going through now. I completely agree.
The President should not allow Nigeria to collapse under his watch. But, every passing day, our country is approaching that tipping point. The fault lines that divide us are widening every day. Yet, aides are telling him that he’s the ‘best’ to lead Nigeria . The truth is that in six years, our economy has grown progressively worse than he met it. Statistics from the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) show that about 40 percent of portfolio investors have exited the country. Unemployment rate is more than 33 percent, national debt stands at over N32trn, and the economy in the last six years has not surpassed 2.2 percent annual growth.
This is contrary to presidency claims. And, experts say we need an average of 6 percent growth to make any meaningful and sustainable growth. Today, Nigerians are high in the misery index. This is an economic indication that helps to determine the well-being of an average citizen. The misery index of Nigeria, which is 50.6 percent, is higher than any other African country. How sad! These dire circumstances are worsening by the day, pushing the country rapidly into anarchy. Presidents are advised not to push their citizens too far, because they are like “dangerous animals”. When you push the people too far, they may balk and turn the pressure on you. A good sense of timing is crucial for any President to succeed. This is where Buhari needs tutorials on how to govern, because, while his appointees and cronies may succeed by his own approval and other sleight of hand, a President succeeds or fails as a result of his own decisions or inactions. In other words, a President is not judged like other men, even though he’s human.
My considered view is that President Buhari is yet to master knowledge about how government and governance work in a democracy. I say this with profound respect, because, the art of government and governing are two different things, even though some people use the terms interchangeably. To say this is not to suggest, as several critics have said, that Buhari is ill-suited to be President. Rather, he needs to project himself and, indeed, present himself as a consensual leader and consummate administrator who could create expectations and fulfilled them, or at least, be seen to meet many of them. It’s this inadequacy that some of the President’s men are exploiting to their advantage, and to the detriment of the country and the people who have given him their mandate to serve . In all, President Buhari should understand the anger and bitterness in the land as a task of leadership more difficult than any he had ever faced before. He needs to look into his soul, away from his forest of advisers and come to the inevitable conclusion that Nigeria is bigger than him, and responsibility is laid upon him to keep Nigeria as one nation, irrespective of our political affiliations. Unfortunately, some of those who pride themselves as leaders see the president and his party, the APC as doing nothing wrong if in the face of unprecedented insecurity in the land never seen since after the Civil war.
In these turbulent times, it’s disappointing that this government has stoutly defended the extreme view of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami. It’s a revealing look into the sincerity or otherwise of the APC style of administration. That speaks volumes about where the Buhari presidency stands on security and the unity of the country. Across the country, many people are fleeing their homes for fear of attacks by bandits. It’s like there’s no government in place. The truth is that hope is fast fading in Nigeria.