By Philemon Adjekuko –
“Men willingly change their ruler, expecting to fare better. This expectation induces them to take up arms against him; but they only deceive themselves, and they learn from experience that they have made matters worse.” -Niccolo Machiavelli
There is a mathematical possibility that President Muhammadu Buhari may fail just like his immediate predecessor. He may either throw in the towel in 2019 or Nigerians, out of extreme frustration, may ask him to take the ramp exiting into Daura. Unfortunately, whichever way it comes, Nigeria, in the words of Machiavelli quoted above, could be worse off.
Nigeria has had its fair share of nine lives. Gowon, Murtala, Babaginda, Obasanjo (second coming) and Buhari (first coming) had some opportunity to steer Nigeria away from self-destruction but couldn’t. Buhari is back and once again things are getting slightly muddy. The choices before him are not rosy by any means. But he asked to be given another opportunity and he got it. What he does who it is strictly his business, but the outcome will be written down with an iron stylus for posterity to judge.
The movement that brought Buhari to power was revolutionary, at least, in the sense that a fragile opposition party swept out of office a sitting government backed by a political behemoth.
With a strong majority in the National Assembly and no legal hurdle to cross, people expected that the president will come in barrelling down with Nigeria’s first revolutionary democratic government. That did not happen. Rather, the president takes an awful amount of time to act on anything.
Buhari’s creeping speed, which initially led to a build-up of anticipation, is now creating agonizing anxiety and loss of goodwill amongst Nigerians. With barely 90 days to the end of the first year in office, some Nigerians say they cannot with certainty figure out what Buhari’s economic agenda is. The reactions of two of his devout supporters would prove the point.
In a Vanguard article titled: “President Buhari’s Budget Is Filled With Maggots, Should We Blame The Gods? One Dr. Ugoji Egbujo wrote: “My confidence in the president’s ability to rein in impunity is unshaken. But my fear is that he lacks the adroitness and the personnel to do a thorough job on a comatose economy is accentuated. If this president is spared criticisms he will perform worse than his predecessor. The president can punish a thousand civil servants and a multitude of ministers over this, that should not impress us.”
What jumps at you from Egbujo’s worry is his second sentence, “If this president is spared criticisms he will perform worse than his predecessor.”
For Buhari’s hard-core supporters, the “King does no wrong.” Anyone who criticises him is either a wailer or an offspring of wailers. The president’s body language is sufficient for salvation. Whatever he says or does will heal the land. He does not need the help of Nigerians neither does he have to “carry them” along.
But just how Buhari will heal the land is also a subject of concern. One of his ardent supporters, Tope Fasua, in an article in Premium Times under the title: “Buhari’s Economic Chemotherapy,” wrote, “Buhari has thrown many import-dependent businesses (and that is MOST businesses in Nigeria), to the dogs of the black market and the banks, he has seen to an increase in kerosene prices (in an attempt to cut off profiteering middlemen but resulting to higher costs for the poorest of the poor who use kerosene), we have seen the resurrection of an otherwise meaningless but punitive N50 stamp duty on all transactions above N1,000 which does not discriminate even students (a colonial law dated back to 1939!), we were scared with the abolition of support for private citizens with wards schooling abroad but a continuation of that support for several government-driven scholarship programs, we have seen a situation where 99% of imports can either not access official funds or suffer severe delays, resulting in hyperinflation in many sectors, and of course, in the middle of all this, the government has increased electricity tariffs by 45% even though most Nigerians only get supplied with darkness by the DISCOs.”
Fasua however concluded, “The chemotherapy is working. Nigerians are changing their attitudes…I believe it may also help if the cooperation of Nigerians are actively and strategically sought. Rather than the policy of talk-down, recriminations, even condescension, which erodes the confidence, hope, and the little self-respect in Nigerians the more, perhaps a more positive tack could be adopted.”
What Dr Egbujo and Mr Fasua (both supporters of Mr. President) are saying is that he needs to tweak his approach to his chemotherapy treatment. Otherwise, those who previously welcomed him as king will be the same to hand him over to the “Romans for crucifixion.”
What happens if President Buhari fails? That is a dreadful question to ask. The president and his henchmen must address that sobering question. No country has survived so many opportunities like Nigeria for a second chance to get it right. But we cannot continue to stretch our luck and forever think we would always have another chance.
President Buhari must not fail! If he fails, it might be over for Nigeria.