Things They Won’t Tell Buhari…
On social media where Nigerians have found a fertile ground to unleash their creative energies, so much has been trending in recent weeks. From the hilarious to the whimsical, social media has been buzzing with all sorts of allegories, hysterics and theatrics. They speak of the legendary indomitable spirit of the Nigerian; they testify of the undying resolve of the people to keep trudging even when the odds are perilously stacked against them. Little wonder Nigerians were once ranked as the ‘happiest people on earth’. It is not for anything other than the ability of Nigerians to make light of issues that confront them, especially the stream of misfortunes visited on them by the roguish clan of leaders who foisted themselves on the people or in some instance, the people blindly foisted on themselves.
In the wake of the now obviously manifest pangs of pain that assail the land under President Muhammadu Buhari, some Nigerian social media nerds have contrived and conjured caricatures, lyrics and motifs to depict the moment. Here are a few samplers. As soon as the 2016 budget was declared ‘missing’, this message with the hashtag …#searchingfor2016missingbudget…went viral. The message read: “In case you buy akara, corn or suya, please crosscheck the papers to avoid eating our 2016 budget”. Another message making mockery of the Change mantra read: “The promise of Change has turned to Change of promise”, an obvious jab at the inability of the Buhari government to deliver on its campaign promises.
The latest among these blurts of sarcasm was the message that compared the Goodluck Jonathan era with the Buhari government with a recommendation that we should bring back the Jonathan years because according to the authors of this message, though there was perceived corruption during the Jonathan years, yet life was cheaper and more tolerable. I produce hereunder this rather sarcastic message that has been trending on social media.
Here goes: “If with corruption: dollar was N180 and without corruption dollar is now N425; rice was N8,500 for a bag and without corruption it is now N12,500; Pampers was N1,450 and without corruption it is now N1,850; petrol was N87 per litre and available, without corruption it is now N120 and scarce; Garri was N250 per Derica cup, without corruption it is now N500; transportation was N500 Lagos – Ibadan, without corruption it is now N800; poor electricity supply but tariff was not increased during corruption, now about 40% tariff increase without corruption but worse power supply; Presidency food was N1billion with corruption, but without corruption it is now N2billion; Presidential Jets maintenance was N600million/year, now N2.5billion in just four months without corruption; Aso Rock Clinic maintenance was N500million with corruption, it’s now N3.9billion without corruption. Vice President was paid N75million for reading just books; without corruption the Vice President will be paid N430million; we didn’t pay rent in Aso Rock with corruption but without corruption we will be paying a rent of N350million per annum to an invisible landlord; rats never ate our budgets during corruption, but rats now smuggle fictitious unimaginable figures into our budgets without corruption. Brothers and Sisters, you will agree with me that one way or the other, we need corruption in this country before APC kills Nigerians with its own brand of packaging corruption! Open your brains, not all dogs are straight!”
Somehow, some of the figures may have been exaggerated but the import of the message is clear: Things have fallen apart in Nigeria and the centre can no longer hold. There is pain in the land; prices of goods and services have hit the north pole and there appears no glimmer of redemption; the Nigerian currency, the naira, has lost its allure and lustre, beaten on all fronts at the forex market. A sachet of ‘pure’ water is now N20 from N10; and the water makers say it is because of the falling naira vis-à-vis the dollar. ‘Pure’ water is what dignifies the poor, it is their psychological relief from the fatal consciousness that they have escaped cholera in a country where public water supply is almost non-existent. The good old loaf of bread which sold for N220 is now a N250 staple; take it or leave it. Virtually everything has had its price heading up north and the effect is grim and gruesome.
Does Mr. President know this? Is he aware that companies are not only downsizing, some have simply folded up, unable to take the heat anymore? Can’t something be done to mitigate this insufferable condition? The President’s fixation on the fight against corruption and the damage done by the Jonathan government seem to have had a soporific effect on his own cabinet. They are simply sleeping, docile and unable to overcome their own inertia. The President’s men and women have taken a cue from him and they are all blaming Jonathan even for their own now obvious incompetence.
It is because of Jonathan that the nation is now covered in the blackness of darkness; he is responsible for poor power supply, a good nine months after he left office. Yet, when in the early days of this administration when there was a sudden improvement in power supply, nobody gave credit to Jonathan; the credit was given to Buhari. It suffices that the blame for poor power supply today should rest squarely on the shoulder of Buhari. And that is what leadership is all about; somebody must take responsibility, somebody must be willing to take the bullet for others. Blaming Jonathan (yes, in a great deal the past PDP government contributed to the disaster of today) but that was the reason Nigerians voted ‘Change’. That Change must break away from the past; it must not helplessly tie itself to the past as though it has no life, no vision and no agenda of its own.
Here is my worry: the very fact that Buhari has not been able to see beyond the opaque ‘blame it on Jonathan wall’ erected to shield him from the reality of the moment; he cannot see the furrows on the faces of the masses of the people who defied the elements to vote for him; he cannot hear the plaintive cries from a thronging horde whose next meal is as uncertain as their next breath. No, they won’t let him see the lengthening queue of the jobless – men and women, eager and willing to work, but have no place to go.
Nigerians may have found in social media a convenient platform to extirpate their pain but the reality is that any such relief offered by social media is at the very best ephemeral, a momentary escape to fantasyland. The pain is still there. The sore has not healed. And it is Buhari’s duty to heal these broken hearts: enough of this shadow-boxing with a distant past. As they say in Nigerian parlance, Mr. Buhari do your own thing!
Author: KEN UGBECHIE