Thursday, November 26, 2015

Buhari: The Limits Of body Language

By  Jude Opara
RECENTLY Nigerians have been groaning under the heavy burden of acute fuel scarcity which has hit the country for the third week running. Also the issue of power which many thought was beginning to improve for the better has gone bad again thereby leaving behind anguish and lamentations across the nation.

Interestingly, these vital components of a nation on the path of recovery were witnessed as soon as Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as president last May. Then what was on the lips of many people was that the body language of the new President was beginning to work.
The moribund refineries, we were also told, started to operate to a certain level and there was a ‘promise’ that with just few months, the issue of fuel scarcity and the attendant hardship experienced by Nigerians will be things of the past.
The argument in many quarters then was that since there was a new sheriff in town, the people who hitherto used to sit on the progress of the generality of Nigerians for their selfish interest were afraid of being hounded into jail, hence the decision to allow the system work again like what is experienced in many other climes.
The masses who have always been at the receiving end of the drama and power play that usually play out between the Federal Government and the all powerful oil marketers heaved a sigh of relief that the days of hurray were here at last. They thought that the fuel importation which has made even the government to lose count of how much it spends will be a thing of the past.
But surprisingly, just six months down the line it seems that we are returning to Egypt which we thought we had left for good. The scenario has not been anything different from what it used to be in the past as the two vital indices; fuel and power have once more become the most elusive commodities one can get.

(pix: allafrica)
In fact the issue has become so complicated that all what we hear in the media is that there are enough fuel to serve everybody and that people should stop panic buying, however the reality on ground does not support the argument that people are creating the scarcity due to panic buying.
In parts of the country, petrol now sells for as much as N150 naira at filling stations while at the ever ready black market it goes for as much as N300 naira per litre. This has forced many car owners to park their vehicles while hoards of commuters are daily seen stranded at bus stops.
However, while this scenario plays out, the federal government seems not to know what to do to quickly end the sufferings of the people. We have heard that the oil marketers are demanding for a payment of their outstanding arrears which the government owes them and that the government is planning to make a payment of N413 billion naira but till date that is yet to happen.
The recent events have forced many analysts to ask if the so called body language of President Buhari which led to the marginal improvement witnessed in the distribution of petroleum resources and power supply has waned. If that is the case, it then means that truly there is a limit to what a mere body language can achieve; this also suggests that if Nigeria must truly solve most of these perennial problems, then efforts must be put in place to build sustainable institutional programmes that will automatically make things work instead of the perceived personal disposition of the man on the saddle.

(pix: vanguard)
In fact one real danger with the body language syndrome is that it only works for a few weeks or months because initially the civil servants who usually make or mar every system will try to understudy the new man with only one aim to find how to circumvent the system to their own benefit, and once they find that way they will continue to manipulate it from time to time.
The country must not continue to rely on the so called body language because when its effects wanes like it appears to be happening in Nigeria, the consequences are usually more devastating, therefore Nigeria must begin to put in place strong institutions instead of the usually celebration of a perceived strong personality.
All the concerned stakeholders must as a matter of urgency find ways of ending once and for all the continuous sufferings of the people by making sure that petroleum resources are easily purchased by the people through a well defined approach for sustainability. Let us all accept it that the era of body language magic is fast gone hence the need for an urgent and proper planning blueprint.
*Jude Opara writes from Abuja

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