Friday, February 17, 2017

APC, Buhari And Arrogance Of Leadership

On Monday evening, news filtered in that newly sworn in American president, Donald Trump would hold a telephone conversation with holidaying or recuperating (depending on the information you are working with) President Mohammadu Buhari. Apart from the surprise announcement, Nigerians were equally eager to see whether the conversation would hold and not another of the propaganda that Nigerians have been fed with in recent time, to prove that the president was and is still ‘hale and hearty’, according to the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo
President Buhari and APC National Leader, Tinubu
The conversation  eventually took place. As with everything that had been subjected to social media scrutiny and query by Nigerians, doubts were raised about whether President Buhari actually spoke with the American president. Nigerians had cause to doubt whether a telephone conversation took place. Weeks after the president left the country on an extended 10-day leave, which was supposed to culminate  with him seeing his doctors, the issue that dominated the cyberspace especially when the president decided to extend his stay without a clear cut date of return was his health status. Information had filtered in that  the president had passed on. It wasn’t as if anybody was wishing him dead, but his health status had been shrouded in so much secrecy that it was difficult to know what to believe.
Who would blame our people? The experience with former President Musa Yar’Adua is still fresh in the memory. After several weeks and months of hide and seek, the citizen eventually got to know that President Yar’Adua was dead. It was a fact that could no longer be hidden.
So with President Buhari, Nigerians were still unconvinced that he was still alive. They thought they were still being taken for a ride in the usual way, in spite of assurances from different quarters.
But I have issues with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Buhari. Even when those who surrounds the president are saying differently, Nigerians needed assurance from the president himself, they wanted to know the problem with him. They found it difficult to accept the information from Aso Rock media managers. You can’t blame them, once beaten, twice shy as it’s often said. All they wanted was assurance, they wanted to hear from the president. It was a simple enough thing to arrange.
They wanted the president to speak to them. They wanted to see him ‘live’. But they were disappointed. The APC, the president and his media minders didn’t see any need for it. It was a display of sheer arrogance, that the people do not matter. It is surprising that the president equally decided to keep quiet and didn’t feel the need to speak with the people, unless Nigerians are still not being told the entire truth about his health status. You could have a lot of people visitin. It does not indicate anything. People have visited some people like that they pay their last respect? It does not mean everything is perfect.
Why then would the president not want to speak to his people. People who stood in the hot sun to vote for him. People who gave him the mandate to govern. Coming out to inform Nigerians he was such would bring empathy. That’s the way Nigerians are.
But our President who could not speak with his people was quick to speak with the American president. Isn’t that saying that President Trump is more important to our president than Nigerians  that had been clamour get for him to speak to them?
He did not speak with them, but he was quick to respond to the White House. Ever wonder why  Nigerians find it difficult to connect with their leaders? Why would they even connect with their leaders? The leaders do not show that they hold the people in high premium or that they count in the scheme of things.
Indeed, it is this lack of feeling that has turned our country into what it is today. To our leaders, the people do not matter. It is such attitude that makes our politicians steal money that should have helped in the provision of the much needed infrastructure. It is this sheer lack in milk of human kindness that would make someone to divert money meant to buy arms into other uses. It is such uncaring attitude that makes someone to steal money that he or she would never, ever finish spending in his or her life time.
Former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu readily comes to mind. Why would someone have so much money and would see people around him wallowing in abject poverty and his conscience was not pricked to help alleviate the suffering?
Of course,  he is not the only one, there are still many people that have privatized our common patrimony. Will a country ever get it right with such attitude, with a few people appropriating monies that would have provided good roads, good hospitals and other things that make life livable.
So what’s the solution? How do we end this trend of kleptocracy? Some people have said that the solution to the problem is to apply the former Ghana leader, Jerry Rawlings’ treatment to Nigeria. As much as one would see that as a quick fix solution, it would not solve any problem. It would only lead to the shedding of innocent blood, same thing for the revolution that few people have also advocated. There are some Nigerians who have worked hard and made their money legitimately. Some of them would likely be victims of such solution .
So where lies the salvation? Nigeria will only get out of this morass when leaders are held accountable. As part of the solution, It is also important to revisit the different reports of the conferences set up by the different administrations in the past. Some of these reports have advocated devolution of power and allowing the zones or states to control their resources. It is still the best way to solve our problem. Some of the landmark achievements we have today came about when the regions were in control of their resources. It was also a time of healthy rivalry among the different regions.
They look at each other and they compete on how to better the lot of their people. It is a different story today. The competition is about who can steal the most money. Nigeria cannot continue like this. The situation must change. The leaders must be held accountable. The masses must also know the power they hold. They should exercise the power. They have the power of their vote.
They have the power to recall non performing lawmakers. They have the power to protest. These powers must be exercised. It  is only when we start, as citizens to exercise that power that our leaders will listen to us. It is then that they will realize that the positions they hold is at the behest of the people.
*Bolaji Tunji is a commentator on public issues (bolajitunji@gmail.com) 

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