I cannot help but have sympathy for Buhari’s supporters. Most of them supported him genuinely, believing that he would bring an end to the old order and usher in the much desired change by engaging in nation building and urgently tackling the deficiencies in all critical sectors as anchored in their campaign manifesto. The revolution was such that even in the South East and South South were the populace mindful of Buhari’s antecedents where largely not sold to his agenda, he nonetheless still had a modest following of fanatical supporters who stood against the dissenting storm of opprobrium as they daily mounted vociferous campaigns in the social media and elsewhere on his behalf.
For Buhari’s supporters, they believed he was nothing short of a messiah, who would immediately constitute a cabinet that would hit the ground running and set about the task of fulfilling the many campaign promises that was issued in the course of the election chief among which was decisively dealing with corruption, infrastructure, the economy and job creation, social welfare payments to the very poor, regional development initiatives and a holistic framework for national integration and nation building. These issues formed the core of the ideology, campaign manifesto and talking points that propelled Buhari to a historic victory, becoming the first to defeat an incumbent in Nigeria’s chequered democratic journey.
Yet, as soon as Buhari came to power, everything just seemed to stop. Alas, it seems that while he played along with his handlers during the campaign, he was never on the same page with them. His ideas and approach to governance was miles apart from the hype the APC had dished out. The first few weeks and months of his administration was understandably marked with much expectation, then confusion and then frustration as the delay to appoint a cabinet and unfold a comprehensive framework/agenda for government continued to lengthen. His disappointed supporters and enablers invented different excuses for the unusual delay in appointing a cabinet. First they said he was waiting for the newly elected members of the national assembly and house of representatives to be inaugurated, when that was done and there was still no ministerial list they changed the story and said he was looking for honest and incorruptible “saints” and “angels” to appoint ministers, when the delay in the search became unduly overstretched they claimed Buhari was saving money by not appointing ministers.
As laughable as these excuses were by handlers and supporters who were obviously unwilling to admit their disappointment, the invention of lies and illogical excuses continued until Buhari himself, in the course of an interview in France, revealed the true reason for the delay in constituting a cabinet was because he believed ministers were noisemakers who being politicians do nothing other than noisemaking. This revelation unmasked the true intent of Buhari and put to rest the speculations and lies that sought to explain and or justify the unconventional delay in appointing a cabinet, but most importantly it also revealed that Buhari came to power without any real agenda. In almost 5 months since he came to power, not a single initiative or programme of action has been unfolded for any critical sector contrary to the campaign promises. None of the important milestones that were supposed to be reached within a 100 days as articulated in the campaign manifesto was even commenced. Indeed Buhari and the APC have taken the unprecedented route of denying the 100 day covenant and the totality of the campaign manifesto with which they campaigned and won the election.
Thus of all the hype, hoopla, campaign promises, threats, intimidation, bigotry and sensationalism that occasioned the historic election, Nigeria unfortunately ended up with a president that has no agenda. While much noise has been made about corruption, it remains just noisemaking as nothing has been done in that regards. The only notable movement of the Buhari administration has been the near exclusive appointment of Northerners to strategic positions, thereby deliberately re-constituting Northern domination and lending credence to the logic that; that perhaps was his only real agenda in his 12 years of seeking the presidency. But a repudiation of campaign promises and an agenda that begins and ends with reconstituting Northern domination as now seems to be the case bodes no good for an already fragile nation. The consequences of the absence of a cabinet and non-functioning government is already with us as the economy is in free fall, job losses are accelerating, the exchange rate is in shambles, the stock exchange has lost trillions, infrastructure remains comatose, JP Morgan has delisted Nigerian government bonds, while the Central Bank Governor has indicated the country is headed for a recession by the next quarter.
In the area of national unity, no president in Nigeria’s post-war history has been accused of being sectional and incited as much ethnic divisions and separatist sentiments as Buhari, owing to his blatantly lopsided appointments, which stands in great contrast to the lofty idea of change and the much advertised diversity programme of nation building in their campaign manifesto. The nation has consequently moved from bad to worse, held hostage by a clueless president without an agenda beyond resurrecting Northern domination. Nigeria has entered a one chance bus and the worse is yet to come!
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Saturday, 10 October 2015