The current administration rode into power in 2015 with a basketful of electoral promises that put Nigerians in a dreamland.
It over-promised and has, so far, under-delivered. Not even the most ardent supporters of President Mohammadu Buhari can beat their chest in confidence that he has been able to make a dent.
Nigeria’s problems are many and intricate, but they are not impossible to tackle with the right mix of hard work and intelligence. The disappointment is the apparent lackadaisical attitude to governance in the last few years that has turned the expectation of success into just an imagination.
Recent developments in Nigeria make it hard to believe there is, indeed, a president in office.
For, how can we have a president whose feelings are unknown, whose thoughts are relayed by rediffusion and whose silence reverberates during national crises.
Bizarre stories of President Muhammadu Buhari being bodily replaced are so rife in Nigerian conversations that it is no longer idiotic to suggest that there is a presidential double, even if the possibility is startling to consider.
The story goes that after a long sick leave for an undisclosed illness in Britain in 2017, an impersonator whose real identity is Jubril from Sudan performed a cosmetic surgery that transformed him to a perfect lookalike who now acts as Nigeria’s president.
Wild and ludicrous as it may sound, the behavioUr of the president in times of crisis adds fuel to the theory, and the resultant combustion is oxidizing confidence in, and the credibility of, the Buhari administration.
It was silly enough that President Buhari had to deny rumors that he had died and had been replaced by a lookalike. “It’s the real me, I assure you,” he told an audience in Poland in 2018. Even if we believed him then, he must move from words to tangible assurance. It is now critical for him to back up the declaration with actions that will translate Nigeria from a pervading darkness of insecurity.
There is an aura of coldness and apathy oozing from Aso Rock, at a time when the people, who gave the president the ultimate power, expect leadership, direction and strength to stamp out lawlessness and banditry that is threatening national security.
Two events over the last few weeks would have caused some governments to volcanically erupt in reaction to public expectation, but none of them have moved our president.
He is not just slow, he is stagnant.
Nigeria is unraveling through lawless armed attacks on the population, and the government is not just convincingly incompetent to deal with it, but is transparently disinterested in maintaining peace
On November 29, no fewer than 40 farmers in the Zabarmari village in northeast Borno State were beheaded in a strange act of cruelty. The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, confirmed that at least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed.
The president refused to visit the village or address the nation about their growing fears. Instead, he proceeded on a private visit to his home state. As he arrived Katsina enjoying himself, disaster struck again in his backyard.
Children citizens were kidnapped in daylight gangsterism right under his nose, while he was there at home.
Such dastardly acts have become all too common. There are growing fears it can only get worse, except the government does something different and imaginative.
To the relief of the nation, those students kidnapped in Katsina have been released. However, there have been multiple reports of kidnapping even after that worrying affair; and the signs are there that the nation is drifting towards lawlessness.
As these events play one after the other, President Buhari has not considered it fit to address the nation in person.
Instead, he hides behind his men, who deliver conflicting accounts and outright lies to the public.
Politicians would like to do something at a time like this to give an assurance to those they serve.
Not President Buhari.
He continues to live on an island, where Nigerians cannot reach him.
Our president is disconnected from his people.
There are even unverified reports that the First Lady has eloped to Dubai, as Aso Rock is no longer considered a safe haven from kidnappers.
Although I have waved off for years the idea that President Buhari is not interested in managing Nigeria, it is no longer reasonable to assert that his interest in the presidency is beyond power
Nigerians are giving up on this president.
In case he has yet to be properly briefed, as he seems out of touch, the talk of the town is that God is now our president.
Hope is skinny as a rail that Aso Rock has an active occupant.
There seems to be no one in active charge.
There have been times when you really wish that the president would speak, and he does not.
Even when he speaks, he says so little that a wave of disappointment trails.
Nigeria looks like a nation on autopilot – rudderless and aimless. Drifting and lost.
Just as citizens are dying in shocking ways and kidnaps are rising, the economy is sicker than a dog.
The exchange rate is the highest it has ever been and prices of essential goods are going through the roof.
President Buhari is almost completely disengaged and turned off from the worries of his people.
Nigerians are yearning to hear from him, but he has nothing to say – there is no word of comfort or sympathy.
Even if he cares, it cannot be gauged.
He is in a different atmosphere.
At a time of Soro Soke, the president needs to speak loudly.
Or if he can’t speak, he should do something, because action can speak louder than words.
Can the president come out from his hiding? Can he be human and convince us that Jubril of Sudan is made up?
If President Buhari were an employee in the private sector, he would have been sacked half-way into his first term.
Who can employ a worker who takes off sick for nearly half a year without a doctor’s report, while using company resources?
That the government is absent, our leaders are on leave and President Buhari is missing in action is also unacceptable
Nigerians are Buhari’s employers, but our deformed democratic system is too weak to tackle dereliction of duty. Legislators are unable to look the president in the eye.
The government exists for many reasons, but none is more important than maintaining social order and public safety.
And on this fundamental purpose, the government of Nigeria has simply taken a vacation.
In the American constitution, upon which the Nigerian copy rides, this purpose of government to be the society’s policeman is elegantly phrased as ensuring domestic tranquility.
Nigeria is unraveling through lawless armed attacks on the population, and the government is not just convincingly incompetent to deal with it, but is transparently disinterested in maintaining peace.
Nigerians have nearly given up on good roads, schools or hospitals. You can’t think about those when the safety of life is not guaranteed.
The good things of life have now become just nice-to-haves. The must-have, security, is where the government is failing.
It is no longer safe to travel, or even jog in neighborhood streets.
The other day, a retired military officer was mugged while jogging. Hungry people are laying siege on other citizens.
Nigerians are eating each other.
Although I have waved off for years the idea that President Buhari is not interested in managing Nigeria, it is no longer reasonable to assert that his interest in the presidency is beyond power.
There is no evidence he believes in public service or has empathy for those he serves.
No one truly knows how our government is being run, but in a nation where the military and the police get more funding that the educational system, a steady decline into lawlessness is not acceptable.
That the government is absent, our leaders are on leave and President Buhari is missing in action is also unacceptable.
President Buhari and his cabinet need to gbe body.
They have sworn an oath to do this job and they must.
If they continue to run around without any solution while burning taxpayer’s funds, they must start thinking about retiring to their home towns for good.
Nigeria does not lack talent for the job of a president. Takers are waiting.
If President Buhari is too tired to work for us and talk to us, early retirement is a good and noble option.
Nigerians will praise him for it.