365 DAYS IN WILDERNESS: THE TALE OF A MAN AND A NATION By Yussuf Ayodele
365 DAYS IN WILDERNESS: THE TALE OF A MAN AND A NATION
*By Yussuf Ayodele
No doubt, Nigerian’s appetite for good governance has long been whetted. They have endured several years of hardship vis a vis: neglect, nepotism, corruption, insecurity, economic torture, etc, and the Buhari’s manifesto as well his change mantra seems to be the messiah to liberate Nigerians from such shackle. The peaceful emergence of PMB therefore was a worthy miracle, breakthrough and liberation long awaited. The celebration was massive and grand (if not bizarre).Such was the spirit that madean enthusiast trek a distance over 700km from Lagos to Abuja in celebration of baba’s victory.The only trepidation was for the top corrupt public office holders who had the fear of rotting in jail hung over them like the sword of Damocles. Unfortunately for Nigerians, after 365 days of waiting, such appetite is yet unsatiated.
Forgive my early conclusion, but truth be told, the several tours of the president around the world as well his diplomatic moves are yet to translate to money in pocket and food on table for the masses, the only understandable and “readable” tools of the ordinary Nigerians for assessing the success or otherwise failure of a government.
A flashback to the period just before the handing over would reveal the Nation held up in a high tension hope. A new song of praise of the messiah – “Sai Buhari” was invented and the expectation then was to sleep as Nigerians on May 29 – the very day baba would be sworn in and wake up the next day as Americans. Perhaps they did in their dreams, but such dream was long dead even before it was dreamt. Baba’s first few days in office was hell rather than relieve. Recall the near standstill that “rocked” the nation due to a nationwide fuel scarcity, the exponential increase in the Naira equivalent of Dollar and its attendant effect on price of commodities, the record breaking power outage with a decline to an all-time low capacity of 2000MW across the nation, and the list continues.
While Nigerians were being tortured by the increasingly harsh conditions, baba was majestically touring the world, a major move that ignited derision from his opposition and critics, and thus earned him the title “Junketer-in-Chief”. Simultaneously, the Junketer-in-Chief was at war front, tackling corruption and sincerely gaining ground. The case of SamboDasuki, former National Security Adviser to former president Goodluck Jonathan and his web of high pofileindictees, including: OlisaMetuh – the Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Raymond Dokpesi – founder DAAR communications, former Chief of Army staff, Alex Badehand a host of others apprehended by EFCC for their involvement in a $2.1b arms deal fraud – The Dasukigate. The bizarre revelations as regards Sarakivs CCT in a false asset declaration case, the Allison Maueke’s investigation… How much more? Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade works like a “Holy Ghost Fire”!
Back to the commoners, balderdash! To hell with anti-corruption! Such crusade perhaps would only have been “meaningful” if it had translated to: reduction in prices of items, availability of fuel, constant power supply, or perhaps if the looted funds recovered were distributed house to house throughout the nation. So mockingly did Okey4reel, a Nairaland user posted on his wall in a satirical attempt to ridicule the president’s war against corruption and its rather inverse effect on the economy :
With Corruption a bag of pure water was N80 Without Corruption a bag of pure water is N150 With Corruption dollar was N180 Without Corruption dollar is N400 With Corruption I have 20hrs electricity at low tariff without Corruption I have 7hrs electricity with 45% increase in tariff with Corruption keke to my house takes N50 Without Corruption keke to my house takes N100 with corruption smallest indomie was N40 Without Corruption smallest indomie is N60. The list can go on and on but I just have to end it and take a stand…… #IStandWithCorruption #Bringbackourcorruption #BuharibringbackNigeria #Bringbacknaira
If with Corruption Dollar was N180 and without corruption dollar is now N425, Brother and Sisters, you will agree with me that we need corruption in this country…Titus Sardine started with 4 fishes, it reduced to 3. Then now it’s 2. In years to come, you’ll open Sardine and see “Try again”
The hitherto calm Nigerians were becoming irascible, demanding results or at least consolation; but baba and his political henchmen could only offer excuses.The previous administration has done a lot of damage to the nation and so it would take long before it could be repaired. The excuses were not invalid; perhaps reminding Nigerians of them over and over again was just not tenable. Obasanjo gave similar excuse and went scot-free when he lamented “Even if Jesus Christ descends to rule this country, he cannot succeed with these myriads of problem”. Former president Goodluck Jonathan was not left out. He was reported on front pages of major newspapers on Tuesday 27th January 2015 to have said “No government can fix Nigeria in four years”. Perhaps his successor is only following the trend. But Nigerians are no longer forgiving. They needed a visible change (not a latent one) and they needed it very fast too.
While arrows of denunciation poured in from all corners, baba kept his head calm. But yet again, such calmness was cluelessness to Nigerians. The several months of waiting before the appointment of ministers, the hold up and drama surrounding the signing of the national budget…. Chai! Baba Go Slow!Buhari’s offence to Nigerians is innumerable and so it would continue to be until his tenure ends; no amount of Lai Muhammad’s tall tale could convince them.
Nigerians emerging distrust in, and strong condemnation of the president is understandable: they had to pay higher for unavailable power supply; they had to pay more for a litre of petrol (due to removal of subsidy). That not being enough, they now buy a cup of tomato for the same price they would have bought ten. In fact, to many critics, the change mantra is nothing but a mirage. One couldn’t have been so merciful to have graded Buhari an ‘A’. Yet it would be too blind and unfair to ignore his early victory on fighting terrorism and insecurity. Nigeria is fast gaining upper hand against Boko Haram. Unfortunately, such victory is currently being masked by the Biafran Agitators and more recently, the Niger Delta Avengers as well as the Fulani herdsmen. While the North East is relatively regaining its peacefulness, the South South and South East are experiencing a return of terror.
As the contempt grows stronger, baba is being rated on three scales: one, his performance as a democratic president compared with that of his military regime, two, his performance compared with that of the last administration and most importantly, three, his performance within the last 365 days in office. It would be too harsh and bias to rate baba a failure, yet it would be too generous and sycophantic to rate him a success. No matter how and what you rate him, Nigerians still live in wilderness and would never stop complaining until they get betterment.
The similitude is the tale of the Israelites, when Moses led them away from the wrath of Pharaoh; they jubilated and celebrated their freedom. But when stocked between the devilish pharaoh and the red sea, criticism turned on Moses. He should have left them peacefully being tortured by pharaoh. But with doggedness and faith, Moses led them out of the trouble to the promise land and thus the praise return.
Nigerians must learn from the story of the Israelites and Buhari must learn from Moses himself. Had Moses succumb to the Israelite critics, he probably would have perished in the sea or at the hand of the Pharaoh’s soldiers. The mandate the rebuild the nation should not be hinged on a man. Only with unity in patriotism, doggedness and faith could Nigeria sail successfully from its wilderness to the “Promise land”
*Ayodele is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the University of Lagos.