Nigerians are extremely patient; you won’t be making a mistake if you come to the conclusion that Nigerians are genetically modified to tolerate a mediocre government and still be thankful to this same government for providing services that it is their duty to provide.
It is not unusual to hear Nigerians say, “We know he stole but at least he did something”. To these Nigerians a public office holder is expected to steal but not too much, or, if he steals a vast amount he should ‘sow something’ either by investing the stolen money in the country or invest the funds in pursuit of a political agenda, the logic is at least some of it will trickle down to the ordinary man.
The election of General Muhammadu Buhari is unique in a number of ways but the most obvious is the platform that brought Buhari into the Presidency because it is a coalition of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Take General Buhari and very few individuals out of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and you will be left with nothing but a perfect copy of the outgoing ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So for many who supported the candidacy of General Buhari and elected officials under the platform of the APC it is cautious optimism.
Across the land Nigerians have hope but even as they hope, they remember history; they see the same buccaneers now kowtow to Buhari.
Standing amid members of the oil subsidy cabal, characters who became billionaires as a result of unfair monopoly bequeathed by the state and politicians who brought Nigeria to its sorry state, Buhari cuts the picture of a lonely man, a spotless patriot surrounded by people with dubious hidden agendas.
How Buhari deals with these contradictions will define his Presidency. While in the past Nigerians have seemed to be genetically modified to excuse failure and incompetence, the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency changed that notion. Nigerians now know that not only can they not afford bad governance and cluelessness; they also have the power to challenge it and hold those in public office to account.
The Buhari Presidency is inheriting a
damaged country. Nigeria’s economy is in ruins, thanks to incompetence, mismanagement and corruption. The country has massive internal and external debts, dwindling foreign reserves, a local currency whose value continues to slide and low international demand for the product that is its biggest earner of foreign exchange, oil. The country suffers from chronic insecurity, the terrorist Boko Haram group continues its rampage in the North East, armed robbers and kidnappers continue to terrorise other parts of the country and impunity is common place.
There is institutional decay,the judiciary is in shambles,the civil service is bloated and lazy and there is a total dearth of social infrastructure.
Worse still, Buhari is also inheriting a highly suspicious citizenry who will understandably be impatient and want to see almost instant ‘change’. Four years ago they were promised a “breath of fresh air” by the outgoing Government but instead received foul air in return, they were promised transformation but the government only altered the lives of praise-singers and hangers-on, they were promised security but over eighteen thousand Nigerians had their lives illicitly terminated by terrorists. The outgoing Government promised Nigerians a united country but ended up dividing Nigerians along religious, ethnic and primordial lines. Under these circumstances, it is not likely that this time around Nigerians will give the incoming government a long rope.
What Buhari should/must do.
Country before Self:
The first task before President Buhari is to recognise the fact that Nigeria and Nigerians are more important than him; he should see his Presidency as a collection of servants, appointed and entrusted by the people to SERVE them.
The interest of Nigeria and Nigerians should come first in every decision he makes. He (Buhari) is a symbol of the collective will of the Nigerian people to overcome every challenge, he must resist every temptation to betray the people’s trust.
Derive Power from the People:
President Buhari should derive power from the Nigerian people, those who voted for him, those who did not vote for him and the citizens who did not trust the system enough to vote. He should reject every attempt by vested interests to hijack his presidency including his coalition of good, bad and ugly. If he builds his foundation on the Nigerian people, they will protect, defend and fight for and with him.
Beware of Sycophants and Praise singers:
The Nigerian Presidency is a powerful organ, very soon President Buhari will be told he’s next to God, in fact some will go as far as saying he is ‘God’.
READ: The only title the APC didn’t give Amaechi in this tribute is “king of kings and lord of lords”
He needs to avoid praise-singers and
sycophants, that is, the Achilles heel of most public office holders. The real friends of the President would be those who can stare at him straight in the face and tell him when he’s going wrong or taking the right decision but at the wrong time.
Say the Truth At All Times:
The Buhari Presidency should avoid spin doctors, Nigerians needs a Government
that will level with them, tell them the truth no matter how bitter. Nigerians want to know the true state of their economy and the true state of the health of those who govern them. They want a transparent government that will not use the Nigerian Television Authority as a propaganda tool, or go into alliance with corrupt members of the 4th estate of the realm to deceive them.
Nigerians expect General Buhari to say it as it is and be truthful to them. They have been lied to time and again that they have lost hope in Nigeria, it is his task to rekindle it
Do as I do, not Do as I say.
President Buhari is expected to lead by example and compel those he has influence over to do the same.
Nigerians cannot and should not be asked to tighten their belts whilst those in public office live a life of luxury. We expect Public Servants to be considerate in spending the resources of the people, cut down on waste and be prudent.
The list of what Buhari can and should
do is endless but we are hopeful that by the end of his first term he would have restored confidence in Government, built
the trust between the Government and the Governed, restore law and order, built stronger institutions that will outlive
him and outlive every Nigerian and finally save Nigeria from the shackles of the 1% who have continuously enslaved Nigerians.
If Buhari can put Nigeria before Buhari, Nigerians will have every reason to TRUST again and be hopeful of a country that will serve all and of which everyone will be proud to call home.
– Follow this writer on Twitter: @ogundamisi