Home / News / Local / (Opinion) Buhari’s first Christmas in office By Bolanle Bolawole
President Buhari

(Opinion) Buhari’s first Christmas in office By Bolanle Bolawole

President Buhari
President Buhari

Christmas and New Year are around the corner; and they will be the very first that Muhammadu Buhari will celebrate as our elected president. Certainly, these days will be days of joy for Buhari and his family. For Buhari, the presidency is a long dream come true and a pursuit fulfilled. For his family, nuclear and extended, and a coterie of friends and appointees, Christmas and New Year certainly must come with new attractions. How will Buhari celebrate Christmas and New Year? Given his taciturnity and disdain for colour and panache, he will almost likely celebrate low key. Nevertheless, he and his family and those around him will have a lot to eat and drink. The problem will not be what to eat or drink but how to avoid eating and drinking too much. There will also be a lot of well-wishers milling around the president. If he were that kind of personality, we can expect the newspapers and the air waves to be taken over by a deluge of congratulatory wishes. But since he did not even encourage such eye- and lip-service during his recent birthday, it is expected that he will also not encourage same during the coming celebration. It is a departure from this that will set tongues wagging.
But how will the vast majority of the people who gave Buhari the mandate to become president celebrate the coming Christmas and New Year? For most of them, it will be on the extreme end of the pole from Buhari. Times are hard for the people or, as they say, countryman is not finding things easy. Despite the bail-out for many of the States, salaries are still being owed workers. Business is the dullest ever. Many businessmen and contractors have not lifted a finger since the beginning of the year. With the public as well as private sector so constricted, society as a whole cannot but be in dire strait. What we are saying here, in plain or ordinary man’s language, is that money is not flowing. To make matters worse, cost of goods and services has been on the rise. Foodstuffs cost more; so also transportation; house and office rents and, wait for it, school fees have experienced an upward surge! Services have been epileptic; yet, they have attracted an increase. Power oscillates from bad to worse but the undertakers keep increasing the tariff. Long queues at fuel stations keep haunting the nation and so-called subsidy notwithstanding; people continue to buy petrol far above the stipulated pump price.
Security breaches are reported daily to the consternation of citizens; the criminals get more emboldened by the day. The Boko Haram insurgency and the gathering storm of resurgent Biafra apart, criminal activities are on the rise in many parts of the country. The Fulani herdsmen have become a worrisome decimal, killing, maiming, and kidnapping at will. What started as ethnic war on the plateau appears to have spread to other parts of the country. Common criminals such as house-breakers, highway robbers, go-slow robbers, and other armed robbers are on the ascendancy; not to talk of cult groups, area boys and girls, kidnappers, ritual murderers, and assassins who are on the prowl in our major cities as well as in the country side. Bank robberies have gone more dare-devilry and vicious; the seaways have seen an increase in the traffic of mean men and women who blow up Bank security doors with dynamites, kill and main and rob at will before disappearing into thin air. Everywhere, people hardly sleep with their two eyes closed. It is understandable why society stands on edge: For so long we have screamed that a society that destroys the future of its youths imperils its present. With millions of school leavers who can neither go to college nor get jobs milling around, what else do we expect? Those who managed to get placements in rundown institutions of higher learning and now clutch certificates, for whatever they are worth, cannot get jobs. For many Nigerians, the present is parlous even as the future is utter darkness. Hope lost is anarchy unleashed. Yet are the gods not to blame; nor the fault in our stars! The fault, O Nigerians, is in our leaders!
Witness the gory tales of how they loot us blind! Day after day reveals sleaze after sleaze of horrendous proportions. And it reminds me of an incident along Agbani Road in Enugu during the time of Nnamani Chimaroke as governor, when my professional colleague, Festus Adedayo, was the media spokesperson. I had attended a workshop organised there by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, and thereafter decided to travel by road to Port-Harcourt. The horrendous state of Agbani road made me to wonder aloud to the Okada man who carried me why a major road right in the heart of a city like Enugu, the former capital of the Eastern Region, could be in such a deplorable state. The poor man wasted no time in giving an answer: “Na wickedness; dem vote money, dem chop am!”That was over a decade ago but it is still the same narrative all over the country. The wickedness of our leaders is legendary. In fact, our leaders are wicked than wickedness itself. Year-in, year-out, it has been the same stories of monies voted in all manner of budgets – “Budget of Hope”, Budget of Consolidation”, Budget of Transformation”; name it! –but in the end, those who vote the monies are the same people who turn around to “chop” the money so voted. Projects are executed on paper while the monies disappear into private pockets. People and country have very little to show for the humongous amounts voted yearly by federal, state, and local governments. The revelations from DasukiGate, distressing as they are, only confirm what everyone had always known. Yet, this is but a tip of the iceberg. Our leaders steal and stack up monies that generations after them till the second coming of Jesus Christ cannot exhaust. And they watch – without conscience – as poverty, death, and disease stalk the land. They behold – without any sense of guilt or remorse – as decay and decadence, like a colossus, bestride the polity. Our leaders are selfish and self-centred. They are also insensitive; displaying their opulence and crass philistinism even in the sea of the people’s abject penury.
Buhari says he will fight the scourge called corruption. Many believe him but there are sceptics. For one, not many are comfortable with some of those that surround the president. That these presidential aides have refused to publicly declare their assets as Buhari and his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, have done does not engender confidence. For another, the president’s party, the All Progressives Congress, is a conglomerate of strange bed-fellows. It has been unable to speak with one voice; preferring, instead, to operate as a cacophony of voices. Feelers are that underground moves are already afoot to scatter the present political architecture; many of those not comfortable with the anti-graft posturing of the Buhari government are fighting back already. The sad aspect of it is that many of these enemies of transparency hold critical positions in the ruling APC and are eminently placed to trouble Buhari and impede the smooth-sail of the anti-graft cruise. Yet, except and until corruption is tamed, this country will make no meaningful development. The first step is to stop the slide and arrest the drift, which Buhari is struggling to do with TSA and other policies. The next is to block the loopholes and reduce, if not totally eliminate, the haemorrhage that has made the economy anaemic. Then, of course, new sources of funds have to be quickly found and developed to replace crude oil, which is fast going out of fashion. In this respect, agriculture and solid minerals offer us the best options. Will Buhari give these two the deserved attention? And will the people, be patient enough for all the efforts of Buhari to begin to yield the desired results?
Nigerians have a problem – it is our legendary “fire brigade approach” to issues. We love magic, too. We hardly give a hoot when systems and institutions are being destroyed because we harbour the wrong notion that we can quickly re-fix them just by a snap of the fingers. If only we have sufficient understanding that it takes time and efforts to fix what has been ruined, then, we would be less lax in responding to, and restraining, the wreckers of our nation. Now that the harm has been done – and over a long period of time for that matter – painstaking effort and time are needed to fix this country. Even if Buhari is ready for the arduous task at hand, will the people be patient enough and resolute in their support? Both are the two sides of the coin needed to turn around the fortunes of this country so that future Christmas and New Year celebrations can bring the era of a new dawn as well as offer us hope of a better tomorrow.
Pastor, I have stopped reading your column because of your partial approach to issues, most especially Osun state. I have invited you thrice to visit Osun and see things for yourself but you have failed to show up; hence your recognition of Ogbeni Aregbesola as a voice and force to reckon with as far as politics is concerned. I know you have deep feelings for him. I pray you will have someone in his mould to take over from Gov. Mimiko in your own state (Ondo) in the next dispensation. – 081855
I don’t have to be in Osun to understand what is happening there. There is no denying the fact that Osun is in very bad shape. I have said this to the governor one-on-one. Aregbe himself has admitted that much, even publicly. But so also is the Federal Government itself and virtually all the other states in dire straits! Aregbe has promised to complete all projects as well as make up for Osun people’s present pains. As a pastor, I continue to pray for him as well as offer advice. Besides, Aregbe cried enough when the economy was being ruined. Had his voice been heeded, everyone’s plight would not have been as dire as it is today.
I had to practically burn my Sunday Tribune when my favourite columnist turned the Lord’s Day into the Devil’s Day by aligning with Adams and Aregbe. Did you not know what havoc these two have wreaked on their states? – Dr. Yemi, Osogbo.
I quoted Adams Oshiomhole and Aregbesola in respect of the warnings they consistently issued concerning how the economy of this country was being run aground by erstwhile Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Events now prove that the governors were right and sound in that respect. They could have been wrong elsewhere, though!

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