A Nation In The Doldrums - by Fola Ojo

Our own Muhammadu Buhari’s dawdling and dallying modus operandi as President have lately come under rising and intensifying voices of recrimination and denunciation. The voices are not just of those who during the campaign wanted Buhari dead, or those who swore he would never be President in their lifetimes, or those who just abhor him for all he stands for or against. The disapproving voices are also coming from many who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the President during his trying and tiring odyssey of the presidential campaign.

Many of us feel some urgency in our bones that the process of addressing Nigeria’s flurry of failings and tizzies should have begun by now. All we’ve had so far, in my opinion, is a lot of talk, and not much commensurate walk. I have, however, decided to cut Mr. President some slacks; watching to see when he will commence shaking off the elephant of despair, disappointment and pain off the shoulders of Nigerians who remain in distress.

I will not label Buhari’s first 34 days as President a total season of trumpery and quiescence. To ensure that I don’t lose my mind, I am trying very hard to believe the words of my brother, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, that of the truth, this administration is only in a season of systematic and systemic sanitisation of the Augean stables. I want to believe that we are only in that curve when the cesspool of stench created by the immediate past administration is under the sharp knife of radical exorcism. I want to believe that the words of promise we heard during the presidential campaign that the President and his deputy were going to hit the ground running is real. I want to believe that Buhari is not losing momentum and he is far from hemorrhaging his goodwill. I want to believe that the excitement, joy, hope, and confidence that 15 million Nigerians expressed in this team during the election are still intact. I want to believe that this President is working. I am just wondering how a 72-year-old retired General, a Professor of Law and two journalists without cabinet ministers can truly rule over 170 million Nigerians during this interregnum. But I am cutting my President some slacks; and I want to believe that he has the magic wand to get it done. I’ll restrain, for now, from asking how.

The concern of many Nigerians, however, is this: The appearance of inaction and non-cohesiveness in the Presidency has suddenly emboldened those who should bury their heads in shame and fear. Those elements are now growing in fame and fervour. I am worried that those who should be austere with words after a record decimation of the nation’s economy are boldly running their mouths. I am disturbed that those who committed an “attempted murder” of the Nigerian nation through wanton reckless acts are now incredibly fiercely and audaciously loose in verbosity and braggadocio. Those who should be quiet and playing the ostrich are now louder than even when they were in power. Those who should be afraid of the long arms of the law are the ones now playing the scarecrow. Did the interregnal coldness pave the way for this?

While Mr. President is soaking up the Augean stables with all manner of disinfectants, his adversaries are daily gaining an upper hand thumbing their noses at him from all angles. A state governor is dispatching tractor trailers and hauling vehicles to perceived enemies’ homes disrupting their lives and we are still busy with the Augean stables. This governor is throwing threats of expunging those he deems “foreigners” from the state civil service and actually carrying out the threat because they lend support to the ruling party. When the Chief Security officer in a state is creating an environment of insecurity, must he not be cautioned by somebody? An accused former minister ploughs down into a court premises with blaring sirens from an accompanying lorry load of armed police officers; and we were all mute. Are these not part of the filthiness and foulness at the Augean stables that must be cleansed?

When your enemy asks for your left eye and you budge, he will soon come for the right. When you give him the guest room in your house, he is coming for the master bedroom. If you yield the master bedroom to him, he will take over the whole house, and then you are homeless and powerless. How can one fulfil destiny when power is lost? Why must I give the enemy an upper hand when I was not created slow and sluggish? Those who openly despise this President now have a leg up.

Strikingly, the President submitted that he doesn’t want to interfere in matters arising around him because he is a democrat. But is Mr. President more democratic than democrats all over the world? Buhari will be in Washington this month visiting Barak Obama; I’ll suggest he asks the young man some questions on how to interfere without interrupting. To interfere means to become involved in the activities and concerns of other people whose work affect the results of your work because you all work in tandem. Interruption is bad; but interfering is fair game. Mr. President, there is a time to interfere without interrupting. If a President does not interfere, he will be interloped and his visions interlocked in the abyss of nonfeasance. Presidents all over the world interfere in affairs that threaten to truncate their agenda.

Staying neutral in politics or in life is like standing in the middle of the freeway singing the Opera! A tractor- trailer will run the singer over. This President must understand that the guys he is dealing with are far from nice. They are men on selfish, self-centred missions all about themselves. Mr. President, there is a time to interfere.

This is one of the reasons why the President must interfere in matters around him. Instead of standing up to the call-of-duty, there is now a free-for-all taking place in the house of the President’s party. Has the party changed its name from the All Progressives Party to the All Pugilists Congress? Legislators are getting down-dirty fighting each other, governors are fighting the party chairman, Chief Bisi Akande is fighting some elements in the North who are also fighting back. Some people in the Presidency are fighting Bola Tinubu who is still fighting AIT about some unsavoury documentary. The President’s ADC is fighting with the DSS who are fighting with the CSO. Meanwhile, Nigerians who voted for them are still fighting for survival to beat hunger and poverty.

The now fragmented APC team that we recognised as frail and fragile in composition from the beginning is busy chasing shadows and imaginary household enemies. Friends are now enemies and enemies have become friends. There was a strong determination by party apparatchiks to get rid of the immediate past President, but are the same folk as determined to govern? Mr. President, it’s time to wake up and show us some actions, Sir.

Nigerians said the immediate past President was clueless; but some are already bantering that Buhari is toothless. Cluelessness and toothlessness unfortunately are a double jeopardy for a nation already in trouble. I think this President has a lot of bite in him; but not until the man of might wakes up and acts strong and swift, he may be considered toothless.

Today is the 34th day of Buhari in power, and I am sure that we will have ministers when the Augean stables are completely disinfected. But Nigeria’s Augean stables are full of filth; I hope it will not take forever to cleanse because we don’t have forever!