The promise of a better future has never been lacking in the leadership of Nigeria. Just as every woman knows her breast is primarily for satisfying the suckling; promises have been Nigeria’s national endowment used by the political class to offer satisfaction. Even the regimes widely considered as bad never for once lacked promises of a better future while the citizens waited patiently as hope frittered away.
Enjoining Nigerians to be patient should not always be the follow-up campaign after every presidential election is won. This time around, people voted to see the promised ‘change’ manifest in their time; and not for coming generations. And whoever thinks Nigerians still needed to be schooled on patience is obviously missing out on the magnitude of calamities the people have endured in waiting.
But when would Nigeria cease to be an experimental ground for testing the effect of political promises and citizens’ patience? On a literal note, the All Progressives Congress campaigned about a new deal for Nigerians. A deal so good that Nigerians would be offered some ‘change’ from all transactions when they invest their votes in the already-well-perfected APC package. In addition, the APC salesmen kept echoing the unprofitable transactions PDP had let Nigerians into at the national level while proposing the attractive alternatives as the new deal.
For Nigerians, disappointment is not a new phenomenon. What is a new phenomenon is that no individual in the political class cutting across tribal sentiments has been so trusted to have the strength of character needed to act boldly as Buhari. But no sooner had the gains from the capacity to act boldly been expected than Nigerians are now being made to realize there is something else which comes before acting boldly. It is the capacity to think swiftly, rightly and broadly. And this is the new yardstick which Nigerians are using to assess not only the promised ‘change’ but also the correct ‘change’.
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) came out with its “Change” slogan, it was not different from so many well crafted campaign promises of other political platforms. But the only difference in APC’s message is that it carried its own instrument of enforcing the promise. And Buhari was that instrument widely known and believed to be effective.
Situations have ways of rewarding persons of exceptionally proven qualities with heroism when their eyes are morally focused on the ball. Providence not minding Buhari’s age lag for physical activism has again brought him out for a contest which success could assuage the feelings of his fellow-country men and perhaps make him a fulfilled person after his famous ‘cry’ over the impudicity which kept denying him another presidential powers.
Paradoxically, the first time Buhari had a shot at controlling Nigeria’s corporate destiny, things were never so challenging. He had the military weapon of fiat in his grip and there was still a reasonable foreboding about corruption. But now, the odds against Buhari have become stronger. Democracy forbids certain swift actions no matter how well intentioned and corruption has become more daring, crafty and shameless.
With the amount of Nigeria’s money stolen and stacked abroad, and a dearth of infrastructural needs to propel the economy, the decision to first reel in international corporations and support could be imperative, but no matter the profound mental activism Buhari is exhibiting in this regard, he must match it up with a greater amount of physical and mental activism at the home front where it matters more and the import of all his actions can be cohesively appreciated.
After all, the good thing about Nigeria is the ease of identifying where the problems lie. And another established fact is the consensus on the need of force in crushing the different problematic joints of our national life: The problems which have become rusty with the silt of corruption and mismanagement – preventing Nigeria from functioning properly and assuming an enviable place in the comity of nations.
Good enough, Buhari is still demonstrating an unremitting appetite for acting boldly, which is most needed now. However, certain events like the bust and prosecution of high profile corrupt government officials can easily become a daily serial of an entertaining drama with an infectious downside of removing the mind from timeously attending to the other important subjects which get worsened by the seconds.
This much created the level of initial anxiety over who should make the ministerial list of President Buhari as he promised good harvest from using just a few workers. But in all, Nigerians are aware that fixing the problem of Nigeria is not just about attaining perfection in Abuja. In a presidential system like ours, along the line of responsibility, President Buhari could be blamed for the continuing poverty of the hardworking village farmer in Edo State who lacks good roads or the appropriate government policies which would enable his farm produce safely and rewardingly get to the local and international market. Therefore, it is considered appropriate for Buhari to figure out how to have his presence broadly felt everywhere across Nigeria.
Importantly, there is the fear of what Nigeria can become should Buhari fails. For those who still believe in ‘project Nigeria’ this is the time to bring the necessary support on board. And essentially, those in the APC hierarchy most desist from any inclination of ‘this is our thing’. Nigerians are still aware of the well articulated ethics of every proposed transaction, and therefore must be given the right ‘change’ from all transactions.
*Kingsley Ogbeide-Ihama is a freelance writer and social critic, writes from Benin City. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org