Since May 29, things have since either been normal on certain fronts or have even gone worse in certain areas. A friend did say admitting this would amount to admitting one was wrong to back the “Change” movement during the 2015 elections. I did ask, should one have backed the “Impunity and Cluelessness” movement that was dressed in the garb of “Transformation”? And where does one admit a government has failed after just a little over a month in office? It is not so hard to admit, for instance, that the security situation is probably the worst it has been since the end of the elections if not the worst it has been all year. Boko Haram has since taken some 500 human lives in over a dozen attacks since the turn of the new government. Is there cause for worry?
The Buhari government came in on the crest of a wave of expectations, those expectations have since dwindled. If that was an intentional way to set off, the government has since achieved its aim. In fact, one has met a few staunch supporters of the government who would be happy to just see a few things happen just so they can say, “I told you!” to their cynical friends. Are Nigerians wrong to expect to see things to start happening some 40 days into the new government? Maybe, they are not, maybe, the government promised too much. And they did indeed promise too much seeing as it was obvious the country was beginning to show signs of weakness as a result of unheralded corruption and dwindling oil fortunes under the Jonathan administration.
Nigerians knew all about the impunity and maladministration that took place under the immediate past government, it would be pointless to excuse the early inaction of the current administration on the failings of the previous one. That is obvious enough and that failing was duly punished at the polls at the end of March. It would no longer be the job of the new administration to tell us how the past administration’s mismanagement and corruption have hampered its work; we already know that. What they must do is get to work. That is what they promised and that was why they were voted.
It may be too early to pass judgment on a government that even if it had everything going for it on assumption of office, would likely need time to settle in. On the flipside, is it too early for the new government to see the importance of engaging the citizenry? There was an address to the nation on May 29, an address that was as much a speech for Nigerian citizens as it was for the international community. There is an urgent need for a national address almost strictly for Nigerians. Press releases and statements fall short at times of national tragedies. We asked for change because we could not bear to see that the old government would go about partying hours after the destruction of lives and properties. The current administration has not done exactly that but its reactions to recent bombings have not been a sharp departure from the old. The Jonathan administration used to release statements of “condemnation” and “government’s commitment to defeat the insurgents” and to bring them “under the full weight” of the law. It was so common, an average Nigerian could write the statement as the major difference in each statement were the dates and the location of the attack. The new administration has just simply continued from there. Something has to change!
When citizens die in scores, the President must be seen. If it happens a lot, the President must be seen a lot. That in itself would incentivise effective action. That is what holds in climes where the lives of citizens are not treated with levity. They do not even wait for 100 or 200 citizens to die before their presidents (or vice-presidents) mount the stage to address the nation. In most cases, when terrorists kill say five or ten citizens, the president gets behind the microphone. Note that the address does not have to be the conventional presidential address that is preceded by the national anthem on TV. It is more like a press briefing but this time, the president addresses the press. It goes a long way when the families of the deceased hear their president calling the names of their lost loved ones and personally offering his condolences and support.
We are not beginning to talk about the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to mount an immediate onslaught on the terrorists. The sooner that happens the better for everyone. Waiting to have a perfect strategy before having a real go at the terrorists would leave more citizens dead. Boko Haram is not waiting to mount destruction; our government has no business waiting to repel them. While we work out a proactive response to these insurgents, we must understand and address the immediate challenge. They are coming closer. They tested the resolve of the Jonathan administration in July of 2011 when they bombed the Force Headquarters in Abuja, we cannot afford something like that to happen before we know that these murderers are hell-bent on breaking the will of the Nigerian people all over again.
There is work to do! Politics has since the inauguration taken the centre stage. Politicians have been more obsessed with what they consider as “taking the spoils of war” rather than offer ideas and support for the government to hit the ground running. That is not such a surprise, it takes an outlier Nigerian politician to care more about Nigeria than he would about parochial interests. Those outliers must make their voices heard at this time, otherwise, we would simply continue the jonathanisation of Nigeria. That would simply mean that things will progressively get worse from the days of watching impunity run the show at the seat of power and gross incompetence dictate the moves of major government policies.
It is too early to judge where a child would end up in life by what the child does in his or her early stages, but it would be foolhardy to ignore the child if he or she starts to show the signs the elder sibling showed that led the same to destruction in adulthood. More often than not, the morning determines the direction the day would go. For the Buhari-Osinbajo administration, this has not been such a good morning. The entrepreneurs of sycophancy, if they have already taken their place around the seat of power, would like the President and his deputy to believe that Nigerians are already impressed with their great works in the last one month. Mr. President, that is far from the truth. Nigerians are not impressed. Please, do not fall to the trap of delusion that finally consumed the Jonathan administration on March 28. Nigerians, rightfully, expected more from you because you are men of integrity and your integrity is not in doubt. But integrity does not exactly save lives, competence does and you must begin to deploy your competence into dealing with Nigeria’s most critical problems, starting with insecurity.
If you want to know the truth about your government, ask someone who has never asked your government for a job or anyone you know does not depend on your government for survival.