Nigeria is burning and crumbling on Buhari's watch and the man is making his re-election look like a mistake.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Nearly two months after he was inaugurated for a second term in office, President Muhammadu Buhari has not deemed it fit to assemble the cabinet that will help him achieve his objectives, the economy continues to leave holes in people’s pockets, poverty and unemployment numbers are rising and killers are waylaying travelers on our roads and gunning them down from point blank range.
It’s a tough time to be a Nigerian. It’s always a tough time to be a Nigerian. But the near absence of governance is visible everywhere you turn these days. The lethargy and inertia from Abuja rankles and riles even the strong.
Walk on the streets of Lagos and you overhear folks lamenting how Buhari is hell bent on starving them to death with his ‘do nothing’ strategy or zero economic policies.
The exchange rate remains unforgiving and inflation remains at double digits. In the marketplaces, prices of commodities and groceries continue to skyrocket and it remains difficult trying to start a business in Nigeria. The police still kills and extorts innocents for fun, the power sector continues to transmit darkness to homes and businesses; and everywhere you turn in Nigeria, the absence of leadership stares you in the face.
Meanwhile, young people are fleeing their country to Europe, Canada and the United States in droves through the most dangerous routes possible, as they try to escape the suffering at home.
Buhari loves to crack jokes about how he is often called ‘Baba Go-Slow’ by Nigerians, but no one is laughing anymore.
To know how bad things are for everyone, notice the number of family members, friends and colleagues who reach out to you for one form of financial aid or the other every other day. The country is on a standstill as it were, but the president and the presidency would rather regard every critic who voices their opinions as the enemy of the state and take on Chief Obasanjo over a letter!
You would have thought that a president who pretends to understand the urgency of the moment, who promised to hit the ground running in his second coming, would have settled for his ministerial nominees immediately after he was declared winner of the presidential vote in March.
But Buhari recently told us that he is still taking his time because he didn’t know most of those he appointed ministers in 2015 and wouldn't want to repeat that mistake. More intriguing is that even after he made the mistake of appointing the wrong persons to fill in cabinet positions, he stuck with them for the duration of his four-year term and refused to rejig a cabinet that was clearly failing on the job.
“I’m under tremendous pressure to appoint ministers”, Buhari said when the leadership of the national assembly and his party chieftains had dinner with him last week.
“But the last cabinet which I headed, most of them, the majority of them I didn’t know them. I had to accept the names and recommendations from the party and other individuals. I worked with them for three and half years at least; meeting twice or two weeks in a month. So I know them now.
“But this time around, I’m going to be quite me in the sense that I will pick people I personally know”, he vowed.
The frightening thing about the Buhari presidency is that there is no sense of urgency whatsoever, no discernible plan to render some hope to long-suffering Nigerians and no desperation from the presidency to fix things. A president who hasn’t assembled a team months after he was elected and sworn-in was never prepared for the job ab initio.
Nigeria is crumbling and burning on Buhari’s watch. And it’s unsettling that no one in the power corridors is feeling or sensing the impending doom.
Let us pray.
Written for Pulse Nigeria by Jude Egbas