In his recent article titled ‘This is the Change’, presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu embarked on an arduous but unsuccessful task of attempting to justify the economic hardship, biting hunger, political retrogression, judicial rascality, executive recklessness, electoral inconclusiveness, etc which have all become the indelible insignia of the Buhari-led administration.
Reading through the essay, one would have no choice but to have pity on a spokesperson who has nothing positive to write about his boss but must still write something positive all the same in order to help shore up his diminished rating. Honestly, I feel for the president’s spokespersons; this is not the kind of president anyone would want to speak for as evidenced in Shehu’s and Femi Adesina futile attempt to always want to ‘squeeze water from stone’ in order to convince Nigerians about Buhari.
Expectedly, Shehu started that essay rather lamely by reminding Nigerians of how they are now being asked after Buhari in London, Dubai, Beijing, Washington, New York or Tokyo. According to him, “Nigerians get the good feeling of being asked the question, how is President Muhammadu Buhari?”
There is no gainsaying the fact that this is very far from the truth. In Atlanta where the Dream Team VI were left stranded and got to the Rio Olympics same day they had their opening match in a Games of the Olympics magnitude says much about how other countries view our president. Rather than ask how is President Buhari, Americans, Brazillians and indeed the world, who have never in the history of the world heard about a contingent arriving the Games the same day they have a match, would rather ask, what is wrong with President Buhari?
It is such a shame and smacks of excessive executive irresponsibility to allow athletes representing our great country to fend for themselves. Not even Syria or Iraq or any of the war-torn nations treated their athletes in such a shabby manner. As if that was not enough, it took a patriotic John Obi Mikel to take up the responsibility of a highly over-rated federal government to settle the hotel bills of the country’s football team to the tune of 4,600GBP singlehanded.
This should not be a surprise to anyone, it is only a reflection of how bad things have gone back home, so bad citizens of other countries now ask if there is a government in Nigeria.
Shehu in that his brazenly bizarre essay alluded to the fallacy that the current perception of Nigeria is the type that can lead to attracting foreign investments to the country. With such falsehood, one need not wonder why our economy is as bad as it is now, for while the economy is officially in recession, our stock market has lost close to a whopping N2trn within just 15 months, while foreigners are running away in droves, yet, Shehu has the temerity to talk about attracting foreign investments into Nigeria?
What this simply means is that people who are closest to the president have detached themselves from the reality on ground, no wonder they are driving Nigeria remorselessly into economic oblivion and political obliteration.
It is laughable that Shehu and his ilk still bask in the false euphoria of a non-existing support for Buhari “among the lower segment of the local population”. Such support which, in truth, did exist in mass at the early life of this administration has since faded into thin air. The fact of the matter is that in the days leading to the general elections and the ones immediately following, a good part of Nigeria’s populace supported Buhari even up to a fanatical point. Taxi drivers, commercial tricycle operators, shopkeepers, okada riders etc, did not only chant “Sai Buhari”, a majority of them proudly tied the broom which is the ruling party’s symbol and had APC and Buhari’s stickers wantonly displayed on their wares, their vehicles and every other place possible as a sign of solidarity and support for the president.
In fact, one embarked on the needless and self-inflicted punitive journey by foot from Lagos to Abuja just to celebrate his ‘hero’ in the aftermath of that election. A few others soon joined, trekking from one far city to another as it created a bandwagon effect.
But just 15 months after his inauguration, the people have realized that Buhari’s promises to them during the campaigns were nothing but a mere mirage and hoodwink; these same set of people who just 15 months ago chanted “Sai Baba” with reckless abandon have hurriedly and angrily removed anything that has to do with Buhari and APC from their wares and vehicles and have since dissociated themselves from the president and his obviously incompetent party. The urgency with which they have done this is akin to the urgency needed to remove a cancerous growth from the body. The song has since simply changed from “Sai Baba” to “Chai Baba”.
To make matters worse, Garba Shehu in his frustration, inferred that the press has given more prominence to the activities of Boko Haram, the same one they claimed they have defeated, and “pipeline vandal from the Delta region…than the Minister of Labour, Governor Ngige or the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, talking about job creation in the economy”.
Shehu should know that there is nothing new in this as a good section of the media is already used to this line of reportage having been used by the APC to spin and report only negative stories and falsehood against the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan while under-reporting or even ignoring his achievements, all in a bid to score banal political points. The presidential spokesman should stop complaining about this; he and his principals are only naturally reaping whirlwind today from the wind they sowed yesterday!
The deserved criticism of the government of the day has, as usual, been placed at the door step of officials of the last administration as its sponsors. Nothing can be further from the truth. Nigerians do not need anyone to tell them how biting the current hardship on them is. No matter how much the Buhari administration tries to cover up its mess, they should know that you can only tell a blind man that there is no oil in the soup but you cannot tell him that there is no salt in it.
In trying to further vilify the past administration as is their practice, Shehu claimed that the ‘war on corruption’ “has forced the return to the treasury of billions of Naira and millions of Dollars stolen by past officials”, yet, Buhari keeps telling Nigerians that we are broke and uses this as a reason for his obvious economic incompetence. What then happened to the billions of Naira and millions of Dollars always gleefully claimed to have been returned by suspected ‘looters’? Have they also been re-looted?
What has also happened to the N2trn claimed by Garba to have been saved annually by this government from the removal of fuel subsidy? Does this not mean that some good money must have been saved between when the subsidy was removed and now? What is happening to those funds?
What about the money Garba also said have been saved from reducing the number of ministries from 46 to 24? The height of sophistry is when in one breath you say Nigeria has recovered and saved billions of naira and millions of dollars from various sources but also say that the country is broke because oil prices have dropped! Garba Shehu and his masters speak from both sides of the mouth and seem to also have a case to answer!
The continued excuses that low oil price is a major factor militating against Buhari’s performance is nothing but a frequently rehashed story concocted to cover up the failure of this government. Does it mean that if per adventure Nigeria’s oil dries up today, Buhari would be justified for making Nigerians hungry and leaving many more die needlessly?
Even in the face of prosperity, Buhari and his men have proved to be bad managers of resources. Or, how else can one explain the avoidable death from malnutrition and other health factors of over a thousand Nigerian children and women placed in the direct care of government in internally displaced persons, (IDP) camps in the northeast despite the abundance of resources, some from international agencies and donors?
Just like Prince Deji Adeyanju, an aspirant to the office of National Publicity Secretary in PDP’s last convention at Port Harcourt, said in one of his facebook posts, before this government came to power, they had all the solutions to all our problems but now that they are in power, they have only excuses for all our problems. How apt!
The likes of Garba Shehu should not think they can succeed this time in deceiving Nigerians. One is sure that APC and their goons now realize that it was easier to lie to the people when they were in opposition than now that they are ruling. The lesson in all this is that propaganda, lies and deceit may get you power, but performance, and not excuses, is required to remain there!
Buhari and APC now know better. The people have also come to realize that the change agenda of the federal government is nothing but a ‘one chance’ agenda!
Someone should tell Garba Shehu that this is certainly not the change!
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.