by Timothy Enietan-Matthews
No doubt, there is growing discontent in the country presently, what with the non-availability of fuel, and electricity, plus the economy taking a dive owing to the fall in value of the naira.
The optimism that heralded the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari seems to be fast disappearing, giving way to gloom.
Immediately after swearing in, Nigerians attributed every little improvement in services in the country to the ‘body language’ of Mr. President while every form of dissent or criticism was attributed to the ‘wailing wailers’.
What happened to the ‘body language’?
As months went by, the miraculous body language of Mr. President started losing steam as the situation of Nigeria and Nigerians started taking a turn for the worse. His speeches and actions started to flip flop; denying promises made, trying to explain why it can’t be feasible, or either making a turnaround from statements that had been credited to his administration.
Here are nine flip flops the Buhari administration and his party, the APC, has exhibited since taking over governance:
- Many believe the APC was eager for power, but unready for it. The party and its leadership had stayed for too long in the opposition that they became more like activists who were properly primed for critical opposition rather than the finesse and tact needed of leaders of a complex nation like Nigeria.
An example of these is the fact that the APC government has continued to see and blame the opposition PDP, for virtually everything. Things may have been done badly before now, but Buhari was elected because he promised change, not to identify problems and lay blames.
- Buhari’s election campaign promises made to Nigerians are being either denied or swept under the carpet. They may be proving right, Nigerians who were of the opinion that Buhari and the APC were unnecessarily over ambitious in their campaign promises.
Not a few Nigerians, especially unemployed youths looked forward to receiving N5000 monthly stipends promised them by the APC and President Buhari. They were however shocked when the Presidency disowned it, saying the President never promised that. According to Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, this is nothing but political fraud, a classic case of obtaining votes under false pretence.
- Presidential double speak is another low point in the current administration of President Buhari.
One thing that has defined his administration, is his penchant for making major pronouncements outside the shores of Nigeria and most times, embarrassing himself, his party and Nigerians.
While visiting Saudi Arabia, the President told the Saudi King that Nigeria would not be part of the Islamic Coalition against Terrorism, only to turn around during an interview with Al Jazeera, conducted in Qatar, that the country is a member. When reminded that some Christians in the country were uncomfortable with the decision, the President replied: “Why can’t those Christians that complained go and fight terrorism in Nigeria or fight the militancy in the South. It’s Nigeria that matters, not the opinion of some religious bigots.”
- The handling of the forex issue for Nigerian students studying abroad is another change in Mr. President’s body language. The President, whose Central Bank officials had consistently said the bank would continue to make foreign exchange available for students studying abroad, said it would not happen again.
Reminded that his own children are studying abroad, the President replied that it was because he could afford it. Mr. President forgot that the issue is about availability not affordability of Forex. Parents of these students wouldn’t have sent them out there if they couldn’t afford it. And in any case, some of these parents are better positioned when it comes to the issue of affordability compared to the President, who gave the impression that he was a poor man before the election.
- The war against corruption and alleged abuse of the rule of law is yet another low point. There is no doubting the fact that Nigeria needed to tackle corruption frontally and save the country from the scourge, but it must be done within the ambits of the law and must be seen to be fair and inclusive.
There is credibility in allegations that only opposition figures are being hounded for corruption or corrupt practices. President Buhari must come clean on the allegations that he is shielding alleged corrupt elements in his cabinet and party while hounding the opposition.
- During the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian economy officially became the largest and fastest growing in Africa. It was also the 26th in the world. On coming of Buhari, a number of miscalculated policies, or lack of it, ensured a gradual but sustained drop in the value of the naira and divestment by foreign investors.
As the economic crisis continued, with workers both at the federal and state levels crying over unpaid salaries, President Buhari and his team seem not to have any immediate answers, neither are they able to offer any form of palliative that can ease the pains Nigerians are going through.
- Constant electricity supply, and availability of fuel, which was a major anchor of the election promises has become a luxury to be hard earned, when they are available.
- In all of these, the ruling APC has maintained a worrying silence over the many gaffes of Mr. President and the state of the Nigerian economy. This is a disservice by the party to millions of Nigerians that voted for it. It is a let- down that may prove costly in the near future.
- The presidency has adopted a retinue of baggy shorts-wearing, bagpipe-playing menfolk, alien to any known Nigeria culture or ethnic group, but synonymous to Scots, to welcome the president or visiting dignitaries to the country.
How this helps to project Nigeria to the outside world is anybody’s guess, given that the country is one of rich, diverse and interesting cultures.
Timothy Enietan-Matthews is a writer and editor. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.