by Emmanuel Onofua
It was on the 28th day of March 2015, Nigerians came out in their millions armed with their PVCs with which they made a bold statement – CHANGE. The handwriting was clear, they were fed up of what was and what had been, they were hungry for a new experience hence a supposed new beginning was birthed on the historic May 29, 2015 with the “I belong to nobody and everybody” assurance. Never in my decades on earth as a Nigerian have I seen such a hopeful celebration. It was as though the people have been liberated; the messiah was here, a new sheriff had arrived, time to hit the ground running. The alchemy of opposites between the projected paradise or even purgatory and perdition is confusing; while a microscopic content hold the belief that we are at paradise gate, quite a number opine that we are in purgatory but today’s majority believe we are headed towards perdition.
Purgatory place of suffering in the Roman doctrine was the place where souls remain until they have been expiated of their sins and can go to paradise. It is a popular belief among a number of Nigerians that the President is on a restoration mission. Many are of the opinion that the rot in the system is overwhelming, hence the present suffering. The quote that it is darkest before dawn serves as a lotion they rub on themselves daily.
The ruling political class rode on the very popular and widely accepted maxim that the ousted political party had reduced Nigeria to an unfit place for habitation. Their precise message of change brought to the awareness of over fifteen million Nigerians of voting age a strange reminder of what was missing. Nigeria has been destroyed, vote for change if you envision restoration. It was at this instance that the loud trumpet of CHANGE was blown; the nation’s statement was unequivocal – lead us out of perdition into paradise.
It has been over one year since the result of the 2015 General Election was announced and it seems the nation quest for answers has led them into more questions. Many however are of the strong conviction that President Buhari is the answer and that when a nation is redeemed from perdition, there must be purgation experience of purgatory before heading to paradise. To them the hard times and all the harsh realities of today are as a result of the nation’s arrival at purgatory.
The cliché of eleven months being insufficient to appraise the government compared to the wasted sixteen years of the ousted political class has become boring and meaningless. The average Nigerian is unperturbed and indifferent if the ruling political class is a product of a certain political party; what means something to them is the positive output of governance.
Yesterday at 5:03am, I received a text from one who I consider to be one of the most faithful and optimistic proponents of the Buharism theory. It reads in part “Buhari has hit a milestone this time. He is now the first president to achieve OMW of electricity in human history. The country was in dark darkness. What an achievement.” Data from Nigeria’s System Operator showed that on the 31st of March 2016, at around 12.58pm, no power generation company in the nation could produce electricity as all the Discos received zero megawatts allocation from the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
The case of the greatly reduced power generation and distribution in Nigeria wouldn’t have bitten so hard on Nigerians if there was petrol for their generators, readily available for purchase. As at today, a litre of petrol sells for between N245 and N305, worse still, one would put up with hours of endless queues in order to get the product as very few fuel stations have for sale. The Minister for State for Petroleum has told Nigerians that we should not expect magic as he is not a superman while a Presidential Spokesman has advised Nigerians to go on a hunting venture for vandals of gas pipelines if we are tired of experiencing poor power supply. Reality is, there are thousands of excuses for failure but never a good one.
Expectation is the catalyst of disappointment and this is the mood of majority of Nigerians. Prior to the 2015 election, the present government promised a radical departure from the hitherto mode of governance and in all honesty, this has been experienced in infinitesimal doses. President Buhari’s government has spent more time talking as though this is a pre-election era than in actually getting down to the business of doing what was promised. In Shakespeare’s words – “Talking isn’t doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds.”
Conventional wisdom holds that when one finds himself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging but I am unsure if the current political rulers realise that the nation’s economy is in a deep hole as they seem to be completely divorced from today’s reality.
They say you never know what will kill you until you try it, but then it may be too late. Today’s harsh reality seems to suggest that Nigerians have made an innocent mistake as the current ruling class have started to bring out their whip and other instruments of torture. The nation appears to have made the mistake of opening the political space to an alternative whose curative touch to national afflictions have proven to be more deadly than the disease. That we have not hit the ground does not mean we are not falling. Except something is done urgently, Nigeria under President Buhari may just be on a slow boat to perdition.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.