In reality, the Buhari presidency speaks a lot about its much-vaunted integrity, a monolithic social capital, serially spotlighted and grossly gaslighted by a deluge of religious, tribal and ideological contradictions. These contradictions are facilitated by the imprimatur of a president who has done far little to unify the country which he swore to keep as one— Joshua Kayce-Ogbonna
President Muhammadu Buhari trots with a lot of appeal from his largely, arch-conservative and far-right fan base who believe in his socialist-leaning policies (and thinly veiled misanthropism of those outside his retinue of hailers) in the midst of the heated flaks from his more centrist and bourgeoisie opposition, ditto the teeming class of youth who remain unforgiving for his caustic comments in 2018 at a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
Last week, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, played down the recent call by Nigerians for a proper national address. While some who have built the basis of their disapproval of the president’s inexplicable silence on an underlying and undisclosed infirmity, many, including this column, short of being extemporaneous, have built an ad-hoc assumption with the benefit of hindsight especially his previous history of intentional terseness.
In his disturbingly regular fawning adulation of the president’s character, Mr. Adesina referred to this suspicious silence from the country’s president as his “style” of governance, laying credence to his academic credential for backup. While Femi Adesina speaks for the president, it is noteworthy that the president’s preferred style gives him off as anything but concerned. President Buhari’s action and public statements have been both unguarded and misguided. While unrefined, they have not been shaped by the civility, courteousness, and the decorum that underline the fine points of democracy which he has been an undeserving beneficiary of. It is bewildering that Mr. Adesina sees the total blackout in the face of a global medical adversity where the country is thrown into chaos with no shortages of unempirical formulations, unthinkable conjectures and triumphant fake news as a worthy “style”.
Femi Adesina cannot whitewash the president’s dirty public relations’ sepulcher without tampering with the vestige of journalistic integrity and intellectualism in its high grounds. In a rundown to the 2015 election, the president, then Maj. Gen. Buhari while fielding answers that addressed his predecessor’s disconcerting and uninspiring handling of the Boko Haram menace at the Chatham House International Affairs Institute, London, promised a more proactive tactic in handling national emergencies. Gen. Buhari while defending his credentials as a military dictator and describing himself as a neo-democrat promised “Let me say without sounding defensive that dictatorship was military rule, though some are less dictatorial than others. I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch……… So before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic rules.”
While these words do not pointedly speak to a definitive signal of commitment to qualitative governance, they presuppose contrition and an embracement of the new ways of doing things. President Buhari is widely regarded as a man of honor and one who never goes back on his commitment by those who religiously venerate him, but lethargy and a series of noncommittal and aloof management of national crises gives an impression of a president unready for the real job or someone bore by the day-to-day activities of governance. His apologists, like Femi Adesina and the emotionally combustible Garba Shehu, who readily pounces on the president’s critics even when restraint will suggest wisdom, who anything but hold him accountable for his several gaffes, with a plethora of readily available excuses for his numerous uninformed postings, were the unsparing critics of his predecessor, ex-president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The former president, whose regular and robust engagements with the media far outshines the dimly lit media engagement of President Buhari, crumbled under the weight of a nagging and needless criticism led by a section of the media with spurious intention. Oftentimes during his administration, it was remotely about his tolerance for the distracting busy bodying of his habitually overzealous wife.
In appraisal of the President’s aides’ effort at exculpating the president from the growing criticism about his insensitivity and inoculation from the daily happenings in the country, one readily finds the president’s aides frequently scouting for a soft-landing for the president’s inefficiencies, even the frivolous ones. His pussyfooting and apparent abdication of responsibility triggers a hailstorm. This unrelenting and fierce hailstorm, led by an army of idealistic youths, who project their frustrations on a terse president through the only medium of common exchange, social media, (whose existence is rapidly threatened by a legislatively but maliciously driven extinction) might not abate with the military conformation of the president and the unflinching aversion for public scrutiny of the president, his party, the APC, and its stalwarts.
With the president’s history of near-instantaneous response to opposing voices, it is safe to say his “style” is that of an iron fist handling of circumstances that threaten to decapitate his political capital. The swift dismantling of the budging following of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the unruly iconoclast and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and the half-a-decade-long detention of Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, the incorrigible proprietor of Iran-backed Shiites group, Islamic Movement of Nigeria, lend credence to this hypothesis. It goes further to say that the president is not in any means bereft of ideas as some suggest or incapacitated as some on the extreme infer. Rather, he acts in what can be readily and unpalatably described as a proper and effectuating self-interest, which diametrically opposes his promise to lead from the front.
It is safe to say that a Buhari presidency prescribes more doses of sleepy nationalism. The youthful spur of 2015 has easily given way to geriatric lethargy. The uncanny twenty-three second broadcast which breathed lack of warmth and impassivity, the one where he strangely referred to the Corona Virus Disease, abbreviated COVID-19, as “COVIK 1,9” perfectly describes his tenure. Buhari’s dispassion with governance is succinctly captured in the wordings of Flavor, the Igbo crooner “ebido o na ada darling darling….. I love you I love you”. The loose translation is the situation where a young man spends the most of his time, wooing a woman he refers to as the love of his life, and when the woman gives in to his advances, he loses the gusto with which he took up the chase.
The Muhammadu Buhari presidency spites any known style of value. Public service is undergirded by feedback, vis-à-vis information sharing marinated by a constancy in communication, one that doesn’t put the demands of the democratic public at the discretion of the elected official. In reality, the Buhari presidency speaks a lot about its much vaunted integrity, a monolithic social capital, serially spotlighted and grossly gaslighted by a deluge of religious, tribal and ideological contradictions. These contradictions are facilitated by the imprimatur of a president who has done far little to unify a country he swore to keep as one.
Many, including this columnist, have disapproved the explanation of the tardiness of the Buhari presidency as age-related. The goings-on and the unbroken chain of inconsistency speaks volume of a government that has lost its grip and is fighting to stay afloat. While the president might not be infirm, he has not lived up to the expectation of Nigerians, while the citizenry has been gracious enough to discount their expectations owing to the visionless years of the PDP, in the lesser of two evils analogy as repeatedly expressed, there is an appreciable degradation of our moral fabric supervised by the inscrutable governing paradigm of the ruling APC.
Nigerians live bereft of the focus and a pronounced value privation of a Buhari presidency. If the president has a style as his handler lays claims to, it is high time he showed Nigerians so as to stand counted for something legendary. In the past five years, it has been punctuating episodes of governance from a steely administration. From the harsh implementation of repeatedly contradictory and rudderless policies, to the saintly canonization of his associates and scourging classification of members of the opposition as corrupt, there is unveiled embitterment and distrust among Nigerians; who are yet to declassify the character of a man that enjoyed so much goodwill in 2015. Can the Buhari presidency redeem its questioned bona fides? The time is almost non-existent and far up for leverage.
Follow me on Twitter @Kayce_Joshua