By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu…The concept of body language has been frequently advanced to explain issues and situations as they arise in Buhari’s administration. It is a concept with which his apologists made the argument that even without acting or directly giving any orders, his body language alone was enough to turn things around. In the early days of the administration when there seemed to be some improvements in electricity supply and when some refineries reportedly started refining crude oil, his apologists seized the occasion to give Buhari credit for those improvements. When they were reminded that Buhari had neither appointed ministers nor made any interventions, they claimed his body language influenced the improvements in those parastatals. Ironically, when months later fuel scarcity became the order of the day and electricity supply totally collapsed, the same apologists now resorted to blaming the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. In the end, the whole romanticism with Buhari’s body language turned out to be a scam that was only advanced when things were going well but quickly discarded when things go wrong.
Yet, if there is one area where Buhari’s body language can be accurately deciphered, it’s his “I don’t care attitude” as it concerns the economy and the general situation of things in the country; and in this the facts speak for themselves. Before winning the 2015 elections, Buhari had previously contested elections 3 times in the last 12 years. His long presence in electoral contests gave the impression he had a great vision of Nigeria he was eager and indeed in a hurry to implement, but no sooner did he win the elections in 2015 another Buhari emerged and it’s a Buhari that in practical terms went to bed and didn’t give a damn about the nation contrary to the rhetoric’s and sense of urgency his campaign had elicited. A practical demonstration of Buhari’s lack of interest in the economy and the general situation in the country is the length of time it took him to appoint ministers. This was in effect the first indicative body language that Buhari had no sense of urgency and by consequence didn’t really care about economic hardships on the citizenry.
As electricity supply and the naira now continues to decline, fuel scarcity bites harder, Fulani herdsmen increasingly terrorise the country and the economy generally nose dives—Buhari’s response has been to unconscionably junket around the globe wasting scarce resources in a time of economic crunch while typically ignoring his critics. In just 10 months, Buhari has travelled 27 times; an average of 3 trips per month, spending nearly more time abroad in mostly needless trips than he does at home. This is yet again evidence even if subtly that Buhari doesn’t give a damn about the nation’s crisis. It also explains why his policy statements are often announced abroad to a foreign audience in total disregard of the hapless citizens at home who voted for him and why he has been more interested in being antagonistic, running a divisive/sectional government and widening the embers of conflict as it concerns Biafra, the Shiites amongst others instead of building the much needed peace and harmony.
Buhari’s globetrotting and general nonchalance over the nation’s crisis and the suffering of the citizens is eerily reminiscent of the infamous Emperor Nero widely considered an aloof leader who was busy playing the fiddle (violin) as a great fire that raged for six days and seven nights destroyed 70 percent of Rome in 64 AD, leaving only 4 of Rome’s 14 districts intact and rendering more than half of Rome’s one million population homeless. As news of Emperor Nero’s nonchalance spread, the Emperor needed scapegoats to deflect the blame and he found it in Christians who were blamed and ruthlessly persecuted, many being executed publicly. Interestingly neither the persecution nor public execution of Christians ever succeeded in deflecting the blame for the fire from Emperor Nero. Like Nero, Buhari has sufficiently demonstrated by his delay in appointing ministers, unprecedented volume of foreign trips, antagonistic warmongering attitude and refusal to implement the 2014 National Conference report that he doesn’t give a damn about Nigeria’s present or future.
Like Nero he has been technically playing the fiddle while Fulani herdsmen commit mass murders across the country and ethno-religious divisions continue to widen, while the price of food and other essential items hit the roof top, while unemployment is increasing by the day with alarming job losses, while millions groan under the absence of electricity and spend hours queuing for fuel. And like Nero, faced with an angry populace, Buhari needed a scapegoat to deflect the blame from himself and he found it in the PDP and the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan. This informs the persecution and daily demonization of the PDP, blaming them for all the failures of his administration that is almost one year in office. But if any lessons can be learnt from the Nero saga, it is that excuses, propaganda and deflection of blame by Buhari and the APC will not work in the long term. This is because Buhari and the APC sufficiently knew and appreciated the nation’s problems before they threw their hat into the ring and promised to solve the problems.
Nigerians also know that Barack Obama inherited the worst recession of the 21st century that also culminated in a global financial crisis. Once sworn in on the 20th of January 2009, Obama announced most of his cabinet on the same day and in less than 4 weeks passed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill on February 17th 2009 that contained wide ranging measures to deal with the recession. Owing to these efforts, GDP growth returned by the third quarter of 2009. The landmark reform on healthcare popularly known as “Obamacare” was amongst others also undertaken as a matter of priority and by the close of 2009 it had passed the house, the senate and was eventually signed into law by Obama on March 23rd 2010. As can be seen, Obama did not waste his time making excuses and blaming the past administration for the economic crisis. He assembled a team of experts, swung into action from day one and began the implementation of solutions that soon started yielding results.
In contrast to Obama who had similarly inherited a colossal economic recession, the resort by APC to search for scapegoats, make endless excuses and blame past administrations for their inability to govern effectively is indirectly an admission of failure and a refusal to admit that the real problem is all about a president who doesn’t care. If Buhari cared, he would like Obama have had a sense of urgency to solve the nation’s problems—but that was not the case. His preferences have been to either do nothing or to junket around the globe as the nation burns. Bottom-line: Buhari simply does not care and unless there is attitudinal change the nation will continue to sink.
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