“If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality – Desmond Tutu”
There is a particular wave of silence that has dominated President Buhari’s administration since May 29, 2015. It is an arrogant, lackadaisical and undemocratic attitude by the President. This arrogance gets worse when we take into cognisance the attitude of Mr President’s spokespersons.
Both on new media channels or traditional media, the orchestra of aides working for this administration all share one attitude – Intolerance of divergent views. When they are not talking you down, they are trying to shove poorly constructed lies, propaganda and packaged incompetence down ones’ throat.
Those who say you can’t teach an old dog a new trick were right on point. President Buhari is not one to humble himself in the front of the people who have questions. He refused to debate during the elections, gave the kind of speeches pastors give in church during campaigns where you couldn’t stand to ask the how questions and only subjects himself to foreign media where his true picture reveals itself naturally.
There is currently a Bill in the National Assembly to mandate our President to address citizens on the state of the nation compulsorily. If this bill passes in Baba Bubu’s time, it will mean we get to hear our President four times in a year – New Year’s Address, May 29, October 1st and the day chosen for the address.
In foresight, the proponent of this Bill might wish to add that Mr President must address the nation in times of need. The discretion in this case must then be removed completely by indicating in subsections of the clause of the bill all possible incidents that demand that the President address the nation.
When one takes into cognisance the deafening silence of Mr President on the Fulani Terrorists masquerading as herdsmen going on a rampage through out last year and the genocide currently going on in Southern Kaduna, one is led to believe that this President has no regard whatsoever for Nigerians who belong to the 5% .
The silent attitude so far has been repulsive for a President that most Nigerians still unfortunately admire. But this piece did not set out to talk about Mr President’s silence and the arrogance of his aides. There is a louder silence going on in this country.
As a people, we have developed a culture where it is inappropriate to even ask questions and this habit is by all means deepening itself in this age. Any person who dares to ask questions is immediately seeing as the enemy. When it comes to those in authority, it is their most potent tool. The ideology of the “kabiyesi” for example in Yoruba land is one that pervades itself today in political power.
FYI – Kabiyesi is literally ka bi o, o si. He who will ask you questions does not exist. Usually, and as seen in Nollywood depictions, when the kind makes a decision, everyone bows and chant “kabiyesi”
Can we establish a vibrant democracy with this attitude? Children are not expected to ask questions of their parents, students are afraid to ask questions of their teachers. Special Advisers are not expected to question their bosses and in what is now a wave of attacks against journalists, correspondents simply get slammed jail time because they reported activities of sitting governors and on and on it goes.
What we have done as a people is to then glorify those who are “stupid” enough to put themselves out there and ask the questions that need to be asked. They automatically become the people’s spokespersons, they become popular enough until the establishment realizes them and then proceed to silence them with official positions. As it was with Tai Solarin, so it was with Reuben Abati, so it is with those who found their voice in the Jonathan Era and have now lost their voice seeing they are currently serving.
As a people, the question we need to ask is best asked in pidgin. Shey na like this we go dey dey?
The time is definitely ripe for new spokespersons of the people, as folks like Reno Omokri and Reuben Abati are now finding their voice. But, would these spokespersons continue to speak at the point when they are needed?
We have relied so much on people to speak for us. We have depended on popular voices to do the talking while we hail and support in the background. We have created a system where we make heroes of those who are bold enough to speak truth to power and ask questions where it matters. Apparently, this has gotten us nowhere.
The time has come for us to create a culture where everybody asks questions, where the curiosity of a child is not labelled as being troublesome but is nurtured and channelled appropriately, where citizens are not waiting for one particular active citizen in chief to respond to an issue.
If our generation would fare any better, the time for eradicating sycophancy is NOW!
Jude Feranmi is the National Youth Leader of KOWA PARTY. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org