Nigerian Oxygen and Other Buharian Headaches By Joel Pereyi
PMB has been basking in the exquisite epiphany of his victory, after his fourth try, for upwards of 3 months now. Knowing how difficult it is to win a Nigerian election, let alone defeat an incumbent president, his victory, bestridden on “change” – a word that has newly gained currency in the country – changed everything around us. It filled our minds with longing and our hearts with hope. It made mouths run and blood transverse veins faster, unhindered. Its needless to say it filled our ambience with emotions and feelings, leaving us with a different kind of oxygen.
Forget the oxygen science teaches we breathe in. Here, we aren’t talking oxygen, nitrogen, and other constituents of dry air. Neither are we talking an ambience or oxygen filled with only a longing for change or the desire for a better Nigeria. We’re talking of an atmosphere filled with the new Nigerian oxygen – oxygen made of a perfect blend of hope, desire and longing; our seemingly new air du temps.
While not playing critic, one can rightly wager that this new oxygen hasn’t brought enough good tidings with it. In fact, if one is to say it the way it is, as James Baldwin admonishes, yes, it came alongside Mr. Buhari’s victory, a new government, but that seem to be all. All we’ve seen, so far, from the new government’s apostle of change, President Muhammadu Buhari, is hem and haw, nothing more.
The Chibok girls aren’t back, Boko Haram is still a reputable address in the comity of bloodletting psychos, unemployment is still rife, and the pages of our catalogue of miasmas still outnumbers world’s most comprehensive encyclopedia. True, some, if not all, of these issues are headache-inducing and weighty, hence, beggars a significant amount of time. But more disturbing is the fact that the new government is yet to hit the ground running after 6 good weeks.
That PMB couldn’t do something as simple as figuring out a national secretary in 3 months, not to talk of coming up with a cabinet, is heart wrenching. Yes, he has made some appointments. But in the appointments he has thus far made (9 so far – 8 northerners and 1 southerner, as at this writing), he has shown disdain, murder even, of federal character. For the sake of everything sane, please why shouldn’t any southerner lose sleep over this? Or how more tribalistic can one be?
Now, to his sympathizers or say career Buharists, who steadily write gripping prose and speak, sometimes, impeccable English on television and radio stations to appease our sensibilities, here is a spoiler alert; all that wouldn’t work. At least, not again. While we don’t expect magic, we expect that by now, concrete plans or master plans on how to bring to bear all he promised to do should have been rolled out. We live in the hopes that the 5000 naira he promised the unemployed, the terrorism he promised to halt, and the corruption he promised to expunge from our nation, wouldn’t remain promises till Christ’s second coming. We don’t expect him to redeem them all, but at least, a significant many of them should be met.
For the now, pussyfooting is the word that comes to mind whenever you and yours come up with patronizing attitudes, and as is fast becoming the norm, intellectualizing the rationale behind Baba go-slow’s seemingly retarding acceleration . But Mr. Buhari, being the sincere man that he is adjudged to be, has plainly admitted his limitations. Perhaps being in the know of our beaming satellites and scrutiny, he confessed to us that he wished he was younger. He wished his age wouldn’t be an impediment on his effectiveness.
What this means, in its simplest terms is that if he under performs, as many are beginning to expect him to, we’ve got to blame it on his old age. If he doesn’t do as primly and properly as we hoped, he deserves automated pardons. It isn’t really his fault you know? He would have done better if he were younger. If you can’t give 72 ways a 72–year old pa. Buhari can transform Nigeria, a parched wasteland of joblessness into a hub of employment and preside over a nation as complex and problem-ridden as ours, please lay the blames at the alter of agedness.
The incessant power supply and shortages of fuel and other petroleum products may tarry. Strikes, protests, and display of wilting placards by aggrieved Nigerians may not just be over yet. The conduit pipe that channels our national budgets to private Swiss and personal Nigerian accounts may not be blockaded. It may be widened, even. The thirst and hunger for hemorrhaging our petrodollars on sprawling mansions in UAE, Asokoro, Lekki, VGC, and other gated, highbrow neighborhoods across the globe may not be quenched. These fears, these possibilities, these Buharian headaches, is what I enjoin you, yes you, dear reader, to brace up for. If you can afford aspirin, please start shopping for it now. Buhari’s presidency, four years of it, may just be yet another plaster to Nigeria’s cancer.
Joel Pereyi is an award winning essayist and freelance writer. He maintains a bimonthly column for the Abuja-based FCTPost.