Why Buhari Will Be The Most Criticised President By Azuka Onwuka
While in office, erstwhile Dr Goodluck Jonathan said he was the most criticised President. Every action he took – whether good or bad – was criticised. But there are signs that President Muhammadu Buhari will beat Jonathan’s record as the most criticised President in the country’s history.
The reasons are simple to decipher. The first is that Buhari came in on the promise of “Change.” The expectation was not just to change Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, but to also change the way Jonathan or any other president had run Nigeria. For most people, corruption is the most celebrated ill of Nigeria. So, it was expected that Buhari would fight corruption with every breath in him and wipe it out or reduce it to a low level.
Secondly, it was during the tenure of Jonathan that all manner of derogatory and deprecatory names and epithets were used for a president and his wife. The danger now is that worst names may be used for Buhari. The social media is already awash with such names and epithets. The respect that was usually accorded the office of the President vanished under Jonathan. Even the worst critics of President Shehu Shagari, President Olusegun Obasanjo and President Umaru Yar’Adua drew a line between their opposition to these men and the office they occupied. But all that changed under Jonathan. That may even get worse under Buhari from the feelers that one is getting currently: A case of tit for tat.
Every word Buhari utters or fails to utter will be dissected and criticised. Whatever he does or says will be compared with what he or his party said during the tenure of Jonathan. Whatever he says or does will be compared with what Jonathan said or did. If he equals Jonathan’s record on any area, he will not be praised because he is expected to be much better than Jonathan. That will make things harder for him. For example, he may not be praised for constructing roads and bridges, or doing anything to the airports or railway, schools and hospitals.
Because Buhari and the All Progressives Congress criticised Jonathan’s administration non-stop, there are millions of Nigerians who are waiting for Buhari or the APC to put a wrong foot forward. They will latch on it and excoriate Buhari and the APC. Remember that according to the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Buhari got 15,424,921 votes from the March 28 polls, while Jonathan got 12,853,162 votes: a difference of 2.5 million votes. Therefore, those who support Buhari and those who support Jonathan are virtually evenly matched. Many of these close to 13 million people as well as other millions who did not vote are the people Buhari has to contend with. Any slip or gaffe he makes will be picked on and accentuated.
Buhari has mispronounced the name of his running-mate, political party and the electoral body. He has mispronounced the name and office of the German Chancellor as well as the name of her country, referring to Germany as West Germany which ceased to exist 25 years ago. These may be excused as human errors that can happen to the smartest of people. But an honest analyst would know that such errors are weighty. It is clear that Buhari is prone to such gaffes. He should be protected from making them. Those who handle Buhari should not just blame it on human error and wave it aside.
The solution to it is to reduce drastically the chances of Buhari speaking ex tempore. Let almost all his speeches be written. It is better that he is accused of always reading from a paper than being accused of muddling up the names of people or countries. Given that he has made some noticeable mistakes in the past, anytime he is to speak ex tempore, he may be too conscious to avoid making mistakes, thereby getting nervous, and making more mistakes. But reading from a paper will reduce that.
He also has an articulate deputy, who is an asset to him. The President should make maximum use of him. President Buhari’s strong points are not in oral communication. Without being an invisible president like he was in 1984 and 1985, he should reduce the frequency of his public speeches. If the Vice-President performs well at any function, the credit goes to the entire administration led by Buhari. So, let Prof Yemi Osinbajo become more relevant and visible.
Buhari was not voted into office to take charge of every sector of the nation. If he were to do that, he would burn himself out and he would end up not achieving much. He was voted in to be the moral compass of the administration. He was voted into office to use his powers to change the psyche of Nigerians on issues like “nothing goes for nothing,” which makes doing business difficult in the country. He is also meant to engender the spirit of nationalism, sacrifice and selflessness. That will make Nigerians think of the nation first before the individual.
It is good that Buhari takes his time to choose the people who will work with him as well as the direction of his government, but it seems he is moving too slowly, contrary to the expectations of Nigerians, which will in turn engender national growth and development. In these modern times, one is not only praised for accuracy and results but also the speed at which such is achieved. So, Buhari needs to move faster so as to avoid leading a people who have lost their patience and have become cynical.
Therefore, those who are strong supporters of Buhari should brace themselves for a hot time with his critics. All kinds of attacks will be hauled at Buhari. Those who are not politically savvy may lose their cool and engage in face-to-face combat or online combat all in the name of supporting their party or candidate. But that will make them defending or retaliating for the next four years.
After the era of Buhari, Nigerians may need to sit down at a conference to determine the acceptable language and code of conduct that should be employed when criticising the President. The way things are now, Buhari should be ready for continuous bombardment on virtually all issues.
Criticism – especially harsh criticism – can spur one to success. It can also dampen one’s morale. How one reacts to it determines one’s success or failure. Buhari should not allow the criticism to affect him negatively, because if he fails to perform to the expected degree, it will work against him and against his party that has raised the hopes of Nigerians.