Nigeria is an absurd. We like to make a mountain out of an antihill, and make much ado about nothing. That our President trekked 800 metres from the praying ground to his house, has become a major news item, something to be celebrated. This was far much less what my 100 years old father who died three years ago trekked every day. Why has Nigeria descended so low as to start measuring competence with trekking, unless one is seeking to occupy an office in the National Sports Commission?
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), was the 32nd President of the United States of America. He did not trek all through the years he was President of the United States. He was confined to a wheelchair, because he was infected with polio.
But Roosevelt’s brain was sharp. He was effective. He was competent. He was efficient. He ruled America for unprecedented four terms, from 1933 to 1945, when he died, that is, a total of 12 years. Roosevelt gave America purposeful leadership, in particular, during the Second World War.
But here, we celebrate mediocrity. We celebrate and hail incompetence. We have a situation in Nigeria where our President who treks, but cannot provide effective leadership; a situation where he is not in charge, but is caged by some powerful cabals, who do the ruling, while the President attends to his health needs in the United Kingdom, and even at home. That is why his trekking 800 metres at his claimed age of 75 years is being celebrated, to tell us that he can continue to hang on to power, while some other people do the actual governance.
For three-and-half years that our President has been in the saddle, what we only witness is motion, without movement. Everything is at standstill. It took him almost six months to form his cabinet, and almost three years to appoint members of boards of various government agencies, which were peopled with many dead persons.
The economy is in comatose. All the foreign investors have deserted the country because of uncertainty in the system. The unemployment situation is frightening, and close to fifteen million unemployed hands.
Our Naira is in shambles. Prices of goods and services have quadrupled. Workers are groaning in hardship because their salaries have remained stagnant, even as many of them are owed several months. Pensioners are dying in droves because of nonpayment of pensions and gratuities.
In the same vein, the security situation has not improved. It has even worsened. Boko Haram is still on the rampage, killing innocent people, including soldiers, in Borno State, almost on a daily basis. The remaining Chibok Girls as well as the Dapchi girl, Leah Sharibu, have not been found. Samibisa Forest has remained a mirage. IDP camps are still filled up to capacity because their occupants are not free to return to their homes.
For the first time in the history of our country, we have witnessed a situation where policemen went on demonstration against their superiors, and where soldiers had rocked down the airport, refusing planes to land.
Another dimension to the precarious security situation in the country is the Fulani herdsmen attack. Several villages and farmlands were burnt down, while thousands of people were butchered to death, with several thousand others forced to flee their ancestral homes to make abode in IDP camps. Yet, our President who treks and have the array of his security personnel, have no answer to these problems.
They told us that they have come to fight corruption. But corruption is eating deep into the system. While people who stole under the former regime are being hunted and exposed and made to disgorge their illgotten wealth, the camp of the party in government has become the refuge of corrupt people. In other words, if you had soiled your hands and you decide to cross over to their camp, your sins will be forgiven.
What has our corruption fighting President done to those who stole government money but are now in his own camp? What has he done to former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, James Lawal, who stole billions of money meant for people in the IDP camps, other than to tap him on the back and told him to go home and enjoy his loot?
The other day, they told us that billions of naira, thousands of PVC cards, weapons, etc. have been found in the home of sacked Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura, but now they are telling us that nothing was no longer found in his home.
The political atmosphere in the country is gloomy. People are no longer free to join or belong to any political association of their choice, or to express their views, even though they say we are in a democracy. They will be harassed, intimidated and arrested.
Security agencies, paid and sustained by the taxpayers, instead of protecting lives and property of innocent citizens, have been turned into the instrument of coercion at the disposal of the executive arm of government, to harass and intimidate members of the other two arms, the judiciary and the legislature, who are not in their good books.
The point we are trying to make is that if in his first four year tenure our President is not in charge, but has abdicated his responsibilities to his lieutenants either because he is either sick or too old to face the rigors of his office, and they have messed everything up, what will happen in the next four years now that he is getting much older, that is, if we give him another mandate, even if he is to trek one thousand kilometres today?