According to an online dictionary, change simply means “to make (someone or something) different”.
Against the backdrop of the foregoing definition, it is very clear that change could either be in a negative or positive form. For instance, an irresponsible child that later repents and became responsible can be said to have changed positively while a responsible child that became irresponsible can be said to have changed negatively.
In most civilizations, positive change among the people is considered as a fundamental development and the backbone of a stable society. On the other hand, the people are wont to yearn for change of government whenever the burden of bad leadership or maladministration begins to weigh heavily on them.
Whenever there is bad leadership or maladministration at any point in time in any given government, the people are usually approached by politicians that are affiliated to an opposing political party with the promise of engendering a positive change when voted to power .
As it is well known, the last presidential election in Nigeria saw the All Progressives Congress, APC, using the political strategy of Change to wrestle the mantle of leadership from the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, that remained as Nigeria’s majority party for 16 years; counting from 1999. Members of the APC, having identified all the weaknesses of the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the PDP, capitalized on the weaknesses and campaigned for Change which eventually railroad the incumbent president to power. President Muhammadu Buhari and other affiliates of the APC promised Nigerians that they would change all the “evils” that former president Jonathan and his team committed to “blessings” when voted to power.
Many Nigerians believed the APC members in their collective promise to change Nigeria to a state of El Dorado, and headed straight to the polls to cast the massive votes that brought majority of APC’s candidates to the corridors of power at all levels of government.
Literarily riding on the wings of change to power is not a novel political strategy as it is a normal practice of politicking all over the world. For instance, by the end of 1976, the labor government had misgoverned Britain into a financial mess and the situation continued until the country went to the poll in 1979. The election provided an ample opportunity for Britons who were then groaning under the difficulties created by the maladministration of the Labor Party-led government. At the poll, they voted Margaret Thatcher as Britain’s first female prime minister. She was noted to have used her cast iron will to help change the face of Britain. She epitomized a particular school of right-wing politics: Thatcherism which unarguably postulates laissez-faire economics and individual self-determination.
The foregoing political scenario cannot be said to be different from that of Jonathan of the PDP and Buhari of the APC. It is very obvious that the APC took time to understudy the weaknesses of the PDP-led administration and its presidential candidates as well as their popularity rating and acceptability among the people. Having done that, they capitalized on them and sent PDP packing. However, political analysts are of the view that Thatcher, who was popularly called “Iron Lady”, met the expectations of the people and eventually won the admiration of the Britons and world political observers.
At this juncture, it is expedient to recall an African proverb that says “The bush that is cleared without cultivating it as a farmland would invariably become more bushy than it was met.”
Viewed through the prism of the foregoing proverbial perspective, there is no denying the fact that President Buhari is literarily clearing the bush by travelling to various countries across the world and also initiating various governmental programmes and policies that are capable of engendering the change regime he and his party are set to achieve but has forgotten to plant. Planting in this context means gathering all necessary information obtained from his tours, analyzing them, harmonizing them and using them to formulate a policies that would engender the change agenda he is pursuing.
To this end, the questions on the lips of many Nigerians are, how long is the bush clearing going to last? When is the president and his party going to commence planting before the portion he has cleared become bushy more than he met it?
With the foregoing yet to be answered questions by members of the APC, not few Nigerians are worried that the president is taking the road he is so familiar with. It would be recalled in this context that on Tuesday, March 20, 1984 that the government of Buhari/Idiagbon embarked on the mission of returning the nation to the path of sanity with the launching of War Against Indiscipline, WAI. The war, which was aimed at restoring discipline to our body politic was criticized to have distracted the then president from paying adequate attention to the most pressing economic issues at the time for most part of the period he stayed in power to the detriment of many Nigerians that were made to bear the consequences of his slipshod action.
The WAI campaign, which was executed in five phases commenced with the creation of awareness on Queue culture, followed by the one on Work ethic. The third phase dealt with re-awakening of national consciousness that was set to instill patriotic ideals into the psyche of Nigerians. The fourth phase was War Against economic sabotage that focused on the elimination of smuggling, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, hoarding, fraud, bribery, arson etc. The final phase was the war against filth.
The most worrisome aspect of the campaign which was then considered to be laudable and also seen as a precursor to greater things to be done in the then military administration was that a major part of the period the president spent in power, as earlier mentioned, was used in campaigning for attitudinal change just as we are presently experiencing on the war against corruption. To many Nigerians who knows the president so well, Nigerians are already on a familiar road, and who knows when the journey would end.
Before now, the obvious sacrificial approach to governance and junketing by the president coupled with his austere disposition was condemned by many. Some also saw the president as “Baba go-slow” but his apologists and spin doctors resorted to the over-flogged explanations that the president was taking his time and that he was not set to perform magic. It was the foregoing reasons that led to the plea that the president should be allowed to “settle down”.
With the foregoing plea, Nigerians are seemingly giving the president enough time to their own detriment as the economy is by each day retrogressing into a parlous state.
One may not be exaggerating the fact to say that since the APC took over the reins of power from the PDP that the common citizens have been passing through excruciating hardship as never before; even worse than the hardship that prevailed during the time of former president Jonathan’s regime which ironically made many Nigerians to vote the APC-led government to power. The hardship that is being experienced today by many Nigerians can be said to have never been felt by many since the civil war and aftermath of the cancellation of the June 12 election. Suffice it to say that the hardship which most Nigerians are presently going through seem more like over-time hardship. Call it inflationary war if you like!
As you read this, many families cannot boast of “One Square” meal not to talk of paying fees for their children’s education. Still in the same nexus, many small scale industries are on the verge of going into extinction as they can no longer afford the high price of fuel and other materials to run their businesses in the face of the prevailing hyper- inflation and epileptic power supply that have been threatening their collective survival.
Some of us that are easily swayed by emotion on this issue by unreasonably exculpating the president and the APC as the ruling party may be pretending that we are oblivious of the implications of this regressive state of affairs. But the truth is that many people have been rendered jobless, and many more are bound to join the ever-increasing army of jobless Nigerians as most organizations are finding it extremely difficult to pay workers’ salaries, and to recruit more hands.
As recorded in the Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 1 says “To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven.” To me, this is not the time to be politicizing the well-being of Nigerians that voted for positive change. It is not the time to continue apportioning blame to the former president and the then ruling party, PDP. This is the time to live up to the expectations of all Nigerians.
As I write this piece, many Nigerians are erroneously thinking that the president’s somewhat penchant for foreign trip is been motivated by the need for pleasure. Whatever may have informed their line of thinking, the president and his team of advisers and political associates should apply some elements of restraint that befits the austere disposition of the president. To me, the president should focus on the following promises made by him and his party during the period of the campaign that preceded the 2015 presidential election.
It is sad to say that for close to one year now that the president is yet to be seen to have fulfilled most of the promises made. For instance, he and members of his party, in line with the party manifesto, promised Nigerians that the refineries will be made to work efficiently in order to create more employment opportunities and reduce the cost of pump price of fuel. This promise constitutes one of the reasons that made many Nigerians to vote for APC during 2015 presidential election. At the moment the refineries are not working, even if they have literarily been working on the pages of newspapers. Worse still, the massive employment opportunities promised through the normal functions of the refineries have not been achieved. The realities of unemployment and underemployment situations in Nigeria can be fully grasped through a report, titled “Unemployment/Under-employment Watch Q1 2016”, which the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics released on its website to the public on Friday, May 20, 2016. The report indicates that since the former president and the PDP literarily left the corridors of power that things are getting worse than the APC-led government met them.
On the issue of epileptic power supply that characterized the 16 years of PDP-led government , president Buhari and the APC assured Nigerians that the problem would be brought to an end when elected during the last general elections. During the campaign, a flier that was used to campaign for the president had the following words printed on it. “Our government will generate, transmit and distribute electricity on a 24/7 basis whilst simultaneously ensuring the development of sustainability/renewable energy, by 2019.”
Personally, the promise that inspired me most to vote for change is the one that says “The economy will be diversified from depending on oil revenue alone, which will lead to stronger Naira as we will become an export country.” I must confess that even if the promise has been glibly repeated for umpteenth time that I am yet to see any convincing effort toward the direction of fulfilling the promise. To my personal opinion, I am of the opinion that the APC government should desist from the act of subtle political campaign and begin to think of how the lot of Nigerians could be bettered.
In the same nexus, the president should concentrate his efforts on the promises made during the period of his campaign, and ensure that they are fulfilled as promised.
Finally, I would like to use this medium to advise all those that are wont to resort to emotion and politicking whenever the seeming failures of the present administration are brought up for discussion to be objectively patriotic enough in seeing the well-beings of Nigeria as a country, and Nigerians as a people more paramount than that of their pockets and personal well-being. It is high time we stopped seeing politics as a way of becoming fabulously rich and famous. It is therefore incumbent on the president and the APC to find ways of fulfilling all Change that Nigerians voted for in order not to allow the words of Nikita Khrushchev that says “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river” find expression in their disappointing actions.
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