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General Buhari Inauguration and Nigerians’ Heightened Expectations

By Prof R.A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria – It is only a few days left to get Gen Muhammad Buhari (GMB), the Nigeria President-Elect, inaugurated as the new President from May 29, 2015. Despite the published information about the state of Nigeria economy, the depressing state of fuel distribution in the country and its price, the delay and none of payments of workers’ salaries in many states and some Federal institutions for many months, many people still believe that solutions would come with the inauguration of GMB. Politics that ought to be pragmatic, entertaining and a process of moving the society where is ought to be all the time has been reduced to a “Change” slogan in Nigeria. It is like Buhari will do everything from day one. The emphasis is not on the APC political party but its leadership; Buhari/Osinbajo.

The outgoing PDP is not promising to become a formidable checkmating position but either still campaigning or its members decamping and resigning. Politics ought to be more pragmatic, entertaining and a process of moving the society where is ought to be all the time. But as long as you’re holding on to where you were yesterday, you’re standing still. Also as long as our politicians only campaign in a combative way in addressing their opponents rather than attempting to educate and wooing the electorates, there is a need to call them to order for the sake of our common commonwealth Nigeria. We are expecting civil language from henceforth and not calling each other names like rude drivers on the roads; we are all stakeholders in this country and no politician must henceforth be allowed to use the microphone wrongly in addressing our people. But as long as individual Nigerian in the society is holding on to where they were yesterday, they are standing still, and change won’t drop down from heaven. As long as our politicians take the combative way in addressing their opponents or outgoing government, rather than attempting to educate and wooing the electorates, there is a need to call them to order for the sake of our common commonwealth and to save them from making unfulfilled political promises. GMB inauguration will be a beginning of an era where we let people see their own part and play it.

In fact there are two templates of “Change” we have all witnessed in Africa and their societies are still evolving without any real change. One model is the Mandela “Change” in South Africa. It would be recalled that the guy laboured and gave all to achieve the liberation of his people from not only the weight of a colonial past but the brutality, dehumanization, exploitation and wickedness of apartheid. We all also saw the type of international audience that witnessed his burial, even from those governments that outlawed his ANC organization. But the plights of the majority blacks in South Africa have not been improved. Only a few black are now extremely rich and living like the few whites they took over from. The social economic inequalities in South Africa are growing by the day to justify their xenophobic activity that may continue periodically to draw home the demand of the poor black population for a real change. Therefore it would appear to us that our beloved Mandela took many things for guaranteed in his assumptions. He probably played the “good-man” with the minority white and now got no change.

A similar “Change” is ongoing in Zimbabwe since before 1980. President Mugabe has been its leader since its independence in 1980. Mugabe is also a liberator of his people from the grip of colonialism and apartheid. The last White Prime Minister Ian Smith, a colonial Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, once addressed the goats of Zimbabwe as better than the blacks in that country. He would not recognize the blacks and would not let them vote in their own country. President Mugabe, whatever we think of him, is probably not a racist but a genuine African liberator who may be doing it only too far. He is contrary to Mandela but perhaps what the situation requires. But in an African adage if we would scratch our itching skin because it seems pleasant, we may soon see blood coming out. In Zimbabwe no white would say they don’t understand that they are suffering from the sins of their forefathers. Despite all the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, Mugabe is there as almost a life President. That is the second model for GMB and his team to study.

Perhaps the third “Change” slogan is from the Obama. This is someone officially known as a son of an African student who went to study in America. The man went there to study like many of us and fell for a white lady and then the Barak Obama big story; he is now living in the White House, probably built by black slaves but where they are not supposed to live. Previous white American Presidents could trace their roots to anywhere in Europe and it was acceptable; but some people think that it is not for a black man. Michelle, her mother and her children have been living there. This is not the change we like to address but the plight of the black population in America. They had heightened expectations at the first inauguration of Barak Obama and although significant changes took place in America it would still look insignificant to many blacks. The scenario of seeing blacks being killed by white police officers in America had been on since time immemorial but only coming to the surface now. That is racism and cumulative effect of lack of trust between black and white communities. The changes Obama could make in America are not just cosmetic and symbolic but real. The obstacles on his way are also many. The Nobel Organization in Oslo jump started his regime by awarding their Peace Prize even before performance. Since then Obama fought all his wars with caution and got many results without the war-war of the Republicans.

The expectations of Nigerians are still on the surface; fuel and energy, improvement on infrastructure especially roads, payment of salaries and employment. But our problems are deep rooted and far below the surface. Those of us, who whether or not we voted to GMB, but would like to use his presidency for the real emancipation of Nigeria have our expectations in checks, not in the doubts or the wait and see. We have seen too many troubles and too many regimes and that the best of them could end on the rocks and failures not due to the leaders. Nevertheless for a Nigerian government to have been seen as successful in the task ahead he must not just have zero tolerance to corruption in slogan and deeds, the team must be ready to work and expecting no praise. Nigerians don’t normally praise their leaders as they have done to GMB so far. His team and government must be ready to become some sacrificial lambs of some sorts.

We all write about corruption as if it is a thing to wave off overnight. But we know it is a spirit and a demon in our system operating like the big clever serpent in the garden. Eve is not the only one to be tempted because Adam too is a candidate. Yet corruption is not actually Nigeria’s problem, every community in the world is corrupt, but it is an obstacle and a monster preventing it to move to the next level. It was planted there by the white colonial masters who wanted territorial expansion by all means; and they used all means. Our village heads, community leaders and principal officers in the offices tasted and benefitted from the gift of corruption system introduced by the whites. It was said of President Shagari that he had to pay (bribe) his own elected members, in his NPN party, to get his bills passed. These are the same people still hanging around as elected members of Senate or House of Representative and busy trying to get every top job there. They are not aware that the country is under developed or on fire and therefore need a change. They dropped “change” as soon as they got the certificate of return from INEC.

There is also a difference between change and another change. What most Nigerians would want is a working system, where their votes will count, their wards and children to be gainfully employed, get treatment when necessary, dashing from Lagos to Abuja or Kano to Lagos on double lines, researches and researchers are housed in our universities and citadel of learning, Nigerian professors and other specialists in their fields can solve all our national problems in-house, our companies are working and we are a net exporting country not only in crude oil. In fact we must be able to refine all our domestic fuel locally and export the excess. Every company operating in Nigeria should be licensed to have refineries across the country. Government cannot and should not be involved in production lines but play a key role to facilitate the process by individuals. Government must award its contracts to capable hands and not cronies or party members. Nigeria must see a change from the direction of devolution of power and responsibility to the individuals rather than very large governments. We do not recommend more states, or even more local governments, but that each State Government must be self financing as a benchmark for existing.

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

ipinyomira@yahoo.co.uk or/and raipinyomi@unilorin.edu.ng



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