As body language fails, Buhari should change approach to Governance, By Chukwunonso Abugu

By Post Nigeria December 25, 2015 20:03

As body language fails, Buhari should change approach to Governance, By Chukwunonso Abugu

December is usually a period of stock taking, being the last month of the year. It is that time of the year we go into the closet in deep thoughts and meditation on our actions, failures and achievements over the past months. Usually, we set out each year with targets and carry out a review of our performances at the end of the year. This helps in planning for a New Year. As a nation we also need to do a post-mortem, a critical review of the state of affairs of the nation at the end of each year and decide on areas to improve on.

Being an avid follower of political events in the country, I have spent the past few days examining the prevailing atmosphere in Nigeria as far as year 2015 is concerned. Year 2015 had been a great year and first, we must thank God as a nation for helping us overcome disintegration prophesy. It is also a year we witnessed election that saw an incumbent losing to the opposition candidate, ushering in Muhammad Buhari as the president. Also, it has been a year of intrigues, full of suspense and lastly, it has been a very difficult year in areas of governance

For the generality of Nigerians, year 2015 has been most challenging and a trying time. It has been a year of economic woes, in which we saw a continuous fall in prices of crude oil and crashing of Naira at the exchange market. Fuel scarcity has persisted for months and workers are owed several months’ salary arrears. Our political leaders both in federal and state levels must change their tactics to arrest the situation in coming years. Before I say further, let us cast our minds back and reflect on the events of last few months to understand the dire consequences of applying a wrong approach to governance.

Few months ago, the president’s body language was said to be reforming Nigeria and every good tidings was attributed to it. During those few months, stories on Buhari’s body language and its effectiveness in bringing the needed change in the country flooded the media. The ruling party, APC made it the centrifugal of its change narratives and continued to push it until it recently died a natural death. In fact, Femi Adesina dedicated a piece to the president’s body language when he wrote ‘A New Sheriff is in town’ to mark Buhari’s 100days in office. It was after Femi’s article that the efficacy of the president’s body language began to wane.

Buhari’s body language was certainly misconceived as a new formula for governance by uninformed Nigerians but for the discerning minds, it was only but a propaganda game. The body language frenzy took a comical stage at point when the APC in its quest to prove effectiveness of the president’s body language began to lay claim to achievements recorded by the immediate past administration. Nigerians were made to believe that Buhari’s body language and not Goodluck Jonathan’s power sector reform was responsible for the improved power situation across the country. Buhari’s body language was also hailed for the disappearing long queues in Petrol stations some time ago.

Nigerians were equally told that the nation’s refineries were operating optimally since Buhari came on board just because of his body language, and just few weeks ago we heard that looters were secretly returning stolen monies in droves for fear of Buhari’s body language.

If these assumptions are anything to go by, what then has happened to the body language. Why has it suddenly ceased to yield the expected results as canvassed by its proponents? Can they come out boldly to explain to us why the body language has failed to push out Boko Haram terrorist from the North East? Can they also tell us why the President and his body language are failing in his duties as the country’s minister of petroleum – he could not even survive the first canon fired by the so called oil cabals.

Stories we are hearing in Nigeria today are not pleasing to the ears and should Mr. President refuse to change his approach to governance, the country will suffer severely in days ahead. Not only has long queues returned in petrol stations but also petroleum products have become scarce commodities, and where available the prices have since quadrupled. For the past two months now, Nigerians have been grappling with outrageous prices of petroleum products which now sell at between N130 to N180 per litre. This ugly development is biting hard on ordinary Nigerians as transport fare and prices of basic commodities continue to soar. Nigerians are witnessing the most difficult time in what can be best described as a period of recession.

Apart from the steady rise in prices of petroleum products and basic commodities, money is not readily available as civil servants lament delay in payment of salaries. Most states are equally finding it extremely difficult paying workers’ salaries and some states are threatening to stop paying their workers the N18,000 minimum wage. Economic growth on the other hand is on the decline as small businesses suffer while unemployment is still on the increase.

I have always argued that body language is not the best approach to getting things done right in a twenty-first century Nigeria. Whoever thought it could be a strategy for ensuring conformity or compliance to the regime’s policies is not being sincere to Nigerians. The idea of body language is that people will naturally begin to act right because they are afraid of Buhari. Yes, as a dictator he was feared in the 80s but today we are in a democracy which ensures that citizens’ rights are not trampled on.

Like I said earlier the body language was just a propaganda tool used by the APC to pool the wool over the eyes of Nigerians. They only dropped the idea once they discovered that Nigerians have become wiser and can no longer be bamboozle with such a lame conjecture. In fact, Nigerians were not moved at all by the rants of the body language as they were eagerly waiting for actions and results from the president.

Honestly, the president achieved nothing with the so called body language. It is just that some hypocrites and sycophants will always blow his trumpet even when he falters greatly. The same crops of people are the ones that boxed the president in a very tight corner by unduly over rating him during the election campaigns. They will never tell themselves the truth but continue to lie to Nigerians that Buhari, the messiah has come to take them to the promise land. They often forget that Nigeria’s problem is not only about leadership but also structural. Therefore no one man has solution to Nigeria’s problem. Nigerians are the solution to the country’s problem.

Things will definitely change for good when Nigerians and not their leaders decide to revolt against corrupt and inept political class who has continued to rape the country since independence. Things will change the day Nigerians decide to break away from the shackles of political deception. Time shall come when Nigerians will long for, and seek economic prosperity and raise for themselves leaders who are inspired by altruism and patriotism. We will definitely get to that stage of political maturity when change will gradually creep in.

I digress, but for president Buhari to be that exceptional leader Nigerians are longing for, he has to change his approach to governance. The idea of putting fears in the lives of the citizens in the name of governance is bad business. A responsible government should be people friendly and people oriented. The general perception lately is that the president is deliberately making things hard for Nigerians through delay of salary, unwillingness to resolve the lingering fuel crisis and utter disregard for fundamental human rights by security agencies under him. Also, his deafening silence on the recent killings of unarmed Nigerians at Onitsha and Zaria by Nigerian Army is quite disturbing. The Bayelsa and Kogi elections where INEC did a hatchet job have also put a big question mark on Buhari’s integrity.

The president must act fast to correct this impression. There is also belief in some quarters that President Buhari is incapable of doing any other thing other than fighting corruption. Fighting corruption alone is not enough; rather he should come up with a strategy that will encompass the entire gamut of his electoral promises and begin to deliver on them.

Buhari must get down to work and should route for a more amenable strategy that will help him fulfil his electoral promises to Nigerians. His government should be more concerned about adding positive values to lives of ordinary Nigerians by alleviating the sufferings of the people. Focusing on his re-election or on ousting PDP governors in oil-rich states will deny the people the dividends of his administration. Blaming the previous administration for the hardship being experienced in the country will not solve the problem. Instead of wasting time and energy on excuses, the president should focus more on fixing the problems and lifting Nigeria from its present state.

As we step out from year 2015 with excruciating pains from the bites of fuel scarcity, high cost of commodities, salary arrears, job losses, unemployment and other vices that characterized the past seven months, I pray to see real change in 2016 and beyond.

Merry Christmas
@abugu_nonso