When President Muhammadu Buhari began his fourth presidential bid, his campaign slogan was change. Everywhere he went, north, south, east, west he shouted change. This led to some persons jokingly calling him Buhari de change coined from the famous bureau de change. As the elections drew closer, it became a battle between the transformation agenda of GEJ and the change agenda of PMB and this divided Nigerians on almost every front. Nigerians were split as regard their allegiance: those who wanted change and those who just wanted the ‘usual’. The country was due for a change but what kind of change?
On May 29th Buhari was sworn in as the president of Nigeria and the atmosphere immediately ‘changed’ as Nigerians celebrated what many described a victory for democracy. Immediately, some changes were beginning to show like fairly stable electricity supply, seriousness towards discharge of duty from civil servants and government officials, a little rise in the value of the naira, positive results as regards the military’s battle against terrorism, to mention a few. As we approached the end of 2015, this change began to fade like a poorly charged battery leaving many to conclude that the change was brought about by body language! The first manifestation of change from a change driven government was body language. How telling!
The pace of the Buhari-led administration was at turtle speed and this was a cause for concern among Nigerians who had hoped the president would hit the ground running like he said he would during his inaugural speech as president. The most obvious manifestation of his slow pace was in his appointment of ministers. The team of persons who would help the president drive home his change agenda. This led to Nigerians nicknaming the president ’BABA GO-SLOW’. A vast majority of his supporters and outspoken critics of the Jonathan administration urged Nigerians to be patient as the president hasn’t even lasted a year and should not be judged by just a few months in office. They also urged Nigerians to remain optimistic citing that if the president’s body language could produce that much change; imagine what his actions could do.
It has been 16 months since president Buhari assumed office and things haven’t changed. The only change experienced has been in the negative, many can fault the past administration for the chaos currently rocking the nation’s economy and the global decline in the price of crude oil, but that’s what management is all about: MANAGING THE GOOD AND THE BAD! The Buhari-led administration has tried so many formulas in order to inject life into a failing change concept in virtually all aspects of the economy, but they never fail to use the machinery of propaganda and well packaged publicity which has been appealing until recently when the #ChangeBeginsWithMe campaign was launched. This change campaign which is supposed to make Nigerians understand that they are the main engine room of the change they want to see in government was launched 16 MONTHS into their tenure. Giving the government continuous failings in trying to deliver change, Nigerians perceived the campaign to be a transfer of responsibility, a way for government to point fingers at a largely disoriented and disenchanted populace and accuse them of having the wrong mentality as regards the concept of change and the actual change agents.
Just 16 months and this is the Nigeria we have now—Unemployment is on the rise, companies are laying off staff and slashing the salaries of the others remaining, foreign investment has reduced drastically, SMEs are folding up, cost of living has skyrocketed, standard of living has taken a nose dive, Fulani herdsmen are on a killing spree, the Niger delta militants have become The Avengers (apologies to Tony Stark), the economy is in recess and the naira is on life support. Nigerians are asking: WHERE IS THE CHANGE? The real question is who should the change begin with? Is it a government not competent enough to deliver on its promises and refuses to own up to its shortcomings or one that distances itself from the reality on ground as can be seen in the way many members of this administration treat Nigerians as a bunch of whining babies who complain too much: a prime example been that of the finance minister who described the current economic recession as just a word?
A lot of things can be changed before a problem is fixed, but we don’t have that amount of time for such a seemingly endless exercise, no time for trial by error! No time for #ChangeBeginsWithMe.
The change we so desire, what is it? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Who should it begin with? Until we answer these questions, we would continue this eternal dance of underdevelopment, mediocrity and what the late Fela Kuti described as ‘suffering and smiling’ in Nigeria!
GOD BLESS NIGERIA!