Thursday 21 July 2016

#MustRead: Buhari’s Bullish and Bumpy Ride

President Muhammadu Buhari
by: Arize Nwobu

These are delicate and challenging times for the country in view of a catalogue of hard and stubborn national issues which constitute bumps on the path of President Muhammadu Buhari. These issues include the outcry trailing his top appointments with disregard for geographical spread and religious diversity, alleged taciturnity of the President regarding the inflammable issue of the Fulani herdsmen (this writer hopes another Agatu does not occur) the “Burataigate” and open rebellion and bombings by militants in the Niger Delta. Others include agitation for Biafra and the associated moral burden on the military for killing hapless agitators, the un-rescued Chibok girls contrary to public expectation that was based on a perceived “Buhari Power”, and the increasing call by eminent Nigerians for the restructuring of the country which the President is opposed to.

Others include the seismic change in oil price which destabilised government’s projections and action plans, a hitherto adverse exchange rate which saw the naira battered at the parallel market, a double-digit inflation rate, increasing unemployment, degenerated power supply which has earned the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the unkind moniker of “Minister of Darkness”, an all-time increase in pump price of petrol in contradiction to the electoral promise of the ruling party and which was preceded by an unprecedented fuel scarcity which lasted a record time span and took a heavy toll on the GDP; and a depressed economy with prevalent hardship, so severe, it was reported that “people exchange kids and clothes for food to survive.”

These developments have impacted negatively on the public perception of the President, depreciated the goodwill that trailed his election as the expectations of many hitherto optimistic Nigerians have been put to the ground. As noted by Dr Frederick Fasheun in a recent press report, “Nigerians were cheering him initially but now they are getting despondent. Buhari should not wait until Nigerians start jeering at him as a result of failed promises.”

This writer had written earlier, in a piece captioned, “A bull and the fallen rider”, published in some newspapers last year, that “President Muhammadu Buhari needs to make hay and be strategically agile to remain on top of matters, ride political undercurrents and be able to forestall any strange quirky happenstance that may cause Nigerians to be disenchanted in his Presidency.”

The piece was inspired by a dream I had in April 2015, three days after I prayed for the President and asked God to tell me something about him if He wished, and which I shared with the reading public therein. I hereby recall the dream: I saw a big fat-fleshed bull that came out with a rider on top who wore a traditional “babariga” cap. As the bull walked, it jerked though not vigorously, and the rider struggled to remain on top but he eventually fell off to the ground. When he stood up, he had a bemused smile on his face and I noticed he was light-framed and bespectacled.

Farther in front, I saw a herd of cows jumping over a gully from the east side (my right hand in the dream) to the west side even as some other cows tried to copulate. I woke up and pondered what these things could be, and my mind went to President Buhari.

The jumping and copulating cows represented the unusual cross-hatch between the APC and the PDP at the Senate which led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP as the Deputy Senate President.

A bull is a great, very powerful, muscular animal. Strong individuals are associated with bulls and Buhari is a strong man. Also, a bull is associated with service and production and increase in wealth: “Much increase is by the strength of the Ox (bull), the Bible says; which could explain why, for instance, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr proudly associates his company with the bull.

Spiritually, a bull represents the zeal to serve both God and fellow man. But it also represents an attacking spirit. The Psalmist uses the imagery of the bull to depict powerful enemies that came to harm him: “Many bulls have compassed me: Strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and roaring lion.” (Psalm 22 vs 12-13)

In view therefore, is President Buhari a friend or foe? Has he come to serve both God and fellow man, or has he come to attack? Evidently, he is a foe to treasury looters, the enemies of Nigeria. Like a bull, Buhari is attacking them frontally, and massive funds are being returned to the state treasury. That is service to both God and fellow man and only Buhari could have been able to do that, for the reason that he abhors the acquisition of filthy lucre. He is not interested in building mansions on mountain tops with state funds, nor is he interested in sharing state assets in the commanding heights of the economy to his cronies for kickbacks, hopefully. In all that, he stands shoulder high above his peers.

But beyond that, not a few are suspicious of the President’s power agenda especially as it reflects in his top appointments which are not broad-based. A rundown of his top appointments shows a vote of no confidence in the people of Southern Nigeria. Such lopsidedness can only heighten existing mutual suspicion among the federating units and may serve as fuel for fire.

As the President, God expects Buhari to represent Him both morally and governmentally through equity and justice. Anything to the contrary is antithetical to God’s purposive will. The President should therefore, demonstrate convincingly that he did not ride to power to attack and minimise Southern Nigerians and deliver the entire country to the North.

The President needs to care a lot more about his image and avoid committing further faux pas either in words, action or inaction which tend to portray him as nepotic. He may need to work harder to establish the image of a true statesman, because, as they say in public relations, image and public sentiment are everything. If your image is good and public sentiment is in your favour, success crowns your efforts.”

Going forward, just as the Israelites prayed for King Saul, saying, “God save the King”, so this writer prays for President Muhammadu Buhari: God help the President. As he rides on bullishly on his bumpy path, may he not fall as was in my dream of a bull and the fallen rider!

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