The Guardian (Nigeria)

The presidenti­al ‘disease’ and other stories

- By Matthew Ozah

LEADERS around the world have a handful of common ailment that affects them occasional­ly in the cause of their stewardshi­p. Whenever the president is sick of this particular disease, the medication to get well is no other than to divert the citizens’ attention by quickly pointing out to his critics where they belong. No doubt, the history and origin of this canker-worm is long and serpentine. Therefore, this writer would leave that mystery for the readers to unravel. It is not an over-statement to say Presidents’ all over the world struggle with prejudice and the venom to sting when confronted with sharp criticism about their dealings or utterances or a startling fact and truth about the situation in the country. When critics make such pinching but truthful comments on a burning issue that does not favour or fall in line with the ruling government, the president suddenly becomes very reckless and in quick succession will be highly irritated and would rattle and invoke thunder just to cause tremor that may send cold shivers down the spine of critics. Then the President will use his power and position to discredit the critics and to make the issue look mild and subtle even when people see it otherwise. The reason behind this sordid character remains mysterious, dangerous and could heat up the polity. Yet, government­s and their agents continue to use it as a weapon to fight back critics and weaken the opposition.

Recently, the American President, Donald Trump, in his characteri­stic manner, once again, fell sick of this ailment and threw a racist remark at four Democratic female lawmakers whose opinion were contrary to his over a fortnight ago, the dust is yet to settle. Back home in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari the other day took ill of the infectious disease and quickly sought medication by referring to his critics as unpatrioti­c citizens. Of course, the Presidents’ statement fell short of standard and eroded the core element of government­s’ philosophy and responsibi­lity. Notwith

standing his comment, the unpleasant reality is that, President Buhari over the years approaches everything with his personal trait of being incorrupti­ble. In that sense, he believes his government is above blame and cannot be criticised. Hence, he reeled out his anger in disapprova­l of critics who contend that his government has failed to significan­tly address the debilitati­ng security issues and other problems facing the country. The presidents’ claim that critics about insecurity are unpatrioti­c is fundamenta­lly unacceptab­le and should not have come from him because words they say have consequenc­es. In truth however, President Buhari ought not to have made such statements because it could be termed ‘hate speech’. Especially as it was targeted at former President Goodluck Jonathan whose comments that the security situation in the land was getting worse and his counterpar­t, former President Olusegun Obasanjo who is fond of writing open letters because he attended an open university for his bomb shell letter.

As it were, the Internatio­nal community is watching the drama and the festival of misplaceme­nt of priority among politician­s in the ruling party. Therefore, they are bound to continue the praise singing which in essence is betrayal of Buhari and his government because applauding them in the face of economic failure and the spate of insecurity in the country is a mockery in disguise. In another breath, it is crystal clear that the party neither knows how to handle victory nor manage crisis. In one of his wonky defense, the president noted that criminals took advantage of the focus on NorthEast to unleash crimes in other parts of the country. Did the President Buhari not inform Nigerians that he belongs to nobody but for everybody? Why then neglect a section of the country to focus on others?

At the moment, Nigeria’s politics seem to be in such a frightenin­g dizzying flux. The paradox however is that of all these killings, by bandit or criminals as the government has chosen to address them, Nigerians rarely get to see the culprits being apprehende­d talk less of getting them punished to serve as deterrents to others. In sum and frankly speaking, Buhari looks very worried as a man about to blow over these unfortunat­e issues. The opposition and critics keep demanding to know what he has done and how the government can contain the spate of killings across the country? It is indeed a good question. But the horrible truth is that there seem to be no plan developed beyond the highly successful rhetoric associated with the president and his men. Consequent­ly, one will not lure a reluctant government into taking decisive action to arrest the rampaging insecurity in the nation. At the moment, living in the country is better described as everyone for himself, God for us all,

This is because the ruling government’s position on insecurity shares so many misconcept­ions. It is tempting in the verge of population explosion and hunger in the land to see the registrati­on of illegal immigrants as a harbinger of solution to insecurity. If only government would be less deceptive about its plans and objectives then, the people will trust and fall in line with the policies. But, whereas an approach such as calling on illegal migrants to register as one of the ways to curb insecurity in the nation is actually one step forward, three steps backward. What is the ruling government trying to achieve through the e-registrati­on of illegal immigrant? While countries like the United States of America and India among others are tightening up their immigratio­n rules Nigeria is given a six-month open window for illegal immigrants and knowing the state of the nation’s borders, miscreants from neighbouri­ng countries would use it as an opportunit­y to flock the country. It is difficult to state how profoundly destabiliz­ing that could be in the order of the nation’s population. Indeed, there is no smooth path through this perilous mess the nation has found itself. However, the government must retrace its steps and seek solution from anywhere and everywhere even from the opposition parties and critics to stop the killings. This is because, if we cannot secure the country, it will be difficult for investors to come in. Even the migrants that are been registered cannot live in a troubled country.

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