It was no small jubilation that trailed the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the March 28 presidential polls. Many who voted him basked in the euphoria of that victory on social media and the streets of the various states of the country for quite a while. It was almost impossible to escape the fawning coverage that greeted his entrance into Abuja for the May 29 inauguration ceremony. Cameras clicked and whirred. Photographers assumed vertigo inducing positions to capture the man considered a paragon of virtue and the messiah sent by God to deliver them from the hands of the much- maligned Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP. Twitter overlords and their dedicated foot soldiers worked themselves into a frenzy captioning such photographic efforts with the American idiomatic expression ‘A new sheriff is in town’.
It’s been seven months since his ascension into power and many of those dewy eyed supporters have woken up to the reality that their messiah is only a typical Nigerian leader. They have found themselves in head-scratching dilemma over his inability to wave the magic wand he had teased them with before the elections and found his sweet campaign promises to be a mirage. it’s been seven months and all they have received in thanks for their votes are increased unemployment, worsening insecurity and worse, a looming economic crises. Many of these supporters happily fed on meaningless buzzwords at the height of the electioneering. They allowed themselves to be swayed by empty ideological pandering and propaganda. Now they are left wondering about that illusive ‘change’ and many are beginning to question their decisions to vote the president. It is safe to say the honeymoon is over and the romance on the verge of being soured.
The anti-corruption stance of the president has somewhat weakened since his assumption to office. The president and his men have taken a cosmetic approach in the fight against corruption. Week after week, we find the media awash with trials of politicians reputed to have looted the country. Week after week, we are bombarded with stories of missing monies found on or made away with by political associates of Goodluck Jonathan. These media trials have brought no real gain in the fight against corruption. Within the president’s own fold are men of questionable characters. These men, once members of the PDP are yet to answer questions on the allegations of corruption leveled against them. They have instead been canonized and bequeathed with sainthood by virtue of their association with the ruling party. There are fears that the president’s anti-corruption crusade is one sided and targeting perceived enemies. Such fears cannot be easily dismissed given the prevailing circumstances.
Insecurity, one the problems Nigerians had hoped would be a thing of the past is still very much with them. The man painted as the formidable destroyer of terrorists a la his Maitatsine legacy is yet to be unveiled in the president. Terrorist attacks continue unabated in the northern part of the country. Clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers have grown more rampant and armed robbers carry out their operations in a brazen manner reminiscent of the Anini era. Institutionalized corruption makes it difficult for Nigerians to experience effective policing. Instead of being protected from the hoodlums and terrorists that make their lives difficult, they are gunned down during peaceful protests. The recent face off between soldiers and members of the Shiite movement has added another dimension to the existing tension in the country.
Worst hit is the economy. In the run up to the elections, the ruling party in its manifesto promised among other things to “Make our economy one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10% annually”. It is yet to deliver on that promise. The reluctance of the president to constitute an economic team soon after taking over sent a bad signal to investors. Furthermore, the lack of sound fiscal policy that has led to the free fall of the naira and several economic woes. Currently the naira exchanges at 280 naira to 1 U.S dollar at parallel market while exchanging at 407 naira to 1 pound. The CBN seems to have gotten its knickers in a twist trying to figure out the best way to save the flailing Naira as its directive cause more hardship for Nigerians instead of alleviating it. A few days ago, Nigerians woke up to the news that banks had commenced a process to stop their customers from using their ATM cards to make dollar denominated transactions. As I write, fuel queues have become a regular sight across the country. At this point, even the most fervent supporter of the president cannot deny the looming economic crises in the horizon.
The president and his team need to do more than address the problems bedeviling the country with hollow rhetoric. The elections have been long concluded and won. Harping on the activities of the past government as the reason for the country’s retrogression is not an effective way to govern Nigeria. The president needs to understand that he is no longer campaigning for an election and must for his own sake abandon the worn out strategy of blame trading. The president must not allow himself to be inhibited from taking proactive steps towards a resolution to the crises in the country by allowing his handlers make excuses for him. Out here, many of the president’s supporters are losing faith in him. If the current trend continues, it is safe to say there will be only a handful of his supporters left and the people will rise in search for a new sheriff. Nigerians are not patient people.