BY UCHE NNADOZIE
Since the last time I discussed why the president must embark on visitations to parts of the country, nothing has been done to that effect. From presidential communication, we now know that President Muhammadu Buhari was sick at some point. But he has not always been sick and as such has had many things on his schedule. This simply means visiting parts of the country could have been one of them, but wasn’t. More particularly having enunciated the preference for zonal visits where he will spend at least three days. For example, taking a trip to the north central state of Kwara from where he will reach out to Kogi, and Niger. Or taking a trip to Plateau from where he will by helicopter reach out to Benue, Kogi and Nasarawa. Nasarawa and Benue have had different kinds of crises. I had thought a presidential visit will help shine light to those crises on one hand; and solutions on the other. These visits never happened.
The same visits could be repeated in the South east, South south, South west, North east and North West. In these zones, there are noticeable conflicts afflicting these states which again require presidential audience. I am, for example, shocked that Mr. President has yet to visit Borno and Yobe states since coming to power. Granted that this administration has done masterfully well to degrade and emasculate terrorism in that region, yet a Commander-in-Chief worth his salt should have made a symbolic visit to his troops since nearly two years that he came to power. President Buhari should have gone to see things for himself and for his administration. The issues around welfare of internally displaced persons and soldiers should have been a priority for a government and party that came to power to correct the care-free and clueless attention that the previous administration gave to fighting Boko Haram. And of course, the president would have used same opportunity to meet and thank stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations who have helped the cause of Nigeria and humanity in the fight against terror.
The Niger Delta issues bear no repetition here. That the president has yet to visit the theatres of conflict in that region is a shame. How else do you lead people if you cannot empathise with them? Empathy is a main quality in leadership of the 21st century, nay any century. How will the people prefer you and by extension listen to you instead of the militants if they cannot see you nor hear from you. The people will be left to the wild fantasies of the militants. The propaganda of the economic terrorists will find haven in the hearts and minds of ordinary folks. It’s a question of “we told you, they don’t care about you”. But then, although I hate to compare the hands and strategy of vice President Osinbajo while he acted as president as against what Buhari has shown; however, the truth is like night and day, the difference is clear. Just mere town halls in the Niger Delta brought about palpable stability and patriotism. It was as if it was planned to have such effect. People who never saw anything good in this administration began to promote it. Simply put, optics matter. A lot!
Now having seen how this presidency run, there seems to be a lot of disconnect between the government and the people. This is fuelled by functionaries of the government who for whatever reason fail to appreciate the fact that this regime was supposed to help reshape Nigeria forever. While the president is saying something, his lieutenants are doing another. It appears they are more interested in personal benefit than the good of all. Otherwise, how does the president send a name of a nominee for confirmation by the senate, what we come to hear is that such individual was not cleared by another agency controlled by the president? Means the same report was not sent to the president or that the report was not debated before the nominee’s name was forwarded? Seems apparent that the chief of staff to the president is complicit here. How can your boss nominate a person to hold a government position, only for a security agency to write a negative report to the confirming authority without consequences? While I have not much problem with what the senate has done, I have a big problem with how the presidency is viewed by the public. It’s like they are incompetent and incoherent.
Both the Chief of Staff to the president and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation have not done well for this administration and that is putting it mildly. When I began to see the chief of staff struggling to take photo opportunity with visitors to the president, I knew something has gone wrong. How can a chief of staff have enough time to appear with the chief executive officer at a public function and at the same time crave for photo sessions? This is sick. In all these, I had expected that the president will wield the big stick, but no! Even after the SGF’s corruption scandal, the man is still there. And the president is there patting him on the back. There are other issues like ambassadorial postings; appointments into boards and chief executive officers nomination have been stalled. Since the Inspector General of Police was appointed, he has yet to tell the people what his agenda will be. If he has, he has not revealed it in a way that the people can buy into it.
There are many dead woods in this administration. This is not what the APC prioritised during campaigns; the president needs to wake up, sit up and address these issues frontally. Now! No loyalty of an individual can be superior to that of 180 million people. Little things matter and most times, it is little things that trigger economic and social revival.