NIGERIAN elites, religious and traditional leaders, ordinary citizens – artisans, traders, drivers, farmers, market men and women, young and old; and the diaspora – know, overwhelmingly, the challenges the nation, has been facing, the past six years, and counting.
The citizens are impoverished. Adversity from hunger and poverty, degrade and dehumanize them. The country’s national life is dislocated and fragmented along religious, ethnic, tribal and regional divide; never known in the history of the country. Nepotism and bigotry are at the heart of governance. Criminality, presently, rules the country.
What is in a leader to be eulogized? Yet, drummers cometh. Sycophants and praise singers take the stage. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President; and Femi Adesina, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to President Buhari’s lead the tune. SPECIAL REPORT
NIGERIA AND NIGERIANS, in less than 24 months, precisely, May 2023, will see Buhari’s government in the past. Utterly, then, genuine assessment of the president’s performance will take the stage. Meantime, drummers, beatitude singers and sycophants of Buhari’s “achievements” are already on the stage. Reactions to the drummers also emerged. Will they change gear, sing different tune, when Buhari leaves office? Trust not compulsive praise singers in government.
The greatest peril to any government, democracy or military, is the penetration of the government by obsessive praise singers. The conducts of sycophants in government, obscure and derail vision, commitment and reality in governance. Leaders with drummers around them, become deafened to reality, by the drums and cymbals of praise singers.
When drummers and sycophants penetrate the hearts of leaders in government, their utterances and comments insult intelligence. Genuine and meaningful criticisms and suggestions to the government, become insults. A government penetrated by praise singers, becomes saddled with egotistic interests; while failure becomes the accomplishment.
YEMI OSINBAJO, Nigeria’s Vice President, is diversely, seen as a “distinguished” law professor, and a “loyal and charismatic pastor”. He believes God “speaks to him”. He is, also, described as humane and humble. Religion to many is yardstick to rate honesty. So, Osinbajo is, also, seen as honest. To adherents of religion, pastoral badge, becomes intoxicant and essential characteristic to rate individuals, especially for good.
Many, passionately, admire Osinbajo as Nigeria’s vice president. He has demonstrated knowledge, intelligence and capacity to govern. They believe that if he becomes Nigeria’s president, he has much to offer, that will impact positively on Nigeria and Nigerians. Ahead of 2023, elections, side-line political campaigners are already rooting for his presidency.
Perhaps, for his hidden ambition, Osinbajo, has taken to what analysts see as phobic praise singing of Buhari’s government, against what they believe he knows. At a meeting with top officials of Nigerian High Commission in London, Osinbajo eulogised Buhari in glowing terms. Backlash of his sinuous comments in London, about Buhari’s leadership in the past six years, has been unsavoury to the vice president.
At the London occasion, Osinbajo said of Buhari: “The President is possibly the most popular Nigerian politician that we ever had in generations”. He added that Buhari “is possibly, the only person, who can go into a place or somewhere without bossing people to gather and they will come and listen to him speak”. Analysts, have dismissed this as sycophancy and debased comparison.
FEMI ADESINA, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, followed suit. He anchored the Vice President Osinbajo’s cymbal of sycophancy and praise singing for the president. Adesina said he was old enough to have seen some great Nigerians “colourful and even swashbuckling politicians in action”.
Specifically, he mentioned Obafemi Awolowo; Nnamdi Azikiwe, also known as Zik of Africa; Shehu Shagari; Aminu Kano; MKO Abiola; Bashir Tofa; and others, whom he has seen in action as great leaders. Then, in an unparallel comparison of these great Nigerians of national and international repute and patriots, he said Buhari outclassed them in governance and politics.
Adesina’s words: “I am old enough to have seen our colourful and even swashbuckling politicians in action. I have seen the great Obafemi Awolowo. The charismatic Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik of Africa). Shehu Shagari. Amino Kano. M.K.O Abiola. Bashir Tofa, and many others in action. But I have not seen anyone with the kind of attraction, magnetic pull, that Muhammadu Buhari has. And that is round the country, north and south. People swarm around him as bees do to honey”.
And added: “I have been around the country with the President. I have also been to several countries of the world with him. I have not seen any other Nigerian leader, past or present, with his kind of allure, pull, fascination, magnetism. And that is why VP Osinbajo is right to have described him as possibly ‘the most popular Nigerian politician that we ever had in this generation”.
AFENIFERE, Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, reacted to Adesina’s comments. National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, described Femi Adesina’s comparison of Buhari to Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe as “mischievous and mistaken, to say the least”. That people are attracted to Buhari, Afenifere said, is natural, as he is the incumbent president of Nigeria. He occupies leadership position.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, also reacted. Ogbonnia, spokesperson of Ohanaeze, described Adesina’s claim as false. “There are a lot of things one could talk about Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo. But when you look at Buhari, unfortunately, one cannot compare their personalities with Buhari”.
Ogbonnia added: “While Awolowo and Azikiwe listened to people’s opinions, this other man [Buhari] does not listen to people’s opinions”. Ohanaeze, in what it sees as cascade of self-serving comments by Adesina, added “even Adesina knows that what he said is not true”.
OSINBAJO, analysts said, opting for sycophancy, rather than good governance and service to the nation, is awful. Out of government, he will face the reality. He will be held accountable for his utterances in government, and the oath of office he took. He swore to the Bible to do right at all times, without fear, favour or contradictions. In the best interest of the nation.
Osinbajo, they said, is in government with the “mission”, and mantra of “change”, in 2015, to be transparent – fight corruption, end insurgency in record time, revamp the economy to better the lives and well-being of Nigerians. The situation in the country, presently, is the reverse, worse than Buhari inherited.
WALK on the streets of Nigerian 36 states, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, analysts said, it is likely, of every 10 people you come across, nine is distressed. Nigeria is rated one of the poverty-stricken capitals of the world, at present. Unemployment is mounting and worsening. Inflation is hitting the roof. Food, no matter the quality, is out of reach for many. Purchasing power is terribly low.
Nigerian currency, the Naira, is progressively slumping, against the US dollars and other currencies. As worthless as the Naira is becoming, it is difficult to find. There is hardly any one that is not complaining. The employed and unemployed. The rich and the poor. To survive, many do odd jobs. From the streets to the office, and home – everywhere, the army of beggars are swelling. Misery is on the rampage.
EXTERNAL DEBTS burden, on Nigerians, tripled, under Buhari’s presidency, in six years; compared to past leaders, since 1999. The government has taken loans, far more than any other governments since 1999. Obasanjo’s government met $28 billion in 1999. He left $2.11 billion debts when he exited office in 2007; after debts write-off, be got from London and Paris clubs of foreign creditors.
Umoru Yar’adua and Goodluck Jonathan combined administration increased Nigeria’s foreign debts by $1.39 billion to what they met. Jonathan’s government, added $3.8billion. When Jonathan left office in 2015, Nigeria’s foreign debts was $7.3 billion.
Buhari’s government, as at June 30, 2021, Nigeria external indebtedness rose to $33.468 billion; against $7.3 billion, from the previous administration; according to figures in the office of Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, DMO. This is three times higher, than external debts profile by previous governments since 1999.
DOMESTIC DEBT, seen as less toxic to the Naira value, than foreign debt, soared under President Buhari’s watch. Domestic debt was N795 billion in 1999, when Obasanjo assumed office; rose to N8.8 trillion in 2015, when Goodluck Jonathan left office.
Buhari’s administration, from May 29, 2015, has accumulated N17.631 trillion domestic debt, as at June 30, 2021; according to the Dept Management Office, DMO; against N8.8 trillion debt by previous administration.
Unrelenting, President Buhari’s government keeps borrowing into 2022 Budget to run the government. Economist and financial experts say Nigeria and Nigerians are in chains, of foreign and domestic indebtedness by Buhari’s government. Leaving behind huge indebtedness for generations yet unborn.
ANALYSTS have asked, what is in a leader to be celebrated, good governance or retrogression? Public hostility, in the country, against present administration, is not in question. It reflects the general feelings of Nigerians, against what they perceive as a government that has failed the nation and its citizens.
Femi Adesina, is he unaware of the general feelings Nigerians have about the Buhari’s administration in the past six years? Perhaps, also, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Both have the same perspectives about the leadership of the president; different from millions of Nigerians.
Yemi Osinbajo’s assessment of the president, described him as possibly, “the most popular Nigerian politician that we ever had in this generation”. Adesina said, he has not seen any other Nigerian leader – past or present, “with his [Buhari] kind of allure, pull, fascination, magnetism”, within and outside the country.
Osinbajo and Adesina, perhaps, simply refused to take into account the reasons for Buhari’s government failure to keep the promises he made to Nigerians. He rode on the goodwill of Nigerians, to become president in 2015. The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, may have ignored this.
The government has undermined the great peril that obsessive praise singers and sycophants that penetrate any government could cause. Conducts of sycophants and praise singers in government, derail vision, and commitment to realistic governance. Drummers and sycophants, when they penetrate leaders’ hearts, they become deafened to reality.