Saturday, 9 July 2016

How change has affected Buhari

The picture of President Muhammadu Buhari in an Igbo dress at the peak of the presidential election campaign must have conveyed a sense of deep assurance to many in the face of sustained allusions about him as a narrow-minded person. As the candidate traversed the country in the days leading to the election, his message in the North, East, West, and South was the same: he would fight corruption, unemployment, and insecurity. While his message was consistent, Buhari’s dressing changed with every geopolitical zone. Candidate Buhari changed his attire to reflect his audience in a way that gave optimism that he was not (or no longer) the taciturn and unbending gentleman officer that his antagonists were at that time portraying him to be.

To the people of the Niger Delta who were being asked to toss away their son in favour of the more disciplined Fulani man, the picture of Buhari in Ijaw attire almost looking like Goodluck Jonathan would have made some sense. The Buhari campaign also released a picture of the candidate in suit with both long and bow ties in a fitting riposte to those who saw the candidate as an enemy of the West. The message was clear: to the Igbo, Yoruba, and even the Niger Deltan; Buhari was a man to be trusted to protect the interests of Nigerians irrespective of tribe or creed. In the campaign buses as the members of the Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress, APC traversed the country the message was also the same, a candidate who opened himself to all men and women so long as such a person was a believer in the message. That portrayal was accentuated at the inauguration when the president made the memorable declaration: “I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody.” Just a year after, many of those who purveyed that message of trust claim to be in shock. That shock is particularly evoked by the appointments made since the advent of the administration, an issue that that has repeatedly been echoed in cyberspace. The issue was further brought to fore with the constitution of the new board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC in which no one from the entire Southeast Geopolitical Zone was found fitting for appointment into the board, despite having two active oil producing states. Remarkably, no one from the oil-producing region was found fitting for appointment into the board of the nation’s prime revenue earner. The fears have not been helped by the now widely publicised interview with the northern enfant terrible, Dr. Junaid Mohammed in which shocking allegations of nepotism were echoed. Senator Sola Adeyeye has, however, made a passionate rebuttal of the accusations of domination of the Hausa/Fulani Muslim over the polity with the particular reference of to the super ministers, Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi. Even more, some in the South have also punctured the assertions with the claim that the Southerners who held high positions in the past did not benefit their people. “Stella Oduah and Osita Chidoka were ministers of aviation, but it did not lift Enugu International Airport from being an international disgrace,” one Southern defender of the president told your correspondent. What is also shocking is the roiling temper among some APC veterans who are increasingly muttering over their exclusion from the change regime. “If you don’t know somebody that knows somebody, there is no way you can be recognised whatever you did in the campaign,” is an assertion that is increasingly flowing from APC veterans from both North and South who held key positions in the campaign. Many of them have continued to rue the nonappointment of Col. Hammed Ali as the president’s Chief of Staff. Ali as Chief of Staff to the candidate was the channel through whom many of the campaigners liaised with. In his absence, a new pharaoh who knew not Joseph has arisen!