You remember that time we became the butt of jokes in the sub-region? The time people offshore saw affliction in our new found head, and made that their business; howling that our beloved leader was spent? It would not have warranted a recall, if at home we were not made to pay for the unkind joke abroad, as if we commissioned it. That was a period of the unexpected happenings in the transition of power. We were hungry for change, but the table was turning against us. Whatever we did or said, aside praise-singing, was interpreted to mean the script of the opposition. They refer to that same opposition driving like one with broken headlamp on a raining night. The languid opponents they drove out of power. The picture that most represented the opposition they so lionise as their nemesis then was that of Olisa Metuh being taken to the court room on a stretcher; or if you like, Dino Melaye in a plaster of Paris! The same opposition party said to have been betrayed by top officers who dutifully worked against its candidate; the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that was then in the intensive care unit. What force can an opposition that is fighting for its dear life give to propel critics to see or say things capable of making men of power uncomfortable?
What many people did not immediately realise then was that we were up against a game that we assumed should not come after the elections from which a clear winner had emerged.
Maybe it was part of the blackmail to ensure that all of us would live a life of contentment in penury and mis-governance. Suddenly, those who ran a most successful propaganda to uproot a sitting government became afraid of their own shadow. They did not want to be served the same dough that gathered mass support for them to put President Muhammadu Buhari’s predecessor on the defensive. The new men insisted that the language of success lied in the body chemistry. They succeeded to a great extent, as people started living to belong, praising everything done and left undone, and echoing the blame of past government for the cluelessness of the present. Oh! How we suffered (and still suffer) for the sins of our former landlords.
The ruling party dealt with the people as much as it dealt with the opposition. All of us were seen as participants in corrupt deals, or partakers in the spoils of graft. For them, we complained because we had been too indulged in the cesspool of corruption to want to adapt to civilised ways of life. Maybe they are right. We alone should be blamed for the misrule of the past. They don’t share in it because they were not on this planet while it lasted. Yet we bought their lies when they told us that they knew what to do to fix the economy, stop corruption, and drive killers offshore.
Our first complaint was that they slept the sleep of the drunk following the festival of victory after the elections. A fatigued fighter drooling on the crown? That was not what we voted for. Rather, our understanding of the Eldorado they painted led us to dream of a flurry of activities towards a rejuvenation of our nation even before the swearing-in; but the quiet and slow pace was so alarming we ventured to call attention to it. Their response? It was a design aimed at dealing with all our problems once and for all, they claimed. They failed to sense failure in delay. Then, one false step followed another, and we squeezed our faces, afraid that the fellows we chased away for ineptitude could come to notice our short-sightedness a little too early. Foreign investors waiting at the border to flood our market started losing patience, and suddenly we saw a diversion. And our losses became the gains of neighbours who were hitherto some lesser considerations. Yet, the new sheriff didn’t bother. He was weaving today’s fabric with ancient method. In our discomfort, we did not want to be seen to show regret too early in the day. Now, the regrets are on both sides. They found out that they failed and therefore become cagey; and on our side, we nurse the pain of a choice we believed would stop the descent to the abyss.
Truly, 2015 was a bad election year. It presented to us some not too attractive choices. At the end of the day, the one we chose was not better than the one we threw away. Those who wrapped their mouths should be regretting now that they did not speak early enough. For those who warned of the problem ahead then, they believe it is not proper to talk of being vindicated! After all, the cloud covers us all. Were we not surprised when the stick they held started landing on our backs? So, when we cried that the healing balm they chose to apply comes with pain, and that they were taking attention off fresh invasion by agents provocateur, their response was that we shouldn’t complain, after all their predecessors gave us similar dosage! Wasn’t that what they came to heal?
They are the only ones who have forgotten that they promised to rid Nigeria of the rot of corruption and the spate of insecurity, and that too within a short time. Before their first anniversary in office, the administration bombarded the airwaves with stories to support the claim that the insurgents have been technically defeated. Then those armed bigots started ripping up the bowels of the innocent in Borno State, making Ibrahim Shettima, then governor, to run to Abuja crying for help. President Buhari savoured the glory of being called upon to end the carnage, simply because it provided him the opportunity to increase the decibel for the chorus on how his predecessor left his job undone. But the general shied away from the responsibility of bringing about the much needed peace. Why should he be bothered, when peace or no peace, people will give support? And they did with resounding acclaim. For instance, on election day in 2019, there were three explosions in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State; all before the polls started. But when the results were released, the people of Borno were so magnanimous that they turned out in good numbers and did not allow the antics of Boko Haram to push them to disappoint Muhammadu Buhari, the man who had falsely claimed that Boko Haram had been driven underground. What did they do, according to the result posted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC? They worked hard to get him the second term as president! The votes at the internally-displaced persons’ camps in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, and other states also came as a form of curious gratitude by inmates there to a government that has been unable to assist them to get back their lives by returning to their homes where the insurgents drove them away in the first instance.
So, when the insurgents returned to taking territories and collecting taxes, as happened before the 2015 election was shifted to deal with them, the media was blamed for giving attention to their exploits. The next thing was that the media, which tried to help the government get conscious of the fangs of the insurgents, became objects of raids and abuse by the security forces that could not screen our land against invaders. Honestly, the wisdom of the elders holds true that until a woman tries two husbands, she would not know the meaning of comfort! We found ourselves in an abusive marriage and it is one too many! We definitely cannot wait for it to end.
If we celebrate the end of this eventful marriage with funfair, don’t blame us. It is because we are lucky that we survived the abuse. Scores are on record who didn’t share the rare luck. They are either in the grave, or are limping, or are battered for life.
That is why those who campaigned against the past government, and started early to draw the ears of the incumbent, have lost their voices. They have become weary. Don’t blame them. They did not compromise; many of them are just too stunned to believe that those who teamed up with them to shoo off the government of yesterday, could beat the record of their predecessors in ineptitude. For them, they should be aware that we have not left Egypt; our legs are still stuck in the mud of the mis-governance we complained against some eight years ago. This time, our husband holds the whip, threatening us to dare complain, as against those before him who were spoilt brats. But we hope that we will summon the courage to escape this abuse.