Why does President Muhammadu Buhari bother to make a national broadcast? There’s no law that requires him to do it. But it’s deemed obligatory he does so. Because it’s the convention for the head of state to talk to the people on special occasions.
But the problem is that whenever he makes a broadcast, he ends up talking to himself. The speeches are devoid of any soaring, inspiring language while he struggles to wade through them like he’s being tortured. A talking Buhari is an outright killjoy. One who induces a yearn or indifference in people. Who wants to listen to a boring speech at a time people are desperately in need of hope, inspiration and assured leadership?
His Independence Day broadcast was typically Buhari. The rhetoric was sour, the delivery dour. And the whole broadcast was redolent with drooling self-praise. It’s an inelegant advertisement for himself. A debasing attempt to make the chimera real.
He claimed with a straight face and a total lack of self-awareness that he’s the best president in the last 22 years. Ignoring the overwhelming body of evidences that affirms the contrary, he said his administration had outperformed all the ones before his.
This outlandish claim could’ve provoked some hilarious laughter but for its towering mendacity. The lie was simply off the scale, one of Goebbelsian proportion.
And universally, it deservedly got a scornful dismissal as pure baloney. A series of tales that woefully tried to re-invent the facts and redefine the glaring reality of the country’s abject condition.
Nigeria is failing fast. We all know this. Except the president who continues to live in a bubble while the country convulses in chaos. Even his most ardent supporters now know he’s not up to the job. But many, like him, remain in denial, desperately clinging to the faint hope that he may just try to begin to turn the dire situation around.
As he proclaimed himself the best president, Anambra State was still under the siege of armed gangs that have unleashed violence in the state. Just days before he made his broadcast, Chike Akunyili, a medical doctor and husband of late former information minister, Dora Akunyili, was brutally murdered along with several other people in broad-daylight.
And after the broadcast, the gangs continued their killing spree and torched DSS and INEC offices, police stations and private residences. The carnage in Anambra symbolizes the pervasive insecurity in the country and the complete absence of any semblance of real governance.
The Buhari administration is steadily losing its legitimacy as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, rules the roost in the south-east. Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB’s waspish and roguish leader, remains a hero to millions of Igbo and other Nigerian youths even while a captive of the state.
Also, as Buhari gave himself top grades in governance, the kidnapping and killing spree in the north-west continued unabated. Yet he talked glibly about the alleged sponsors of IPOB and Sunday Igboho and others agitating for self-determination for their nationalities, threatening to name and shame them. And prosecute them too.
When a president and commander-in-chief is reduced to the ignominy of talking about characters like Igboho and Kanu, whom his take-no-prisoners approach to their agitations has turned them into heroes, it shows the dilemma he has inflicted on himself and his hapless government. While he seemingly obsesses over Kanu and Igboho and others like them, he’s completely blind to the terrorism of Fulani bandits in the north- west and most of the north-central.
He threatened to expose and punish the alleged sponsors of the agitators. What of the sponsors and financiers of Boko Haram and the Fulani terrorists? Loud silence on that. In his indefensibly subjective view, the Fulani terrorists are victims of circumstances and discrimination. They’re fighting to survive. And if they do so by mindlessly spreading mayhem, kidnapping and killing innocent, defenseless Nigerians and pillaging at will, those are just collateral damages in their war of survival.
His silence in his broadcast on Fulani terrorists was made more telling by the fact that, a couple of days before he faced the nation, the National Assembly had passed resolutions mandating the government to designate “Fulani bandits” as terrorists. Senator Ibrahim Gobir moved the motion in the Senate for the resolution to be passed. It got a resounding approval. And the House of Representatives followed suit a day after.
According to Gobir, who represents Sokoto East Senatorial district, over 6,000 people have been killed in his district by the terrorists. And about 50,000 of his constituents are now refugees in Niger Republic. Meanwhile, about 330,000 Nigerian refugees displaced by the terrorism in the north-east and north-west are marooned in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
Yet in the face of these grim statistics of the scale of the violence and deaths visited on Nigerians in the country’s endlessly expanding killing fields, the president places himself above this reality and declares himself worthy of accolades. And if people, especially the critics, refuse to recognize his ‘uncommon’ performance, he would be most willing and content to salute himself. And let the critics and all the imaginary enemies of his regime be damned.
That’s exactly what he did in his broadcast. After talking to himself and promoting his phantom achievements, which, according his inverse logic, justifiably make him the best president ever, he retreated into the cavernous security of Aso Rock preparatory to his trip to Addis Ababa to honour the Ethiopian leader, Abiy Ahmed, who was being inaugurated for another term in office.
When he returned from the trip, our nightmare of daily bloodletting and other endlessly metastasizing problems were waiting for him. But he neither sees nor feels it.
His detachment from the mass chaos enveloping the country is total. Hence he can attempt to paint a picture of a Nigeria that no longer exists, no thanks to his uncreative destruction of it by his extreme nativism, unrestrained parochialism and sheer incompetence.
He and his chorus band of defenders and praise-singers talk of the so-called game-changing investments in infrastructure. But building, say, roads here and there without any coherent economic development plan while piling up a mountain of debts won’t hide the fact that the country is practically bleeding to death.
And what’s one very visible, irrefutable sign of the economy in permanent distress? The naira. It’s in free fall. And the Central Bank, the de facto manager of the economy, has run out of options to continuously prop up the naira artificially.
Let’s give it up for Buhari. He’s indeed unrivaled in setting fire to the delicate social fabrics holding the country together and driving it to the edge of the precipice. A president, who could easily make heroes of the Igbohos and Kanus and empathizes with Fulani terrorists as he sees them as victims, stands splendidly alone in his own pantheon of infamy.