Nigeria, Where Is Thy President? 

Nigeria is a country with over 200 million persons, and thus termed the ‘giant of Africa’. The later could only be rhetoric to the fact that she’s the most populous black nation in the world and the most populous on the continent but nothing else. 

On the 29th of May 1999, Nigeria returned once again to a Republic and has since been ruled by four different heads with the fourth still in power namely Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd).

Of all the presidents that have ruled Nigeria since her return to civil rule in 1999, the fourth and incumbent is different in all definitions, dimensions and ramifications. 

It is worthy of note, that apart from the annulled 1993 elections, the 2015 general elections which ushered in the incumbent, remains the evilest and controversial in the history of the nation. It can’t even be compared to the 2019 elections where the head of the Judiciary and Chief Justice of the nation was forcefully in a Rambo style ejected from office in a coup d’état against the nation’s Judiciary. 

The nation was divided across ethnic and religious lines, massive and record breaking-rigging, historical and devastating electoral violence and propelled crises just to mention but a few placed the 2015 general elections as the most inhumane, frivolous and criminal endeavour in the history of the nation’s existence. 

After contesting for three consecutive times i.e. 2003, 2007 and 2011 and loosing on all occasions, one may think and conclude that such an individual if given an opportunity may break and set records in the management of the nation’s affairs. This is because common sense will inform one that such an individual would have garnered wide and expanded experiences and ideas in the course of his many defeats which could lead to some positive contributions in the future. Nigerians hoped for more from him and knew the moment he won that the kind of change we always dreamt of for our country was only around the corner.

As a matter of fact, that was the headlines then. The infamous plagiarised speech ‘i am for everyone and no one’ was all over the media. They thought the warlord will immediately redefine the cause of the nation’s existence for good. 

However, maybe to clear the doubts of such thinkers, nature or was it some crooked evil forces caused the same individual to re-contest in 2015 and eventually, the warlord was declared the winner. The reality on ground after the electoral brouhaha is quite pathetic to the expectations of the citizenry. As a matter of fact, I would be silly, mischievous and guilty to state he didn’t. Though in the negatives. 

Appointments became by connection and mostly were nepotic, campaign promises were quickly forgotten, poor policies were quickly and hastily developed and promulgated, critics were prohibited and convicted etc.

Due to his numerous promises to curtail and defeat the dreaded Boko Haram sect in 3 months, myself and many alike had thought he intended to appoint himself the Minister of Defense, but as many times, we were proven wrong. 

The first action of the uniform man after keeping the nation on suspense for almost six months was to appoint himself the substantive Minister of Petroleum, a vast field he has little or no experience at all (it is worthy of note here that this is an individual who has not gone to school to acquire the modern and requisite knowledge needed to transform such a sector of the economy).

And finally, after all the anomalies, in a gesture to make a mockery of the citizenry, the head was nowhere to be found. 

First, it was for a few weeks, then more weeks and later, much more weeks. This prompted citizens and the international communities asking: NIGERIA, WHERE IS THY PRESIDENT? 

Things began to go wrong. 

Price of petroleum motor spirit (fuel) drastically soared high. Price of foodstuffs and other necessary commodities skyrocketed. The Dollar became a priced and cherished commodity but the Naira slumped and dwindled in the stock market. Finally, the nation plummeted into a recession. 

Life became more difficult than before. New dreaded sects emerged, kidnapping became a thriving industry. Everyone was fighting to survive and eke out a living through any means possible but the government grew more inhuman, cruel and clueless, throwing stones at barking dogs that no longer have the power to bite.

The Professor took the opportunity of the many absences of his principal and somehow, maybe with luck, managed to bring the nation back on her feet. But the principal returned, or was it another rhetoric? We weren’t allowed to see or directly hear from him. We were told he was recuperating and as such was best if he ruled from home. Once again, the nation started nose-diving and her destination was no longer clear. 

Again, either by chance or controversy, the uniform man was declared the winner of the 2019 elections even before the final collation of the results. Things became worse and life more difficult to live. Many lost their jobs and many others, their lives. 

At last, the novel Coronavirus surfaced and our president is nowhere to be found. 

Where other world leaders could be seen running helter-skelter to provide for and protect their citizens even at the detriment of their lives, Nigeria’s ruler is desperately hiding (maybe because he has a record with illness).

The likes of Trump, Putin, Rajoelina and other world leaders are constantly at the fore, leading a search for a cure, vaccine and constantly encouraging their citizens, one of our ruler’s many puppets is out there announcing to the citizenry that “it’s a matter of style”. Instead, security were added to the already existing ones at the Villa gates and many staffs denied entry for fear of Convik 1-9 birus.

While other world leaders were providing substantial palliatives and stimulus to cushion the effect of the coronavirus on their citizens and the economy, our ruler, according to an article published by Terhemba Daka et al on the 19th of March 2020 indicates that an ill-advised decision was taken in reducing a mere #20 from fuel price which can be obtained by no more than a quarter of the general population. As if to correct their huge deficit in handling the very issue, Okechukwu Nnodim wrote a position on Punch on the 1st of April 2020 stating that the federal government had reduced an additional #1.50. Yet again, in a piece published by Remi Feyisipo on Business Day on the 24th of April 2020, our ruler was dishing out contaminated rice and beans which were already badly infested by weevils and were showing signs of decaying any moment. This regretful facet replicates itself in several other parts of the country, particularly Ondo.

Worst of it all, the ruler is nowhere to be found except occasionally, where he will be seen wearing ordinary slippers to address or rather impose lockdowns with no perspective on its effects on his employers from the comfort of what their money can afford. 

Citizens of Madagascar, USA, Kenya UK and a host other countries know where their presidents are not just because of the coronavirus but when they’re needed. This is not the case with Nigeria. We are always looking for and begging our ruler (i.e. their employee) to speak to us or come to our aid in times of troubles.

On paper, through camera lenses and audiotapes, #20,000 was distributed to every poor Nigerian but in reality, the stomach of most citizens are grumbling, crime increasing and security officers killing at will the poor and defenceless citizens. 

The once active Vice who has been covering for the principal and making the ghost visible is now sidelined due to politricks. I won’t state much here. I’ll rather, offer to pray that we all remain alive to witness what 2023 will have to offer. 

What a nation! A country with President but no President. A country where those seeking elective positions are always in the glare of the electorate, but soon they are elected, their enterprise is redefined. 

My ardent appeal to Mr. President is that he rises to the occasion at this crucial moment and identify with the suffering populace not just by way of making empty talks, but by fast-tracking processes and sparing no knowledge, resources or ounce of energy until a permanent solution to COVID-19 is discovered. Our country has all it takes to forge through this dreadful circumstance. Our researchers should be aided with grants with the hopes that a cure to this pandemic may come to the world through us.  

The distribution of palliatives to the disadvantaged and less privileged should also be made transparent. In a saner world where citizens’ records are well documented, who needs help or not are easily determined by knowing what one does, how much they earn if they are dependents or not. In such climes, the affluent donate to ensure that the poor are helped, while the government gives different allowances to its citizens as its mark of concern and care. 

Well, we have been inundated with such supports in cash and kind from within and outside the country in the past few days. We hope that through proper channels, (you the president) will see to it that these donations get to those in dire need of them. And more importantly, your updating the nation on your progress (and even challenges) in curtailing and combating the virus will mean a whole lot. It will give hope, which most of us need desperately as fear consumes us more quickly now than ever within every passing moment. 

Give us hope. Talk to us. Now.  

Thank you for listening and until next time, I hope to see you soon.

Comrade Odugbo Enenche Justin is the author of the ‘Problem With Nigeria: Ensuring A More Cohesive, Peaceful and United Nation’. 

He is a young dynamic and energetic Nigerian youth, a blogger and an erudite speaker. 

He is highly passionate about the Nigerian project. 

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