(OPINION) This Puny Presidency



There seems to be something about those who crave a thing so bad before they land it. When they finally get that object of their desire ennui seems to quickly embrace them and squeeze the joy out of their victory. Let’s make a quick checklist: that beautiful lady you chased for years before she said yes. That dream car; that mansion or that job you wanted badly. After you finally get it, you find yourself asking: is this all?
This must be the same feeling now with President Bola Tinubu. Storied to have craved the presidency of Nigeria for decades, he has had it for only two months and he seems to be at sea now. The excitement is gone of course! A crippling inertia is setting in. Remember Muhammadu Buhari. He got it on the fourth consecutive time he contested. However, for six months, Buhari blanked out. He couldn’t form a cabinet, the economy was on autopilot leading to the recession of 2016.


But unlike today, the Buhari presidency was a bit more robust: Abba Kyari, Mamman Daura, Isa Funtua, Ahmed Joda, etc. These were well educated, highly exposed, seasoned civil servants, and arch hegemonists. Even in their villainy, they packed a punch. They were slow but they knew where they were headed. They were crudely nationalistic, if not narcissistic in their economic outlook. And they had a rather annihilatory Fulani/ northern agenda. They made no bone about it. This was the Buhari Presidency.
The Tinubu power hub is much puny. Its circle of influence consists of Dele Alake, Femi Gbajabiamila, Wale Edun and George Akume and Vice President Kashim Shettima. As is already apparent, Alake is the power behind the throne today, but he doesn’t have Abba Kyari’s exposure or Machiavellian instincts. Alake is deficit in experience, rigour and range. Leadership is work, propaganda is fun. It’s apparent that Alake doesn’t understand this maxim, otherwise he would have kept quiet about the damming report of European Union Election Observer Mission. It was most embarrassing to see Alake go on and on about sovereignty as if EU plotted a putsch against Nigeria. Election monitoring has long become part of the settled norm in this age. EU had a duty to report its observations after an election duty. It’s obtuse to seek to rebut a report without the requisite facts. Alake made Nigeria look like a banana republic in that poor outing. That’s an unpresidential response.
Gbajabiamila is even less so, and seemingly more given to epicurean pursuits than attending to the gritty side of state affairs. Akume is an outsider and Shettima is four times removed from the epicentre. He may have to gate-crash and win his space in due time but today, he must make do with attending food shows in faraway places.
This current presidency therefore has the least ability to take off or lead. Number one is physically hobbled and mentally feeble. He needs alter- presidents around him. He needs to be surrounded by a surfeit of great minds who are also trusted. Apparently, people like Femi Osinbajo, Raji Fashola, Muiz Banire, Wale Oshun, Adebayo Williams, and the like may have been short-circuited already through limited access to the president in the precincts of power. But the point here is that presidency is a mammoth elephant and not a ram to be put in reins and be led by a fellow.


That’s how we have rolled since May 29th. The presidency is of lean stature that’s why the country is in a flux and there is much policy paralysis. Look at the palliative palaver – flip-flop. Whoever thought of the eight thousand naira per family, per month as a palliative must be living in the moon. So eight weeks after pronouncing subsidy dead, no initiative, no succour. Instead, pump price jumps astronomically again to over N600 per litre; naira gallops; inflation zooms; anarchy looms.
Fees in public tertiary education institutions have been jacked up. Most government tariffs and fees are rising while the citizenry are being ground into dust. It seems like Tinubu is having fun chasing Nigerians up and down with kumo and kondo…
Deadlines fixed by the presidency for raising a cabinet have been missed repeatedly. And we ask, why can’t an economic adviser be brought on board? Why is there no economic team yet?


The most damnable thing about Tinubu and his ragtag presidency is that they are a most apathetic set of leaders ever to beset the land. Buhari and his cabal didn’t spike subsidy for eight years not because he couldn’t. But because someone in the team had empathy. Someone must have warned that tampering with so-called subsidy would perish the people. But nobody seems to be thinking about the people under Tinubu. Perhaps nobody is thinking at all…
So while the Tinubu presidency flip-flops and doodles, Nigerians are existing like people in a trance. Most Nigerians cannot feed, they cannot commute, they cannot pay school fees. Our people are like walking dead. Does Aso Rock know? Can Aso Rock discern the magnitude of the pains inflicted on the citizenry these two months? Does Aso Rock realise that catastrophe is near?


Feedback: Email: steve.osuji@gmail.com /24.07.23

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