By Isaac Asabor
It is not an exaggeration to say that when Leo Tolstoy was inspired to author the quote that says, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”, that he might had conceived in his mind, a country that was reminiscent of Nigeria.
Against the foregoing backdrop, a retrospective look will reveal that on March 17, 2009, that Nigerians were stirred to an intense campaign on attitudinal change. The catchphrase of the campaign then was, “Nigeria, Good People, Great Nation”. The idea, which was credited to the then Minister of Information and Communications, late Prof Dora Akunyili, was highly seen by the politicians of that political dispensation to be a magic wand.
It will recalled in this context that after the launch of the slogan and logo for the rebranding project that Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who was then a Vice-President, challenged Nigerians not to perceive the campaign as another exercise in sloganeering. He assured that it should be perceived as a genuine attempt at making every Nigerian to be imbued with a renewed commitment to the recreation of the country.
A dispassionate analysis of the philosophy behind the campaign would no doubt leaves the hunch that the politicians, who have since 1999 been operating the machineries of governance at the three tiers of governance, have refused to believe that they are the problem Nigeria has as a country. They are wont to erroneously point accusing fingers at the people. Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that they are not oblivious of the fact that they knew something is wrong with our nation, and that they are collectively the cause. In as much as one cannot run away from the fact that the problems have a huge impact on the psyches of Nigerians, it is expedient to say that the four-worded slogan “good people, great nation” conveys a deep message. Unfortunately, for a nation to be great, its leaders must first be good. In this context, and to the view of this writer, it is the politicians that must be the first to be good before attempting to change the people. But why have the leaders not changed; particularly as it concerns their attitude to governance. The reason for the foregoing cannot be farfetched as it is obvious that Nigerians have literarily been displaying bad products (politicians) in the market (in government). It is unarguably foolhardy that when it comes to supporting and choosing aspiring political leaders that the electorates hardly consider the good ones even if it is idiomatically said that “It is an act of stupidity to market a bad product.
A few years later, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) under Mike Omeri launched a fresh campaign anchored on the slogan: “Do The Right Thing”. Hitherto, the effort met with similar droopiness by people whose attention it was meant to arrest.
The reason for the droopiness that characterized the campaign cannot be farfetched as there was an obvious disconnect in the campaign between the people and those in government.
In a similar vein, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration rode to power by literarily chanting the Change Mantra that promised to give the country a new direction, inject a sense of urgency and purpose into the business of governance. With the promise, Nigerians chose the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate above former President Goodluck Jonathan, because of the perception that as a former military leader, he has the experience and better positioned to tackle Boko Haram insurgency, growing insecurity in the East and the unrest in the Niger Delta region. There was a high expectation that corruption would be tackled head on and policies initiated to create employment opportunities.
Ostensibly etching the mantra on the mindsets of Nigerians, the presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was formally inaugurated in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, in January 2015 with its candidate in the February 14 election, Muhammadu Buhari, promising to tackle corruption, insecurity and economy, if elected.
Mr. Buhari, as being addressed in the context such as this, told the party faithful at the Adokiye Amasiemeka Stadium, venue of the event that he would pick competent hands to run the nation’s economy, which he said is in poor shape, while he noted that the then worsening level of corruption in the country, and said it could no longer be tolerated, even as he asked all eligible voters in the country to secure their voters cards and go ahead to mobilize others to vote in other to effect the desired change.
“The fundamental issue facing this country is insecurity and the problem of economy which was being made worse by corruption. I assure you that we are going to finally assemble a competent team of Nigerians to efficiently manage the country,” he said.
“I am appealing to you, the damage done to this country is great. The level of unemployment, level of insecurity is intolerable. The journey has begun. It will take time, it will take patience, and it will take support from you to make sure that we succeed.”
However, as a public analysts, if I am asked to categorically say whether the president and his team in government have rightly changed the Nigerian economy and halted the sweeping level of insecurity he inherited in 2015, I may not be able to convince a great number of Nigerians with my answer as the appraisal of the performance of Buhari-led APC government would always be like the lesson learnt from six blind men who attempted to describe an elephant by their sense of touch. It was said that the blind man who felt the leg said the elephant was like a tree. The one who felt the belly said the elephant was like a wall. One felt the tail and said the elephant was like a rope. Another felt the trunk and said the elephant was like a snake. The blind man who felt the ears said the elephant was like a hand fan while the one who felt the tusk concluded that the elephant was like a spear.
Against the foregoing backdrop, it is obvious that each of the blind men’s subjective perception was true, albeit limited, yet untrue from a holistic perspective. There are variations to this story but its core moral is that perception is limited and will not always give a full picture of reality.
For the sake of clarity, it is expedient to say that the trio of Lai Mohammed, Garba Shehu and Segun Adesina will at any time not see the performance of the president the same way this writer would see the president’s performance.
Be that as it may, the lesson drawn from the blind men’s collective experience does not rule out the fact that not few Nigerians are at moment murmuring that the change which was promised by President Muhammadu Buhari right from the 2015 pre-election campaigns has not taken place. Instead, according to them, Nigerians are now passing through difficult conditions. They even say the ‘change mantra’ is just a motto but not empirical or pragmatic.
In the Christendom, the book of 1 Samuel chapter 16 verse 7 says, “The LORD seeth not as a man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance but the LORD looketh on the heart”. In the same nexus, in politics, the electorate tend to cast votes for candidates based on their outward appearances.
Many a politician had in the past appeared to voters with pleasing mien only for the politician to reveal through his seemingly anti-people activities and utterances while in office, that he or she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The electorate have at the dawn of each political dispensation been misled by politicians who deceitfully used their quiet disposition or their achievements in their various professions or businesses as their Unique Selling Point (USP) during election campaigns only for them to fail in meeting the people’s expectations during their political tenure.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Policy Analyst.