President Muhammadu Buhari’s back-to-back media interviews this week took Nigerians by storm, dominated the trends, and threw up many talking points. This does not come as a surprise as Nigeria has in the last six years been saddled with a taciturn leader. Buhari prefers to speak to Nigerians through surrogates even when the people and the occasion demand that he communicates directly with Nigerians.
The situation was such that some prominent Nigerians had accused presidential spokespersons of embarking on a frolic of their own and using the President’s name to further narrow interests. There was also the charge of a President who avoided local press but is quick to speak with the foreign media whenever he is outside the shores of Nigeria.
It is against this backcloth that it was heartening to watch the President being interviewed by a private television network and the state broadcaster this new year. Such sessions take the people into the inner recesses of the mind of a reclusive leader ensconced in his presidential villa. Now that legacy beckons, the President has seen the need to directly create an impression in the minds of Nigerians rather than rely on his mouthpieces to do this. Nevertheless, the President was not smelling of roses when the pre-recorded interviews are deconstructed.
The President did Nigerians a great service in the media appearances with his sincerity. For starters, he claimed to have done his best for the country. Not too long ago, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who seems to know the President more than some sycophants around him, advised Nigerians to stop expecting anything more from Buhari as he has given his best. The President’s handlers immediately went on the defensive mode and tried to pull the wool over Nigerians in making them see the need to keep faith with the administration.
Now that the President has confirmed Obasanjo’s assertion, Naija News advises the President to be more concerned about the result of his best. Looking at the performance indicators in his administration’s focal areas of Economy, Security and Anti-Corruption, are these really the best he wanted for Nigerians when he tenaciously sought to be the President of the Republic for four-record time? How can the President deliver an underwhelming performance after the overpromise made by him and his party at the campaign trail? How can the Governor of his Katsina State advise residents to buy arms to defend themselves against rampaging bandits only for Buhari, a retired Army general, to say he expects Nigerians to understand that he has done his best? This best really needs to be interrogated!
An attempt was made at this when one of his interviewers laid bare the official facts that show the deplorable state of the country. Responding, the President started by questioning the statistics which were from the National Bureau of Statistics! Pray, what facts and figures have the Presidency and Cabinet members been feeding their principal?
Although Nigerians are quite nostalgic when it comes to rating former leaders, they won’t forget that the President declared in 2022 that “All I know is that we have to allow people to have access to the farm. We just have to go back to the land”. A 21st Century President stated this at a time when tech companies are raking in profits higher than the national budget! How can Buhari be encouraging Nigerians to embrace crop farming when murderous herdsmen won’t allow locals to farm in peace. What is the contribution of Agriculture to the GDP that the President is this fixated on farming?
Meanwhile, we consider it disconcerting that the call to embrace agriculture was the best response the President could give in response to the conservative fact that, “When you took over in 2015, our debt stock at the time was about 12 trillion, now it’s about 32 trillion. The inflation rate was about 9 per cent, it’s now sitting at about 15 per cent; the unemployment rate was about 9.2 per cent, it’s now at about 32.2 per cent; exchange (rate) was about N197 to a dollar, now it’s way over N400 to a dollar”.
How can the President be comfortable with this supposed best when unemployment in Nigeria surged to the second-highest on a global list of countries monitored by Bloomberg newspaper? A report published by the NBS on its website has it that, “The jobless rate in Nigeria rose to 33.3 per cent in the three months through December (2020)”. That’s up from the 27.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, the last period for which the agency released labour-force statistics.
Howbeit, Naija News is grateful to the President for opening the eyes of Nigerians to the limitations of gerontocracy. The 79-year-old Buhari said, “The age is telling on me, working now for six, seven to eight hours per day in the office is no joke — there are questions of the executive council, memos from as many states as possible to be considered virtually every week. Really, it’s a lot of hard work, but as I’ve said, I asked for it and I cannot complain.”
Naija News calls on the Nigerian electorate to be guided by this disclosure as politicians intensify jostling for the 2023 elections. Nigeria needs an energetic and youthful leader to reclaim the country from the doldrums. Aside from the inability to meet up with the rigours of office, the country can’t afford another leader who will be the product of his generation and only care about outdated policies and programmes.
Before gerontocrats and enables would argue that the United States and the United Kingdom have octogenarians and nonagenarian leaders, let them bear in mind that these countries have working systems that moderate and ease the grind of their leaders. It’s also a fact that leaders in the western world rarely reduce their age for political advantage. Since Nigerian politicians are adept at lying about their age in order not to be deemed unelectable, let citizens be guided by their “football age” at least.
It is also on this ground that Naija News calls on members of the National Assembly to be patriotic enough to amend the Constitution so that there can be an age limit for those seeking public office, particularly the office of the President which Buhari has rightly noted is quite tedious. For the love of God and country, it is our considered opinion that this age limit should be 60 years.
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