Remembering Buhari On Democracy Day

By Ehichioya Ezomon

It gladdens the heart to hear that you are recovering “significantly” from your prolonged ailment, which has taken you to the United Kingdom for the second time this year.

However, it’s hoped that the “good tidings” do not resemble claims, the last time, by government officials, and those privileged to have visited you in London, who maintained that you were “hale and hearty,” only for you to align with the position of critics, who doubted those claims.

Rather, the news should represent a turning point in your fight against an affliction that has held you down since mid-January when you first dispatched a letter of medical leave to the two chambers of the National Assembly.

In that letter, you said you would spend 10 working days to see your doctors, but you eventually extended the vacation to almost 50 days because, as you confessed later, you had never been so sick in your life.

Although you had hinted during your return to the country on March 10 that you might embark on a follow-up medical attention in the weeks ahead, many Nigerians had wished that that day would not come.

They had prayed that God should quickly restore your health, renew your strength and vitality, and reinvigorate your stamina so that you could resume your seat fully and continue with the mandate that Nigerians freely gave to you on March 28, 2015.

Nigerians remembered how hard and long you had fought for the presidency for 13 years, such that polity watchers compared your political struggles to those of former American President, Abraham Lincoln, who repeatedly ran for different offices till he was finally elected president.

Still, your own story is unique in that unlike Lincoln, you only wanted to be president, and you ran for the post four consecutive times.

But having won the trophy in March 2015, ill-health appears to have succeeded in draining your energy and preventing you from achieving the aims and objectives for which you canvassed to be elected the president of Nigeria.

Hence, Nigerians had hoped that you would be well enough, and be on your feet, so you could render your stewardship in the last two years, to mark the midterm of your four-year administration this May.

Recall that during your inaugural on May 29, 2015, you identified “insecurity, pervasive corruption, unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages” as the immediate concerns of the country, and you made assurances to Nigerians to tackle them. You, indeed, promised as follows:

* To fight Boko Haram insurgency until it’s completely subdued.

* To rescue alive the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.

* To fight against deep-seated corruption, by ensuring there’s responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country.

* To invest heavily in the projects, and programs in the Niger Delta, in order to strengthen the amnesty program.

* To tackle the spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes and cattle rustlings through the erection and maintenance of an efficient, disciplined people-friendly and well-compensated security forces within an overall security architecture.

* To identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light (electricity) and relief to Nigerians, as power has been traced to Nigeria’s poor economic performance over the years.

* To attack unemployment frontally through the revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining as well as credits to small and medium-size businesses, and revive major industries and accelerate the development of railways, roads and general infrastructure.

* To improve the standards of the nation’s education.

* To look at the whole field of medicare.

* To not encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government.

* To charge law-enforcing authorities to operate within the Constitution.

* To rebuild and reform the public service, to become more effective and serviceable, and to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system.

You pledged, Mr. President, that your government was going to confront these problems head on. According to you, “Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.”

Even as your first year in office snowballed into an economic recession, which rode on the back of “depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts, and shortfalls in production and revenues,” Nigerians were, and have been eager to know how many of these promises you have fulfilled, how many were unfulfilled and why they were not achieved?

Somehow giving you the benefit of the doubt when there was not much to report as scorecard, they had looked forward to the end of the second year for such accountability.

But alas, the epochal day, dubbed ‘Democracy Day,’ which also marked the midterm of your administration, passed without your presence in the country to give that report card, which is your burden to render!

Your ailment, which you have declined so far to disclose its status to Nigerians, has caused a big void in the polity, not in terms of governance for which you have a capable team led by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, but in your absence as a strong voice, a rallying point, and a father-figure that you represent and symbolize for the country.

Nevertheless, in the face of calls for you to resign or be impeached on alleged incapacity to perform the functions of your office, many Nigerians wish you a return to good health so that you could resume to discharge your duties to the people.

It’s their prayer that you will physically witness and lead the pageantry for the last two anniversaries of your inauguration in 2018 and 2019.

Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.