By Tunde Olusunle

Alexander Abolore Adegbola Akande, better known by the stage name 9ice it was, who produced and popularised the song “Street Credibility,” as one of his famous offerings in the early years of his two-decade career. It was his message to critics and doubters of the genuineness of his artistic talent. It was signal of his preparedness to carve a niche for himself on the star-studded entertainment scene. He dared dissenters to “check my fans,” to interrogate his file of followers, his street credibility, as it were and be convinced he was on the social scene for good and would distinguish himself. Gongo aso, (something momentous will be), was the first hit from the album, which received global airplay. 9ice has gone ahead to entrench himself on the artistic scene as one of the nation’s renowned musical artistes.

Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, on Thursday January 26, 2023, began a two-day official visit to his home state, Katsina. Aminu Masari his host and chief executive of the state, lined up one dozen projects for commissioning and inspection by his guest. Just before Buhari’s coming, Masari had approved a whopping N500 million, shared evenly among the local government areas in the state, for the mobilisation of their constituents. They were needed to accord rousing welcome to their special guest and homeboy, Buhari. People actually had to receive fiscal inducement and be herded into all manner of vehicular contraptions, to enable them receive their president, a son-of-the-soil for that matter. With a fair idea of government expenditure spreadsheet for events such as the coming of an August guest like the president or a high profile foreign dignitary, government spending would easily be more.

Government facilities would be freshly lacquered and adorned with new furnishings. There would be durbars, state banquets and souvenirs for the big masquerade and his entourage, among other subheadings. With Buhari’s continuing flirtation with his kinsmen in Niger and Chad republics, there could be high level representation from both countries, of course at the expense of the host entity. This is not precluding the quantum guzzle of premium motor spirit, (PMS) by the hundreds of automobiles involved in the visit, ever racing at demon-crazed velocities, as though there will be no tomorrow. When the figures are tallied, Buhari’s official visit could easily outstrip the billion naira mark!

The commissioning and inspection of projects such as flyovers, roads, healthcare facilities, educational infrastructure, manufacturing concerns among others, featured on Buhari’s itinerary during the visit. Masari earned profuse plaudits from his special guest for the tangible and visible investments of his administration in his state and the citizenry. Katsina seems to have been privileged since the outset of the fourth republic, with visionary and committed leaders. Umaru Yar’Adua who was a two-term governor before his shortlived stint as president, set the pace in visionary governance. I was on the entourage of former president Olusegun Obasanjo on a state visit in 2002, and was impressed by what I saw, especially in the area of the provision of road infrastructure across the state.

Yar’Adua equally earned adulation from Obasanjo for his remarkable frugality, which fits into Obasanjo’s principal mantra for leadership recruitment. Yar’Adua’s thrifty approach to administration, was one of the attributes which earned him consideration by Obasanjo as successor. A few other very competent, committed alternatives, were bypassed by Obasanjo in the process. Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo’s deputy, and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, a heavily decorated former army general, were possibilities. Ibrahim Shema, Yar’Adua’s successor in Katsina, progressed the state from that point, from the bit I glimpsed in 2014 when I attended the annual conference of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE), hosted by the Katsina State Government. Reports about Buhari’s most recent visit, seem to lend credence to the continuing endowment of the state with performing leaderships.

In some of the public functions he attended in recent weeks and months, Buhari has alluded to three principal issues, as his administration winds down in four months, inevitably. First, he believes he has done his very best serving Nigeria since he was inaugurated May 29, 2015. I imagine he probably wants us to be grateful to him for offering us his “very best services.” Secondly, he wants to stay as far as possible from the seat of government, Abuja, so as not be construed as meddling with the successor administration. Third, he desires that history be kind to him, when stock is taken of his eight year regime, vis-a-vis the achievements of his predecessors.

Last July, daredevil terrorists ambushed Buhari’s advance party convoy in Dutsinma, en route the president’s country home in Daura. A few members of the president’s entourage received bullet wounds and were treated in a hospital. On the very day of Buhari’s most recent visit to his home state, rampaging youths pelted his convoy of vehicles with stones and satchet water. They made bonfires on the streets, chanting bamuyi, bamuyi in Hausa, meaning “we are not interested.” Shouts of “we no go do, we are tired of you…no jobs, no life,” equally enveloped the air at various points navigated by Buhari and his voyeurs in the cause of that visit.

If Buhari needed a foretaste of the manner of reception he would be accorded by Nigerians upon the completion of his eight year tour of duty, his kinsmen gave him one last week. Life has not been any less excruciatingly difficult, practically unbearable, thoroughly despairing and mortally despondent as has been witnessed under Buhari’s watch. Interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola missed the joke when he presented the scoresheet of his ministry, recently. The renunciation of Nigerian citizenship by 150 Nigerians in 2022 alone, relative to the tally in preceding years, is very eloquent testimony to the grand failure of the Buhari government.

Renunciation of country of birth is evidence of the crass failure of such a country, to fulfil its basic obligations to its citizenry, and earn the respect of their roots. Such a situation has compelled them to seek shelter and livelihood in other lands. An entity has lost capacity in various ways, the ability to sustain the minimum regards and respect of its people for their springs of origin, is that which is so repudiated. There are of course nationals with dual nationalities, who have unconditionally retained affiliations to the land of their birth. Renunciation, however, is total severance of every cord of relationship with one’s primordial fountains.

Under President Buhari, Nigeria has revolved full circle, to the better forgotten days of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state. The queues of Buhari’s essenco days between 1984 and 1985, when Nigerians lined up in the blistering sun and pouring rains to buy “essential commodities” so abbreviated, are back for good. Nigerians queued for measures of rice, bottles of cooking oil, sachets of salt, loaves of bread, packets of sugar, and tablets of soap. Under the same Buhari today, snaky queues for petrol, kerosene and diesel, spiralling lines at automated teller machines, (ATMs) and collection points of permanent voter’s cards, (PVCs), are the sustained contemporary decors on the nation’s streets.

Young Nigerian job seekers respond in millions to every advertisement for a handful jobs. Higher degree holders contest for menial jobs with their less qualified applicants, just to keep body and soul together. Young people take forever to get married and raise families these days, principally because of the lack of sustainable means of socioeconomic survival. This has fuelled increased emigration by Nigerians across generations to foreign lands. Aregbesola confirms this when he alludes to the issuance in 2022 alone, almost two million international passports to Nigerians. The japa syndrome has been accentuated under Buhari, with Nigerians seeking refuge and sustenance in some of the most impossible destinations. It would not be out of place to find Nigerians in a place like Iceland!

Buhari’s most recent missile-and-pebble trailed visit to Katsina State, is a foretaste of what he may yet encounter after his disengagement from office. Irrespective of whatever name they may be called, the protesters echoed the voices of several millions of Nigerians, weeping, hissing, shaking their heads in despair in the recesses of their rooms. He is a man who promised so much to Nigerians after being eventually voted into office, after three failed attempts. He is a president in who so much hope was invested. Except for identifiable bright spots in the provision of road infrastructure, Buhari’s reincarnation in civilian garbs, could well pass for a better forgotten interregnum in the nation’s sociopolitics. Nigerians can barely wait to see his back and welcome a genuinely humanist leadership. Atiku Abubakar represents that possibility even on the strength of what he has continued to do in his capacity as a private citizen.

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, GCON

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