Our Demands From Mr. President

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President Muhammadu Buhari

“No one is more hated
than he who speaks the truth”
––Plato

President Buhari should address the needs of the people, writes Ayo Baje

If only our political leaders put the overall interest of our dear nation above their self-serving whims and caprices; if only they see servant-leadership as their moving mantra and if only the led majority would come to grips with the truism that democracy is indeed, theirs to dictate. That is, instead of fearing and worshipping their so-called ‘elected’ leaders, and if they have been doing that Nigeria would have moved faster into the 21st century technologically-powered knowledge economy.

But here we are in 2019 still grappling with the basic issue of conducting free, fair and credible elections; still battling with the rampaging monster of mass poverty in the midst of plenty. Here we are, still refusing to understand, or better still, accept the glaring fact that only a politically and economically restructured Nigeria, away from the bloated centre would get us, eventually out of the woods.

Yes, incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari has scored a bull’s eye by winning the much coveted presidency for a second term but that is only a part of the larger picture. And what could that be? To get the answers, or at least part of it, yours truly was out there on the busy streets moving from one newsstand to another at the Agege, Fagba, Ogba, Alausa axis of Lagos State, listening to the varied opinions of fellow Nigerians on their expectations from the winner. Call them members of the People’s Parliament, if you like but their views matter.

“Please, whoever knows Mister President should tell him that we are no more under the jackboots of military dictatorship, where might was right. He and his party, the APC should stop intimidating the opposition with the instruments of naked power – brute force and coercion.
“It is not possible for all of us to toe his line of policies and actions. He should open his mind to views outside his own. Credible opposition remains the beauty and bastion of democracy”. This came from a middle-aged, apparently learned Yoruba man dressed in green khaftan at Ogba.
“As far as I am concerned, my grouse with President Buhari is his one-sided political appointments, especially with security apparatus skewed in favour of the North. It shows that he does not trust other ethnic groups. If so, why is he referred to as Nigeria’s president? He should see himself as belonging to the entire nation”. This came from a bearded Igbo man, probably in his’40s, airing his views at Fagba.

“In my candid opinion, what the president needs to do right away is to constitute an economic think-tank. Erudite economists like Boyo, Rewane, Utomi and some others drawn from the academia should be given a free hand to critically analyze the state of the nation and fashion the best way forward.
“It is a crying shame that Africa’s largest oil producing nation should be the global capital of extreme poverty. We need an enabling environment for massive industrialization and by extension, job creation. Emphasis should shift to small and medium scale enterprises.

“One can hardly understand why state governors collect sundry bailout funds and federal allocations every blessed month yet, refuse to pay salaries and they go back to collect more! And let me add the caveat: he should be ready and willing to listen to them and of course, act on their piece of advice.” The shrill voice came from a fair-complexioned lady, perhaps in her 30s who added her view after buying a copy of a newspaper at Alausa, in Ikeja.
“As for me, we hear of the North angling for political power every time but honestly our leaders, not just the president but state governors and local government chairmen have to do much more to reduce poverty. More money should be pumped into agriculture. We need more farm produce as well as adding modern technology to go into processing and preservation, so that we too can export, instead of only consuming.

“Also, the Almajeri schools built under former President Goodluck Jonathan should be resuscitated and new ones built. We need more hospitals, more pharmacists and doctors because of some diseases peculiar to us. Our youths are severally enmeshed in the sniffing of hard drugs. They need urgent intervention from our leaders.” Adamu, who claimed to hail from Kebbi State said. He spoke at a vendor’s stand not far from the popular glass house, Abule-Egba.

“What the president should do to be seen as a man of integrity is to fight the issue of corruption without allowing for political influences. How do we explain the Barugate, the Mainagate, the IDP sleaze, and the long time it took to begin looking at the grasscutter’s allegations?
“Even worse is the issue of allegedly corrupt former governors or ministers who stole their states blind while in other political parties being welcomed to the ruling party with open arms? Is that the way to fight corruption?” The Akwa-Ibom- born Ekene spoke in his ethnic group’s characteristic accent. That was at Ogba.
Agreed, no one or leader is perfect. But what matters most is meeting the needs of the people who elected them into power. That is by articulating their vision in line with constitutional provisions and party manifestos.
What will President Buhari be remembered for?
––Baje wrote from Lagos