Even though patently catastrophic, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media outing last week to celebrate his second year of his second term gave us a breather kind of. But for the interviews, we would not have known his mindset on some salient issues leading to a dot in the circle statement that has now become a subject of discourse.
President Buhari’s inability to connect that dot in the circle, amounts to part of the reason why the country is presently helpless with all manner of criminalities and agitations. The dot, in a wheel of progress, represents the centre of attraction, holding the spokes, from where all other powers derive their stability.
What he meant to say was intended to contextually demean the Igbos, but in real terms, it ended up as a solid acknowledgment of the industry and gravitas of an average Nigerian of Igbo extraction. Every wheel has a dot in the circle.
Remove the dot and kill the technology of it. Bicycles, motorcycles, cars, trucks, and all other automobiles, have a dot in their wheels which hold together the connecting rods that offer stability. Without that dot, the mobility of these technologies would be impaired and grounded.
Those interviews only invoked a deep sense of pity in me, seeing and watching my president staggering to make sense of the public relations outing with ARISE and NTA television stations. I was the more perplexed that a supposed 21st century president could re-invoke the banality of a 1964 and 1965 laws on grazing to connect the dot in our present emanations, such antiquities and otiose laws that have been overtaken by civilisation.
But President Buhari is still detained by such laws in trying to explain away his intervention in solving the puzzle of open grazing. Always ready to defend his colleague cattle rearers, the president proudly declared that the grazing routes of yesteryears would be reactivated to give the Fulani herder right of way. This is Nigeria of the 21st century.
A century of ideas, innovations, inventions, and plausible dynamics that talks so much about connecting the dots. An age of introspection and breaking new grounds in technology to unknot problems that dominate the space.
In President Buhari’s stone-age world, cattle rearing and nomadic pastoralism remain the latest technology and invention. 1964 gazette must be invoked by his lieutenant, the Minister of Justice, in show of raw power, to make the herders feel at home as a nomad. If Ajaokuta steel company blocks the right of way,
Buhari will pull it down. If Itakpe railway obstructs the grazing routes, it will be pulled down. In a new world order, where the discourse now centres around artificial intelligence, electric cars, space technology, internet connectivity, climate change, innovations, inventions, cyber intelligence and other associated fields of information technology, president Buhari is still detained by sheer primitiveness.
And that exactly is the Achilles heels of the Nigerian situation. When modern dynamics is in conflict with stone-age knowledge, the rendition is what we have on our hands, knowledge versus ignorance.
The kernel of Buhari’s interview shied away from these technological platforms, and dwelt more on grazing routes, the language they best understand, a dot in the circle, my cousins are in Niger, and a couple of other disjointed thoughts that underscore the real problems before us.
The G7 leaders were in Cornwall, attending a meeting of how to contend with climate change and other aspects of the global economy while our president was drawing strength from antiquated laws of the early 1960s in dealing with nomadism and open grazing. He often chuckled in the course of the interview in a manner that distracted from his thought process.
Despite the fact that both interviews were not aired live, and with meticulous editting, we could still see the loose ends; no deeper interrogation, no follow up questions, no drilling, no grilling, some kind of cut and paste scenario.
The president’s response to some questions was quite humiliating. When the president of a country who should have unfettered access to statistics and information, decides to advertise ignorance, it becomes a shame for the entire country, especially those who voted for him. His reference to oil selling for $100 pre-2015 was most ridiculous. Between 1999 and 2015, crude oil price was never stable.
During the first eight years of this democracy, between 1999 and 2007, oil price oscillated between $26 and $70, at a time that the exchange rate was around N80 and N130. From 2007 to 2011, there was a partial increase in the price of crude oil. That was when the oil price hit the $100 mark within few months. On the cummulative, oil price stood at an average of $61 per barrel between 1999 and 2014.
Given the exchange rate presently and the declining value of the naira, whatever oil is selling for at present means more money because of the exchange rate. That means more money for president Buhari.
This idea of always thinking that PDP earned so much in its 16 years of governance pales into insignificance when you compare the exchange rate that the Buhari presidency has led the naira.
Point it, comparing previous governments in trying to rationalise his failure, President Buhari misfired in his data. And his handlers have refused to educate him to at least stop exhibiting and parroting such unverifiable data that never existed in our oil books and records. In 2019, when the president spoke to ARISE TV, he repeated similar false statistics. One would have thought that two years later, he would have been properly schooled on the true perspectives of the real figures.
But it does seem President Buhari has a mindset, and appears detained by those weather beaten false figures which have become his familiar rhythm. It takes away so much from a president to maintain repeating false statistics in such ridiculous manner. But in Buhari’s world, mindset is mindset. He speaks as though he wants to run another election and seems to be preparing soundbites for his campaigns. He doesn’t seem to realise that he is the current president who is expected to provide leadership for the country’s over 200million people.
Less than two years from now, president Buhari would have been retired to his hometown of Daura, and he may end up blaming his lacklustre performance on oil prices that never existed.
Truth is, President Buhari is far flong away from the realities on ground, reason why he chose to dwell on antiquated laws of 1964 gazette on grazing routes, than taking a deliberate step to nip the nefarious activities of the killer herdsman in the bud.
The reference does not only tell of the primitiveness of reasoning, it exposes the underbelly endorsement which the average Fulani herder has enjoyed under the Buhari presidency. Speaking for the herder and the reality of AK-47, president Buhari remains a generous defence counsel of the average Fulani herder, who, according to him, carries cutlass to cut foliage as he grazes in the forest.
The reality of the AK-47 wielding herdsman has not dawned on him. In a sophisticated world where crimes are committed at the slightest prompting, speaking in the manner that Buhari did, was a good way to embolden the killer herdsman.
The infrastructure that president Buhari talked so glamourously about are just a drop in the ocean. Part of his intervention in the railway sector is a continuation of the previous government’s effort which Buhari is desperately trying to make us forget.
Our roads are still largely decayed. Our housing sector is a far cry from international standards. Our health sector infrastructure are still in their parlous state, forcing the president to seek medical tourism each time he needed to attend to his health needs. Our tourism potentials have remained all time low, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unemployment ridicules the claim that 10.5million people have been pulled out of poverty in the last five years. 33% unemployment statistics is unsustainable, reason why insecurity persists and assuming a frightening dimension day in day out. 93 persons were killed in Zamfara yesterday, while other geopolitical zones are having their share of killings and blood-letting.
Allowing Nigerians to be slaughtered everyday while priding yourself on infrastructural renewal is a slap on our collective sensibilities. President Buhari must be told the plain truth: he has failed woefully to provide leadership.
Rather than unite us in the spirit of collective bargaining and national consensus, he has polarised the country and further deepened the chasms of ethnicity by his dot-in-acircle claim. So hurtful.