THE MAN WHO SOLD US CHANGE
By Akin Ojumu
Let's talk about the man who sold Nigerians a bill of goods. Some have called him the “snake oil salesman,” but me, I won’t go there – I’m in my politically correct mode today.
What’s undeniable, though, is that the man sabi talk, no be small. His mouth sweet pass garri Ijebu loaded with lots of crushed sugar cubes. As soon as he starts spinning his yarn, people stand transfixed, they gaze with mouth ajar and tongue hanging out. The man has a way of creating a Pavlov’s effect in his listening audience.
I’m talking about PYO, the man who sold us change.
With the cunningness of a used car salesman and the craftiness of an Onitsha market spare parts seller, the Pastor Professor cum Politician sweet talked us into buying a lemon which he successfully convinced us was a brand spanking new tear rubber. He showed us the shining wheels, the buffed body, and smooth leather seats, they all look new, but it’s all a lie. What he conveniently forgot to show us, and what we failed to see, was the oil leaking from underneath the aged engine that is many years past its mechanical limit.
How could you not trust what PYO says? A man in whose mouth melted butter will freeze. The moment he opened his mouth, we were sold. His eloquence, quick thinking, and mild mannered demeanor will easily turn any doubting Thomas into a fanatical believer.
He's so good that he painted a colorless man in such vivid colors that Nigerians came to fall head over heels in love with someone we knew, deep down in our soul, was ill-equipped for the job at stake. By the time the Professor was done spinning us around with his fantastical tales, we all joined in the chorus of, “Sai, Baba!” and our chants of, “Change, Change, Change!” was loud enough to wake up the dead.
Now, it is six odd years later. Nigerians – at least the ones whose heads are no longer buried in the sand of self-delusion and have woken up from PYO’s hypnotic spells – have developed a severe case of acute buyer’s remorse. Our eyes don shine and everything has become crystal clear. The lemon when Oga Professor sell us don ”climb ori odo,” the thing no gree start again.
One by one, all of PYO's assurances have fallen flat. The Pastor's prophecies have bombed big time and the good things Nigerians were promised would happen if PMB was elected president have failed to materialize. The Professor’s guarantees have been proven to be useless, they were nothing but pie in the sky.
(1) Buhari will bring change
False. The only change Buhari has brought to Nigeria is that life for the average man on the street has taken a turn for the worse. Since Buhari took office, Nigeria has overtaken India as the new poverty capital of the world.
(2) Buhari is a man of integrity who will bring an end to corruption in Nigeria
False. Corruption has gained 750 pounds since Buhari took office; it is now an 800-pound gorilla with an insatiable appetite.
(3) Buhari believes in constitutional democracy and democratic governance
False. Nigeria, under Buhari, is no different from a military dictatorship. Citizens are arrested and jailed extra-judicially, fundamental human rights are trampled upon daily, and freedom of speech and freedom of association are under attack.
(4) Buhari will revolutionize the economy
False. In January 2015, just before the presidential elections that got him the coveted job, the Naira exchanged for N180.50 to $1. Today, it is almost N600 to $1 and in a few short months will hit N1,000. Nigeria is in a rapid economic decline. Salaries of workers have not been paid for months. The standard of living has plummeted even as the cost of living has shot through the roof. All the indicators of economic viability and solvency are blinking bright red.
(5) Buhari will transform the educational system
False. Nigerian children are some of the least educated in the world. One in every five of the world's out-of-school children is in Nigeria. When asked, at a recent global conference on education, what his plan is for transforming education in Nigeria, Buhari's response was, “I can ashua you that the parents understand the value of education. So, they are saving for their children’s education.”
(6) Buhari will modernize the antiquated health care system
False. The health care system remains prehistoric. The teaching hospitals are like museums where the relics of the good old days are stored and the other hospitals are places you go to die and not to get well. Even the presidential hospital in Aso Rock is no different, it is a black hole that sucks in money into a bottomless galactic void. Whenever Buhari sneezes, he hops on the presidential jet and flies to London to receive care.
(7) Buhari will solve the perennial unemployment of Nigerian youths
False. Youth unemployment has never been higher at any point in Nigeria’s history, it's at an all-time high of 53.4 percent.
(8) Buhari will stop police brutality and harassment of innocent citizens
False. Police brutality and harassment of innocent citizens have worsened. When the victims of harassment took to the street in the #EndSARS protest, Buhari unleashed his killer squads on the protesters murdering at least 56 people around the country.
(9) Buhari will restore security in Nigeria
False. Nigeria has never been less secured. Boko Haram is having a field day. Bandits roam freely and unmolested on the highways kidnapping people for ransom and killing their prey for sport. The Fulani herdsmen, on the other hand, continue to run rampage all over the countryside destroying the means of livelihood of poor farmers and defiantly planting their flag in other people’s lands.
(10) Buhari is not a tribalist, his cabinet will reflect the national character
False. Nearly 70 percent of Buhari’s cabinet are Northerners. The choice offices and most sensitive positions are reserved for Fulani men. And his inner circle and most trusted aides are his relatives from Daura. The only character reflected in these appointments is tribalism and prebendalism.
(11) Buhari is not an Islamic fundamentalist
False. There is an ongoing concerted effort to Islamize the country. It is covert and overt, subtle and not so subtle. Where there's smoke, there's certainly fire. A palpable fear of Islamization of Nigeria pervades the country and you can feel it in the air.
I could go on and on with examples of failed empty promises. But these should do for now, the point is already made anyways. All that’s left for us to do is to go cap in hand and prostrate before the seller of change and plead, “Abeg, Oga Professor, we take God beg you. Give us our money back. We no mind, you fit keep the change.”