Buhari’s Teething Problems : Gaffes Upon Gaffes, Blunders Unlimited

Igbos will tell you that the taste of the coming faeces can be known from the flavor of the heralding fart.

Fodder for the naysayers. The camp of the opposition is buzzing with derision and mockery. And if your sympathy lies with the president you will not fail to be irritated by the tactlessness that has become rampant in his corner.

But it is perhaps more unbearably annoying for his fans because it’s all largely gratuitous , largely recklessly self inflicted.

A certain awkwardness now dogs just about everything. The bulk of the president’s admirers have not lost their confidence, though worry is gradually seeping to the surface.

On the major issues, particularly terror and anti corruption wars, he is believed to be laying solid foundations. But how long will public confidence endure the distractions and lapses? A sobriquet has attached.

Not “Action man” , which would have been my prediction in April , but “Baba go slow” . That may even be mild, other traducers want something more cruel.
The opposition has to be strong, virile and vocal. Political vigilantism cannot be performed halfheartedly.

Committed irreverent fanatics must people the opposition . Whatever energizes them is good for our democracy. Many who were happy to see the APC emerge , do not want a one party state. They want a combative and competitive PDP.

The president’s fans should take the goofs and taunts in good faith and hope they don’t mean much more. Presumably the presidential gaffes have served our democracy well. They have unwittingly helped rejuvenate and galvanize a beleaguered and disintegrating opposition by giving them hope.

The president accepts he has been slow but assures he has been deliberately cautious. I believe him but for some others that is cheap sophistry , futile attempt to mask his ill preparedness. PDP says he has been clumsy.

Asiwaju says it’s still honeymoon, the opposition counters that a nation in dire straits has no such luxury. Let’s forget the Saraki and Dogara matter. No cabinet in two months?

Not heartwarming but understandable. No economic adviser for so long with the economy going through such precarious turbulence? Strange. And if the president has run for president 4 times then it is not out of place to wonder who had been advising him on the economy.

It’s easy to muddle up names – West Germany and Michelle . And that is why world leaders go through some briefings before major meetings. The president should know that his performances at these meetings affect the morale of ordinary Nigerians.

Let’s accept these slips are fairly commonplace , Obama referred to Nigeria as an East Africa African country. But Obama won’t mix up his party’s name. And the Chibok girls weren’t abducted from hotels. One slip too many ? He will get better.

The probes are coming and a deluge of filth is expected. We are told Jonathan is itching to speak, some say he has been clandestinely rallying peacemakers , urging them not to forget. At some point something will have to give. The president, reputed for taciturnity, has been made garrulous by the sheer weight of the revelations.

When a frog runs in the afternoon, they say, it is either after something or something is after it. Barking is good, biting is better. Ministers sold a million barrels of crude daily ?

And funneled monies into private accounts? Crude vessels were diverted, accounts switched , billions siphoned? The president has dabbled into the “18” as they say, he must go for broke or lose the public.

Some advise that the president should allow the criminal justice process to run its course quietly .Sensationalism before conclusion of investigations puts the cart before the horse and impacts negatively on the process. A process whose legitimacy partly depends on the perception of fairness.

In politics , tact may mean that forthrightness should be bridled, curtailed. It’s sometimes politically indecent to parade the truth unclothed, naked. Joe Biden is loved but when Joe Biden speaks from the heart his fans are filled with trepidation.

Not because he may forget the name of his party or that he may refer to Russia as USSR, no. But because he may voice publicly those things politicians do but will never openly speak about.

President Buhari may not have Biden’s legendary flippancy but he is so inflexible and so forthright that political tact does not come naturally to him. And when he speaks now, I fret.

The president was at the US institute for peace. He was asked a question that was centered on Niger Delta militants , illegal oil bunkering and inclusive governance.

He had need for the moderator to clarify something about ‘inclusiveness’. I would like to believe he didn’t hear the question well. But let me accept the position of many opposition activists that he didn’t understand the word ‘inclusiveness’.

He sought the help of the moderator and many insist that is unforgivable. They say he is obsolete. They wont give him any benefit of the doubt, they, whose delusion that he has no certificate has remained insoluble.

And someone, a political pharisee, bemoaned her fate of being a Nigerian saddled with the misfortune of a president who knows not the meaning of ‘inclusiveness’ and who had not the shame to hide such an inadequacy on a world stage. Bigotry, truly has many outlets.

Many other politicians of guile would have just rambled on. Propelled by self deceit or pride or foolery or a combination of those .

They would have ignored any words they didn’t understand and proceeded perhaps with the confidence of a con artist. But what would an honest man intent on giving truthful answers to questions do if asked a question that left him with the need of clarification of a word?

The opposition can rightfully mock him but his supporters and others should see virtue in his disposition. But it didn’t end there.
In the attempt to deal with that question on inclusiveness the president , honest to a fault, dabbled into what many politicians would never say.

Political correctness is socially acceptable pretense and perversely it has become a virtue. Politicians favour their supporters and favour communities who give them good votes. Campaigns are often bargains. Vote me and I will provide you with XYZ.

In the face of scarce resources any elected official may do a bit more for individuals and communities that contributed more to his victory. Obama is now a salesman for gay rights groups.

The president talked about 97% and 5 %. And since 97% sounds like the core north, some have concluded that he is an unrepentant sectionalist. It doesn’t matter that the speech ,taken as a whole, cannot support that conclusion.

He had stated that everyone and every community will get their dues and that the constitution he has sworn to uphold precludes him from discriminating against anyone. And I understand that to mean that only with respect to ‘extras’ will the 97% group may get a bit more.

But 97% does not necessarily translate to northern Nigeria. Perhaps if the federal government decides to establish 6 federal libraries or zoos across the country , one in every region, then Imo may get that of the southeast.

Even though all the other southeastern states may be potentially good sites. And Kano may be similarly rewarded in the northwest. Every party , every politician , will do same but none will voice it and that is why many of his supporters see this show of forthrightness as a blunder.

Candour was flaunted but many saw vindictiveness and divisiveness. The PDP and the opposition insist it was a portentous and dangerous statement. They claim the truth has emerged, pretentions have fallen off and that the president truly belongs to some group after all. If it was a slip , they insist it was a Freudian slip.

That which was buried in the heart, the mouth has let out. Do politicians in reality favour certain constituencies ? Do votes affect distribution of resources? Should votes matter in the distribution of resources?

Should votes matter in the distribution of resources? Can the president truly be father of all while remembering things like 5%? The moral ideal is equal treatment for all but that is not the practice. But shouldn’t presidential speeches espouse moral ideals ?

Is the president forthright, poorly tuned or patently vindictive?

Some will say a glance at the appointments made so far will help. I don’t subscribe to this view. Major appointments are yet to be made but the president went to the US with 33 men and not a single woman . That is simply sacrilegious.

Mama Peace once claimed a president Buhari would send women back to the kitchen! Fight for gender equality is as important as the war against terror.
And only a man from the south east made that trip?

Naivety , poor judgment, in the season of Nnamdi Kanu . And his Radio Biafra. Biafra is about freedom fighting but Nnamdi Kanu is a rabble rouser and his radio Biafra project , in my estimation, is a scheme for private aggrandizement . Rabble rousers should not be aided by avoidable indiscretions that estrange hearts and minds. Why hand them easy converts?

Igbos complain of marginalization, 5% talk doesn’t help such a perception and tongues have been wagging. Why then the unhelpful hair splitting at NIMASA, why couldn’t the man who had resumed as acting head just remained? Isn’t anyone getting fed up with reversals.
The president must become sensitive to little things .

He must not fritter away goodwill needlessly. INEC is a sensitive organization. And in the aftermath of a general election it is particularly sensitive. Jega’s departure was planned so a handover to an acting head should have been mere routine. Avoidable tardiness and confusion at INEC invariably invite suspicions .

The legitimacy of an umpire ,in part, rests on her acceptance by major stakeholders. How was even this, this handover bungled and made controversial?
Passion untempered can be counterproductive. Buhari understands the Leahy law. The law makes moral sense. Why give sophisticated weapons to butchers?

Buhari, in opposition, vociferously condemned alleged human rights abuses by some of our military units. Buhari, the president , has promised to investigate these abuses. But strangely , before he has even commenced proper investigations and prosecutions, he wants the law disabled.

He pointedly holds the application of the law partly responsible for the failure of our military to contain the insurgency. He employed the words “aided and abetted”.

 He read from a prepared speech. That was a major inexcusable blunder. The use of ‘unwittingly’ and ‘unintentionally’ cannot mitigate the damage. Cosmetic.

It doesn’t relieve the law of undeserved blame wrongly ascribed to its application. Buhari is passionate but diplomatic language should be well nuanced. Who wrote that speech?

It is true and good that the president is being held to higher standards, even by his critics, than his predecessors? And his every word and step are being scrupulously scrutinized?

That is change in the right direction.

The President will get better. (Vanguard)

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