By NOSA IGIEBOR
President of TELL newsmagazine.
Mendacity has been the operating ideology of the All Progressives Congress. Since its inception, it has fiercely embraced deliberate falsehood and deployed it as a potent weapon of political warfare. Its leaders have an adversarial relationship with truth, and they intuitively triple down on their false claims even when overwhelming evidence contradicts them. The chief apostle of APC’s mendacity is President Muhammadu Buhari. In his predictably dour October 1st Independence Day broadcast, he again made the claim that his government had done very well and that the country was far better now than it was before he became president.
Between 2003 and 2015, he ran for president, succeeding at the fourth attempt on the platform of the special election vehicle, a.k.a. APC. Right from the onset of his presidency, he demonstrated his unpreparedness and unfitness for the office he had craved so much. His ambition to be president, to paraphrase John Crace, The Guardian of London’s inimitable columnist, far exceeds his limited talent and experience in democratic governance. Buhari is the ultimate illusionist, a two-bit magician who’s trying so hard to make us believe that the Nigeria he inherited in 2015, “that was collapsing”, according to his party’s false narrative, has turned to Nirvana under his desultory watch. This risible claim would have been laughable but for its cruel absurdity. He and his party, unapologetically amoral, lied their way to power. With another general elections just months away, they’re playing us for fools again. They did it in 2015 and 2019. Having amassed an irrefutably poor record of governance, the only option for them is to dig in deeper in their default position of trafficking in brazen lies. Since Buhari stopped pretending being president early in the year, the country has suffered more damage. He had said, in an interview with Channels TV, that he was tired, having, in his self-approving estimation, done his best for Nigeria. He had expressed hope, his tone betraying his resignation, that his ‘good work’ would be appreciated by the people. Lost on him was the irony of expecting the approval and appreciation of the people who have been traumatized and pauperized under his watch. Nigerians have never been this despondent about their accursed country, the prospects of it ever becoming normal and sane dimming every day since Buhari became president. That advertisement for himself in his latest and last Independence Day broadcast, claiming he had done well, was yet another embarrassing signal of Buhari’s confusion about what exactly he’s obligated to do as the country’s elected leader and commander-in-chief. He loves the presidency with its immense powers, limitless privileges and all the sumptuous glitz and pomp associated with the high office. But doing the job has been a real pain in his presidential ass. His almost complete disengagement from his job as president is telling, his incompetence terminal with all its terrifying ramifications and his celebration of his abject failure risible. His incompetence is like a gigantic nuclear-edged wrecking ball that has laid waste to the country in all critical areas. The economy is crippled by enormous debts that keep increasing exponentially. Insecurity endlessly metastasizes into a myriad of deadly terrorist acts, earning Nigeria the very unflattering label of being among the three most terrorized countries in the world. Corruption has gone nuclear in its brazenness and scale, exemplified by the petrol subsidy bazaar costing trillions of naira – that’s tens of billions of scarce dollars – and the industrialized theft of crude oil in broad daylight and right under the noses of those whose remit is to look after the country’s sole major foreign exchange earner. And the president has been the minister of petroleum resources since 2015. Added to all these self-inflicted setbacks is the fact that the country is now badly divided. All of which speak eloquently to the absence of leadership and the dysfunctional government it has spurned. Buhari’s failure was predictable. It’s comprehensive, extremely costly for the country, unforgettable and unforgivable. His party’s predilection for playing the blame game has become banal and is long past its sell-by date. So APC has nowhere to hide anymore. And those running on its tickets and platform have a mountain to climb if they’re to win. They can’t run on or against Buhari’s abysmal performance records. This is why the campaign of its presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, prefers to harp on his records as Lagos State governor. The campaign is making the dubious claim that he “built Lagos”, so he can build Nigeria. It’s a subtle but futile attempt to distance him from Buhari. But having openly boasted that he was instrumental to Buhari’s electoral triumph in 2015, after his three previously failed attempts, it’ll be hard for Tinubu to separate himself from the success and failure of his political partner. Unfortunately for him, Buhari’s overall record has failure, all caps, written all over it. This is the dilemma which he has to find a way to navigate without upsetting the president and his political guardians. He’s been too willing and happy to claim the major credit for Buhari’s eventual electoral success. He must be willing too, even if he’s not happy, to take some responsibility for Buhari’s disastrous presidency. Rewarding the party in any way in the next general elections will make the people willfully complicit in their betrayal by a group of political buccaneers who lied their way to victory first time in 2015. But the opposition parties, especially the PDP, need to up their games if they’re to successfully ride the pervasive wave of palpable angst against the president and his party. Despite the Buhari administration being a colossal letdown, the ruling party remains a formidable political foe that’s desperate to cling to power. And it will go into the campaign and elections with all its guns blazing. Last week, the president presented another national budget to the National Assembly, that was widely panned by many economists and financial experts as an outright dud. The budget is yet another chronicle of the sheer incompetence of the government and gross mismanagement of the economy. What stands out in the N20 trillion-plus budget is the almost N9 trillion to be borrowed to cover the huge fiscal hole. That’s about 40 percent of the total budget estimates. To be charitable, the budget is a real paean to voodoo economics, one that once more shows the intellectual poverty that pervades the government. One credit Buhari can’t be denied is his roaring success in creating an administration in his own image. It reflects everything about him: ineffectual, insular, provincial and pedestrian and intellectually lazy in its approach to solving problems. In the end, problems are not solved. They’re simply magnified again and again. So if the president and his party make the obviously false claim that the country was almost “collapsing” when they took power, what’s the country like now? Beyond the falsity of the claim, it’s self-indicting for them. They took what was almost “collapsing” and ran it down to a failed state. Where a governor can take the laws in his hands and organise a mob to violently attack a multi-billion-naira factory of the country’s foremost industrial company. Where the chief of defense staff celebrates the success of negotiating with terrorists to release their hapless hostages, after they had collected billions of naira from their families. Where lawlessness and impunity reign supreme in all facets of national life. Where the people no longer recognize their country, numbed by its all-round diminution. The list of the setbacks is long and makes for a depressing reading. Buhari has said he’s done his best and is tired, and can’t wait to get out of Aso Rock. Nigerians too are tired of the most incompetent and deceitful government they’ve ever had. They just want their nightmare of the last eight years to end. And wish that no government like this is inflicted on them again.
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Quotes:1. [The ruling] party’s predilection for playing the blame game has become banal and is long past its sell-by date. So … those running on its tickets and platform have a mountain to climb if they’re to win.
2. One credit Buhari can’t be denied is his roaring success in creating an administration in his own image. It reflects everything about him: ineffectual, insular, provincial and pedestrian and intellectually lazy in its approach to solving problems.
3. They took what was almost “collapsing” and ran it down to a failed state… Where lawlessness and impunity reign supreme in all facets of national life.
4. Buhari has said he’s done his best and is tired, and can’t wait to get out of Aso Rock. Nigerians too are tired of the most incompetent and deceitful government they’ve ever had. They just want their nightmare of the last eight years to end.