It now seems obvious that those who sold the idea of change to President Muhammadu Buhari did not reach what lawyers call ad idem with him from the outset.
Ad idem refers to a meeting of minds of parties involved in a contract on the very essence of that agreement. It is a critical ingredient whose absence is able to vitiate any contract subjected to the test of law.
Over the past 20 months, it has become increasingly discernable that those who hawked Buhari to Nigerians as the agent of transformation only successfully communicated half of the elements of Buhari’s agency to him.
This half, from what one perceives, ends with the urgent need for a change in leadership. That critical part wherein the desire to reform a country is followed through by a series of policies and actions was either not conveyed at all or got lost at some point during the conversation.
This is why it is impossible to reconcile the President’s avowed commitment to revolutionalise the way Nigerians think and conduct themselves with some of his actions. All of this makes you wonder whether Nigerians and members of the All Progressives Congress had the same understanding of change as they worked towards the definitive 2015 elections.
And please, no one should raise that already overstretched argument about change being a tedious, long process which an impatient nature makes Nigerians misunderstands.
That suggestion by itself, is a reprehensible slight on the resilient determination of millions of Nigerians who defied all odds to vote in Buhari about 21 months ago. What those who market this idea should realise is that even the long process of instilling effective transformation should be signposted by incontrovertible evidences of a deep, research-based understanding of the problem, a theoretical and practicable framework for the reversal of the problem, a palpable determination of the leader to solve the problem without fear and favour as well as an undisguised ability of custodians of the people’s mandate to lead by example!
Subjected to any objective evaluation, it is doubtful that the Buhari administration will exceed the very base of assessments on most of these fronts. The administration has, to say the least, wallowed in uninspiring ineptitude that should currently worry every Nigerian conversant with the urgency with which this country should get of the gallows of underdevelopment.
For example, Buhari and his party men have regaled us with tales of how we found ourselves in the current economic deep pit because past leaders of Nigeria allowed the importation of everything and anything to the detriment of production at home. They have gone further to promise to redress the situation and set Nigeria on the path of irreversible development.
Part of their design to achieve this is weaning the nation off its dependence on oil through relentless diversification and the encouragement of local manufacturing. A clear way to go, everyone would agree.
Towards the achievement of the latter in particular, this government has almost since inception imposed capital controls which have seen to the restriction of the importation of a number of items and the ability of many hardworking Nigerians to transact legitimate business, attend to their health care needs or send their children to school regardless of the import of the latter to the country’s future.
The President coverts the collaboration and sacrifice of all Nigerians on these but he and some of his close aides are not exactly inclined to subjecting themselves to the very demands they make of their compatriots.
He would show total disregard for the sensibilities of Nigerians when he made that comment about being able to send his daughter to school abroad because he could afford it while insisting that those who could no longer afford it, even if through no fault of theirs, would get no help from government. A veiled suggestion that they should withdraw their children from schools abroad. Yet, he indulges in this venture that costs Nigerians a whopping N1.5tn annually. What about bringing your children back home as a sign of your commitment to improving standards at home?
It is this same rationale that would make the President jump on a plane to seek medical attention in the United Kingdom, a second time in his less than two years in office.
And here one must acknowledge the clarification by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, to the effect that his principal’s primary mission to the UK is a vacation and that the medical checkup is a mere adjunct. He went on in his usual manner to denigrate Nigerians for trying to reverse the President’s scale of priority.
But the joke here is on Adesina and the government he serves. The bitter truth is that there could never be any acceptable reason for Buhari to embark on any of these missions out of the country at this time. I will explain.
Why should a President who desires to bestow a variegated economy on his country think of a holiday abroad? In his administration research into ways in which Nigerians “waste” billions of dollars on unproductive ventures annually, did it not encounter foreign travels for holidays? Doesn’t this administration understand how much could accrue as well as how much it could save from a thriving tourism industry? What better way exists for a President to encourage his people to holiday in-country than for him to lead by that example? After all, the late Umaru Yar’Adua once did that in 2009!
And for the subsidiary purpose admitted by Adesina, this administration is gradually becoming a most pathetic failure at living to the reality of the expectations that it raised.
In two years and in spite of humongous budgetary allocations to the Aso Rock Clinic, Buhari’s government has been unable to build a world-class hospital that could treat the President and his staff and save us occasions of rushed transfers in air ambulances as was recently reported concerning his Chief of Staff, Mr. Abba Kyari!
A country in dire economic straits and bogged down by an epochal scarcity of foreign exchange should think of nothing but a conservation of its resources. It should work assiduously towards being able to treat its people and developing the capacity for medical tourism.
Rather than go out of the country to consult with medical doctors who emigrated out of the frustrations of a comatose system, the President should lead the mobilisation for the return of close to 10, 000 Nigerian medical experts in western and Middle East countries. Even if we do not have the vision to become a medical tourism hub, we could at least conserve monies in the excess of $1bn spent on this cause by our compatriots in 2013.
It is not clear whether the President’s decision to seek medical attention abroad came out of distrust of the Nigerian medical system, or the age-long honest error of seeing everything foreign as better, but it is certainly not a project that the leader of a country of Nigeria’s current travails, size and resources should invest resources, even if they were personal, in.
I do not think Buhari has left anyone in doubt about his desire to lead a turnaround in the fortunes of the country, but then this is not one of those things that you wish into reality.
The President must realise that transformational leadership isn’t just about the title; it is more about the judicious use of the opportunity and scarce resources to show positive action and examples.
Before Buhari can hope to fix Nigeria, he must first fix himself and then show the way to go. He must continually improve himself in areas that he plans to improve the country before hoping to achieve success.
Anything less will place him on the same row with every other past leader that he always gleefully disparages. It is a prospect that the President should avoid like a plague.