LAST MONDAY evening, news
filtered in that newly sworn in
American president, Donald
Trump would hold a telephone
conversation with holidaying or
recuperating (depending on the
information you are working
with) President Mohammadu
Buhari. Apart from the surprise
announcement, Nigerians were
equally eager to see whether the
conversation would hold and
not another of the propaganda
that Nigerians have been fed
with in recent time, to prove
that the president was and is still
‘hale and hearty’, according to
the acting President, Professor
The conversation eventually
took place. As with everything
that had been subjected to
social media scrutiny and query
by Nigerians, doubts were
raised about whether President
Buhari actually spoke with the
American president. Nigerians
had cause to doubt whether
a telephone conversation
took place. Weeks after the
president left the country on an
extended 10-day leave, which
was supposed to culminate
with him seeing his doctors,
the issue that dominated the
cyberspace especially when the
president decided to extend his
stay without a clear cut date of
return was his health status.
Information had filtered in
that the president had passed
on. It wasn’t as if anybody
was wishing him dead, but his health status had been shrouded
in so much secrecy that it was
difficult to know what to believe.
Who would blame our people?
The experience with former
President Musa Yar’Adua is still
fresh in the memory. After several
weeks and months of hide and
seek, the citizen eventually got
to know that President Yar’Adua
was dead. It was a fact that could
no longer be hidden.
So with President Buhari,
Nigerians were still unconvinced
that he was still alive. They
thought they were still being taken
for a ride in the usual way, in
spite of assurances from different
But I have issues with the All
Progressives Congress (APC)
and President Buhari. Even
when those who surrounds the
president are saying differently,
Nigerians needed assurance from
the president himself, they wanted
to know the problem with him.
They found it difficult to accept
the information from Aso Rock
media managers. You can’t blame
them, once beaten, twice shy as it’s
often said. All they wanted was
assurance, they wanted to hear
from the president. It was a simple
enough thing to arrange.
They wanted the president
to speak to them. They wanted
to see him ‘live’. But they were
disappointed. The APC, the
president and his media minders
didn’t see any need for it. It was
a display of sheer arrogance,
that the people do not matter. It
is surprising that the president
equally decided to keep quiet and
didn’t feel the need to speak with
the people, unless Nigerians are
still not being told the entire truth
about his health status. You could
have a lot of people visitin. It does
not indicate anything. People have
visited some people like that they
pay their last respect? It does not
mean everything is perfect.
Why then would the president
not want to speak to his people.
People who stood in the hot sun to
vote for him. People who gave him
the mandate to govern. Coming
out to inform Nigerians he was
such would bring empathy. That’s
the way Nigerians are.
But our President who could
not speak with his people was
quick to speak with the American
president. Isn’t that saying
that President Trump is more
important to our president than
Nigerians that had been clamour
get for him to speak to them?
He did not speak with them,
but he was quick to respond to
the White House. Ever wonder
why Nigerians find it difficult to
connect with their leaders? Why
would they even connect with
their leaders? The leaders do not
show that they hold the people in
high premium or that they count
in the scheme of things.
Indeed, it is this lack of feeling
that has turned our country into
what it is today. To our leaders,
the people do not matter. It is such
attitude that makes our politicians
steal money that should have
helped in the provision of the
much needed infrastructure. It is
this sheer lack in milk of human
kindness that would make
someone to divert money meant
to buy arms into other uses. It is
such uncaring attitude that makes
someone to steal money that he
or she would never, ever finish
spending in his or her life time.
Former Group Managing
Director of the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
Mr Andrew Yakubu readily
comes to mind. Why would
someone have so much money
and would see people around him
wallowing in abject poverty and
his conscience was not pricked to
help alleviate the suffering?
Of course, he is not the only
one, there are still many people
that have privatized our common
patrimony. Will a country ever get
it right with such attitude, with a
few people appropriating monies
that would have provided good
roads, good hospitals and other
things that make life livable.
So what’s the solution? How do
we end this trend of kleptocracy?
Some people have said that the
solution to the problem is to
apply the former Ghana leader,
Jerry Rawlings’ treatment to
Nigeria. As much as one would
see that as a quick fix solution, it
would not solve any problem. It
would only lead to the shedding
of innocent blood, same thing for
the revolution that few people
have also advocated. There are
some Nigerians who have worked
hard and made their money
legitimately. Some of them would
likely be victims of such solution .
So where lies the salvation?
Nigeria will only get out of this
morass when leaders are held
accountable. As part of the
solution, It is also important to
revisit the different reports of
the conferences set up by the
different administrations in
the past. Some of these reports
have advocated devolution
of power and allowing the
zones or states to control their
resources. It is still the best way
to solve our problem. Some of
the landmark achievements we
have today came about when
the regions were in control of
their resources. It was also a
time of healthy rivalry among
the different regions.
They look at each other
and they compete on how to
better the lot of their people. It
is a different story today. The
competition is about who can
steal the most money. Nigeria
cannot continue like this.
The situation must change.
The leaders must be held
accountable. The masses must
also know the power they hold.
They should exercise the power.
They have the power of their
They have the power to recall
non performing lawmakers.
They have the power to protest.
These powers must be exercised.
It is only when we start, as
citizens to exercise that power
that our leaders will listen to us.
It is then that they will realize
that the positions they hold is at
the behest of the people.
Bolaji Tunji is a commentator
on public issues ([email protected]
LAST MONDAY evening, news