Perhaps the trouble with presidential aides and Buhari’s handlers, particularly those who manage his media and the legal side, are their inability to manage and stomach criticisms. In modern day democracy and even in native life, criticisms are better and fast agents of change because they help shape the recipient by way of information and how to manage it for better results. But in most cases for several Aso Rock aides, it means different things. Whereas to some, it entails deriding government and its policies or trying to pull Buhari down; others sieve truth and see justification in the message. Unfortunately, more often in this Nigeria presidency, those who are uncomfortable with criticism are more; this is the missing link and to a great extent the manifest incompetence and the not- how-to manage the affairs of the sensitive seat of government, whether America’s white House or Asokoro Villa. Time and again the president’s handlers have had to come hard on their critics for what would have required a simple explanation or clarification, no matter how unpleasant or jaundiced such piece of information is. Recalled how the presidency had reacted rashly to a report on Buhari’s alleged lavish visit to the USA in the company of his son and a large entourage, comprising state governors, but at whose expense it was simply demanded? Rather than an effortless explanation on the cost it weighed on Nigeria tax payers, one of the spokesmen chose anger and misdemeanor to inform the public. And again like the America saga, the aides are over reacting on the retention in London of the presidential Jet NAF 001, which purportedly is costing the country, one thousand pounds sterling or N409, 000 only as daily parking fee. However a recent statement by presidential media aide, Garba Shehu, lamented that the criticisms are mostly informed by lack of understanding of protocol around foreign trips by Heads of State all over the world. According to Shehu, for reasons of protocol, national security, diplomacy and prestige, “there is no world leader who travels abroad and is left without plans for immediate return or possible evacuation.” He stated that from operational point of view, the Nigeria Air Force is not to abandon their Commander-In-Chief in whichever circumstance he is. He continued:“We have also read claims about outrageous
fees allegedly paid by Nigeria. The published amounts are totally untrue. Aircraft conveying heads of state all over the world usually enjoy waivers even where payments for parking are differentiated by aircraft categories. “We have been assured that where the waiver is not granted, payment will not exceed £1,000, which is a quarter of the amount being peddled.”The amount mentioned by Shehu in naira is about N409, 000 daily. In truth this is a senseless and needless spending by the Buhari administration that preaches transparency and accountability. And again Shehu’s statement complicates the matter and does not elicit support and understanding. For instance How are these, explained that Nigeria with a battered economy pays an equivalent of N409,000,daily parking fee on a jet in addition to tax payers money lavishly spent on the president’s health condition. How can he also elucidate this drain to unlucky Nigerians who now scavenge food from heaps of waste from restaurants and Buka. What else can be so insensitive than it is most likely that the presidency has lost touch with the Nigerian reality in this matter? Unarguably Nigerians don’t deserve this from Mr. President who promised accountability and cannot be interested if past leaders did the same. Why the ‘Change’ if the argument is that President Buhari is not the first Head of State to have a presidential aircraft standing by for him. Coming against this sheer irresponsibility, we disagree with every explanation that has been advanced over this financial recklessness and call Buhari’s aides to order. This is not the time for media grandstanding or trivialities. They must not misconstrue simple advice and correction for mischief. It is also not time for chest beating after wronging the people. Nigerians are wiser now, every kobo, especially the hard currencies mean so much to the people. Imagine how much would have been spent and will be paid to the UK authorities or overseas business enterprises on Buhari’s indefinite medical trip which started from May 7 when he left Nigeria for London. How much more funds shall be milked from the nation’s purse, even if it is a thousand pounds per day. We call on those concerned to return that aircraft back to the country and stop that wicked and unnecessary expenditure. This is not the time for waste and exorbitant medical tourism. Nigeria is broke and needs not waste her scarce foreign exchange on such frivolity. President Buhari should live by example and not imitate past leaders.


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