If the town crier, as we know him in the traditional African village setting, speaks the mind of the king, then the words that have been coming forth from the mouth of various aides to President Muhammadu Buhari in recent time, presents a genuine reason for worry.
At a time when Nigerians are experiencing the worst forms of power and energy shortages as have been seen in recent history, which coincidentally is about the anniversary of the election of the current administration, one would have expected that anyone speaking for the government would be sensitive to the plight of the people and exhibit moderation in their comments but that has unfortunately not been the case.
First off was Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s Spokesperson, who has a history of throwing unguarded statements to dismiss critics of his boss and the administration. Mr Adesina is credited with the ‘wailing wailers’ comment, a product of a tweet he made early in the administration in response to Nigerians who had expressed concerns about the slow take off of the promised change. Mr Adesina took his apparent impatience with Nigerians, or disdain for criticism as it where, a notch higher a few days ago during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics. It was bad enough that the presidential spokesman was grinning and laughing while discussing an issue that mattered so much to Nigerians as though it was some trivial issue, saying fuel shortage was a ‘normal thing’ and insinuating that Nigerians were just being unreasonable by complaining.
It became very bad however when he, in response to questions concerning the power situation in the country, a major campaign point of his boss, told Nigerians crying about darkness to go and hold those vandalising gas installations responsible. In essence, the President’s media aide was abdicating duty and making citizens responsible for the power situation. It is hard to imagine anything more embarrassing coming from the lips of a media aide to the President.
Mr Adesina was not quite the first to fire a miss-aimed salvo on the fuel situation. That honour will go to Ibe Kachichukwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum, who also doubles as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC. While addressing journalists on the current confusion in the country as regards the return of fuel queues, he said, “I am not trained as a magician” before going ahead to indicate that the fuel situation was not going to end anytime soon, effectively truncating the hop he had built in the minds of Nigerians a week before when he said it will end in a few days. This was a very insensitive statement to make and caused the resultant panic buying that aggravated the crisis.
At a time we had the Minister of aviation in Belgium resigning following the terrorist attacks in that country, we have a minister in Nigeria effectively telling us he had failed at his job and instead of throwing in the towel, he is rolling his eyes at us.
Next to ‘misyarn’ was the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora matters, the otherwise respected Mrs Abike Dabiri.
A Twitter user, Onuoha David, had in a tweet to Mrs. Dabiri complained about unstable power, high insecurity, low wages, poor infrastructures, etc, at home, wondering why he should decide to return home. In response the former member of the House of Representatives, tweeted back “But who is asking you to come?” Though the lady has taken steps to apologise, claiming she was misunderstood, or that what we read was not what she meant, the response was so harsh and quite unbecoming of a presidential aide who should if anything be giving citizens reasons to come home not sounding dismissive of the desire to return to ones motherland.
The last example of the King’s town criers who has been saying things the president should find worrying is one Nasir S. Adhama who by his profile is Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Student Affairs. Reacting to the fire outbreak in Sabon Gari market, Kano, the SA put up a post that was as both grammatically embarrassing and indicting on the competence of the people the president has around him.
Here is what Mr Adhama posted verbatim “I pray to entire people of Kano over the tragic fire outbreak at Sabon Gari Market May their lost be replenished.” Your guess is as good as mine on the quality of advice the President is receiving from this Special Assistant who clearly has a serious issue stringing a correct sentence together. Ironically he handles ‘students’ affairs.’
That these aides to the president can say these things in the first place without any qualms whatsoever speaks volumes of the arrogance on which this government is built. It is an arrogance that came from the victory at the polls and the presumed infallibility of the President. It is an arrogance that has gained substance following the very little opposition the government has received and the fact that very few are questioning the president.
We are all still in that state where we are looking at the President as one who can do no wrong, who cannot be challenged, who is always right. But the condition on the streets today do not support this notion, neither does the comatose economy. I am not sure how much longer we can endure this inactivity and insensitivity? The question is for Nigerians to answer.