By Abba Anwar
Though disturbed by what Mr Nduka Orjini of BBC News lamented under the caption “Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Leaves Legacy of Kidnapping, Inflation and Debt”, this piece only becomes a child of necessity if you wish.
This is contained in his report when he said “His (Buhari) borrowing spree has drawn warnings from the World Bank that Africa’s largest economy was using 96% of its revenue to service debts”. I, like any other optimistic Nigerians, believe that the President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will turn around the nation’s fortunes and economy for the better.
Another heart dislodging move is when BBC’s Orjini reveals that, “Last week, with the end in sight, Mr Buhari pleaded with lawmakers to hurriedly approve an $800m (£640m) loan from the World Bank. Nigeria’s public debt could pass $150bn this year – when he took over it stood at a little over $60bn.”
To me, all these are gloomy pictures with undermining influences on the psyche of the citizens. But a critical look at Tinubu’s pedigree in both governance and economic management, one can but agree with me that he has the needed bravery to navigate through the stormy and Tsunami-like waters.
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Coupled with his lamentations, BBC’s Orjini does not see Nigeria as a sinking ship, under Buhari. He commended that, “There have been gains in tackling Boko Haram and other extremist groups in the north-east, aided by improved military hardware from the US.
While the groups still carry out attacks on communities and military installations in the region, it is a big improvement from the years when they operated freely and controlled a large portion of Nigerian territory.”
Though he mentioned on the flipside of the argument that, “… thousands of school children were abducted between December 2020 and September 2021, according to the UN’s children’s organisation, Unicef. That eclipsed the 270 girls seized from a school in Chibok who made global headlines in 2014 – a crime that was a crucial factor in Mr Buhari defeating Mr Jonathan.”
Another gloomy picture painted by the BBC reporter, goes a long way in describing weaknesses as he sees them. He said “In one location, thieves built their own 4 km-long pipeline through the heavily guarded creeks to the Atlantic Ocean. There, barges and vessels blatantly loaded the stolen oil from a seven-metre rig visible for miles on the open waters.
That theft on such a scale happened directly under Mr. Buhari, who also doubled as Nigeria’s petroleum minister, undermining his claim to be fighting graft,” who is said to have quoted Salaudeen Hashim of anti-corruption NGO Cleen Foundation.
But no matter what, Tinubu could look beyond that stretch as a President, reflecting back to his era as Governor of Lagos state. Apart from being intellectually sound, visionary, committed and focused with patriotic engagement, Tinubu clearly understands how to be encircled by good hands who share similar understanding and approach to governance. So many Nigerians are eager to see the composition of his cabinet.
He met Lagos the way it was before the return to democracy in 1998. The Internally Generated Revenue was as little as it was. He immediately aided its skyrocketing performance. In the twinkle of an eye, if you wish, Lagos State started recording Billions of Naira as IGR. He met a dying public service that was susceptible to high level corruption, but turned it to be more productive and focused with modern touch.
When Mr Orjinmo appreciates Buhari’s good records in governance he listed that, “…Mr Buhari also utilised Chinese loans to upgrade the ailing road and rail infrastructure, building a new port in Lagos, completing a crucial bridge in the south-east, and passing important electoral and oil-sector laws.”
But not only that, Buhari is leaving behind so many legacies. Meaning, his administration did not just fill the air with socio-economic pollution. With the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) his administration was able to move forward, even if not with ease, infrastructural development in the country.
The Second Niger Bridge that was conceptualised in 2005, was executed by the Buhari administration. Loko-Oweto Bridge across River Benue which links Benue and Nassarawa and Ibom Bridge in Cross River were executed under his watch. The completion of over 200 kilometres Kano-Kaduna Dual Carriage Expressway is another feat achieved under him.
On the execution of Federal Secretariat projects, the Buhari administration was able to see to the fruition of many. For example, Federal Secretariat in Awka, Anambra state, which are situated on 5.106 hectares of land, Federal Secretariat Gusau, in Zamfara state on 7.5 hectares of land, Federal Secretariat Yenagoa, in Bayelsa state on 7.5 hectares of land and Federal Secretariat Lafia, in Nassarawa State.
The fact that I am not an advocate of free market economy, a feature of capitalist economy, it could be unthrilling for my argument to turn blind eyes with deaf ears on other aspects of development bequeathed by Buhari’s 8-year regime. Dala Inland Dry Port, a signature project that was abandoned for over 20 years and rail road between Kano to Kazaure to Katsina down to Niger Republic.
Some people asked why is it that with all these and many achievements in the Buhari administration, his administration got a twist of popularity from the grassroots, to become one of the most unpopular civilian administrations in the history of our nationhood? People tend to ask rhetorically.
In my estimation and analysis that public behaviour of turning love to hatred was responsible for the near poor handling of the media. I am not in any way faulting Buhari’s media team/Aides, but rather the media handlers became more elitist in their approach and operations. Their concern was more on satisfying an elite audience at the expense of the larger settlement of audiences.
With this professional behaviour, no one can assure you of influencing support from the gullible audience. Most of the federal government’s activities, special projects and programmes to be precise, run down to the public through corridors that are elitist and abruptly put together. Very insignificant number of what is supposed to be trickle down to the people at the grassroots are handled with the needed treatment.
Even if government efforts are reported in local languages across states, you would find out that the contents are not professionally arranged for two-way flow of information to thrive. Delegations of some critical media interventions are almost nil or near zero. That could be one of the major reasons why people are not even aware of many efforts of the federal government. My major concern is the people at the grassroots, in this context.
The way I understand Tinubu, he would not take things for granted. The issue for now, goes beyond first tenure. He needs better strategies to maintain the popular support and goodwill he enjoys from across Nigeria. He needs citizens’ support for his upcoming policies, programmes and projects.
Whether the following analogy has scientific backing or not, that Yoruba race in Nigerian project excels more in the areas of banking and finance, the media and the Judiciary, while Hausas have some ages ahead of other ethnic nationalities in the areas of governance, politics and commerce (agribusiness included). On the other hand, Igbos, according to this analogy excels in businesses, entrepreneurship and pharmaceuticals. The thing is Tinubu from the way I see and understand him, would not make bad use of the media in whatever circumstances.
Especially when you look at the creme-de-la-creme composition of the Media and Publicity Sub Committee of the Presidential Campaign Council. Media gurus are there. The Committee has all what it takes to set in motion competent media managers of substance when he comes on board. A media with muckraking influence.
But one thing that I suggest Tinubu shouldn’t overlook is sourcing for media professionals from all nooks and crannies of the country. Who can use their expertise with a high sense of professional acumen to address media needs considering peculiar behaviour of their audiences. I mean in terms of media content, messaging itself, specific channels to be used in reaching out to their different publics. So also to target youth on platforms they are familiar with on social media. I am not saying such a Media team will only work on answering sectional media demands. They are there with national assignments and at the same time not abandoning peripheral demands.
The names that readily come to my mind, when I think of good media handlers from Northern part of the country are Malam Muhammad Sani Zorro, former President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), a professional of world standard, focused and full fledged media strategist, Malam Mahmud Jega, a renown veteran practitioner and a prolific writer of global standard, highly disciplined and principled, Malam Ali M. Ali, another veteran and forthcoming professional of great substance and last, but not the least, Malam Abdul’aziz Abdul’aziz, the younger among them all, but at the same time he is a committed practitioner who believes in ethical standard, a prolific writer in his own right and an advocate of ethical practice.
It is undoubtedly clear that Tinubu did not get the popular support from the North as Buhari enjoyed prior to 2015 elections. But because of the way media handlers of Buhari take such salient issues on media intervention for granted, among other factors, that popular support has since been ditched comfortably without any hitch or difficulty. That popular support is being suffocated. This is just it.
As such, Tinubu should take note of this derailing influence. The bone of contention is not always in the selection process of professionals, but how they put their expertise into proper perspective. Had it been the mass populace of our people across the nation were made to be informed about the feats achieved by Buhari, the opposition wouldn’t have reached the existing obtainable situation.
Anwar writes from Kano [email protected]
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