As a people, Nigerians love praise singers. They are part and parcel of our way of life. There are always those who are ready and willing to sing praises for reward no matter what evils the person might have committed! People should not boast or praise themselves. Hence the adage: “Stop blowing your trumpet”, which in effect means it should be left to others to assess your achievements.
Nigerian politicians believe the opposite to be the case and if you don’t blow your trumpet, nobody will blow it for you! This is why political aspirants employ official “trumpet blowers” with fancy titles such as “Special Adviser on Media” whose job is to shamelessly deify them.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari lamented that the good works his administration had done had not been adequately publicised. Evidently, he yearns for praise to feed his ego. Shortly before taking off for another ill-advised overseas junket, he accused his media aides of not sufficiently touting his perceived successes. Revealing that he expects his spokespersons only to parrot his mindset, President Buhari went as far as saying that no matter what people think, his administration has awarded itself a pass mark! Psychologists all agree that praising oneself is actually a sign of arrogance, narcissism, self-absorption or selfishness.
There can be no doubting that the outgoing Buhari administration has achieved some successes. Indeed it would simply be impossible considering the stupendous amounts they have borrowed to have achieved absolutely nothing.
However, borrowing money to build infrastructure is not a noteworthy achievement, rather, governments are judged on their ability to improve society and citizen’s welfare. Using this yardstick, it’s obvious this outgoing administration has not been a success. Political leaders are judged on how well they fulfill their election promises, and if President Buhari takes time to recall all the things he said while campaigning against the previous administration, he will be better placed to understand why his government is considered by many to be contradictory. Of primary concern is that having led protests against his predecessor for increasing the pump price of fuel, he turned around to implement the same policy! Having stated that fuel subsidy is mere fraud, he turned around to pay more in subsidy than any other government. The increases in pump price of fuel, electricity tariff, unemployment rate, inflation, naira-dollar exchange rate and security challenges run contrary to his electoral promises and must present major communication challenge to his media handlers.
Blaming past administrations for their failures after eight years in office is disingenuous and doesn’t fool anybody. It’s quite clear that in winning elections the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) bit off more than they could chew. With elections on the horizon the incoming administration must ensure that valid complaints against poor governance do not fall in deaf ears and political leaders do not appear nonchalant about the traumatic experiences of common Nigerians.
The incoming media aides, whether employed by the presidency, National Assembly members or state governors, should not be solely concerned with massaging their principals egos, but should also be ready to express empathy and admit failures. The current crop has been aptly described as well-kept pen for hire consort journalists who have no qualms about insulting their peers or telling mistruths to the public. They are rewarded for insulting people who dare challenge their leaders! They are paid to operate in the best interest of their benefactor not the best interests of Nigerians. Their appointment requires them to immediately lose their integrity or previous good character and care less about virtuous behavior. Faced with growing criticism over the fact that the security situation has deteriorated to an inexcusable extent, and economic collapse combined with outrageous borrowing has led to the nation becoming the world poverty capital under their watch media aides are on the all out attack. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999 Nigerians are afraid to speak their minds. The incoming administration must position itself to accept valid criticism because nobody has monopoly of wisdom. Public opinion should matter to them.
As it stands, while the praise singers massage the president’s ego with messianic opinions of his performance in office, the public is left to wonder why he has not been able to fix the nation’s refineries but can support a single individual to build his own so that we can buy from him at international prices? Why he cannot pay ASUU because they did not work for six months, yet he has been paying refinery workers since 2015 despite the fact that they have not refined a drop of oil?! Why he demands that citizens tighten their belts while granting tax waivers in excess of N16trn. If there is one success of this administration it’s that they have made it evident that Nigeria’s problem is bad leadership caused by egoistic tendencies.
Unfortunately, among the three main aspirants to take over from Buhari, none has been able to articulate how they would solve the nation’s problems, rather they only display egoism. One simply says in his opinion it’s his turn, another that he is the best vice president ever and another that he is the most honest of the three. All are busy massaging their egos while their spokespersons are busy getting ready to defend the indefensible.