I can say without equivocation that many, many Nigerians are glad that Mr. President, Alhaji, General (rtd) Muhammadu Buhari is back, alive! Many unpalatable stories were woven around Mr. President during his 50-day medical vacation abroad, the height of which was his rumoured death by agents of darkness. I purposely use the latter word because it is only a dark mind with dark intentions that can gleefully wish another death, putting out the fake news happily and joyfully spreading and sharing it on social media. It is true that things have not panned out the way the electorate expected in last two years of this regime as there is no improvement in the key indices by which the ordinary man on the street assesses any government, namely, prices of goods and services, availability of electricity in homes and unemployment rate. Manufacturing firms (which is about the best way to boost employment) have been experiencing reduced capacity utilization, leading to retrenchment et al, NEPA’s (also known as PHCN) performance is at its lowest ebb – that is the case at least in Lafia where I currently reside; and retail prices of goods and services had skyrocketed at very short intervals. Indeed, the country’s official inflation rate stands at a little above 18 per cent while the nation is officially in recession, some economists would say depression.
But it is wishful thinking to expect that all of above listed problems would disappear if President Buhari leaves the stage. In fact the nation’s ills cannot be shoved aside overnight even with the best brain at helm of affairs because we are told the problems are deep rooted, systemic. Fundamentally our problems stem from drastic fall in international price of oil and drop in our oil production, our major source of revenue and foreign exchange. Abusing Mr. President, cursing him and blatantly wishing him evil or death smacks of not just ‘bad belle’ but an indication that the person is unrefined, uncultured no matter how educationally advanced the person is or the high position he/she holds in society. Indeed by such disposition, the person or persons has/have shown themselves as not worthy to mingle with civilised peopled in a civilised society.
Yes, people are free to express their views for freedom of speech is a plank of democracy. But as the saying goes, comments are free but facts are sacred. Besides, employing abusive, caustic words and even cursing in the name of airing one’s opinion as is now rampant in social, online media veers towards slander. It is time to rein in social media, not to curtail freedom of speech but to ensure that they operate within civilised norm, to curb misinformation, slander, etc. And online editors should begin to vet the comments section of their medium, to weed out foul, corrosive and hate-filled language.
Moreover, as apparently religious people should we not beseech the good Lord to imbue our president with the wisdom to steer the country aright rather than sprouting out vituperations and wishing him ill. If the country is well managed by our leaders, it will rub off on us all and if mismanaged, we shall suffer it; so why not wish our leaders well as well as pray for them as religious people that we profess to be, except perhaps if we are insinuating that we are hypocrites, who do not really practice our so-called religiosity, While there were malcontents, many, many, many other good natured Nigerians from across the land, of all religious persuasions, those that still carry within them a tinge of humanity, illiterates and literates, rich and poor who sense that there is a reason for President Buhari assuming leadership of the country at this juncture in our country’s history, prayed fervently to God to spare his life. And these fervent heartfelt prayers of intercession, public and private, burnt out the dark wishes of the malevolents. Mr. President has every reason to be grateful to the Almighty. This is not to say that Buhari will not go at the appointed time by the Creator.
The furore over Mr. President’s health status also brought to fore how distrustful we are of one another. Until the very last second, there were still some doubting Thomases. Leader of the APC Ahmed Tinubu as well as Senate president Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, among others, visited Mr. President in London and showed us pictures of them chatting with him, still there were doubters, ‘ they are photo shops, super-imposed pictures’, they alleged. He spoke to some politicians here by phone and some world leaders, including President Trump and their response was, ‘it is political gimmick, Trump has not told us he spoke to him”. One governor in the southwest even declared, ‘until Buhari speaks to me I will not believe he is alive’.
In times past all manners of persons and groups, descript and non descript would be trooping to Aso Villa unendingly to welcome, and send messages of solidarity to Mr. President. It is said to be in our culture to go greet someone when he/she is back from some medicals or been away from home for quite some time. In this digital era physical travel is not necessary. People can still send in their greetings, messages, etc., to President Buhari through his twitter handle or on his facebook page.
Ikeano writes via firstname.lastname@example.org