President Muhammadu Buhari’s back-to-back media appearances this week enthralled Nigerians, dominated the news, and sparked a flurry of debate. This is unsurprising, given that Nigeria has been headed by a reticent leader for the past six years. Buhari prefers to interact with Nigerians through surrogates, even when the people and the situation demand that he do so personally.
The situation had gotten to the point that some notable Nigerians accused presidential spokespersons of going on their own frolic and using the President’s name to advance their own limited interests. There was also the accusation of a President who shunned the local press but was willing to speak with foreign journalists whenever he left Nigeria’s shores.
It was encouraging to see the President being interviewed by a private television network and the state broadcaster in the new year against this backdrop. People are taken inside the inner workings of a reclusive leader ensconced in his presidential residence during such sessions. Now that his legacy is on the line, the President has realized the need of making a direct influence on Nigerians rather than relying on his mouthpieces. When the pre-recorded interviews were reconstructed, the President was not smelling flowers.
With his genuineness before the media, the President rendered a huge service to Nigerians. To begin with, he claimed to have given his all for the country. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who appears to know Buhari better than some of his sycophants, recently cautioned Nigerians not to expect anything more from him because he has already given his all. The President’s managers quickly went on the defensive, attempting to deceive Nigerians into seeing the importance of remaining loyal to the administration.
Now that the President has validated Obasanjo’s claim, Naija News recommends him to focus on the outcome of his best efforts. Are the performance indicators in his administration’s key areas of economy, security, and anti-corruption really the best he wanted for Nigerians when he fought so hard for four consecutive terms as President of the Republic? How can the President follow up on the overpromise he and his party made throughout the campaign with a lackluster performance? How can the Governor of Katsina State urge locals to buy guns in order to defend themselves against roving bandits, only for Buhari, a veteran Army general, to declare that Nigerians should understand that he has done his best? This finest must be questioned thoroughly!
One of his interviewers made a stab at this when he revealed the official facts about the country’s sorry status. In response, the President began by casting doubt on the numbers provided by the National Bureau of Statistics! What facts and numbers have the White House and Cabinet members been providing their president?
Although Nigerians have a soft spot for prior leaders, they will never forget the President’s declaration in 2022 that “All I know is that we have to enable people access to the farm.” All we have to do now is return to the land.” This was spoken by a President of the twenty-first century at a time when internet giants are raking in revenues that exceed the national budget! How can Buhari encourage Nigerians to embrace crop growing while homicidal herders prevent people from farming peacefully? What is the value of agriculture to the economy that the President is so fixated on?
Meanwhile, we find it troubling that the President’s appeal to embrace agriculture was the best reaction he could muster in response to the conservative claim that “our debt stock was approximately 12 trillion when you took over in 2015, and it’s now about 32 trillion.” The inflation rate was about 9%, but it’s now around 15%; the unemployment rate was around 9.2%, but it’s now around 32.2 percent; and the exchange rate was around N197 to a dollar, but it’s now much over N400 to a dollar.”
How can the President be satisfied with this ostensibly best when Nigerian unemployment has risen to the second-highest level on a global list of countries monitored by Bloomberg newspaper? “The unemployed rate in Nigeria grew to 33.3 percent in the three months through December (2020),” according to a study published on the NBS’s website. That’s up from 27.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020, the most recent period for which the government has given data.
Nonetheless, Naija News thanks the President for bringing the constraints of gerontocracy to the attention of Nigerians. “Working now for six, seven, or eight hours each day in the office is no joke — there are inquiries from the executive council, memos from as many states as possible to be considered nearly every week,” the 79-year-old Buhari stated. It’s a lot of work, but as I’ve stated, I requested it, so I can’t complain.”
As politicians jockey for position in the 2023 elections, Naija News urges the Nigerian electorate to be guided by this disclosure. Nigeria requires a dynamic and youthful leader to bring the country out of its doldrums. Aside from his inability to handle the demands of office, the country cannot afford another leader who is a product of his generation and is solely concerned with old policies and programs.
Let gerontocrats and enablers remember that the United States and the United Kingdom have functional systems that moderate and lighten the grind of their leaders. It’s also true that in the Western world, politicians rarely reduce their age for political gain. Because Nigerian politicians are notorious for lying about their age in order to avoid being judged unelectable, residents should be guided at least by their “football age.”
On this basis, Naija News calls on members of the National Assembly to be patriotic enough to change the Constitution to impose an age limit on anyone seeking public office, notably the President’s job, which Buhari correctly notes is arduous. For the love of God and nation, we believe that this age limit should be set at 60 years.