A pattern that appeared to have been sinisterly institutionalised in the course of the present administration would seem to have hit a hilt in recent weeks. With the penchant of Nigerians to give concrete credence to Afrobeat legend’s Fela’s immortal song Shuffering and Shmilling by quickly moving on from one distress caused by the ineptitude and the inhumane policies of the government to another, the present administration has always managed to exploit this brand of fatalism by presenting another conundrum for Nigerians to chew until it feels they need another. That brings us to the celebrated speech of Mr. Bill Gates who came to the country, sat with the Nigerian top government officials and leaders, and pointed out in grand detail the flaws in their approach towards development.
Bill Gate obviously ruffled a lot of feathers in the cabinet resulting in the spirited if not laughable attempts by various spokespersons and members of the administration who led the defence for the policies of the government. Had the philanthropist not been who he is, it is plausible he would have been smeared in some allegations of sleaze and corruption – the staple of the present administration. Fast forward a few days, the President came to Lagos, got the economic nerve centre of the biggest economy in Africa shut down for his working visit, and gave to Nigerians something to mull over to get our attention from the embarrassment of Bill Gates’ lecture.
In truth, all the other attempts, via sterile statistics and hollow proof have not yielded any positive results for the government in distracting the attention of Nigerians, especially the so-called gadflies on the various social media platforms from holding to the face of the ruffled government Bill Gates’ “people without roads, ports and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy.” Yet, what would appear an easy distraction in the economic heart of the country has since become a regrettable show of gaffes for the President, especially from his inept media handlers.
A few hours to the Lagos show of gaffes, revelation came that the curiously over celebrated Prize for Leadership and Anti-Corruption awarded to President Buhari, “first of its kind” purportedly from the Martin Luther King Centre and presented by the late civil right activist’s nephew had been a sham award procured via dubious means. I have since been wondering why a President whose selling point had and still has been his distaste for worldly showoffs and corruption could allow such conferment of sleaze on himself. It could be said, he could be oblivious as to how and why the award came about since he had some people who took care of that part and merely just informed him of his winning an award, but is the President not curious enough as to make enquiries about the things that come to him or go around him? The President even got his MLK award as part of the event marking the Black History month (a constant fixture for February of every year) in March! Now, Bill Gates’ celebrated “kobokobo” lashes on the butt of the government had lost its mojo in few days!
Back to the Lagos-for-show faux pas, the President would grin with and shake hands with the British top model, Naomi Campbell, and his media team would first celebrate these acts, but then attempt to denounce the acts and the model in some of the most ridiculous ways one could ever imagine. There seems to be some lack of coordination around the media team of the Presidency. In the midst of this needless and self-incurred embarrassment, the Presidency still somehow got another issue to get Nigerians off the Bill Gates’ top grossing lecture. And of course, Nigerians always take such bait.
Lagos would not offer just few shows, else it would not be Lagos. The President got to work and commissioned Eko Atlantic City. This is not the story. The story is that somehow, a few years ago, Nigerians witnessed the immediate President, Goodluck Jonathan commission the same “golden” city at the behest of the then governor of Lagos State, now the tripartite minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola. Voila! The President and his team were hounded. Buhari Media Centre had an answer, as it always does. With the official Presidency Twitter handle – @NGRPresident – in use, it was vehemently and categorically stated that current Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode merely took the President through a tour of the Eko Atlantic City project. But here was Governor Ambode’s riposte:
“We took a tour of the Eko Atlantic City with Mr. President as he officially commissioned the project. Eko Atlantic is a good example of what Public and Private Partnership can do to the Nigerian economy.”
One thing is certain and is agreed upon by the Presidency media team and the Lagos State governor, there was a tour. But was there a commissioning or is it a re-commissioning as it has been christened by inventive Nigerians? At least, the Presidency still has another riddle to get Nigerians’ attention of the pain it still feels from Bill Gates strong words.
In all of the foregoing, it is very clear the confounding and disappointing mess Nigerians have been drawn into the last 22 months of the change era. With so much of anticipation of better roads, better hospitals, better education and a stronger economy, Nigerians trooped in numbers to thump out an incumbent government – a historic feat that might be needed in few months. But are Nigerians not the most stoical and greatest fatalists in the world. There is a dangerous possibility that this administration has some ad hoc balm up its sleeve that will relieve our pains in the run up to the 2019 General Elections which would make Nigerians gleefully take its Greek gift. Nigerians are the “forgetfuls”, Nigerians move on so fast and live to another day of “shuffering and shmilling.”