OpinionPo!ntBlank: President Buhari Media Chat
I have taken time to watch the media chat with President Buhari. Why did I sit through the misery? The response is simple: I don’t want to jump into coclusion that the media chat was a good waste of time without having a firsthand experience. At least now, I can say with good conscience that President Buhari did not only mess up because he has a terrible accent, his grasp of not only the English language is horrible, but also of issues affecting the country as a whole is a call for help. This president is rusty in every good sense of that word. And thank Goodness he did not hide it. He has opened up. This president needs our help. All he can get. He is caught and caged up in a past we don’t need for good.
When I noticed President Jonathan had a similar problem of communicating even the simplest of matters in a manner that left out controversy, I advised he would be better served to deal with us in Ijaw. For one, there is no crime in accepting an handicap, if there is any. Plus, Ijaw is also an official language in Nigeria. It’s a legitimate language for a president to bear his mind to us. This would at least save us the embarrassment of misunderstanding what is meant in the head of the president and that which is in fact expressed/spoken into our ears.
President Buhari will do well to use an interpreter next time, not because we shall be unwilling to stress ourselves to fish out his mumbled words and sentences, no, not all, but because I suspect he wanted to say more than he was able to pass across in the language he used in the media chat.
I don’t want to suggest outrightly that he has nothing to offer beyond the remotely irrelevant, disjointed and pickypicky answers he gave or that he is impaired, I strongly believe he has much more under his sleeve if the chance is given to chat us up in a different tongue, preferably Hausa/Fulani, which is the president’s first language.
That is on the language level. Attending to issues, beginning with Chibok girls, President Buhari admitted his government is helpless in search of the missing girls. He confessed there was no relevant intelligence from the country’s agencies that might remotely suggest a positive outcome in the near future. Is this a subtle admission of a truth that the girls are forever lost?
There is a biting sincerity in the president’s tone, and a kind of finality too, as he touched not only on the Chibok girls, but on many other issues of national importance. His passing the bulk of blames to the last administration(s) cum shifting away responsibility from himself and his government is alarmingly worrisome. Asked what he shall do concerning the refinery crisis, he responded asking if the previous governments were asked what they did with the revenues when oil sold so well. As one could see, he was at no point willing to rise to the occasion to outline matter-of-factly what his government has to offer. At a point, I was almost giving up on him.
But like a bad fluorescent, he comes on and off, starting off as if he wanted to come alive, only to give no light. President Buhari mashed up so many things that led to nowhere, worsening the darkness. On the Zaria Massacre, he was doggy at first, but came back robustly to tell us in no unclear terms that he was angered by the “excited” youths. Thus, he technically did not hide his support for the irresponsibility of the military. He did say the killings were unnecessary, but his non-commitment to an independent inquiry goes to strengthen the president’s technical support for the madness. On Boko Haram being technically defeated, he explained what he meant by that. To be clear, this defeat excludes the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) being employed by this terrible sect to continue the dismemberment of citizens in the troubled parts in the country. So in short, Boko Haram is still a menace that we must confront. We are nowhere close to defeating them.
On the economy, he insisted on holding to the failed policies of his government without being able to tell us in concrete terms what he will be doing in the short-term to contain the negative effects of these measures, while the long-term effects, which he wants us to believe are positive, are according to the president best waited upon. Now, who does that? One would expect a Nigeria’s president to have a good understanding of these complexities and tell us in no uncertain words whatever it is we should expect. In fact, he spoke with a straight face, something close to outrightly ignoring the travails of small businesses and private people, who are being mostly hit by policies put in place by his government. So that we are clear, a government is expected to be far-seeing in thinking. This kind of crippling effects ought to have been foreseen, even before implementation, and measures put in place to attend them etc etc.
I have hardly seen ignorance so well celebrated like President Buhari did in the chat. If he knew nothing, he owned up to it. Good. What could the oldman have done in those trying times than tell us he is ignorant or unaware or doubtful or unbelieving of what he was confronted with or asked!? Nothing. Really nothing. I agree. That much tells us why he is unfit to be president of anybody, even of his own house. At his age, it’s not uncommon to submit to the help of one’s children if old age is so unkind. No badbelle intended, the truth is, President Buhari falls within this category. Watch what he answered when asked of his plans for university education in Nigeria, and then his sincere helplessness at his own sad response. His body language practically begged to be left alone. In peace.
Disobeying court orders, he was close to telling us he gave no damn so long Nnamdi Kanu and Dasuki are kept in jail, because according to him they might jump bail. What a reasoning to scorn our judiciary! President Buhari expressed in plain terms his disdain for democracy by calling himself a “sitting dog” and then used the same word referring to the judiciary. He said this with a smile, but we are not unaware of his point of departure.
All in all, having been in charge for six months, the media chat, which we all agree was not best handled, gave President Buhari a chance to own his own narrative, to show us his understanding of those things that matter in these modern times, to roll out without fear that great change manifesto, plus confidently telling us why they are achievable, to what extent and how many shall be left unachieved due to this-or-that reasons. He did not make good use of it. In fairness to what we saw in the media chat, it is no understatement to say President Buhari happily threw this chance away with both hands.
PS: Among the interviewers, Madam Ngozi has lost nothing in that media chat. She messed up so well. She was nonsense all through and through. President Buhari performed in shining colours if she was a yardstick for good performance. Our women deserve a better face in that team next time. The representative of Premium Times did well. That much kudos must be given.