The Economy Is In Shambles? You Can Say That Again, Mr. President!

President Buhari

Here at this newspaper, we are not given to conspiracy theories. But some days ago after a meeting of all governors with President Muhammadu Buhari, Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, who spoke on behalf of others, said: “Mr President, as usual, responded by telling us that the economy is in a bad shape and we have to come together and think and rethink on way forward.”
The incredulity of this presidential admission that the Nigerian economy is still in shambles nearly four years after President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress took charge of the country breathed fresh life into the dying newsroom debate on the Nnamdi Kanu-birthed conspiracy theory of a Jibril from Sudan in Aso Rock. “That is our Maigaskia talking in Aso Rock. He is the one there, not a clone or body double. He says it as it is,” argued one group.” “How can? That is Jibril from Sudan. How can President Buhari admit that the economy is in bad shape when all we hear from the Presidency and ministers is that we are now in El Dorado after ‘16 years of PDP looting?’”, countered the other. The situation was made all the more confusing because the man reporting the President’s speech was Governor Abdulaziz Yari, who has not enjoyed the best of rapport with the Presidency and the APC lately owing to the impasse over the shambolic Zamfara APC primaries, which the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) insists did not hold, hence the Zamfara APC would be excluded from all elections in the state except the presidential poll.
At the end of the heated discourse, the “Jibril from Sudan” conspiracy theorists lost. Doubting Thomases – who argued that Governor Yari might have put a spin out to curry presidential favours for himself against his sworn traducers at the APC national headquarters by aligning the President’s thought with popular verdict on the streets in order to “buy sympathy for the President and APC in the 2019 General Elections” – were also vanquished. The newsroom’s zero tolerance for innuendoes, rumours and conspiracy theories prevailed. The verdict was that the man who met and addressed the 36 state governors was indeed President Muhammadu Buhari, the Maigaskia the nation voted for in 2015, and not some Jibril from Sudan body double. And, that Governor Yari, as a politician-gentleman and staunch disciple of Maigaskia, spoke the truth and has not misquoted the President. In any case, we are not in receipt of any presidential statement denying Yari’s reported speech.
We therefore, thank President Buhari for his candor in admitting that the Nigerian economy remains in shambles even as he has less six months to the end of his first, four-year tenure tending the same economy. The president is welcomed to the view on the street shaped by collapse of many businesses and loss of jobs in the millions, and the poverty that this development continues to dispense nationwide, which has made Nigerian citizens the poorest of all nations, ahead of India, a nation of over 1 billion mouths to feed compared to our paltry 200 million people.
As the President prepares to lead his re-election campaign in person – and not through a surrogate, we hope, which risks a resurrection of the Jibril from Sudan conspiracy – we confess our ignorance of what he could campaign on this time around, except that it ought to be the economy because this is where his famed grassroots supporters are hurting the most. The sufferings of course spare only fat cats in government, APC luminaries and their dependents, but extend to the President’s ardent opponents and those forced to be neutrals or fence sitters by the objective, constitutional demands of their professions like us, journalists.
What we can tell the President is that he must resist the temptation to campaign on “16 years of corruption under Jonathan and the PDP” and that things “are going to be harder than before” as Governor Yari also hinted in his reported speech, which both alarmed and united the newsroom combatants.
On the bleeding streets of Nigeria, the “16 years of corruption under Jonathan and the PDP” talk is now bollocks ranted, parroted ad infinitum in some Echoverse of APC badge kissers trapped in their broken time-machine stranded eternally in 2015. The “blame-Jonathan-and-PDP” absurdity that has lasted four years had cost the President’s too much time wasted and credibility draw. It is an overdrawn account that is in the red and would collapse both its bankrupt borrowers and creditors, however the latter might be well-heeled. As a campaign soundbite, this does not wash anymore with the suffering masses of this country.
And we cannot imagine President Buhari facing the braying multitudes of this country to campaign that things “are going to be harder than before.” How harder can things get when in four years we have slipped from being the biggest economy in Africa and largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on the continent to become the poverty capital of the Universe? Who campaigns on such dare and tomfoolery and wins?
We believe the President wants to win in 2019. We advise that the President must avoid the “comedy of embarrassment” that is bound to be the electorate’s reaction to a presidential re-election campaign based on this dual proposition. In the least – to paraphrase a famous columnist – they border on the sort of fantastically infantile ideas you would get from the fantastically infantile. If they are the ideas of the “two”, shadowy unelected persons who, according to the Wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, have been preventing her husband from performing wonders these four years, the President must summon his new-found gumption, borrow a campaign leaf from Clintonians of the 1990s and yell it into their Change-killing faces: “It is the economy, stupid!”
The Nigerian economy is in shambles? You can say that again, Mr. President! We agree with you, Sir!

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