Symbolism is the practice of representing things by symbols or of investing things with a symbolic meaning or character. It is essentially the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense.
The electioneering campaign of President Buhari during the 2015 General Elections was one that had the imprint of symbolism.
The essence of the campaign was hinged on the symbolist designation of Muhamadu Buhari as an anti corruption Czar, one whose antecedents preceded him, the much needed paternalistic democrat, an enigma and a strongman leader with enough will and clout to drive the change process, one with enough zeal to alter the tarrying narrative that was the Good Luck Ebele Jonathan administration. Such was the symbolist expectations deposited on the willing candidate Buhari.
Midterm evaluation of a four-year Social Contract gives an abysmal result, depending on how you view it; the indicators nevertheless give succinct report of situations. First was the contriving by candidate Buhari to lose the very first attempt at supra symbolism by his lopsided inner circle power sharing formula. It is the norm the world over that mainstream campaign officials are given inner circle positions as they are the ones who developed, marshaled and marketed the candidate and are best equipped to ensure the implementation and achievement of his promises. Rather, what we got was the swearing in of lesser known people to the chagrin of mainstream campaign officials and political commentators.
Next were the missed opportunities in waiting for nearly two economic quarters to assemble a cabinet; a blatant and bewildering inability to retire campaign funds and publish assets statements; Non convening of developmental summits to get an informed view of developmental needs as well as the non organization of Meet and Greet across the different zones of the country. Rather, people watched perplexedly as he junketed country after country on needless state visits at great cost to the tax payers. Early critics aptly branded him a President who hit the ground flying. The greatest of missed opportunities was the inability to develop a sustainable and impactful action plan to mitigate and mange the falling oil prices and shield Nigerians from its many untoward implications.
Next was a litany of miss after miss. His unbecoming and unpresidential analogy of the 95% and the 5% demonstrated his vague understanding of the transcendent nature of democracy as the rule of the majority for the protection of the interests of the minority. A cursory look at the distribution of the 2015 general elections depicts that Buhari was never going to have an easy go at it; rather than make attempts to woo and integrate zones where he fared badly at the polls, he showed detrimental disdain. The resultant was the emergence of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a hapless thorn in the flesh of the administration in their heady days.
Presented with cases of corruption against members of his inner circle , Buhari merely shrugged and watched past him an opportunity to inject life into an anti corruption campaign that never was, given that it has yielded no indictment nor conviction at the highest level. Uncle Sam made a mockery of himself and the lot of Nigerians who had deposited so much trust and goodwill in him.
If any achievement can be attributed to the Buhari administration at this time, it is easily eroded by the loss of faith in the administration by foreign investors who have fled the country in their droves give the harsh economic realities. The currency swap agreement with China that never took off is an apt testament. The inability to bolster and repair a falling economy and guide it to recovery and growth through coordinated government spending, import substitution, tax holiday for local producers and increasing the mega watts electricity available to households and industries is another case in point.
The senseless blaming of these glaring inefficiencies on the past administration paints the picture of a man who was never prepared for the job which which he was entrusted. Rather than get an enigma, a czar, Nigerians got a cry cry geriatric. Perhaps it suits us just fines as we never really got to question candidate Buhari well enough to get to know his thought process in its clarity as well as his familiarization with the yearnings of the much younger generations that make up the over 150 million Nigerian population.
Nigerians have nothing to cheer about at midterm, the immediate future looks bleak, and their Social Contract with President Buhari has gone sour leaving a lot of carnage in its wake. The situation is bad and it is only midterm. Perhaps President Buhari can wake up from his slumber and free his long suffering subjects from the shackles of poverty, inflation, unemployment, rampaging Fulani herdsmen and institutionalized corruption.. At midterm Nigerians are left gnashing their teeth and moaning over missed opportunities and a lost symbolism.
Time shall tell if it altogether was not always a lost cause, albeit a lost opportunity. He has our prayers especially in he wake of his health challenges, we hope he comes back even stronger.
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