by Usman Alabi
President Buhari re-introduces his WAI brigade 31 years after his military dispensation. For people of my generation, they might not have had a first hand experience of Buhari’s puritanic brigade saddled with the responsibility of addressing various forms of social indisciplines and attitudinal crisis that characterises our daily lives, it is meant to be achieved through military discipline and doggedness. Just few months ago, the President thought it wise to bring up one or the last of his cards which he is known for, a relic of the past at a time such as this. Maybe I should remind the President that the times have changed and irrespective of where we are as a nation, the world has moved on and we have also moved on as a nation. This is as a result of three phenomena which even our unrepentant corrupt nature do not have influence upon, our people are not the same, hence you cannot fight a new war with old tools, these phenomena are globalization, education and democracy. The culture of a people is never static no matter how jealously they guild it, culture and people’s way of live is dynamic. Hence, a WAI brigade of then might not be needed now, Infact, its re-introduction questions the ingenuity of the present administration and the demeaning lens through which they see Nigerians.
The President must realize that Nigeria is not his personal property which would warrant him applying his personal family rules, it is a commonwealth, perhaps he has been out of government for too long to think that the present war can be fought with the same tool he deviced more than three decades ago. Somebody tell the president that he needs to rise above these analog, atavistic and antiquated tendencies and face the present realities.
I make bold to say that there is nothing wrong with Nigerians, there is nothing wrong with their character and attitude, they are just responding to a systemic failure and endemic ineffectiveness of governance structures and leadership crisis, presided over by people who are bereft of fresh ideas and initiatives capable of causing a tectonic all inclusive and long awaited change and not the APC’s hypocritic mantra.
The problem of Nigerians is not indiscipline, as we have been denuded to believe, this rather depict that an unrepentant and self righteous state has not desist from its blame game of pushing the woes of the nation on its people, hence they continue to point accusing fingers at the governed making them believe that they are responsible for the unending dystopia that plagued the country.
The same way they fail in their responsibility to create an enabling environment for capital generation, accumulation and investment, thereby stimulating the economy for economic activities that would lead to massive generation of employment opportunities, not accepting this responsibility, they push it on an unprepared people under a very hash economic condition in the name of self employment and entrepreneurship.
The problem of Nigeria has always been leadersip, and this extant monster has reared its ugly head once more. The reality is that even with the Buhari government, we have still not gotten it right. What we have is a temporary hiatus from what we in our shallow and uncritical mindedness felt is our major problem which is corruption, for this very reason we immediately went for the ‘ saint in babariga’ who we perceived as an expatriate when it comes to dealing with corruption, but now that this card of corruption that forms the foundation of his PR is on the verge of exhaustion, the next thing is the last of his old relics, WAI. Where are the egg headed men in government, where has thinking gone, why is strategic thinking and governance found wanting in the hallowed chamber of government?
Again the state directs the gun at the people and not to itself, is the president ignorant of the fact that his appointments since his emergence as the president negates the spirit of the constitution which in itself is the hight of indiscipline. His continual loud silence on the impunity of the herdsmen who recently turned out to be the fourth deadly terrorists in the world is a deservice to the people he swore to protect and that in itself is indiscipline. Perhaps we should pardon the president because we first made the mistake of assuming that competence, integrity, and discipline are synonimous. We did not clearly defined what we wanted, we had been in the cold for long and then latched at the first opportunity to take cover without query.
It is in this context that the WAI paradox or paradoxes emerged; It’s a war directed at the people who are unfortunately at the receiving end of this fraudulent social contract rather than the state and its edifice. They demand patriotism, sacrifice and discipline from a people who have not been enamourmed by the same from its leaders. The war against Indiscipline should not be directed against a police man who being under a terrible condition of service is frustrated to live on the same people he is meant to protect, it should not be against the civil servant or common man on the street who strive to make ends meet in an avoidable state of economic recession. It should be directed against the state itself, for giving us structures and amenities that does not work, it should be directed at a state whose merchinery gulps more budgetary allocation than the people it is meant for, it should be directed at the rogues in the national assemblies whose cinematographic histrionics would form a fantastic screen play for nollywood, it should be directed to this same assembly whose new rhetorics of budget padding is not considered to be a criminal offence or violation of the law. This WAI paradox beffudles me in a very unusual way, why now?, the timing is just wrong in a country faced with a record high two digit inflation of about sixteen percent, with a dollar exchanged for almost four hundred naira, where the electricity problem has become a rocket science that cannot be solved overnight, the economy is in shambles and people can bearly feed, not to mention the pervasive insecurity in the country. The people can not just be discipline!
I am not directly against the WAI brigade, but I am uncomfortable with logic behind its re-introduction. It sends a cold shiver to my spine and awaken me to the realities of this much hyped and trusted administration, it spurs one to interrogate what is happening in the corridors of power, could it be that this administration has exhausted its cards, a once happy people have suddenly turn out to be among the most miserable sets of people in the world and the next card to play is WAI! this government has not given us any prove that it understands the nature of the problem faced by Nigerians not to talk of addressing it. The reaction and behaviour of a people is a function of their human condition, you dont expect discipline from a hungry man, neither do you expect an underpaid man or one who has not been paid for up to six months not to cut corners. President Buhari should begin to address the mortley of economic problems facing the Nigerian people. If he does not address the economic challenges faced by the people, he has no grounds to address their rebellion or indiscipline. The President needs to come out of his PR mystique of body language and begin to do a strategic social re-engineering that would address and put an end to this socioeconomic ills even after he must have vacated office, rather than relying on his fallible body language. This reminds me of Professor Achebe’s book titled ‘the trouble with Nigeria’ where he stated that “In the final analysis, a leader’s no nonsense reputation might induce a favourable climate but in order to effect lasting change it must be followed up with a radical programme of social and economic re-organization or atleast well conceived and consistent agenda of reform which Nigeria stood and stands in dire need of”. This book was published in the 1980s, and even now, 2016, we are still in dire need of what Achebe wrote about more than three decades ago, something is fundamentally wrong somewhere. The more I read Achebe, the more I question the rationale behind the change mantra put forward by the people of the broom, it is nothing but an exploitation of our condition and genuine longing for something new which was and still our greatest weakness. What need to be disciplined are government policies, structures and institutions. When discipline is built into institutions and structures via sound and well thought out policies, when well thought out visions of economic growth are assiduously followed through and transmutted to the people as culture through social engineering, the product would be a disciplined people, if government institutions and parastatals begin to work without ceasing, what choice does the people have than to respond likewise. When the people begin to enjoy stable power supply and other social services and the state can guarantee a standard modicum of comfort, the people would respond in line with the intention of the state. It is these above factors that conditions the live of a people and shape them into what is expected of them.
In conclusion, WAI is definitely not what we need right now, first and foremost we need to begin to purnish people for wrong doings especcially at the top, the more people gets away with wrong doings the higher the rate of indisciplne, this calls for the much needed judicial reform.