Budget Presentation: Between Virtuous Jeers and Vicious Cheers
By Jude Ndukwe
With the enormous goodwill and aura that accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari to Aso Rock on May 29, 2015, no one in his/her wildest dreams would have thought that, between then and now, the president would have lost so much goodwill and support even from his own wife who entered the trenches with him in the course of the 2015 campaigns and be a subject of free jests and jeers from secret quarters not to talk of coming from the hallowed chambers of the national assembly, before the cameras.
This is because President Muhammadu Buhari came to power, assuming office along with him a group of fiercely loyal and inseparably attached people who were also ferociously committed to him as a person that they would never see anything wrong in the president or in what he did or did not do. This was mainly because the 2015 elections that ushered Buhari to power was keenly, and, depending on the side of the divide one was, bitterly contested, to the extent that he was primed to take all and even prodded by his supporters to degrade the losers even if that meant using state agencies.
Such was their loyalty that they became known as Buharists!
But what happened at the hallowed chambers of the national assembly on Wednesday, December 20, 2018, when Buhari went to present the 2019 budget proposal before lawmakers is an eloquent testimony that the once revered Buhari has since fallen apart and only a negligible fragment of his famed but framed iconic image was still left. The once tough talking Buhari cut the figure of a helpless man in need of pity in the midst of torrential jeers that punctuated his speech during the occasion. At a point, and in order not to make it look like he was still the same Buhari that had ridden roughshod over the national assembly for so long, Buhari deflected to the international community and appealingly told the lawmakers that the world was watching them.
But then it was too late. That blackmail did not work as the lawmakers did not give in to his strategy of stopping them because before now, they had tried their best to help Buhari complete his process of becoming a full democrat but all to no avail. He carried on as a military ruler in a democratic setting. He flagrantly disobeyed court orders and allowed the world to watch us in bewilderment how he boastfully said he was placing “national interest” over the rule of law, whatever that meant. Before the Wednesday saga, Buhari had made us a laughing stock before the whole world in word and in deed, severally and severely. In fact, some international analysts, commentators and media outfits had wondered what kind of human species Nigerians were made of to endure such gruesome hardship and suffering brought upon them by a president, yet, they hardly jeered or protested against him.
He turned Nigeria into a theatre of nightmares where tears, sorrow and blood were the harvest of citizens from the seeds of mass murders, maiming, rape etc planted by marauding herdsmen, and gleefully explained away with infantile excuses by presidency officials rather than arrest the perpetrators.
Buhari obviously forgot that the world was watching when our military under his command allegedly murdered harmless Shiites in cold blood in their hundreds, and nobody involved in that dastardly act has been prosecuted till date. Except in a barbaric environment like ours, which other government sends its soldiers to wipe out her citizens in peace time the way our soldiers gruesomely descended on IPOB members and the Shiites?
The list is endless!
It is expected of men and women of courage to jeer at lies and manipulation of facts and figures when they encounter one. To behave otherwise amounts to self-deceit and hypocrisy, and these ones who jeered have chosen not to be hypocrites; they chose to protest against presidential sophistry and not allow themselves to be cajoled into swallowing mendacity in the name of observing an unpopular comportment. In a situation where one man keeps engaging in churning out disjointed facts and figures with gusto, it becomes a great disservice to mankind, and indecorous to observe decorum.
Pray, how does anyone expect the lawmakers to keep quiet in the face of such provocative casuistry coming from the president? For the avoidance of doubts, President Muhammadu Buhari said his presidency had made “successful efforts at tackling the insurgency in the northeast”. With the recent Metele attack on our soldiers, the continued effortless raid of communities by Boko Haram, and such other gory tales coming from the region including the ones told by battle-weary, ill-equipped and scantily fed soldiers, it would amount to dancing on the graves of our gallant soldiers felled by insurgents so cheaply and the precious souls of citizens murdered by the terrorists despite Buh