By Femi Adesina
Let’s start with a caveat: free comments are part of democracy, and so this is not an attempt to muzzle anyone. Nobody should come and shout, oh, they don’t want us to say our minds again. They want to padlock our mouths. Not at all. President Muhammadu Buhari is not even the type that would gag anyone, and the polity is today suffused with all kinds of comments, the responsible, and the not so responsible. The inspiring, and the bilious. The encouraging, and the poisonous. The reasonable, and the not so reasonable.
Nobody would deny that Nigeria has very severe security challenges, though the intensity often varies from time to time. There are seasons when our courageous security agencies have the upper hand, clobber the criminals black and blue, and things calm down. At other times, they suffer reversals. That is the fair assessment of developments.
But fair? That word doesn’t seem to exist in the dictionary of some Nigerians who want you to perpetually believe that ‘worsening insecurity’ is the only thing happening in the country. They never talk of the second Niger Bridge. Loko-Oweto Bridge. Bodo-Bonny road. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Airports. Rail revolution. Fertilizer availability. Rice and maize pyramids. And many others.
No, they don’t see those ones. They only talk of how you can’t travel by road, by rail, by air, and how nobody is safe anywhere in the country. How Federal Government is allegedly overwhelmed by security challenges. They trumpet only the things that give the impression of total anarchy. They know what they are doing. It’s all about the struggle for power, for control of the political and economic strings of the country. The allure of power remains sweet to them eternally.
These instigators cut across all class of people. Former leaders, current political actors, pastors, imams, social commentators, talkshow hosts (and hostesses), so-called human rights activists, socio-political groups, and many others. All they want is to give a sense of anomie in the land, and divert attention from whatever is going right. There is a lot going right, but they never talk of those, simply because of the struggle for power.
Who is that Fulani cattle rearer who dare build a second bridge over the River Niger, something we could only dream of in our 16 years in power? He is even covering the national landscape with rail lines. Who is his father? He’s building new airports, massive expressways, gas pipelines, achieving food security. Come, let’s run him down, even run him out of town, lest he become a national hero. Let’s trumpet the insecurity in the land, till our voices are hoarse.
When negative things happen, like the sad and evil attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, they pretend to be sympathizing with the country. But their choice of words gives them out. They are who the Good Book calls “miserable comforters.” They are merely adding petrol to a flaming fire, and salt to injury. Under the umbrella of condolence, they are taking potshots at a government they both fear and hate.
There are comments that exacerbate matters, rather than mollify them. There are words that are meant to incite people against leadership, give them a sense of hopelessness, and encourage them to revolt. That is what these people do. Muhammadu Buhari is their headache, and he must be portrayed as a failure by all means. Give him a bad name, erase his footprints on the sands of time, make him look incompetent, a ne’er do well. That is their motive, and if the country goes up in flames in the process, it doesn’t bother them.
They pretend to be speaking truth to power, but you can see through the facade, if you are discerning. You can tell the truth without inciting or instigating people against leadership. What they want is chaos, disorder, anarchy, all in the name of ‘speaking truth to power.’ Liars. Anarchists. People who have not made successes of their own homes or personal affairs, now attempting to dictate how the country should run.
If a preacher brings down fire seemingly from Heaven, but speaks evil about the leadership of his own country, he impresses me not. Because the Good Book enjoins us to pray for those in authority, for there can be no power, except the one God has ordained. He installs kings, and deposes them. Even as a preacher, Christian, Muslim, God has not ceded that authority to you. He sits in Heaven, and makes the earth His footstool. The clouds of the sky are the dusts of His feet. That is God, and no man should compete with Him. But uncouth language is the stock-in-trade of some preachers today. Words are no longer seasoned with grace.
Most of those who utter incautious, inflammatory words about the state of insecurity in the land, only want power through the back door. Some had never liked Buhari, so he must fail. Others supported him in the past, thinking they would be able to lead him by the nose. When they failed, they said he wouldn’t get a second term in office. Before their very eyes, he coasted to victory. Still they are unrelenting in their opposition. But there’s nothing you can do against a man who God has ordained for certain roles.
It’s funny to hear some others asking the government to quit. And so, what follows? Disorder. Higgledy-piggledy. People running helter-skelter, insurgents and bandits taking over. They don’t care about the country, nor about the people. When things burst, they take the next flight out of the country on first class seats.
The security challenges we have are being tackled. Robustly. President Buhari, more than any other leader in the past, has equipped, trained, and motivated the security agencies, who are rising to the occasion, with many of them even paying the supreme price. To be condemnatory of the entire effort is to be unkind, evil, unappreciative.
Some people merely excoriate without suggesting viable alternatives. What can our security agencies do better? How can they do it? No, that is not in their agenda. All they want to see is that Buhari should fail, and fall. But they are not God.
What the times call for is an encouragement of our security forces, not wanton denouncement or chastisement of their work and sacrifices. ‘May God bless our troops’ should be the singsong, not petty politics and grossness.
Nigeria will win the war against evil. The Buhari government will win the war of tongues unleashed against it. Happily, majority of Nigerians know the truth. They may not have the platform to speak out like the vocal minority, but they know those truly serving them, and those merely interested in sticking their snouts in the nectar of office. The year 2023 will show.
Unguarded comments can further inflame the insecurity in the land, and it surely does. And those shooting off their mouths know what they are doing. They want things to become topsy-turvy, jumbled, so they can come out and say, ‘we told you.’ But they won’t succeed, because God is interested in Nigeria, and in the lot of millions of helpless people. That is why President Buhari will land safely, and soundly, to the glory of the Almighty.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity