The ongoing free-for-all argument over the performance of Muhammadu Buhari as President and indeed the credibility of his anti-corruption drive doesn’t seem to subside anytime soon, because, in addition to the persistent economic difficulties being experienced across the country that also fuel the argument, some other relevant developments do equally fuel it as well. The most recent of such developments is, of course, his extended medical vacation in Britain, which has given rise to speculations about his physical fitness to resume and carry on his presidential duties.
Basically, on the one hand of the equation, there are diehard Buhari loyalists who, even when they reluctantly admit his administration’s responsibility for further deterioration of things in the country, they vehemently dismiss any assertion or insinuation about his personal blameworthiness in this regard. Whereas, on the other hand, there are equally diehard Buhari antagonists who hardly recognize any achievement by his administration, and even when they reluctantly do, they hardly attribute appropriate credit to him as President.
Though both the loyalists and the antagonists feign objectivity in their assessments of his administration, subjectivity and prejudice remain quite obvious in their arguments. Besides, while the loyalists ignore some instances that raise credible suspicions about the neutrality of his war on corruption, for instance, the antagonists ignore the extremely monumental challenges that frustrate attempts to get the right things done in a country like Nigeria where corruption and mediocrity are integral parts of its system and are so pervasive socially as well.
Also, the largely emotive language and tone of this argument, as well as the obvious tendency of many arguers to engage in trading abuses, slanderous and degrading comments against one another explain why the argument triggers and fuels grudge among the arguers and their audiences.
Consequently, the argument that is supposed to focus on issues and substance turns into an avenue for settling scores. While this is particularly obvious on the unfortunately largely bastardized social media platforms, it’s also an easily observable tendency in the real world, after all, individuals’ attitudes on the internet reflect their attitudes in reality.
By the way, this unfortunate tendency explains why leaders in Nigeria often take Nigerians for a ride having already taken them for granted and knowing that, no matter what, their ethnic, religious, regional affiliations and, of course, the extent of the influence of their personal connections would always facilitate their rise into the corridors of power, cover up their thieveries and other corrupt practices and indeed shelter them from punishment under the prevailing culture of impunity in the land.
Nevertheless, I still see a positive and indeed promising dimension in the nature of this pro and anti-Buhari argument anyway. This appears by looking critically into it as a trend. I believe it actually steadily addresses some underlying attitudinal and socio-cultural dynamics that have always undermined Nigerians’ aspiration to transform Nigeria into a transparent and efficiently functioning country. This dimension is represented by a slowly but constantly growing tendency in-between the two extreme tendencies mentioned above. It is the tendency of looking critically into things, approaching issues with absolute objectivity, taking all relevant factors and circumstances into consideration to conduct adequate analyses and make objective assessments to eventually arrive at a fair conclusion.
Though this tendency is largely overshadowed by the two dominant prejudiced tendencies, it maintains its potentials to eventually do away with the prevailing culture of disproportionate obsession with rightly or wrongly admired individuals, to replace it with the culture of obsession with credibility and competence as some of the indispensable qualities of prospective public servants. After all, for the country to develop, it needs strong public institutions instead of strong public figures. This is, however, without prejudice to the right of appropriate recognition for the eligible public figures who have maintained clean records in their public service.
It’s quite inspiring that the steadily growing public commentators representing this tendency are increasingly summoning up the courage to go against the tide and stick to their conscience enduring all sorts of intimidation and blackmail in the process. Besides, perhaps circumstances have never been more favourable for this tendency to take root. Because, despite this demonstration’s deficiencies and failure to live up to the legitimate expectations of Nigerians so far, it proves to be more committed to doing the right things compared to the successive administrations. This, however, doesn’t downplay the need for keeping up pressure on it through objective and constructive criticisms.
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