Ear Infection: Buhari's Alleged Hearing Problem and Other Stories

President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to visit Lagos state on Monday, 23rd, 2016 to formally commission the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Rescue Unit in Cappa Oshodi built by the State Government to ensure prompt and swift response to emergency situations in the state. And also commission the newly constructed Ago Palace Way in Okota, Isolo after which he will pay homage to the Oba of Lagos, His Royal Majesty, Oba Babatunde Rilwanu Aremu Akiolu at the Iga Iduganran, Lagos Island.

The Commissioner for Information and Strategy in Lagos, Steve Ayorinde did a spectacular work with the publicity of Buhari's august visit but in less than 24hrs to the exalted coming of our president, Sahara Reporters broke the news that his trip to Lagos had been cancelled due to an 'ear infection' sustained by him. In less than 30 minutes, an official statement to this effect was released by the Lagos state government notifying the people that Buhari would not be coming to the commercial capital of Nigeria but his Vice President; Professor Yemi Osinbajo would be representing him. The nature of Buhari's hindrance wasn't convincingly stated, leaving us to believe he is truly suffering from an 'ear infection'.

Regardless of the authenticity of the rumour by the controversial online news platform, Buhari's governance in the last four months has been ridden with an acute and deliberate action of 'deaf ears' to the plight of the people in the face of situations within and also beyond his control. There is more to the inability to Buhari to clearly understand the accent of foreign journalists which is no news to those that follow his interviews on the international scene. Buhari's reported 'ear infection' is deeper than mere health issues on a physiological level. His 'ear infection' symbolizes the abandonment and insensitivity to the plight of the people by the ruling elites that are blindfolded by the opulence at the corridors of power. This prevents them from feeling the sufferings of their people and most importantly 'hearing' their cries through the social and mass media platforms as their 'ears have become infected'. The solution defies the research in medicine as anybody that steps into the rented power house called Aso Rock Villa in Abuja swiftly loses touch with reality and I guess it was on this note that Buhari's media adviser, Femi Adesina stated that it is mendacious to believe Nigerians have been suffering in the last one year under Buhari.

Yes! We have but it’s unholy to blame the entire issues on the 73-year old leader. Nigeria is like a vehicle with a very high mileage which is touring cities on a high velocity; whatever you experience on the highways as a driver, deal with it. No lamentations!

As for Buhari, his historical antecedence as military ruler that emerged as the Nigerian Head of State in 1983 before and after which he served at various capacities maybe suffering from a permanent 'ear infection' with a serum that is elusive intellectually to his doctors in the United Kingdom.

The Nigerian masses without a vivid understanding of 'political change' pictured a Merlin kind of change or the kind of instant change the late Professor Peller of Nigeria or American magician, Chris Angel would initiate to thrill his audience. Change in the polity is incremental. It’s a process but we want the mathematical results without showing workings and also expecting to earn the full marks. Nawa oh!
But apart from that, Buhari and his All Progressives Congress team have to admit that they didn't hit the ground running as the masses hoped. In fact, when the 'change team' hit the ground, the environment was alien to them and they had no working compass for direction.

The indications are crystal-clear for political analysis. They pinpointed the problems of former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan's administration of 'fantastic' corruption simply to score cheap political points. Reality could be so complicated and trickery. The spectators in a football stadium watching a heated match will always boast of the better ideas than the players directly involved but the spectators may never be good footballers.

Let me spot the first instance of Buhari's symptom of 'ear infection' since he emerged in May, 2015. Buhari first of all presented an array of lopsided political appointments by favouring northerners with a list lacking gender balance and regional equity. 25% percent of Buhari's appointment was from the south while a staggering 75% was from the north as at the 28th of August, 2015. This threatened the fragile national unity in Nigeria as the South-easterners who were expecting marginalization started fuming in anger. As usual, they cried to the press but the 'ear infection' was a militating factor as Buhari was attentively listening but couldn't hear a word of their agitations. Consequentially, the agitations for the independent state of Biafra gained momentum as the people saw reasons to secede. Many have been maimed and killed in protests while others incarcerated by security operatives.

Secondly, it took my favourite Nigerian leader, Buhari; the only person I can trust with the proceeds of the deregulation of the downstream oil sector six good months to inaugurate his cabinet. This was a major setback that facilitated the budget padding saga under the nose of a high-calibre official in the class of a former Chairman of the Governing Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, the Minister of Budget and Planning. The 2016 appropriation bill of 'change' which is the highest budget (N6.06 trillion) in the history of Nigeria was hastily prepared and submitted to the national assembly by the president in less than 5 weeks. At a point, Nigerians were forced to believe Buhari wanted to recruit white people as ministers whom he referred to as noisemakers. There was an outcry in the media as usual. The outcry was so loud and deafening but again the 'ear infection' factor came into play.

It baffles me that Buhari is yet to visit the Boko Haram terror hotbed, Borno state to see the ruins left behind by the sect of 7 years reign of blood and boost the morale of our soldiers who have been bleeding under harsh conditions so that we could sleep well at night and go about our lawful daily duties without panic. Buhari also failed to visit Agatu, Benue where Fulani herdsmen reportedly killed over 300 people and destroyed homes in a reprisal attack over the death of their leader and his missing cattle.

Buhari who is suspected to have a phobia for local trips has ignored media pressure to visit such 'ugly scenes' compared to the ambience of foreign countries; hence, the 'ear infection' factor.

Furthermore, Buhari's bid to diversify the Nigerian economy in the face of the pitiable state of the power sector under our 'able' Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola is ridden with diplomatic and non-committal talks aimed at swaying the general public. The power sector is one of the lifelines of a viable economy because every business regardless of the size faces the challenge of epileptic power supply and 'ungodly' over-bloated electricity bills as seen in Nigeria. The tariff of 'darkness and sunlight' has been increased by Buhari's super minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola by 45%. The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Organization, civil societies and the Nigerian public have cried out and wept bitterly without a reversal. Buhari again could boldly see their protests on the television but he can't 'hear' their words clearly.

Buhari's government has factually been on a record-breaking spree in the last one year. Naira's exchange rate against the U.S dollar reached its all-time low in the black market, inflation reached its peak point of 13.7% in the history of Nigeria, our Gross Domestic Product which is the value of economic activities in the country reached a 25-year low of -0.36% growth rate, 1.5 million people returned to the labour market to rest after lengthy period of working,  2 million jobs were instantly provided in the oil sector in less than two months and it has never happened before (black marketers) and lastly, the longest period of fuel scarcity in Nigeria spanning over 3 months and we are still counting coupled with an excruciating pain of 68% fuel price hike in the face of cash crunch. The Nigerian masses were left at the mercy of oil marketers in Nigeria by the government of change. That sector has recorded the greatest Shylocks of the world yet to be fully unravelled. I am sure the late legendary writer, Williams Shakespeare must have thought about the fuel distribution network in Nigeria before including the fictional character of Shylock in the book, Merchant of Venice.

This administration emphasizes strongly on diversification of the economy with much focus on agriculture to ensure food security but that sector in the last one year of Buhari's administration has suffered a setback with some farm produce like tomatoes, garri, rice and others getting beyond the reach of final consumers coupled with a shocking hike in prices. A fruit of tomato sells for N100, a bag of rice which sold for N9, 000 last year has risen to N15, 000 - N17, 000 and garri which is a major staple food of the common man which sold for N250 per custard container rising to N750 this year.

The Managing Director of Universal Quest Limited/National Publicity Secretary, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Sotonye Anga said the Ministry of Agriculture has not been funded in the last one year. According to him, the Ministry has not been able to fund any activities or projects because they have not been with money as the budget was not approved on time.
Unfortunately, all the moaning and groaning of the people have again fallen on that 'infected ear' of the president.

Political analysts have pleaded with Buhari's administration to cut the costs of governance in order to ensure its survival during this economic downturn but the president still maintains his 11 private jets with N5.3 billion per annum. The president also earmarked N3.9 billion for the maintenance of Aso Rock villa from a budget that will be heavily serviced on borrowed funds. Under this column, millions of naira was set aside under the tag ''other maintenance services'' which lacks full definition. I hope that isn't the code name of someone's pocket in the presidency?

In the face of the dwindling fortunes of the country, Buhari has also visited over 25 countries in a year with limited positive but probably futuristic results.

Several Nigerians are of the opinion that Buhari should shift a little focus from his full blown anti-graft war with the opposition party members being major victims and salvage the economy from imminent recession as Nigerians are suffering.

Buhari has also been advised locally and internationally (United Kingdom) to negotiate with the marauding Niger Delta Avengers blowing up oil and gas facilities in the South-south region as opposed to his threat of the use of force. Today, our crude oil production has dropped from 2.2 million barrels per day to 1.4 million barrels with a daily loss of N2.79 billion which is bound to increase with an intensified spate of attacks.

The Fulani herdsmen who have been deemed above the law seem more determined to divide Nigeria with their series of crimes ranging from murder, kidnapping, rape, maiming of individuals, destruction of crops and houses. A report from AFP has it that a total 847 deaths have been caused by Fulani herdsmen across 5 states in Nigeria majorly Benue.

It is also being speculated that the president after budgeting N940 million is set to establish grazing reserves for the hostile Fulani herdsmen across the geopolitical zones in the country which about 350 federal lawmakers and state lawmakers from the southern part of Nigeria are already bracing up to oppose. These are many of several exclusive national issues that could be attributed to the side-effects of that 'ear(s)'.

In conclusion, the agitations of the people will never have any meaningful impact if the 'ear infection' is not well treated to facilitate Buhari's connection to his people.

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About Osahon

I'm a journalist and a Political Scientist undergoing a doctoral programme focused on media, democracy and governance in Africa. My mission is to uphold the role of the media as the 'fourth estate of the realm' and also tell the Nigerian Story to the world. You can contact me on smile2georgex@yahoo.com Phone number: +2347053302356.
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