“Arguably, it will go down in Nigerian history that this is the worst quasi civil government that suppresses freedom of speech and expression. Peaceful protesters are hounded and mauled by armed security agents. This is a government that specializes in the deployment of armed hoodlums to counter organized civil society peaceful rallies and silencing constructive elite criticism”

Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari, made a rather cryptic statement concerning the deluge of criticisms that attend to serial misgovernance steps of his administration. The president, according to his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had asked Nigerian elites to judge his administration fairly.

The president was reportedly quoted as setting the standard for any critical stance: “Those criticizing the administration should be fair in terms of reflecting on where we were before we came, where we are now and what resources are available to us and what we have done with the limited resources. We had to struggle to pay debts, investing in road repairs and rebuilding, revamp the rail, and try to get power.

“This is what I hope the elite when they want to criticize will use to compare notes”, he stated when the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev. Yakubu Pam, paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
For many reasons, the president’s statement is a wild riddle as hinted earlier. For the record, this is one government that detests criticism of its offensive style of administration and has done and is still doing everything possible to silence citizens’ free speech. The media that provide the veritable platform for the elite to air their views are being muzzled with Draconian laws.

Arguably, it will go down in Nigerian history that this is the worst quasi civil government that suppresses freedom of speech and expression. Peaceful protesters are hounded and mauled by armed security agents. This is a government that specializes in the deployment of armed hoodlums to counter organized civil society peaceful rallies and silencing constructive elite criticism.

Obviously, the target of Buhari’s statement was Bishop Hassan Kukah who has been receiving death threats from Islamic groups and agents of this government for daring to exercise his fundamental right of freedom of expression and independent views on this administration. Is Kukah, the cleric globally acknowledged for his humility, honesty, and truthfulness, and a rare and courageous statesman, one of Nigeria’s fairest critical elite?
Besides, we wonder why the president is exceptional about the elites. Is it not a testimonial to the fact that the voices of ordinary citizens are no longer important in how this administration runs this country? How sad!

It is equally imperative to state that looking at the prevailing economy, oil sector management, anticorruption campaign, inclusive governance system, social welfare system and the security situation, etc, under the present administration in comparison with what the previous government, Nigerian elites have been rather guilty of conspiratorial silence and compromise. They are more than fair to a less deserving government that gas failed in every sector.

Recall that the Buhari administration has by far exceeded the cost of the pump price of the Jonathan era which he led elite protests against nationwide. Today, Nigeria is poorer, more indebted, and more divided than ever as a result of an ethnic, religious, and clannish system of government-run by President Buhari.

We maintain that there is a greater need for Nigerian elites to be more consistently critical of this government. As Albert Einstein observed, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”. This government should learn to be more tolerable of constructive criticism and citizens’ responses to its style of governance.

There are mounting ethnic, regional, and religious tension in the country as a result of gross mismanagement of good governance and political stakes. Unfortunately, this government does not want people to talk about it. Nigeria is seriously on edge, and we must watch it. A word is enough for the wise.

 


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