Last Wednesday was the first day of 2020, a year believed to have signified the beginning of another decade. As traditional with the political leadership all over the world, messages were sent by political leaders to their fellow country men and women felicitating with them on the dawn of a new year, and this time the beginning of a new decade.
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari did something unusual on the day. He sent a letter to Nigerians on the commemoration of the New Year day. The President made wide and specific reference to his campaign promises and steps taken to get them implemented. From elections to security and infrastructural development, the president assured Nigerians of his commitment to make life better. “We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry.”, the president said. He further reassured that “our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.” In concluding his emissary, the president listed out expected projects to be completed within the year.
However, varied reactions have greeted the letter of the president. Responses from Nigerians monitored both on local radio and the internet have revealed that Nigerians received the president’s messages with varying degree of emotions ranging from commendation, indifference to outright condemnation. A hopeful Nigerian reader of a popular Nigerian national newspaper with both online and offline presence commented “While this is a great speech, I wish he had broadcast the message. I hope he implements all the promises that he has made in the letter…”.
Another one expressing his frustration about the Nigerian situation chided in “Nigeria’s political process is not working. It has impoverished the masses, made Nigeria heavily indebted again. I think it shall only take extra powers to impress upon the Buhari cabal to understand that a multi ethnic and multi religious country can’t succeed with this extraordinary parasitic unitary govt system which the Buharis of far north believe favour their region.”
What a discerning reader of the comments and the texts of the president’s speech could observe was the expectations of Nigerians concerning Mr President’s communication with the people. Despite the loads of hope inspiring specific problems he has highlighted, yet people are asking for more. From realistic and modest expectation to a bogus, unrealisable demand, Nigerians seem to be yearning for more. However, two important strategic lessons are inherent in the reactions of the readers. One, the president needs to establish that connection again with Nigerians. The practice of speaking to international media organisations on pressing policy statements should be discontinued. Two, no matter how much the president tried, some people may not give him any credit for his achievements