Demola Rewaju: A rejoinder to ‘Wailing Wailers, Buharists and that disgraceful 2016 budget’

In writing this Rejoinder, I must make clear that I have no intention of joining issues on twitter with Mr. Japhet Omojuwa other than to c...

In writing this Rejoinder, I must make clear that I have no intention of joining issues on twitter with Mr. Japhet Omojuwa other than to clear certain misunderstandings in his piece which may be deliberate or inadvertent. We can then perhaps spark off a deeper understanding of positions across camps towards ending the silliness of a divided youth base.

In referring to those who support former President Goodluck Jonathan as “Wailing Wailers”, Japhet submits to the divisive thinking promoted by this administration in order to keep the camp of Buhari supporters united. This appellation was first used derogatively by Femi Adesina who speaks on behalf of Mr. President and he again repeated it on Christmas Day.

Those of us on this side have embraced it but in referring to those who support President Muhammadu Buhari as Buharists, not Lying Liars as we choose to describe them in equal derogatory retaliation, Japhet betrays his sentiments and it is well understood.

Subsequent parts of his article show however that he has taken a step from the left of the political divide where he used to be blatantly and sometimes abusively anti-government to embrace or make an attempt to embrace a more moderate position at least on the budget. His criticism of this document is spot on and one finds no major point to disagree with him on that.

While one is grateful that there are no allusions to pigs or ineffectual buffoons about the incumbent President:our President, he again betrays an inability to avoid continual denigration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and this is where and why it is important to clarify things a bit so that those who would like to shift positions can fully understand the position of those of us who seemed pro-government at this time last year.

In a nation of millions of people, was Goodluck Jonathan the best man to be President? Many would answer a resounding ‘no’ and that includes a lot of Wailers. But was General Muhammadu Buhari the best option and alternative to him? This was where our ‘no’ was emphatic because that negative answer was echoed not just by Wailing Wailers but by many other Nigerians who simply refused to believe in the repackaged product.

Those who recalled the Economic crises of 1984 and 1985 due to his inability to understand the Economy also said ‘no’. Those who genuinely could not see how #Change could be a regression to a past of failed leadership which had somehow been glorified and recast as Nigeria’s golden age also said ‘no’ with us. These people said ‘no’ not because they loved Goodluck Jonathan but because for them it was a case of jumping from frying pan to fire – if there would be a change of leadership (and not a change of systems), it simply could not be a change from Jonathan to Buhari.

These people were over 12 million in number and so when the likes of Adesina or Omojuwa refer to them as “Wailing Wailers”, it is obvious that they do not understand that many people were indeed unconvinced about the ability of the incumbent President to do differently, without being beneficiaries of the immediate past President. Sadly like Omojuwa stylishly admits: the President is confirming our worst fears about Buhari.

For a President who was elected on a sense of urgency; one who claimed to have leadership experience and one who had contested election three times in the past, the inability of President Buhari to form the Federal Executive Council for about five months has become the foundation of our socio-economic crises as Nigeria wasted time which the “Jonathan Must Go Even If A Pig Is The Alternative” claim we never had. One of the offshoots of that indecisiveness is a budget prepared largely without ministerial interjections except to inflate costs – Prof. Anthony Anwuka the minister of state for education admitted just this week to the senate that he was not aware of how salaries and emoluments of ministry staff jumped up by over NGN10bn from the 2015 budget.

By presenting a ministerial list of more of the same kind of politicians, some very obvious downgrade from the GEJ cabinet and persons whose only claim to office is that they had been his longterm aides and cronies, President Buhari sent a clear signal into the polity: “this is business as usual but this time, my own friends will be rewarded” and we ended up with the likes of Hadi Sirika, Adamu Adamu, Adebayo Shittu, Abubakar Malami, Abdulrahman Dambazzau and several others as ministers while Hamid Alli was drafted to the Nigerian Customs Service and Lawal Daura recalled from retirement to come and head the DSS – clear indications of Appointment By Nepotism.

Cronies of governors who were close Buhari associates also made the list: that’s how we ended up with Kemi Adeosun as Finance Minister – a close friend of Gov. Ibikunle Amosun who had been a member of the ANPP at the same time as Buhari.

And you also have an Amaechi as Minister: Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi at a reception for the man admitted that about 80% of campaign funding came from Rotimi Amaechi who at the time of the campaign was the Governor of Rivers State and we must not be simpleminded to assume that the money he spent on the campaign was left as inheritance for him by his ancestors.

As Omojuwa now sees: there was no #Change in the true sense of what Nigerians expected – the only change that took place on March the 28th of last year was a change of leadership and a change of cronies of leadership. Some of us envisaged this and we are only surprised that this Government is not even pretending to represent Change in any way by making an initial show of it, such as expunging spurious provisions from the national budget for instance.

In many instances in fact, the sums have been increased to outrageous levels: Dambazzau’s ministry wants to spend over half a billion on repairs and rehabilitation of office buildings – a 2500% increase from what was allocated in 2015.

But here is where I help those who are becoming increasingly politically conscious to understand our position, as Wailing Wailers (as they call us and we now embrace) or as PDP supporters: we admit now and ever that Goodluck Jonathan was not the ideal President for Nigeria but the alternative WAS NOT A CONSIDERABLE OPTION or an improvement on Goodluck Jonathan.

We insisted then that the man to replace Jonathan could only be one who had demonstrated an ability to grapple with Nigeria’s multifaceted problems either with visible footsteps at the state level or in private business – but let’s not rehash the pre-election arguments: we are now where we are.

Where we are is a Government that is struggling to keep up and we understand that, wholeheartedly. Where we are is a crowd of 15 million (as against 12 million), many of whom took a chance on voting Buhari for Change but now see Buhari without the promised Change. Some may be pained that Goodluck Jonathan is no longer in power but personally and for many whom I know, it was rarely about Jonathan as a person and so there is no pain here.

I have been to Abuja on the invitation of PDP more times since March 28, 2015 than since 1999. I have been in ‘opposition’ in Lagos as a PDP member since before the 2011 election so I am used to it, I like many I know have never been beneficiaries of the PDP set up and so we are used to ‘opposition’.

Why then do we Wail?

We wail because the likes of Omojuwa have now lost the moral credibility to lead the charge against the same Government they told us would lead us to Eldorado, Utopia and the Elysian Fields. We wail because we warned that this President did not in any way represent Change and as Prophets of that Truth, we continue to point the way out.

We wail because those who used to tell us that it was wrong for Jonathan to godto Oba Odulana’s birthday in Ibadan 24 hours after a Boko Haram attack have lost their voice as President Buhari went to Ogun State in aso-ebi to celebrate after his citizens were killed in Dalori. We wail because those who used to tell us about foreign exchange rates falling under Jonathan now tell us that the worst exchange rates ever in Nigeria’s history are suddenly a thing of joy.

We wail because the Rule of Law suddenly does not matter. We wail because people on the streets are beginning to wail as prices of essential commodities continue to climb higher. we wail because although we understand the challenges of Governance, the failure of yesterday’s wailers to speak up in defence of certain ideals can no longer speak.

We wail because we have a right to do so, and more because we saw this coming, we insisted that this Change was fraudulent while admitting the status quo ante was not the ideal. We wail because we can.

We wail because we must. We wail because you cannot wail anymore.

We wail because we too are Nigerians.

On other aspects of Omojuwa’s article, I have no marked disagreements – I concur with him that the 2016 Budget is disgraceful: to Mr. President’s vaunted austere lifestyle and ascetism, to those like Omojuwa who sold him to youths on social media and to those who dared to believe that this one would be different.

We have moved on (maybe not all but most of us) and we appreciate the difficulties that this Government is experiencing at the moment with meeting the ideals set for the previous government. Rather than submit however to the wishes of the ruling class as embodied in this present government to keep us divided along false political lines, we insist that youths must demand better from government.

When those who defend the same things they once castigated equally understand our position as we understand theirs, there can be a unified push for better governance. As long as they keep painting us as less patriotic tha they: na here we go dey.

Demola Olarewaju
is a political analyst and strategist who tweets from @DemolaRewaju


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