Speaking with many Nigerians earlier in the year, the change mantra was like a popular survival pill that everyone needed to swallow to keep them out of the fast-spreading frustration virus. For most of them, “change” was not even a campaign message used to communicate the intentions of the opposition, it was rather people’s original state of mind; all they needed was to rightfully wash the linen, dirty or clean, of the ruling party out of the center of power.
Of course it was a repertoire of dance, music and jubilations, as the figures of the elections went the way of the opposition. For about 120 million frustrated Nigerians who severally and collectively led the movement against the ruling party, it was a hugely scary pent-up emotion as the change they desired eventually emerged. Meanwhile, only little did the protagonist realize that the multiplier effect of people’s seemingly peaceful mass revolution against the 16-year old government was a hard bite of pressure, as the people expected nothing but magic! It was clear to some that the 73-year old Buhari needed a Tunde Idiagbon to bring back the glory that many Nigerians had confidence in. After six months of growing disappointments on the faces of people, it may be safe to announce the return of Tunde Idiagbon in the guise of Tunde Fashola.
With the unusual energy and the especial, but expected, brilliance demonstrated by Professor Osinbajo during the presidential campaigns, Nigerians drew an implicit hypothesis that pictured the professor in the light of an Idiagbon that would complement the leadership of the hitherto credible Buhari. But unfortunately, Nigerians have been helplessly left at the mercy of gradual but steady disappointments that clearly suggest how limited the brilliant and energetic Osinbajo may be, being the vice president, in Buhari’s race to change. By now, it should be clear that Buhari’s Idiagbon does not stop at energy and brilliance, but even goes further to a largely experienced hand that is able to tackle the Nigeria’s problems and implement corrective policies, however unpopular, without the fears of being voted out.
After Fashola’s celebrated performance in Lagos, and his near-perfect record of credibility throughout his 8-year tenure in spite of the wealth of the state, his appointment as Minister over two technically huge and different ministries should not come as a major surprise. It was in the same vein that Buhari appointed the stoic Brigadier, Tunde Idiagbon, as the Chief of Staff at Supreme Headquarters. For Buhari to have invested such risky confidence in Fashola after he had again correctly identified corruption as Nigeria’s major problem, it may be safe to conclude that he must have characteristically seen the gesture of Idiagbon in him. Hopefully, Buhari and “his Idiagbon” will, this time around, learn from the mistakes of about three decades ago and implement sustainable policies that will earn them commendations and not democratic overthrow.
Like in the case of Idiagbon, it may be important for Fashola to understand that for him to succeed in the decaying system, it will require him to appear austere with rigidly puritanical operating system. High hopes are now radiating among Nigerians, as they believe that they have now got a messiah who will fix their 55-year old mess; they believe they now have a man who will fearlessly step on toes and walk through the shadows of the corruption-stricken billionaires to save 170 million Nigerians.
Ironically, the same Nigerians who celebrated the wind of sanity that the Buhari and Idiagbon administration brought to the nation also celebrated his military overthrow. Although the sanity in the country was clear even to the uneducated aged farmers in the most remote villages, it could only be assumed that they heaved a heavy sigh of relief from the sudden and unusual philosophy of waste management, discipline, and credibility –Nigerians were never trained like that, and they needed many years to unlearn, learn and adjust. These same Nigerians are now vociferating in the nostalgia of Buhari and Idiagbon. Their hopes are high that Buhari and his new Idiagbon will bring back their lost glory and heal their decaying wounds.
Hopefully, the Honourable Minister, Babatunde Raji Fashola, will deliver beyond performance expectation and make his name a force to reckon with at the center. Perhaps it will be a Buhari and Fashola era of real change, cushioned with the unusual brilliance and energy of Professor Osinbajo.
By Ayo Alaba Idowu