OPINION: Does Buhari Understand These Difficult Times? By Martins Oloja

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This is a time to be cynical and censorious about the state of the nation. It is also a defining moment to counsel crisis merchants who live by the temple of sycophancy that they should sheathe their swords at this perilous time. We need to tell them that they should allow us to reflect on our own Asa’s 2007 redemption song she boldly relived inside Aso Villa last week that: ‘There is fire on the mountain…and no one seems to be on the run…’

It is therefore not a time for any public relations gimmicks about global meltdown that some scoundrels are beginning to blame on this house that has fallen.

It is a time to ask whether our leader who promised to fix this country seven years ago is aware that the country he promised to fix is no longer a desirable place for citizens. It is regrettable that citizens of different faiths are now asking for Chinua Achebe’s last classic, ‘There was a country’. It will therefore be relevant to allow just one presidential chat, which will allow us to ask our president if he really understands that he is presiding over a failing and volatile nation at this time?’ How does he sleep well these days? How does he reflect on the state of the economy and how people are coping with difficulties arising from crass incompetence of his administration?

What else shall we write about? We have written about how our leader should read writings on the wall of the nation. We have written about how he should watch that debilitating ailment called ‘near-success syndrome’,(NSC). We have written about the mediocrity of his presidential bureaucracy and how he should restructure the civil service for service delivery. We have written about his lack of respect for the rule of law. We have written about why he needs to respect the federal character provisions in our constitution. We have written about how only quality in education can trigger country and global competiveness in the context of development. We have written about how the toxic unitary system of government the federal republic of the Nigerian army forced on us in 1966 should be dismantled for him to restructure the federation. We have written about the expediency of overhauling the federal bureaucracy to reduce cost of governance. We have written on the need to show clarity in the opaque fuel subsidy complexity to reduce corruptibility in the oil and gas sector. We have written on the futility of suspending the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) implementation while NNPC transits with just a change of name while all former documented failings remain solid, sorry valid. We have written on the reproach of president’s medical care in the United Kingdom for seven years without equipping even one apex hospital at home. We have written on the danger of allowing our Central Bank Governor to participate in partisan politics of presidential primaries without resigning from office. We have written on the danger of keeping a cabinet of mediocrities. What else shall we write about? How many revelations should a country’s media publish or broadcast before a country’s leader can pursue a common good?

I began to ask these questions here in 2020 in an article titled: ‘Does Buhari understand the times?’

Behold, it is no longer relevant to suggest anything to a leader who does what he likes even about constitutional provisions. It is considered futile to persist in suggesting any deals to a leader who hardly listens until the big men in the West, especially from North America threaten Abuja.

In 2020 I wrote here: “…We should not hesitate in telling the president that at this time that he needs to learn a few strategies from the ancient words, which are ever so true. Such classics help leaders to do extra-ordinary things that often propel them to make history….”

But after seven years it is clear to all commentators that most of our leaders in Nigeria don’t care about the weight of verdict of history. They don’t listen. They listen only to sycophants who supply dubious consultants to them. As I was saying, they don’t listen to genuine experts and patriots who can help them make some difference. They kill prophets and oracles around them.

So, they also listen to unethical orators who mesmerise them with sophistry that doesn’t build any monuments. This has been our experience, especially in the last 23 years that the locusts have eaten.

Democracy has thus been demonised and is now being seen as a weapon of mass deception of a country, no thanks to our democrats who celebrate mediocrity, impunity, profligacy, selfishness and arrogance.

From president Olusegun Obasanjo, through Musa Yar’adua to Goodluck Jonathan, we have witnessed all these banes. They never listened to voices of reason and wisdom. As I have noted several times, “there were glimpses that Yar’adua was going to make some difference but the cold hand of untimely death unfortunately registered his goodness in a graveyard”. He too didn’t listen to the voices that told him the letter of the organic law that only people of sound mind (health) should contest elections to be leaders.

We are beginning to notice that our President doesn’t want to listen again to the people who want him to finish strong. As I was saying, this is just a time to ask whether Nigeria’s leader really understands the times and season we are in. I would like to share this ancient word with our leaders on the expediency of ‘understanding the times’ and knowing what they ought to do for the country and states they govern.

In other words, as I was saying here, our leaders need to understand that most times, they don’t have to work with only their ‘permissive will’. They need to work with the perfect will of God for the people to prosper and be in good health.

This is the origin of why men should have understanding of their times: “… men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32 NIV).
As I was saying, often when believers talk about “understanding the times,” it is a common assumption that we are focusing on prophecies relating to the second coming of Christ. As much as we love studying these kinds of prophecies, they only present a limited scope of what God intends for us to be aware of in our culture and throughout the world. “Understanding the times” according to Dave Butts, is a mindset and a lifestyle that includes, but is not limited to, issues relating to the second coming of Christ.
There was an amazing group of people in the ancient times who lived that kind of lifestyle. They are called in Scripture the “men of Issachar.” In the Chronicles, it was said that these men “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”
We should therefore believe our Creator is still raising up a new generation of this kind of spiritually sensitive, discerning people today – so that we know what we ought to do in the world’s most populous black nation on earth.
Scripturally speaking, true understanding comes from the fear of God. When we place ourselves before God and surrender our lives to His sovereignty, we begin to gain a more accurate understanding of what is happening, not only in our own lives but in the world around us.

As the Spirit of God permeates our lives and we do the right things, there is an increased awareness of His perspective on events. We no longer look at things around us from the limited perception of our own experiences, but are able to discern matters from the viewpoint of the one we call in our national anthem, ‘the God of creation’ we intentionally ask to ‘direct our noble cause’.
That is why we may quickly add to our leaders and managers, rather than watching the news or reading the newspaper and shaking your head over bad events, why not add to your watching and reading a prayer for discernment? As world events unfold, instead of submitting to despair or anger, seek the God of creation’s insight over what is occurring. The result will be an understanding of the times we live in.

The historical context, however, does not end with the men of Issachar merely understanding the times. They also knew what Israel should do. This adds wisdom to knowledge. Knowing information is one thing. Having the wisdom to know what to do with that knowledge is immensely valuable, in this regard.

We live in turbulent times and there appears to be little understanding of the times. There is probably even less wisdom to know how to deal with those times. Which is why we hardly make progress even in our development strides. The economy is a shambles. Unbridled corruption has complicated economic woes. Nigeria isn’t a member of G-20: South Africa is and we are told our economy is bigger than theirs. Our currency is bleeding. BRICS countries, the authentic emerging markets are receiving applications from Iran, Argentina and other minors, Nigeria can’t apply because it isn’t qualified. The engine room of governance, the civil service has curiously collapsed. Chief of Staff to the President is now posting Permanent Secretaries in Abuja without recourse to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. In brotherhood we no longer stand. Tribes and tongues have become more complicated. Education is no longer attractive as teaching has become the most reproachful job. Our health sector is unhealthy as most of the good physicians have fled Buhari’s Nigeria. More are processing their papers to flee. The energy sector is fast killing industries as national grid has collapsed even as ‘national greed’ is growing luxuriantly like yam tendrils in this rainy season. No one remembers Nigeria’s legislature at all federal and state levels for any redemptive acts. They have become part of the ‘execu-thieve’ absurdities that have crippled us. Our citadel of justice isn’t reliable anymore. It appears that our public enemy number-one, corruption has been found in the temple of justice where ministers in the temple have been making election losers to be winners, inexplicably. Even justices are crying foul that their and our chief justice too is allegedly corrupt. Despite the petition of the 14 justices out of 15 against our CJN, he (CJN) the President the other day honoured the retired CJN, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad with Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON). Besides, the Justice service rewarded the former CJN with N2.5 billion worth of retirement benefits. All of these are prevalent in Buhari’s Nigeria that he will hopefully hand over to a new leader on May 29, 2023. Let me ask again: does the president understand these difficult times in Africa’s most populous nation and the only hope of the black race?

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