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The Spectator President


A President should take charge and blame no one for whatever happens in the country… Buhari had maintained a most discomforting silence on the military massacre of Shiite Muslims and also the killing of unarmed Biafran agitators. 


If public governance was a car, the President of a country is the driver, if it was a football match, the President will not just be a player, but he is the captain of the team, the Most Valuable Player in the team and if it were to be a stage performance the President will not just be an actor, but the lead actor; the cynosure. 

The President is whom everybody watches. His actions, inactions, decisions, indecisions and all about him affect the lives of all citizens. There is no worst tragedy to befall a nation than having a President who merely watches; a spectator President. This explains why a former President of the United States, Harry Truman had “THE BUCK STOPS HERE” as his favorite quote. A President should take charge and blame no one for whatever happens in the country. A buck passing President is not fit to rule.

I have little doubts about the noble intentions of President Buhari to leave Nigeria better than he met it, for a man who has been so desirous of ruling the country that as far back as 1983, he was a beneficiary of a military coup de tat, and years after being forced out of power and democracy returned, he never relented in seeking another opportunity to be the Chief Executive of the country. 

If his near desperate passion to be President of Nigeria, is not driven by a desire to make things better, then, he must be one of the most callous citizens. To have persevered for twelve years, before fate finally favoured him and he got the elusive seat, after three failed attempts couldn’t have been just for the pleasure of answering President.

Being good intentioned is not enough, turning these good intentions into real and concrete actions that positively affect the lives of ordinary Nigerians, is what really matters. I had written elsewhere that the best thing to have happened to Nigeria is the actualization of General Buhari’s presidential ambition. 

Whether he will be the best or worst person to have ruled this country will be left to time to determine, and whatever becomes the case, Nigerians will be eternally glad to whatever fate that made the Buhari presidential ambition come to reality, because it would have afforded Nigerians the opportunity to really know who this man is. We had Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was described as the best President Nigeria never had, and who like Buhari was so desirous of becoming Nigeria’s President that he wished for just twenty four hours as Nigeria’s President.

Unlike Awolowo, Buhari’s wish has come to reality and he won’t be having a 24 hours stint as the chief executive of Nigeria, but a full four years and possibly a whole eight years on the saddle. However, one thing is certain; the saintly toga of the former military general would have been completely shredded off him, by the time he will be leaving Aso Rock, if he continues on the path he is presently threading. Nigerians would have fully understood how true or false, his so much vaunted efficiency, credibility and even integrity are after he has left power.

Some of those who voted for President Muhammadu did so because they felt that former President Goodluck Jonathan was not fully in charge of the country. Like someone once told me; “Jonathan is a good man, but his problem is that he allowed some criminals to hijack his government and rip the country apart, while he watches, helplessly.” Jonathan may not have thrown so many people into jail, but he is certainly one of the strongest willed persons to have ruled Nigeria. 

A good leader gives people responsibilities and allows them the space to fully carry out their assignments without unnecessary interference, while bearing in mind that he must take responsibility for whatever comes out of such assignment. If Jonathan was not in charge as some people would want us to believe, then, he has been succeeded by a man who does not even know what it means to be in charge, and who has made that reality very obvious.

The only people who are still in doubt about President Buhari’s spectator status in the affairs of Nigeria after his maiden Presidential Media Chat, presentation of the 2016 budget and the withdrawal of same are those who either choose to live in denial or those too fanatical about their loyalty to Buhari or the APC that they lose touch with reality.

The biggest revelation from President Buhari’s media chat is that he does not know what is really happening in a country he has been given the mandate to lead. The President is expected to know everything happening in the country, and be prepared to give accurate answers about the whereabouts of whatever whenever. It is inexcusable for our President to take seven months to prepare for a media chat, in which he was expected to give anxious Nigerians information on what is really happening to the country he was handed over to, and after two hours with four journalists, majority of Nigerians are left more bemused and despondent than they were before the chat.

What will a President know if he does not know what international currency Nigeria’s economy is based on, while the same budget he is supposed to have presented pegged its projections on one Dollar to 199 Naira? What will our President know if he does not know that the German Deutschmark and French Franc have long being replaced with the Euro? When our President was asked a question on what Nigerians are to expect from him as regards the argument on whether the Naira should be devalued or not, he told an obviously bemused citizenry that he does not even know to what currency the Nigerian Naira will be devalued against.

It is three months less than two years since over two hundred young school girls were said to have been kidnapped from their school by a band of terrorists in their school at Chibok in Borno State. The inability of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to secure the release of these girls played a huge role in his seeing to his electoral defeat and the incumbent cashed in on that to convince not just the Chibok parents and their relatives, but a majority of the Nigerian populace and the international community that a federal government under him will speedily ensure the release of these girls. Seven months after assuming power, the President cannot even give account of the whereabouts of these girls.

In essence, we lost grounds in the push to recover these girls, because in the twilight of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency, we were given strong hopes about not just the possibility of rescuing these girls, but rescuing them alive too. But, this President does not have any information about the whereabouts of these girls, not talk about knowing if they are still alive. The funny response our President gave on the question of whether Nigerians are to expect these girls back alive, is that he will have to wait for a credible Boko Haram leadership to give him that information. This can be interpreted to mean that the security of the Northeastern part of Nigeria is in the hands of a credible Boko Haram leadership who are yet to be identified.

Before the presidential media chat, President Buhari had maintained a most discomforting silence on the military massacre of Shiite Muslims who were on a procession and also the killing of unarmed Biafran agitators and one of the panelists took him up on this, especially the massacre in Kaduna. The President also failed to give any satisfactory answer on that. He failed to tell anxious Nigerians, what the Federal Government to whom the Military who perpetrated this act are answerable, are doing or will even do to see that justice is done in the matter. Surprisingly, the President passed the buck to the Kaduna State Government who had already set up a panel of enquiry to investigate the incident.

If the blunders of the Presidential Media Chat are excused for any reason, then, the 2016 Appropriation Bill which the President presented to the National Assembly completely dispelled any doubts about his being out of touch with the Nigerian state.

No one quarrels with the President for reading out a speech prepared for him and or for submitting figures inserted by members of his economic team, after all, no one rules alone. However, the President is whom Nigerians know, hence, he owes it to us to ensure that he selects the best hands to realize his plans for the country. It also behooves the President to have taken time to proof read the budget proposals to ensure that they tally with his programs for the country.

Nigerians really need to know those running the show in this country. It is safe to assume that some powerful or highly connected people from within and outside Nigeria have hijacked our President and may be attempting or are already using the President as a puppet who simply appends signatures and delivers speeches, while they take the major decisions, run or ruin the country, whichever they decide. 

However, like in the time of late President Umaru Yaradua, we were at least able to identify the members of the cabal who ran the show, even while the former President lay in coma. Our President may continue being a spectator while Nigeria continues to drift most precariously before his very eyes, but he must unveil those behind the mask, so that Nigerians will know those to hold responsible should anything happen to our country.

May Nigeria Prevail!


Onwuasoanya FCC Jones 

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