By Ike Willie-Nwobu
Nigeria’s long wait for May 29, 2023 has come and gone with little savoring but many sighs as a country that once promised so much begins its difficult journey to a future that has never looked bleaker.
There can be no mistake about it.
Almost as soon as Nigerians woke up from the cold reality of what May 29, 2015, had yielded, Nigerians knew that the next May 29th could not come any faster. May 29, 2019, came with predictable disappointment as Muhammadu Buhari’s administration continued to sleepwalk to disaster.
Having passed through the roads of tortured elections, May 29, 2023, was not greatly anticipated save for the fact that Buhari and his atrocious and attritional autocade would take off from Daura on that day, leaving a bemused Aso Rock relieved.
In his post-inauguration speech, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu called on Nigerians to join hands with him to rebuild their country and make key gains in critical sectors of the economy. In a searing pre-inauguration address during an Inter-denominational service on May 28, Oluremi Tinubu, Nigeria’s first lady had sought to allay fears that her husband was corrupt by insisting that her family does not need Nigeria’s wealth to survive.
For many Nigerians though, it is important to guard their hearts as recent history suggests that that could make a crucial difference in moving forward and not courting heartache.
Nigeria is in a tough place now, and it was at least comforting to see that Tinubu’s inauguration speech did not shy away from tough questions.
But tougher challenges lie in wait. While it is no mean task to write a speech for an occasion of such gravity as the swearing in of a president, it is in taking what is in the speech and doing it that a the major challenge lies.
Tinubu ran his campaign on the wheels of hope, pledging to renew the hopes of Nigerians in their country, and promising a country full of hope.
Now, hope is a tricky thing. Celebrated English poet Emily Dickinson in her poem “Hope” describes hope as “the thing with feathers”. Hope has also been variously described as the elixir of life.
In the stormy sea of life, hope is usually the anchor people hold on to, the lone rafter in the tide. For many years, Nigerians have lived hope, breathed hope and even eaten hope.
Perhaps, the most precious attribute of hope is its resilience, in how it pushes people to keep going and never give up. For many years, Nigerians have held on to the hope that things will change in their country. It is not to imply that there are those who have not lost hope. There are many and who would blame them in a country that appears programmed to incinerate hope.
However, Tinubu has promised to renew hope. A chance to do that is the least he deserves. But before he is deluded into thinking that it will be an easy task by his team of core APC supporters who prefer fiction to truth, Tinubu must understand that it will be a most arduous task. For one, getting Nigerians onside won’t be easy.
At best, Tinubu is operating on what many consider a stolen mandate. The tenacity and ferocity with which his main opponents at the elections are clinging to their fast fading hopes at the election petition tribunal hints at it.
The fearsome flaws of the election which brought Tinubu to power is a key reason many are skeptical of his every word. But there is also a history of corruption and drug-running.
Then there is the fact that words are often just about that for Nigerian politicians who say one thing but often mean an entirely different thing.
Tinubu faces an uphill task. For eight years former president Muhammadu Buhari huffed and puffed with painfully little to show for it. His embarrassing performance at a time he had everything going for him has brought genuine doubts over whether Tinubu, who is cut from the same cloth, can make any significant difference.
What is more? If Tinubu fails in office, many Nigerians would nod their heads knowingly and grit their teeth. If he succeeds, there will be many who will be disappointed but relieved. But he has no choice but to succeed because failure may just push Nigeria over the edge.
While Nigerians wait with bated breath, they must learn to log their fires and guard their hearts from the gust of unpredictability and uncertainty that many Nigerian politicians have shown themselves to be.