Change does not begin with the president

Yinka Ijabiyi

Unpopular side with O’Yinka Ijabiyi

Twitter: @Yinkakan Instagram: @oneyinka

Spoiler alert: There are 1,500 words here and you won’t get to the end before you knock off. Naturally. #Justsaying

So, we finally got the change mantra off to a plagiarizing start recently. Yippee.#ChangeBeginsWithMe – the idea is broadly encapsulated in the words themselves; we are the change we want and the change we want is each of us. Simple enough abi? Young or old. President or resident, governor or governed, minister or administered, landlord or tenant; the change begins with ME. The government wants us all to change. Change is an individual thing. You change, I change, that is the only way the change we were promised will happen. We are the change we want to see. We are the change we voted for. Sorry for you if you didn’t vote for change. Or if this change isn’t the one you voted for.

But in true and classic Nigerian fashion, words are cheap and things are cheaper said than done.

If you say people should buy Nigerian and you yourself buy ‘abroadian’, there is a problem. For instance, if your ear infection cannot be treated locally and you have to waste precious forex to treat a made in Nigeria infection, some change has not begun with you our dear leader. As a true advocate of change, as soon as MBuhari realised that no ENT specialists could treat his infection, he should have lined up all former ministers of health and given them 12 lashes each. Fulani koboko is particularly more painful.

Or, he could have declared a state of emergency in the health sector as the chief proponent of change. Or worse worse he could have imported the ogbonge specialist recommended by London for his ear. (Hilary Clinton’s doctor is Nigerian and Yoruba. #Justsaying). Treatment or surgery could have been carried out in the best hospital in the land even if it is not in Aso Rock.

Nigeria is not suffering an EARpidemic. The 73-year-old president of a 56-year-old independent nation of 180million people had no business flying private presidential plane abroad to (h)ear better the discordant symphonies of the empty stomachs of his people. If he had ventured out to any general market in the land, his hearing problem would have been miraculously healed. He could have easily saved the N27,000,000 (£50,000) or so it cost to clean one ear. That would have been change beginning from the very top of the head.

But then again, social media is a beach; there is so much propaganda online these days that it is difficult to sift the facts from the flies. For instance, is it true that the presidential fleet has 11 aircraft? Who dem epp? Maybe, just maybe, presido shouldn’t fly commercial because of timing issues. But he is one man; can he sit in 11 luxury planes at the same time? Or does he have an air convoy of 10 other planes? I don’t get 11 planes when two could be enough. Plus one chopper to hop to Daura from The Rock. So much forex spent to maintain those birds! If the two I propose breakdown, he can fly commercial; First Class if you will and it would be just as blissful! Other world leaders do it. Why must our own be different? The cost of maintaining the fleet is not in naira. And it is certainly not in kobo. Yet they must sit in standby mode and hard earned forex must go into servicing them. Why, oh why? Maybe it’s not that much money sha in the broader scheme of things. But body language says a lot.  MBuhari knows that more than anyone else.

Every year, the budget for feeding the president and running Aso Rock is usually enough to fix all the potholes in Nigeria (Exaggeration-for-effect alert!). We make a song and dance of the humongous ‘kish’ every year without fail. We cry blue murder and shout ourselves hoarse while the presidential cooks cook up a storm and pocket the change. Why must they spend so much on food? If Mr. Buhari had the frame of say a well fed and robust picture of ‘wellfededness’ like the robust and highly revered publisher and journalist extraordinaire, I would understand where all our food is going. But The Man looks so fit and fragile, tall, wiry and slight of frame that I cannot help but wonder. Except his frame belies his swallowing capacity, there is no way I am going to believe that him, and the Aso Rock village, can wolf down N450m worth of rice in one year. When the budget was passed, rice was like 8k a bag o. Now sha we’ve been promised that it would go to N40k before December. Even then, how many bags of rice them wan chop? Aso Rock weasels be having a ball right about this year. Another change to set the tone; change your chop style. Stop eating our future away.

So, change begins with me. But nothing will change if all I do is say “change”!

Any change of any kind requires taking action on the part of the change seeker. The king of change, the chameleon, cannot change except he moves near a change source. To change, you need to do something.

Change no get leg or arm so it won’t happen if all we do is complain about this change for the worse on social media. We are the change we want to see. If there is to be any change, it is up to me. And you.

In Nigeria of today, there is almost no change possible. Why? We all have PhD in social media ranting. We have positioned ourselves as complainers and not doers. We have found our voice as Nigerians, which is a good thing, but we have lost our hands. We have lost our minds. We have lost our will to act. Or maybe we haven’t lost our minds or hands or will to act yet. We have just repurposed those appendages for use in talking up a storm on social media. Our minds, rather than be fertile grounds for problem-bursting solutions to the quagmire that the Nigerian nation finds itself, have become joke generators with specialisation yabis, abuse or insult of the leadership. We are in consideration for professorship.

We are now specialist armchair critics, ‘angrists’, ‘frustratedists’, etc. Instead of doing something for ourselves and about our situation, we are content to vent on social media and closed user forums on our mobile phones. We talk up a storm and fight individual fights against the federal might. Our one voice, we forget or are unaware, is equal to their one million voices. They have a social media legion on hand who are paid to counter the noise you are paying to make. You cannot win against them on noise. You can pull a Leicester City on them but the odds are pretty stacked against you. And they? They advise their principals to carry on. They’ve got the noise angle covered. What have you got covered dear Nigerian; young and old?

Me? This is what I have got covered. More words. Change. Change your tactics. The government is not the solution to all your problems. The government can’t solve all problems. You know where shoe dey pinch you. Remove your leg from the shoe. Look inside it and find solutions to ease your pain. You can either take the shoe to the shoemaker for comprehensive repair work. Or you sell it and join money to buy a new pair. Or you can give to charity or your pastor and walk while looking up to God for a better shoe wey no go dey pinch you. Barefoot is scary. We once had a president who had no shoes before he got into office and left office with a shopping mall full of shoes.

The solution to our problem is not to rake and rave on social media. The solution is to find solutions that work and collaborate to solve our real, imagined and implied problems. There is hunger in the land and crass display of erudition will not do. Solution, solution, solution! What can you do differently in your little life corner? That is what is key. Vituperate all you want. The price of rice won’t fly down. Nor will that stop the president from taking his very lovely family to in the abroad as it pleases him. Change is here. And it is you who need to change. Not the President.

PS – No, there are no errors in this piece. Use your church mind to use the right words and fill in the missing name as the spirit leads.