Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Some thoughts on the incoming BAT administration

Some thoughts on the incoming BAT administration
March 21
20:00 2023

Most Nigerians, especially the disproportionate majority bravely contending with the avoidable ruthless forces of economic deprivations and the avalanches of misgovernance and injustice within the country, are seasonal optimists. With every “election” cycle, those beleaguered humans have revived hope that their newly “elected” lords (the country’s governance spaces are patriarchally formatted) will change the persistent reality of preventable sufferings and positively transform the country.

In the recently concluded prohibitively expensive, shoddy, and divisive presidential and other “elections” that threw up familiar faces, expressions of optimism by those Nigerians have not been wanting. Those subjects are giddy with optimism that the in-coming president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT henceforth) is the ruler the country has been waiting for to reform the country. For those people, Lagos State, where BAT was a two-time governor and has been responsible for three successors in addition to controlling the juicy economic sectors of the state, is the evidence of the transformative leadership ability that the man will bring to running the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Like most things Nigerian, the erupting optimism those Nigerians maintain is an inverted kind. It is an inversion of the maintenance of hopefulness for the reason that it is not distinguishable from what the Nigerian novelist, Chinua Achebe, calls the cargo cult mentality –“a belief by backward people that someday, without any exertion whatsoever on their own part, a fairy ship will dock in their harbour laden with every goody they have always dreamed of possessing.” This mentality allows those plagued by it to think that they have no other roles to play after voting for the leaders of their convictions. That mentality also abjures critical thinking. It accepts anything at its face value. For example, that cargo-mentality optimism agrees unquestioningly to the unbuttressed assertion that the in-coming president has fashioned Lagos State into an El Dorado. The immobilizing optimism of the humans in question blinds them to the rebuking contradiction inherent in BAT’s preference for accessing healthcare in a foreign country rather than in a state he has cultivated into a modern wonder. If BAT’s self-enriching and crony-empowering style of leadership, how it is sustained, and the rhetoric of his campaigns are anything to accord attention, there is no doubting the fact that the optimism expressed in anticipation of his administration at the federal level is a misplaced, barren, and escapist disposition. In my view, BAT’s administration will privilege the anti-public progress formulas that have served and aided him from Lagos to Abuja. After all, no one dispenses with a working formula. BAT’s administration will not kibosh wondrously wrought propaganda, garish but stylish looting of the exchequer, careful exhibition of the symbolism of leadership at the expense of its substance, among other appealing but dehumanizing performances.

The BAT media claque that has come into existence since 1998 is a savvy veteran of misinformation and propaganda. It knows how to contrive misinformation to promote its master’s cause. It is effective in laundering the unsightly image of its creator. Why does it appear as if the BAT whose parentage is unclear, who was involved in drug dealing, and who has unresolved question marks on anything about him is not the one about to become Nigeria’s fifth civilian president since 1999? Why has the man suddenly become unassociated in many circles with the indescribable failures of the Buhari regime? Does anyone remember the cant about BAT being the first to speak for the masses when the cash-confiscation policy of the government formed by his All Progressives Congress party tightened the noose of misery around their (the masses’) necks? That is one self-focused formula BAT will not dispense with as president. His government will engineer suffering and it will be the first to spit fire about punishing those who subject Nigerians to discomfort. Some would remember how most of the drivels candidate BAT spewed on the hustings were refined in the furnaces of varied spokespersons and rationalized as the insightful renditions of an uncommon genius. In repudiation of what some have dubbed cognitive impairment, some members of the BAT propagandist formation said insomnia should be blamed for their principal’s repeated babbles. Another member of the BAT syndicate indicated he was addressing malformed brains when he prattled that the famous cash-stuffed bullion vans that were spotted in his leader’s Bourdillon enclave a few years ago arrived at that address by mistake. Those individuals will be part of the BAT administration and they will have more room and money to keep their propaganda machine more functional to the detriment of the public.


Nigerians who have never heard about the infamous Joseph Goebbels, the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party under the rulership of Adolf Hitler from 1933-1945, will know that man and all that he did with information through the activities of the BAT media squad. The BAT presidency propaganda clique will be so effective that Nigerians who went to bed on empty stomachs will wake up to learn and accept that they had sumptuous meals for dinner. Any attempts to ask legitimate questions about the workings of the BAT regime will be met with the brutal force of manipulated information and fact-muddling press releases. Journalists who have once (or on multiple occasions) taken “transport fares” from the administration’s media handlers will be profiled to the public as scrupulous thieves when they put the government’s feet to the fire of scrutiny. In this kind of governance milieu, verifiable good governance becomes insignificant. Anyone who asks critical questions become criminals. Development will become a flower vase; it will not be easily accessible. Many Nigerians will get to know that they are doing very well through press statements, primetime tv and radio appearances by governmental principalities, and through meticulously scripted presidential speeches. The keyboard mobsters on the communication highways of social media will effusively celebrate the tokenistic and imaginary accomplishments of the BAT presidency. All these would not be completely strange, for no one hears the truth of anything from those who earn their living by distorting facts and upending cherished values.

If Nigerians think the draconian and unfeeling Buhari is unpresidential in many respects, BAT will not be branded that way. There will be surfeits of presidential acting and speaking, albeit in the service of the self to ward off sustained attention to the lilliputian feats and operations of the administration. Stoppable disasters will happen; the president will show up thereafter. Unforced errors with devastating human consequences will occur; the head of the government will speak narcissistically presidentially to them. Tardiness and inactions will time and again have a free rein; what the country will get as attention will be BAT acting presidentially in a hollow sense. The statecraft that will define the BAT presidency will be such that prioritizes mere showmanship, ineffective presidential acting, and self-validation over any concrete, demonstrable improvement of the Nigerian human conditions. Where Buhari was unable to transition into the democrat his campaign said he had become, BAT will leverage more and more on his contrived democratic personage. His presidency will be a beehive of entertaining happenings, as opposed to the graveyard dullness of Mr. Buhari’s presidency. He and his team will whip the masses with the poisonous scorpion of “benevolent autocracy,” but in acting presidential, the sufferers will be talked into accepting that inversion as a variant of liberal democracy. BAT and his team will reference the strange American democratic system. Something Trumpian, although recreated, will characterize the BAT administration. In presidential speak, biblical injustices will assume the hue of fairness and equity. The poor health condition that accompanies the president into office will be depicted as consequence of the many accumulated sleepless nights in the service of the Nigerians. If acting and being seen presidential mean subjecting the populace to more hardship, it is unlikely that the BAT government will not be hesitant to move accordingly. In other words, nothing will be too sacred for it to devalue in order to realize the exhibitionism of acting and seeming presidential.

Minds beholden to the malignant fiction (to borrow Achebe’s phrase) of BAT as an ethical, modern, and strategic leader may wonder why this piece is not, for example, about “thoughts on possible progress” during the BAT coming era. If the best of BAT’s leadership is the Lagos of today, it is a waste of time to ink thoughts about how his presidency will bode well for the country. I do not wish to be understood as crooning the tune that no good will come from the BAT administration. The worst of regimes have some costly successes. For instance, the afflicting Buhari government. To be clear, whatever success and progress that will break forth from BAT’s government will be more in speeches and symbolism than in undeniable reality. The man’s friends, his family members and their friends, and those within the circles of his expanded fiefdom and their hangers-on will be the beneficiaries of what will be verbally rendered as sound, people-oriented governance. It is the scraps from those lots that the masses will be reminded to celebrate as dividends from the stable of an invented smart and visionary city boy. The country’s presidency to BAT and his crew is nothing but a bigger space for preserving cultivated, people-impoverishing habits. May I stress the point again: The BAT administration will not discard the methods that have proved useful in a previous governmental existence in Lagos particularly. And it is for that reason that the government will be incapable of delivering the greatest good for the greatest number of the people. Nation building is not within the ken of parasitic beings.


But will the abused and debased Nigerians understand that it is not for the lack of hope that they do not live as dignified humans and then deploy the power they have during the BAT administration? Nigerians must take proper note that no democratic process can thrive where the masses exist only during elections.

Dr Adesola is an assistant professor in the Department of English, Languages, and Cultures, Mount Royal University, Alberta, Canada.

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.


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