Many Nigerians on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed the Enugu Catholic priest and Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu State, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, for his blunt message to President Muhammadu Buhari.
On Tuesday, the respected cleric shocked many when he said that Nigerians would not vote for Buhari in 2019 unless the President addressed the challenges facing the county.
In the message that is currently trending, Mbaka said there was too much suffering in the country and faulted the President for not appointing the right persons.
â€œThere is hunger everywhere. Landlords are crying; tenants are lamenting, sellers are crying, buyers are lamenting â€“ there is hunger on the streets. I canâ€™t keep quiet when things are going wrong.â€œI am telling the President to look around him and know those who are advising him rightly and those who are telling him that there is no trouble. The President should know that there is trouble. If things continue like this, in the next election, nobody will vote for him.â€
A former governor of old Kaduna State, Baralabe Musa, on Wednesday said Mbakaâ€™s message stated the obvious.
Musa, who spoke with a Punch correspondent on the telephone, said the President could only win the 2019 election through rigging, which he said would plunge the country into crisis.
He said, â€œIf the challenges facing Nigeria are not addressed, Buhari will lose in 2019 except he rigs the election. And that will be dangerous for the country.â€
Another northern leader, Yerima Shettima, said the President was fast losing the goodwill that gave him electoral victory last year. He noted that the Buhari administration had lost focus, which had led to abject poverty and suffering for Nigerians.
Shettima, who is the President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, said the President shunned the counsel of honest Nigerians at the risk of his goodwill and future electoral value.
â€œThe level of poverty is extremely high and it is worsening. People have advised him, but he refused to heed good counsel. His goodwill has nosedived.â€œWhat we have seen is different from the expectations of the masses. People sacrificed so much to ensure that he emerged victorious at the poll. But what we have seen is appalling. Personally, I have stopped advising him because he does not listen.â€
The National President, Ohaneze Youth Council, Mr. Okechukwu Isiguzoro, told our correspondent that Mbaka spoke the minds of the people in the eastern part of Nigeria.
â€œI donâ€™t know what the South-West and the North think; but Mbakaâ€™s statement is the voice of the Igbo. The reality is everywhere. There is suffering everywhere; people struggle to feed. There is hunger in the land because of the Presidentâ€™s poor handling of the economy,â€ he added.
A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Liborous Oshoma, compared the waning goodwill of Buhari to the challenge ex-President Jonathan faced, leading to his loss to Buhari in 2015.
Oshoma said, â€œWhat Mbaka said is the reality. People who overwhelmingly cast their votes for Buhari last year are beginning to have a rethink. People saw him as the messiah Nigerians had long waited for. However, what we have seen is not what we expected.
â€œWe should not forget that Jonathan had a similar support in 2011, but he blew it. Now, Buhari is gradually blowing away his. If he does not address the current challenges, even his party, the All Progressives Congress, may pay for his inaction.â€
Mbakaâ€™s bold message also provided an opportunity for Buhariâ€™s opponents at the poll to assess his administrative style.
For instance, Remi Sonaiya, who contested on the platform of the KOWA Party, said a natural democrat could have managed the challenges confronting the country better.
She said, â€œThere is no doubt that there are general problems. Part of the issues people have raised about the President is that he does not react quickly to issues, and that his military background is affecting him.â€œPerhaps, somebody with a different background could have handled the issues differently and better. The President has just put together an economic team. One wonders why it took him over a year to do that.â€