The social media has been on fire about President Muhammadu Buhari’s trousers during his recent outing in Imo State on Thursday, September 9. The president had donned the traditional attire of Ndigbo with lion head designs popularly known as Isiagu on top of an English styled trousers. Judged by today’s standards, the trousers were, no doubt, old fashioned. They were what the fashion world would call “jump up”, like that of a rapidly growing kindergarten child, and they did not taper to the ankles to conform to the modern day wear. The trousers almost equalled the 1970s “bongo” trousers, which they referred to then as “keep Lagos clean”. And the double lines on them were indications that the ironing was not correctly done.
The president is by no means a today’s man in terms of fashion. He is, therefore, not expected to care much about the shape of his trousers or shirt because they are neither the essence of life to him now nor the soul of the presidential duties he is expected to perform for the country.
Those who have been making fun of the president’s trousers know quite well that the president is a handsome man by all standards. This time around, he was not in Owerri to flaunt his handsomeness in other to win some damsels over. Yet, the social media tigers decided to declare fatwa on the tailor that made the president’s trousers. Nevertheless, there were also commentators who saw the brouhaha as uncalled for.
It was uncalled for because the president was not supposed to be a model for tailors and did not come to Imo for a fashion parade. As long as he did not appear naked before the crowd, whatever the president wore was okay. Those who wagged their tongues in mockery of the president and his men did not notice the beauty in the Igbo traditional “Isiagu” that sat elegantly on his tall and elegant frame and made him look very much like one of Ndigbo. Was it not in Imo also that he acquired the name Okechukwu Buhari during the Rochas Okorocha days? Wetin concern them?
Beyond the president’s trousers, however, the people saw more than the jump up. They were thinking of the prices of essential commodities which have jumped up many heights above normal since President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency. As at the time he was in Imo State, residents were buying petrol at the cost of N300 per litre, a commodity that sold for N87 per litre before the president occupied the Aso Rock but was pushed to N165 by the present administration. Consequently, transport fares jumped up like the offending trousers. Rice, the staple food of a majority of the people, which went for N8,000 before Buhari came had gone up to N35,000, beyond the national minimum wage. Students have been graduating in their thousands and coming into the job market where the jobs are hardly in existence. Even the enabling environment for the creation of jobs is yet to be felt, more than six years into his presidency. Life has actually been hellish, the reason for the complete disconnect in the president’s relationship with the people.
The president flew into the dot in the circle. And occupants of the “dot” are still leaking the psychological wound the president’s taunting had inflicted on them at the intensification of activities of those looking for a separate nation from Nigeria, calling them a mere dot in the entire nation. It was derogatory.
These offended sons of a father that gave them no listening ear are throwing tantrums and not getting attention from the right quarters. They have not been quick to forget the “97 percent/5 percent” presidential concept that denied them every right to what we now refer to as democracy dividends under the administration of the man who wore those trousers.
Indeed, the dot people have been asking questions why they were seen as unworthy of federal presence beyond the dormant ministries in the state capitals. Good roads, railways, universities, factories and stuff like that are hardly considered to be located in their land and they are kept far away from rooms where critical decisions are made on security, economy or distribution of common wealth. Ohoo! RUGA, Python dance and smiling crocodiles! There is pervading resentment at the level of poverty prevalent in the country and the growing insecurity which is threatening food supply. The people appear not motivated to look up to the president. They rather chose the wrongful part of looking down to the president and talking about his trousers.
In the midst of all, however, the humour in the discussions that were shared in the social media diluted the bad blood hard times would have caused. Curiously, one wonders whether the handlers of the president’s public relations care about the image they cut of him in the minds of people. If they did, such frivolous would not have been the topic of the day. Had the policies of the president gone down well with the people, had his PR people done their job correctly, perhaps the president’s trousers would have been the fad for the youths who could imitate the president by sewing that style.
The president’s trousers mean to us not so much as the elevation of the standard of living of the people. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela has remained the greatest world leader ever to emerge in this century. His tenacity to purpose and willingness to make sacrifices in the interest of his people, and his deftness in making peace with rivals has been unmatched in history.
Besides all that, Mandela, a much cerebral person, made several intellectual contributions to humanity. Nigeria deserves such inspiring leaders.
Dr. Odu writes from Owerri