Since General Muhammadu Buhari was elected President on the 28th of March, he has used every opportunity he could find to try and dampen the expectations of Nigerians from him and from the incoming government. When I heard it the first time, I said well.... But having heard him say it a few more times, I am getting worried. He has personally been carrying out this campaign and has been very direct about it. Indeed he has been trying to recruit other leaders of the All Progressives Party( APC) to join him in this de-marketing effort. And it is troubling me that he is not being cautious about this as he tells us to our faces that he wants to dampen our expectations. I believe he could be more subtle about it.
  Yes expectations are high. Who is to blame for this? Ordinary Nigerians?. Certainly not. The President-elect and his party ran a high-pitched campaign, that dwelt on change and the evolution of a new Nation. They made many promises that excited Nigerians and motivated them to go to the polling booths in their millions. They voted and are waiting for the realization of the promises and the fulfillment of their hopes. But the President-elect seems to be dampening and dousing their hopes. As one of the Nigerians who have high hopes for the evolution of a new Nation, I am rather distressed by this effort to dampen my hopes. And I know a few Nigerians who like me are eagerly waiting for the 29th of May to be ushered into a new Nation.
 Yes perhaps what the President-elect is trying to communicate is that things will not all change over night. That's reasonable and I believe most Nigerians understand that.  And perhaps he is asking for some patience as he begins to 'rework' the Nation. That also is reasonable. But asking us to have some patience and to understand that everything will not change overnight is not the same thing as dampening our expectations. First, I do not think that he is the one to be carrying out this campaign personally. He should find other means of gently telling Nigerians that the change will come slowly and why. Secondly, he should sequence his actions and assure Nigerians that certain changes will occur soon and that others may take longer. I believe most Nigerians will understand and appreciate that.
  But regularly announcing and harping on the fact that he wants to dampen our expectations leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It may be misconstrued to mean that he is trying to retract the promises he made or that he is saying that those promises can not easily be fulfilled or the promised actions are impossible . When for example, he cites, the drop in oil prices as an excuse for trying to dampen our expectations, then people retort that the oil prices began to fall since July 2014 and he was still making these promises up to the 26th of March 2015. And as a past Head of State, he should know that prices of oil go up and down and should have factored those in his promises. And they are therefore wandering if these are excuses to say, the expected and promised changes were only made to win elections. Please Nigerians want change, they have been promised change and they must have it.
  Let us have more soothing and acceptable ways to communicate that some of the changes will take some time without dampening the expectations or making Nigerians feel that they have committed an error by taking him by his words.  For example, this is what I have been doing in my constituency. One of the promised changes that really excited my wife is the promise to make one Nigerian Naira equal to one US dollar. My wife has been persuading me to wait for May 29th before I go to the Bureau de 'chanji' to buy dollars to send to our son who is studying in the United States of America. When she heard the President-elect say over and over again that he wanted to dampen the expectations of Nigerians, she came complaining to me that "Ndia abiakwala ozo with akuko-ufe" (these people have come again with fairy tale). She began to feel disappointed.  I then told her that the President-elect was not repudiating his electoral promise,that he was actually asking for some time to bring these promises to reality. Then she asked, "how much time does he need?"I said, that he had not said so but that it could be a few months or a few years. She yelled " what! few years?". I did my best to calm her and got her to agree that we can go and buy dollars now at about 220 Naira to the dollar and send to our son. I assured her that before the next fees were due in six months, may be the General would have fulfilled his promise. She demurred, but I finally convinced her that the President-elect is a man of Honour and that he would not promise anything he was not going to do nor promise anything which he thought was impossible. "Let us see what you will tell me in six months time". That was how I resolved this matter of electoral promises, and dampening of expectations with one of my very important constituents. At least for now.
   Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR.


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