IT may be too late in the day – at the sunrise of the Buhari administration – to interrogate the content of the change Nigerians have. Change is change, someone retorted, when another tried a conversation on what the change chants that seized the airwaves since last year meant. He may be right. Some argued that change took place on 13 April when President Muhammadu Buhari defeated Goodluck Jonathan in the election.
The context of change is important, possibly as important as the content. Change is a chance, an opportunity, a window that we could convert to a platform to improve the conditions of our people, gain respect for ourselves and count more worthily as humanity.
Few words would aptly address change in these circumstances, but like good music, you may be unable to define it, but when you hear it, you know it. Change is different. It needs to be seen, felt, nationally, which does not mean in Abuja. Our villagers are waiting for change; it means different things to them, just as the terrains of their situations differ.
Does this change also mean hope, for a change? If we resurrect hope that people no longer had in many sides of life, would that be change? Anything that this administration does differently from its predecessors would be change. It has enough people trumpeting its intentions as if they were actions. The fixation with change is a burden. Buhari created it throughout his campaign. It resonated with the people. Change, hopefully, would reverse their blighted circumstances, which revisionist historian Chief Obasanjo tells us began eight years ago, a cut off point that reckons the Obasanjo years in bliss.
Change can become a chant, even a charade, if the approach to managing the challenges Nigeria faces remains episodic. Change means mitigating situations we cannot obliterate. Change can become a celebratory chant or chant of chagrin, if we under-estimate the intricacies of change.
Whatever happens as this administration takes charge is change. The biggest thing the administration has going for it is that people have imbibed change as a chant. It may not matter what it becomes. However, change, charted in chants that defy description, definition, or denotation, imposes additional challenges of dissonance.
How will change come? When will change come? What will change cost? Who will pay for change? Who will not pay for change? How will we pay for change?
We are in the morning of great times, taut times. The conversion of campaign promises to the realities of a changing world, and Nigeria’s place in it, cannot leave us unchanged.
Our 16-year-old civilian rule, almost twice the length of previous experiences, witnessed the victory of an opposition party, is that not change? We used card readers in the 2015 elections; that is change. We hear of change, in oil prices, in the Constitution, in poverty levels, unemployment and renewed despoliation of our common purse.
When the military handed over to a civilian government, 16 years ago, we thought it was change. Change, then was couched thus, “it would no longer be business as usual”. Just as we are stretching today’s change to new frontiers of imagination, change since 1999 has left us wondering what we were expecting, and what we got.
The blinkered enthusiasm of the Nigerian for change appears unquenchable. It is bold, blunt, blustering. It gives Buhari a blank canvas to sketch change above the chants of the charlatans countering the colours of change for their own change.
Change has come. We will court it. We will count it.