“Failure and success are in the power of dressing; and they that are wise shall eat the fruit thereof” (my adaptation from Proverbs 18: 21)..
Dressing is an expression of culture; a means of identification. From dressing mode or pattern, you can possibly tell a person’s country. And within a country, you can tell a person’s tribe from the dressing style, especially in Africa where we take so much pride in our culture and by extension, in our dressing or traditional attires. Nigeria is not exception in this expression.
Apart from native language, you can tell from dressing pattern who is a Yoruba man, an Igbo man, a Hausa man, an Urhoboman, an Ijaw man, a Tiv man, and so on. So, one power of dressing is identification.
Another power of dressing one is acceptance. With dressing, one can gain the affection and acceptance of another person of a different tribe. If a Yoruba man wears an Igbo traditional attire, he is more likely to be easily acceptable among the Igbos. He is seen as “one of us” because he identifies with them in dressing. This reaction will be same across other ethnic groups.
Surprisingly, or maybe, not so surprising, politicians know the power in dressing, and they take advantage of it. This is more evident in the recent revelations by Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF) of Nigeria.
Babachir Lawal revealed how some personalities engaged the services of an American political strategist to package Muhammadu Buhari for 2015 Presidency. Part of the packaging involved convincing Buhari to adorn the traditional wears of other major and minor ethnic tribes of Nigeria to shore up his acceptance across the nation and seen as a pan-Nigerian. It must have been a herculean task to convince a conservative Buhari. But they did! The man agreed and it worked. He won the election and re-election in 2019 and remains the president till date. The power of dressing cannot be underrated in PMB’s victory.
But I have a grouse with Mr. President! My grouse is if wearing traditional attires of other tribes of Nigeria contributed to your winning election, why can’t you continue to wear the attires after the victory? As a president of Nigeria, why can’t you, at least once in a while, appear in traditional “Agbada” and “Abetiaja” cap of the Yorubas, or in “Isiagu” with traditional “red” cap of the Igbos, or in the characteristic cowboy-like hat with walking stick of the Uhrobos, or in the traditional black and white “Anger” of the Tivs just to mention but a few? Why must it always be your traditional “Kaftan” and “Babariga”? Mr. President, this is a sin! More so, because you wore them to win election.
Mr. President, if you acknowledged the importance of dressing as pan-Nigerian in winning election, you should likewise, acknowledge its importance in leading or governing the nation. It must, or should transcend winning election. Maybe it wasn’t convenient for you then to wear all those different attires, but you endured it. You can as well endure it now, at least once in a while. After all, leadership is about sacrifice; about doing what may not be convenient, but right or expedient.
Mr. President, how I wish you can change this attitude. How I wish in your many outings or at the weekly FEC meetings, you can identify with other parts of the nation by appearing in their traditional native attires. It will not hurt your presidency, neither will it hurt your personality. It might even do you good and possibly the nation too. Such a step, though little and maybe intangible, can go a long way in healing some of the wounds of the nation.
Mr. President, as much as some of us still love you, despite your many shortcomings because we acknowledge our own imperfections and since hating you will not improve the system or make things better, it will however be sycophantic on our part if we fail to tell you your sin(s) whenever they are revealed to us.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27: 6).
God bless Mr. President.
God bless Nigeria.