THE SEEMING LEADERSHIP ERRORS OF PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
It is just too early for President Muhammadu Buhari to start showing clear signs that he may not get the art of leadership in a democracy right. I am very sure he is losing sight of the fact that majority of Nigerians who voted for him never did so because they know him as a good democrat.
I am sure he has assumed his victory in the March 28 2015 election from an erroneous understanding of how it came. Well let me quickly remind Mr President that majority of Nigerians supported his emergence as President based principally on his past antecedents.
This was the same consideration Nigerians gave Olusegun Obasanjo when in 1999 he was chosen to govern Nigeria preferring him to Chief Olu Falae. It was and still is in the considered opinion of most Nigerians that to set our country on the right path, and to advance our democracy and our democratic experience, a leader must emerge that is competent in his ability to apply the “carrot and stick” syllabus to governance.
Dr Goodluck Jonathan was roundly rejected by Nigerians because Nigerians felt he was weak and slow in his approach to governance, and if Nigerians wanted such caliber of a leader, Dr Jonathan would still be President today.
Inasmuch as I would wish to concede reasons for his seeming careful approach to governance, especially in the face of his historic draconian rule, he would be missing a vital point if he assumes that majority of Nigerians disliked that regime.
I have news for Mr President and this is true, that majority of Nigerians who whip up sentiments against him for that era, especially during the campaign leading to his election, are a minority few who were caught up, somehow directly and relatively, by his genuine intentions to whip law into lawless citizens. I have said it before that he owes nobody any apology for that era. He did what was necessary in national interest and we were better for it.
It is true that Nigerians expected Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to lay a strategic roadmap for Nigeria’s political and socio-economic revival, and although he took commendable steps in this direction and accomplished much on the economic front, especially buying Nigeria off the list of debtor nations and generated a solid financial base for the country.
He however wasted all his goodwill by messing up the political environment by his unrestrained urge to be Nigeria’s “messiah”, an alias he clearly endeavoured to rob Chief MKO Abiola of by endeavouring to confer it on himself. Nevertheless, he was ignorant of the fact that messiahs are not self-made but divinely ordained.
So I wish to believe that it was in the spirit of crowning a messiah for Nigeria that led majority of Nigerians, against all odds and the criminalization of Mr President, to damn the damns and to elect him as President. Therefore, I see President Muhammadu Buhari as the possible messiah Nigeria has waited to admit.
This was principally my reason for writing two open letters to him: the first was on my desire to see him “hit the ground running” and the second on how he needs to “show political leadership”. Unfortunately, on both points, it is clear that he is wasting the goodwill of Nigerians.
I agree that it is still very early to expect miracles, but I bet that if there are Nigerians who expect miracles from President Buhari, I am surely not one of them. All I am expecting from the President is what I saw him do in 1984/85 when he first emerged: pick up criminals and get them prosecuted.
I don’t think it takes calling fire down from heaven to do this. I cautioned him about allowing “finger pointing” at his administration. I talked about his applying tact when responding to political traps clearly setup by those eyeing his office to get future arms against him. I sincerely feel disgusted with people who are presently around him.
I hold Mr President liable for two commitments he made, which are embracing me, as of “all Nigerians” and which in my opinion cannot take going to the moon for him to sincerely vacate such simple commitments. On the day he received his Certificate of Return from Prof Attahiru Jega, the INEC Chairman; President Buhari said and I quote:
“…I thank the people of Nigeria for reposing their confidence in me…I will seek your voice and input…this will be a government democratic…in how it interacts with its own people”.
“I ask you to join me in resolving challenges…we shall not take you for granted…be rest assured that our errors will be…not of willful neglect and indifference”.
In response to this novel, historic and unsolicited call, I first saw myself as timely privileged to vacate the dump heap of mental sedentariness and intellectual sedimentation, caused by the lack of the effectual passion by past governments to engage the best brains among citizens.
I witnessed nonentities and intellectual robots been acceptable to our leaders based on the kinetics of the civil vices and social disobedience they perpetrated for them. So I saw Mr President’s call for collectivity as one that pulled me up from Nigeria’s waste heap of creative potentials, which past inept and corrupt leadership feared to engage because of their visible incompetence to handle such category of citizens.
I immediately wrote an open letter to Mr President calling his attention, amongst other things to Police and Civil Defense reforms, the Niger Delta question, economic blueprint that should reestablish the middle class economy, the reform of the NNPC and the review of the petroleum product subsidy regime etc.
Apart from these, I was pushed by good reasoning to again venture another open letter to Mr President. This time, advising him to “mind who sits as Senate President over the Eighth National Assembly”. I wrote this at a time the leadership of the APC zone the seat to the North Central, a decision which I protested.
I am very certain that if he has a vibrant media and publicity team, my letters should reach him, as it did majority of Nigerians. Nevertheless, today I feel disappointed that either it is that his media team is weak in the face of his commitments or he is neglecting us “his people”, hence he could be a promise breaker.
On the matter of Mr President’s mindfulness of who sits as Senate President during his administration, I advised him to discountenance his resolve to stay aloof, even if it shows good statesmanship. I reminded him of how in advance democracies Presidents find reasons to lobby and cajole members of the legislature to get some points on governance through.
President Buhari ONLY, is who Nigerians see as the symbol of the credibility of the APC. His refusal to show leadership on the issue of Senate leadership therefore, is to me the major cause of the present threat of a deep internal hemorrhage the APC is now suffering. In my opinion, President Buhari should be the only power bloc in the APC, carrying everybody along to keep its unity, not what is manifesting now
In my letter in reference, I called Mr President’s attention to his political tactlessness and indicated an instance of how tactless he responded to the APC governors who came to him with lists of suggested ministerial nominees and requested cash bailout from him to ease the backlog of workers’ salaries in their States.
I clearly told Mr President how I saw him, not as a politician but, as a studious democrat, and reminded him of how different it is in Nigeria, to address ordinary citizens and to address politicians, leaving a caveat to let him know how some of the politicians close to him are more politically aware than himself.
I realized it quite early in my study of the political terrain in Nigeria, that there are statements a leader makes, especially when it has to do with policies and strategies, for the consumption of everybody; and there are statements, which are geared to reap political capital for the leader, which he should normally not trade without the necessary bargains that should make him reap on political investments.
So wasting statements like “I am for everybody and I am for nobody” and the declaration that he would “not interfere with the decisions of” and can “work with anybody” the lawmakers throws up as their leaders, for the sake of looking good before the citizenry, were the most politically naïve statements any President can openly make to the citizenry.
In my opinion, Mr President could have saved his talks and do his deeds, because reasonably speaking, “talk is cheap” and it cannot generate much on political investment if sold out at an inappropriate time like Mr President did.
Action, I am told, speaks louder than words. I am particular bothered by the present crisis rocking the APC, and more particularly worrisome is knowing that both the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Salisu Maikasuwa rode on Mr President’s very humble request to honour him with a reversal in the time slated for the proclamation of the Eighth Assembly. I am very worried.
I clearly saw how Mr President found it difficult to eat back his words, which he politically gave out as bonuses and in the commotion his commission has caused; he is clearly the bigger loser. I am clearly not comfortable with a President whose directive, even if it is verbal and through reliable proxies, cannot be respected by a bloody bureaucrat, even if a politician should take him for granted.
I therefore remind Mr President of how his predecessor came out openly to tell us that he was not aware that a national election was suspended and postponed based on security reasons; meaning he was no longer the Chief Security Officer over the land. I am very sure that Mr President was clearly taken unawares by the outcome of the National Assembly leadership elections, as his response to the outcome clearly indicates. Nigeria needs a President “on point”.
Mr President, has clearly failed me on the two commitments quoted above. He has clearly taken my voice for granted and beginning to behave like others before him, playing good old boy. This is not the Muhammadu Buhari I knew; this is surely not the Muhammadu Buhari I struggled to vote for, against all odds; even when the Director General of his Campaign Organization called for the boycott of the election in Rivers State.
I was left to struggle amongst clear PDP antagonist. This is clearly not the man I gunned for, no please! I love Mr President so much as to tolerate him longer than any Nigerian, but this promise is based upon my seeing some improvements in his political delivery.
I am not buying into his political sell out in the name of trying to impress everybody that he is not the General Muhammadu Buhari they once knew. Accepted that he has changed his title from General to President, but I want to see that man with a heart of steel, not this show of chicken heartedness.
President Buhari cannot impress Nigerians by being a good old boy please, no he cannot! He cannot please Nigerians by his sweet words and I can bet my life on this, that ALL Nigerians will rise for him when they begin to see the “CHANGE” he promised them.
For me, this change is to immediately send the list of members of the Federal Executive Council to the Senate for approval, and subsequent assigning of the Attorney General of the Federal to immediately commence the prosecution of economic and financial crimes which case files are multiplying by the day with the EFCC.
I do not see the reason why Mr President should further delay the appointment of Col Hamid Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) as substantive Chairman of the EFCC. Work needs to begin in that direction. This is the action Nigerians want to see from him. It is about the rule of law, it is about justice, it is about equity and it is about political sagacity.
Sweet words are like “Mary Kay” cosmetic applied upon the faces of female celebrities, and I bet that all comes to naught under rain drops; and as far as the current crisis in the APC is concern, Mr President’s “Mary Kay” wordiness is now under the rain and he will be surely embarrassed by his colour parchments if he does not hide himself quickly from public view.
Sooner or later, he will feel the rain drops coming down on his cosmetics if he does not sit down with all those who contributed to the mess and strictly warn them against indiscipline, craftiness, overbear and manipulation. As I have noted, it also appears he does not have those who can look into his face and tell the truth; I am a Nigerian, and I can look into Mr President’s face and tell him some home truth.
If I can look into the faces of Christian Bishops and tell them that I believe that the anointing of the Holy Spirit supersedes the anointing by the highest grade of olive oil and the laying on of hands; a religious collegiate of spiritual men many Christian avoid for their curses, which is subsumed under the quote “touch not mine anointed and do my prophet no harm”, then Mr President, I can look into your face and tell you some home truth.
I am not better than those Christian and Muslim non-conformist men, women, children and toddlers in parts of Iraq and Syria, whose throats are daily been slit by the knives of Islamic fundamentalists. I am old enough to answer the call of nature either in the toilet or in the grave, why should I fear any man?
Mr President has hit the ground walking; Nigerians want him to start running. HIS is not a long distance race please, it is in fact a 100m dash. Thank God he is tall and has very long legs, he needs to throw them as far as he can. My words are few but it is enough for Mr President if he is wise. “My brother do something…pamu reggae”!