Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Buhari: Six Mistakes In Eighteen Months

By Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

President Muhammadu Buhari is not your typical party-man. By that I mean that he is not a politician in the classic sense of the word. Hence, he doesn’t seem to have the full and complete grasp of party-politics. Or may be does, but simply detests it (at least in the way and manner it is being played in Nigeria).  Whether he likes party-politics or not, I have news for him: the sooner he learns to play ball and act like a party-man, the better.
*Buhari 
Party-politics can be dirty, very dirty; but that’s the nature of political association the world over. Even the most honorable of men understands this; yet, they device ways of swimming in the Ocean without being bitten by sharks. They device ways of padding through rivers while evading crocodiles and other hunters. They swim if necessary; and they levitate if levitation is in order. But not so for Buhari who, eighteen months into his presidency, has committed six fundamental mistakes.

First, he is acting as though it is beneath him to get involved in the internal strife of his party. He is wrong! If he does not bring leadership, meaning and direction to the affairs of his party, The All Progressives Congress (APC), his base will fragment and may even collapse.  If he allows the wrangling to get out of hand, the major opposition party, The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will take advantage of the situation and maneuver its way back to power.

The fact is that he (Buhari) cannot afford to leave party-politics to others. A Captain must, at all times, be in charge of his ship especially in turbulent times. If he does not heed warnings such as this, the APC may find itself back in the political wilderness.
While one understands the principle of separation of power he, as the president of the Republic and leader of his party must, from time to time, overtly and covertly interfere in the affairs of the legislative branch.  He must put his foot down. His voice must be heard. His knuckles must be seen. The Nigerian National Assembly, since 1999, has been the house of wolfs. This is where upheavals and machinations are plotted and planted, the unimaginable conceived, and perversions take flight.
It is imperative that President Buhari reposition the country in ways that are amenable to his pre-May 2015 vision. It was not by accident or providence that he became the president. No. The People elected him. He acts on their authority. And because he is the leader, he must act like one. He must not succumb to the fear that some may label him a dictator. Come to think of it: are there Nigerians who do not believe that the country needs someone with measured dictatorial tendencies?
Second, the president’s constant promises and lamentations are becoming routine, boring and annoying. Almost 18 months into his presidency, he still equivocates and reminds us of the failures and shortcomings of the previous sixty years. Instead of the vilifications and political cries emanating from him and or his office, he should get on with the programs and the results he promised us. While one understand that eighteen months is far too short a time to undo many of the political, social, psychological and economic injustices of the last sixteen years, it is long enough a time to have a whiff of things to come.
There is a national consensus that stealing is corruption. We all agree on that. But since assuming office, how many former governors, former ministers, former legislators, former bankers and ex-this and ex-that has the Buhari administration successfully prosecuted? And what are this government’s accomplishments in terms of basic human needs?
Third, this president seems to have an aversion for speaking directly to the people — even though he started out as a man of the people. While he is not a Jerry Rawlings, a Thomas Sankara or any of the firebrands that once dotted the African conversational and political space, he is brilliant and engaging in other ways. Still, he must speak directly to the masses. The irony is that while he addresses foreign audiences and Nigerians in the Diaspora in his many foreign trips, he has a penchant for keeping his domestic audience at bay.
Really, nothing stops President Buhari from engaging in fire-side chats or periodically engaging the people in direct conversations. Information hoarding, since he assumed the presidency in the summer of 2015, has given birth to gossip mills at home and abroad.
Fourth, what’s this about his incessant foreign travels? At this rate and in four years, he is likely to set a record by any Nigerian head of government for foreign travel. While one understand the need for international relations and diplomacy, the president need not be all over the map. That’s why he has a foreign minister and other high-ranking diplomats. And that’s why he has a Vice President.
Another telling mistake he made was in his needing and wanting to probe the egregiousness and malfeasances of past administrations.  He shouldn’t have. There was no need for it. And this was clearly conveyed to him. Eighteen months later, millions of dollars and millions of man-hours has been spent chasing alleged thieves and crooks, when a Financial and Economic Truth Commission (akin to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission) would have netted him and his administration invaluable results.
And finally, this president seems not to be paying attention to his and the image of his administration. Perception matters. It does! I cannot imagine the president or prime minister of any decent country knowingly and repeatedly socializing with known and accused thieves and political scoundrels. Not so for President Buhari. Some of the men and women with query before the court of law and other prosecuting jurisdiction can be seen visiting Aso Rock — wining and dining and felicitating with a president who prides himself for having the cleanest hands in the country.
What are we to think when he is hanging out and travelling in the company of unsavory characters. And finally, President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo must understand that they don’t have the luxury of time. Soon, very soon, it will be campaign season for the next election. But more than that, the country needs fast and sustainable growth and development. Fast-paced growth that leads to peace and prosperity was one of the covenants between Buhari/Osinbajo and the teeming people of Nigeria. Almost eighteen months later…where are we?


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