Wednesday, March 1, 2017

While President Buhari Is Away

By Sunny Ikhioya
There is a need for us to understand the context under which the country is being run presently. Only a fool will have a death wish for Mr. President because it will benefit the country more for President Buhari to stay alive, otherwise, the consequences will be too grievous to imagine. But, we tend to over dramatise basic issues, so, things that are supposed to be normal in every society becomes complex here.
The more open and transparent a leader is to the people, the less controversial his actions and inaction are to them. Sickness is normal to man. That the President is sick should not be a big deal to the citizens. That there is so much cover up is what boggles the mind. Even in his present condition, the intrigues and scheming are ongoing amongst politicians, the ruling party, The All Progressive Party, APC, is  not exempted.

Everyone is trying to take advantage of the situation. So, when you attempt to point out the flaws in this administration, people attribute it to supporting corruption. Sonala Olumhese’s  column of Sunday February 19 2017 titled “As Ibori Stirs Buhari’s Tea” opined that the presidency have up to nine media advisers and assistants, working “to react to all media content critical to the President and attack/demonise/smear the people critical of the President”.

We have stretched the debate for so long that focus is lost. From what have been happening these past weeks, it is safe to conclude that President Buhari is being shielded from the true situation of things in the country, it is either that, or, he is ignoring the truth, which I doubt. Why am I in all of these rigmarole? One has noticed that there is a subtle change going on in the attitude to governance these past few weeks; not that of arrogance or fear, but, a positive change that is.

The type or kind that the people have been waiting for these past two years, which  has eluded them. Things appear to be working, albeit positively. If the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP,  failed us in the past, it does not guarantee a repeat by the APC and this is what those sympathetic to the cause of this government have failed to realise. The people wanted positive change.

Something different from the past. This was  the reason for voting out the Goodluck Jonathan led government.They have therefore felt shortchanged by the performance of the APC in the past two years. Nigerians want performance not excuses. So far, it has been excuses galore but the events of recent times have given us cause to be hopeful, that is; if the tempo already set by acting President Yemi Osinbajo is sustained.

We must stop complaining as this distracts  the government from maintaining focus. It is a good thing that the government is redirecting it’s focus or strategy – quick signing of bills into law, bridging communication gap across the Niger, re-enacting the relationship pact between the government and the governed and above all, finding all means  possible to calm frayed nerves in the Niger Delta region.

That is how it should be. I believe the impact of Prof. Osinbajo is better explained by a short article circulating in the social media titled; “Positive And Warm Body Language Are Key Desiderata Of Successful Leaders”, written by Onyebuchi Ememarka.

He wrote; “Vice, sorry, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is an interesting man. I think he is a deep thinker. He has to be. He is not just a professor of law, he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was for several years a university teacher and naturally will understand that the warmest teachers teach better. When students feel relaxed with a particular teacher, the tendency that they will understand him better is very high.

“We all went to school and we know that is true. Being warm and good natured is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. A big one. In the last couple of weeks, Prof. Osinbajo has visited some states which could be considered ‘political enemy zones’. He had gone to Anambra to see INNOSON car factory. He was in Abia to see face to face with shoe and garment makers. During the build up to the 2Face protest, security men talked tough but Osinbajo spoke and all nerves were calmed. He said it clearly that the people have a right to peaceful protest.
“In the last one week, he has been in Rivers  State  twice. He went to Bayelsa and Delta States. After stopping over in Rivers, on his way to Bayelsa, he came again for a full visit. He sat down with the Governor, leaders and people of Rivers  State to talk. He went round flagging off projects executed by the state government. That is what a true leader does. He has a pan Nigeria mandate. Believe me, these visits will surely help to calm frayed nerves. For the first time, I heard Governor Wike speak warmly about the Federal government and the need for strategic collaboration.

“A good leader warms up to his people, irrespective of political differences. There must come a time when politics must stop and leadership takes over. Leadership is a burden. A huge one at that. A leader must be warm and kind and courteous. A leader must also be firm and principled. The ability to have these qualities mixed in one makes great leaders. A leader should not be feared by the people he leads. A leader should, by his body language, instill confidence and a sense of belonging in the people he leads. It is usually hard for someone to seek rapprochement with the people that rejected him during elections and still view him with great suspicion. But that is the price of leadership.

“Leadership is tough. Leadership is not an all comers affair. Not everyone is born a leader. Leaders are patient and very understanding. At times, they play the fool for peace to reign. Good leadership doesn’t just consist in building roads and fighting corruption. Good leaders also build bridges of friendship and national cohesion. They also fight disunity by their utterances and body language. Good leaders must have the capacity to multi task.
“As you build roads and infrastructure, please build bridges of national oneness. As you fight corruption, also fight disunity and mutual suspicion. None is more important than the other. If you build all roads and a part of the country feels cheated and marginalised and abandoned, then there is a problem. There has to be a way of mixing these key things. And it is very possible to achieve that. That is the stuff of great leaders…”.

And I say; nothing more to add.

*Mr. Sunny Ikhioya is a commentator on public issues 

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