© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Why Buhari must go: A sad tale of a docile or seemingly guileless president
By Joseph Onele
Having been brought up in an African home, I cannot but recall one of the timeless wise sayings my parents taught me and often sang in my ears while growing up: A dog that will get lost or go missing will definitely fail to heed the warning of its hunter-owner.
With the foregoing priceless words echoing in my mind, I settled for the caption title, given the focal point of this article, which is to crisply appraise the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) led government, and make relevant recommendations as well as a clarion call to all concerned citizens to see that the needful is done.
‘Needful,’ as used in this context, simply means that in the event PMB fails, refuses or neglects to resign at the earliest time possible, given his very poor performance thus far (as highlighted in this article) and hand over to the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a seemingly capable hand, to take full-time responsibility for the affairs of our nation for the remainder of the tenure, PMB should be voted out of office come 2019!
Whilst not oblivious of the diverse national scandalous spectacles, which keep popping up virtually every blessed day in Nigeria (ranging from the recent purported swallow of #36 million by a snake and to the Presidency, including names of deceased persons in the list of appointees to governing boards of government agencies), this article underscores the need for all citizens to be vigilant, alive to their civic responsibilities and not condone unacceptable behaviour or conduct from any public office holder going forward, and to ensure that the needful is done, in showing such public office holder out of the office, whenever such opportunity avails itself.
DOCILE PRESIDENCY VERSUS SEEMINGLY POWERFUL CABAL
For a while now, we have docilely condoned (albeit mostly voicing out only when it deeply hurts as seen in the most recent case in Benue State). Whether consciously or unconsciously, we have turned blind eyes to PMB’s docile approach to governance and appear to have tacitly tolerated his arguably passive method of running the government, underscored by poor coordination of executive activities cum lack of a common front PMB losing grip on happenings in different units of the executive (best exemplified by the non-confirmation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman traceable to a security report by the State Security Services, despite both institutions forming part of the executive arm of government), best underscored by even the President’s wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari who once voiced out that a cabal had taken over the government from President Buhari. By the same breath, one cannot but also remember the likes of Senator Ben Murray-Bruce and Junaid Mohammed who have reported to have said that “The cabal under Buhari has virtually taken over the affairs of the country from him…a situation that is very dangerous for the Nigerian people and their future” and more recently, erstwhile President (Dr.) Olusegun Obasanjo.
THE KICK THAT WOKE US FROM SLUMBER
Apart from the letter written by the erstwhile President (Dr.) Olusegun Obasanjo advising PMB not to run for second term, and the purported call and subsequent denial by erstwhile Head of state, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB), to PMB to forget his second term ambition and give way for the New Generation Leaders that would reinvent the wheel of leadership and spur healing in our most cherished country, Nigeria, one might be right to conclude that majority of Nigerians, seem to have resigned to fate that Buhari was a lesser “threat’ to the welfare of the populace and good governance, when compared with other possible options”.
The foregoing notwithstanding, this article will now proceed to consider: (a) why PMB does not deserve a second term; (b) why PMB should resign honourably; and (c) why PMB should hand over presidential powers to the incumbent Vice President, the Learned Professor Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria who has demonstrated capacity to pilot the affairs of our dearly beloved nation in the little space of time he has been afforded such opportunity.
FAIR ASSESSMENT OF BUHARI-LED GOVERNMENT: A CITIZEN’S PERSPECTIVE
Whilst the present writer is not unaware of the efforts made by the PMB led government, the assessment or the evaluation of the performance of the PMB led government will be done under different headings, which include: Security, Foreign Exchange and Inflation, Poor Response to Citizens’ Demands and Misplaced Priorities; Inadequate Funding of Education and Poor Body Language to Education Related Issues; Poor Performance and Allegation of Illegal Act as the Minister of Petroleum Resources; Disrespect for the Rule of Law and Desecration of the Nigerian Judiciary, selective fight against corruption, Health, amongst others.
SECURITY: HOW WELL HAS PRESIDENT BUHARI FARED?
To the mind of the present writer, President Buhari has failed on this score. Notwithstanding the fact that President Buhari gave the international community and by extension all the impression that his administration has crushed the Boko Haram menace, evidence abound to the contrary (albeit often suppress from time to time). For instance, how does one explain the recent incidents attributable to Boko Haram where some lives and even members of the Nigerian Armed Forces were brutally attacked by the same group Presidency claimed has been completely defeated? For how long shall we continue to be deceived about the true state of affairs with respect to Boko Haram?
For me, it besmirches responsibility for the government to play Russian roulette with people’s lives, safety and security; citizens and even the international community deserve to know the truth, no matter how ugly it may be. This is the 21st century and we are not fools for crying out loud!
Apart from the Boko Harm menace, there is equally the recent killings by the herdsmen in Benue State and continued invasion of different communities in Nigeria despite concerns raised by the indigenes of such communities that the herdsmen are not welcome to conduct their private business in such a manner as to infringe on other people’s rights, which has been wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy, no thanks to the herdsmen, whose rampaging continues with reckless abandon, costing not less than 73 lives buried in a mass grave in Benue State.
No doubt, the security state of the nation leaves a lot to be desired. On this score alone, and without more, one may be right to mark PMB as a failure in this regard.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND INFLATION
Another major shortcoming of PMB which has adversely affected his appeal to the electorate is the inability of his government to effectively and efficiently manage the exchange rate of the Nigerian currency to US Dollars and the British Pounds, unlike the previous administration which he took over from. Even worse is the unbridled negative effects of foreign exchange which ultimate burden is felt mostly by the end users of products, goods and services in Nigeria, who to a very large extent, constitute the electorate.
INADEQUATE FUNDING OF EDUCATION AND POOR BODY LANGUAGE TO EDUCATION RELATED ISSUES
Poor or inadequate funding of education and the body language of PMB to matters related to education are not only very disturbing and call for great concerns but also leave a lot to be desired. For instance, the present writer finds appalling, the posture adopted by PMB, a little while back, where PMB is reported to have said that any Nigerian student enrolled in a foreign university or academic institution was no longer eligible to access Forex at the Autonomous Forex Market to finance their educational programme, despite stipulations to their eligibility provided for in the Forex Manual (a subsidiary legislation issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the statutorily empowered regulator for the Forex Market and Forex transactions in Nigeria).
In addition, from the members of the Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) going on strike to members of the Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU) equally protesting poor remuneration, improved working conditions, poor funding of our tertiary institutions, amidst others, one may not be far from the truth, to opine that PMB is a failure in this regard.
POOR RESPONSE TO CITIZENS’ DEMANDS AND MISPLACED PRIORITIES
Furthermore, it will be attempting to say the obvious that the name PMB has become synonymous with words like ‘passive,’ ‘guileless,’ and ‘unresponsive.’ One finds very disturbing, PMB’s inexcusable and unforgivable conduct and recent habit of turning a blind eye to the suffering of his people or deaf ears to incessant cries for help as well as the poor exercise of judgment in prioritizing certain events and situations. Take for instance a situation where PMB’s media team decided to air a documentary extolling PMB despite unpleasant emergency situations in the country deserving of PMB’s urgent attention.
Even more worrisome is that PMB, until rather lately and perhaps, in realization of the fact that he might be seeking to be reelected for a second term in office, went mute on cogent issues of national importance, like the killings by herdsmen, dispute arising from the introduction of the grazing bill, and overwhelming evidence pointing to a looming national dispute or imminent conflict of national importance, requiring urgent attention.
While PMB could possibly be forgiven for his slackness given his poor and ailing health, it is extremely doubtful if PMB would be forgiven for his error in judgement and for taking the good people of Nigeria for a ride. Guess it’s time we showed PMB the powers that lie within our thumbs and show him the way out of the Aso Rock come 2019, should he refuse to leave honourably.
POOR PERFORMANCE AND ALLEGATION OF ILLEGAL ACT AS THE MINISTER OF PETROLEUM RESOURCES
Worse still is that PMB performed woefully as the Minister for Petroleum. Apart from incessant fuel scarcity and the recent scandal arising from the illegal payment of subsidy allegedly authorized by PMB, an item that was never a subject of appropriation but was still taken care of through government funds. While advocates for PMB may argue that PMB made one or two efforts in his capacity as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, I dare say that PMB is a huge failure in this regard and on this note alone, should be denied a second term in office. This is because man is and should be the measure of all things.
What matters to an average Nigerian in determining how well any government functionary is performing is how he or she is better off, in terms of living standards or quality living as well as the direct benefit that can accrue to him or her, courtesy of the discharge of the functions associated to that particular office. It is on this score that it is humbly submitted the PMB resigns his position and should give way for ‘fresh blood’ in the system.
DISRESPECT FOR THE RULE OF LAW AND DESECRATION OF THE NIGERIAN JUDICIARY
As an advocate of respect for the rule of law and duly trained minister in the temple of justice, I am unable to forgive PMB for the desecration of the judiciary and disrespect for the rule of law. Whilst I do not condone corruption in any quarters, I only ask that due process be followed and the rule of law be given credence even when allegations relating to corruption are made. I mean, this is a democratic dispensation and wonder how we got to the point where judges (the judiciary), ‘the last hope of the common man’ are not only stripped of their dignity but also indiscriminately sacrificed on the altar of PMB’s purported ‘cleansing of the judicial system’ and executive lawlessness.
Better still, how else would one justify invasion of the home of a sitting Judge of the Federal High Court who became the object of PMB’s executive lawlessness because of his vocal criticism of DSS for violating rights of persons detained at its facility? Wherein lies the independence of the judiciary where the Presidency chooses to humiliate the judiciary through the instrument of the state all in the name of purportedly fighting corruption?
SELECTIVE CORRUPTION FIGHTS
The last but not least is PMB’s elective corruption fights. Examples of this abound and are well covered in different dailies. From “Maina Gate,” to the whooping sum of money discovered in Ikoyi, Lagos, courtesy of a whistle blower, to the subsequent drama that unfolded with respect to the alleged ownership of the money. Even more worrisome was the controversy preceding the suspension and subsequent removal of Babachir Lawal, erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the seemly lackadaisical attitude or poor body language of the “Presidency,” a word which in itself created some sort of confusion at some point, PMB, it would seem, is fast losing his appeal and should step aside completely, before he loses all goodwill he has acquired overtime, to pave way for the incumbent Vice-President, a more capable hand, to take charge and take Nigeria to its desired heights.
As previously advised in my article published in May 2017, it is time PMB stepped aside completely to attend his medical needs, if he is genuinely interested in protecting our nascent democracy, deliver the dividends of democracy and restore the glory of our dearly beloved nation, whilst allowing the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a seemly capable hand, to take full time responsibility for the affairs of our nation for the remainder of the tenure. Indeed, President Buhari will do well to resign at this point for it is extremely doubtful PMB is able to steer the nation’s ship to the desired destination, given his ailing health.
Should PMB, however, fail to heed to the foregoing advice, it will very helpful for him to consider the wise counsel of Junaid Mohammed, an elder statesman and Second Republic lawmaker, who is credited to have advised President Buhari to bury the thought of going for a second term because Nigerians are already tired of his failed leadership and would not re-elect him.
Should PMB, however, fail, refuse, and/or neglect to do the needful, then it becomes pertinent or imminent for we, the electorate to become the architects of our own fortune, awaken our political consciousness by bringing on board only competent hands. One wonders what happened to the best of our citizens, I mean, all the wonderful industry leaders we have. I honestly still don’t understand why some of our very bright and visionary industry leaders can’t contest and become actively involved in governance.
Thankfully, the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill is here and has been passed by majority of states. We no longer have any excuse for not being involved in governance; age will no longer be an excuse for non-participation. The pertinent question then becomes: “What efforts are we all making, in our seemly little corners or spaces to make Nigeria better and birth the Nigeria of our dreams? What efforts are being made by employers to ensure that employees are charged to become more actively involved in political participation, knowing full well that elected representatives go a long way in not only affecting the business atmosphere in the country but can make life unbearable to all, if care is not taken, should we, as citizens fail to hold them responsible or accountable to us? It is time we stopped complaining and became more actively involved in the governance process for a nation is deserving of the kind of leaders it gets.
Here comes the clarion call to all concerned citizens! Go get your Permanent Voters Card (PVC) if you are yet to do so and be ready to exercise your right to vote, not only for you but also for the generation yet unborn. Lest, posterity be unfair to us and judge us in bad light, for failing to do our part. Let it not be said that we failed to the needful when opportunity came by calling.
In all, for his own health, good living and posterity, let’s hope PMB will allow wise counsel prevail and do the needful timeously.
Note: This publication represents only the personal views of the author and is provided to highlight issues as well as for general information purposes only. Whilst reasonable steps were taken to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this publication, the author does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on information contained in this publication