According to Wikipedia, a fifth columnist is “any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favour of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth columnist can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilise openly to assist an external attack. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathisers with an external force.”
Literarily, it refers to persons who willfully constitute clogs in the wheel of progress within the system for no justifiable cause. Simply put, self-centred persons who allow selfish interests to override public interests. It doesn’t matter heights attained, greed and acrimony will always manifest either patently or latently in their actions.
President Muhammadu Buhari must not allow some politicians constitute clogs in the wheel of his progress, knowing that masses’ confidence on him is at stake. Election is over. This is the time to be strict and focused for service delivery to earn accolades after exit from politics in 2023. Those that preferred conceited interests and ambitions to public interest should be laid off. Second term in office by Nigeria’s Constitution precedes retirement. But the retirement; fulfilled, glorious or otherwise will be determined by some dynamics.
In the Oath of Allegiance in the 1999 Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria for public officeholders, it provides for recitation, “….I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully, and in accordance to with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law, and always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria …; I will not allow my personal interest to influence my official conduct or official decisions …; I will do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will …”
These are the social contracts by which anyone; from president down to a commissioner, can take up any official responsibility from the Constitution. Unfortunately, whilst the drafters of the Constitution took it seriously, politicians take it as mere recitals or formality. A pity indeed! The major challenge facing the country is insecurity, which has perceptibly given President Buhari sleepless nights. Economy may never boom as targeted until insecurity is dealt with. The twosome, security and economy, go hand in hand. And any government that failed to prioritise them is cruising on abysmal failures. Unfortunately, scores of citizens that devotedly enrolled in a government institution; National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and graduated since 2013 have been subjected to redundancy and idleness; roaming the streets without vocations by designs of some privileged persons in government. What a contradiction.
How could scores of citizens be kept in such a tight corner for years with all manner of gimmicks forgetting that the victims have a right to live a comfortable life? How many of the conspirators or schemers can stay without remunerations to justify the years the innocent victimised students have stayed without jobs? And finally, what have the schemers gained from the obnoxious ploys? Pondering on the unending ugly dramas regarding the admission of NOUN law graduates who had been encumbered from proceeding for their vocational training in the Nigerian Law School for no crimes committed can only make any patriotic persons weep deeply for the nation. The commonest question that must come to mind is: can the country freely move forward with such actors as public officeholders?
The most horrible challenge any government can face is harboring fifth columnists who pursue selfish agendas distinct from the government they constitute. This is indeed unfortunate. Lack of continuity, unity of purpose and open-mindedness in government are the major tasks in governance. Any system where personal interests are placed above public interests will collapse.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu’s efforts on the protracted NOUN/Law School crisis have often met a brick wall. Adversaries within, they say, are the worst enemies. And President Buhari must be mindful of such characters as they can sabotage other government’s policies mutely. Like corruption, if you don’t deal with fifth columns within, it will deal with the government. Anywhere a principal and subordinates pursue different interests, it is doomed to fail. It is sad that whilst President Buhari, even with old age, is passionately a workaholic; always on the move, attending to all important tasks, both within and from country to country, to make ends meet for common good, some subordinates prefer to clandestinely add to his stress.
No doubt, NOUN/Law School crisis was inherited from two previous administrations, but President Buhari must give these oppressed students the anticipated relief. According to Simone de Beauvoir, “all oppression creates a state of war.” And the time to avert it is now.
It is bizarre for a unique innovation federal government adopted from developing nations and established with public funds to be subjected to hostility and pull-down syndrome instead of strengthening it to stand. How could human beings willfully, joyfully cripple their fellow citizens?
Anyway, a fulfilled and glorious retirement after serving the nation is only tenable by remarkable accomplishments, and therefore any detractors within the system should be discharged in the best interest. Thus, let the needful be done.
• Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom).