THIS is the third and conclusive part of a three-part series to mark one year in office of the Buhari administration. The two editions published earlier received huge response from my readers, some of them very controversial and angry. I anticipated that because the topic itself is both controversial and contentious. Assessing leaders, like I noted in the first discourse, is always a difficult task in our kind of environment and this is for the simple reason that we hardly have yardsticks. Besides, issues of religion, ethnicity and political partisan interest are still very strong influences in whatever we do. People don’t go for the thoughts being espoused. They are only interested in knowing who you are, and if you are a member of a political party. I have learnt not to be angry, otherwise I would have been with some of my respondents, who would always leave the argument to chase shadows. I know that talking about Buhari’s attitude, policies and processes at a time the administration touched the wrong side of Nigerians can be a very herculean task, but I know that the best way to deal with a difficult problem or situation is not to run away or be emotional; rather you confront it with high level of positive rationalization devoid of sentiments.
It is true that the Buhari administration stirred the hornets’ nest by the way it raised the price of petrol, a commodity that is at the centre of economic activity and personal survival and by so doing has caused some discomforting level of dislocation among the citizens, particularly the vulnerable groups. As would be expected, everybody is angry, this fact does not remove the truth that in the last one year since the government came to power that other activities have been going on; the outrage does not downplay the truth that what is important is not to cry over one bad situation, but rather to take advantage of these times of adversity to find out the good paths embedded in the circumstances confronting us. Would it be true to say that the coming of Buhari into power does not offer us any lessons? Would it be correct to say that the administration’s actions began and ended with issue of fuel pricing? The problem with us is that we discard reason especially when it should matter most and hold tight to emotions. Many of us are so fixated about a particular direction and if it is not so, whatever else is wrong and bad. My essays on the Buhari’s one year and indeed other write ups of mine are exactly designed to cure this malady and am sure my readers would’ve seen this in my write ups. I prefer to enlighten, most of the time drawing from what I know practically covering politics as a journalist for many years and participating in government at very top level of a state for over 18 years, and of course from books on other nations. I don’t believe in the criticism option, we have abused ourselves for too long and that has not taken us anywhere. What is required now is to suggest strategies that can take us away from the mess we walked ourselves into. It is a contradiction to want people to respect us and to come over and help us, yet the story we tell about ourselves and our nation is a story of a people that are subhuman and a nation that would never work. No nation grows dealing with itself that way!
This is why in the part two of this series I made allusions to dealing with the people and not just the government as an institution. In one of my write ups I joined Chief Eyibo, a former member of the House of Representatives from Akwa Ibom, to advocate for a change in the leadership recruitment process and this is the issue at the root of bad governance afflicting our nation and those who are shouting today “kill Buhari” have forgotten what the issues were and why we had to vote for a change of government. They are advocating for the return of the same people whose supposed ineptitude brought the nation to its knees. Some even say it is better to enact the corruption era so long as they feed and enjoy their lives. From what I know only people in Black nations react this way to what should be a very serious matter requiring the best of intellectualism and of course wisdom.
Last Monday on Channels Television, I saw Dr. Doyin Okupe former Senior Special Assistant to former President Jonathan, who recently went to beg former president Olusegun Obasanjo for abusing him while serving former president Goodluck Jonathan talk about a third force, meaning a new political party that would replace APC and PDP, to offer Nigeria the “needed leadership.” I asked myself leadership from who to whom? Who will be members of the new party? This is the kind of thing Nigerians hear and take them serious. When did they become born again? Why are we not hearing new programs and strategies? Why are the issues not about transportation, railway for instance, sea transportation, agriculture and how to link agriculture to industrialization, economic diplomacy, credit facilities to develop small businesses? Why is the issue of a new party or matters of failure more paramount than emphasis on new ways to progress?
Before the price hike one of my friends insisted that the people are the major problem of this nation and I asked him how: he said government supplies fuel but the big stations would never have it, yet the small that sell above pump price would always have it and the question was, how do they get it? Subsidy for an unproductive nation is a tragedy on its own and doing subsidy without honest men to administer it is more than tragedy on its own. By now we should be ashamed that the reason we sell off government property is because we can’t find honest Nigerians to do the jobs efficiently and effectively. By now this nation ought to be refining her crude. I think Buhari was right to remove subsidy – if that is what he did. The only problem is with the manner. Forex has linkage to consumption: what do you do when banal consumption comes between supply and demand? Buhari has also done well with the insurgency war even though he allowed the gains to slip by through the rise of herdsmen and some not well framed comments that tended to convey sectional sympathies. The war on corruption is excellent except I would wish it to be more expansive than it currently is; corruption is very pervasive and war against indiscipline should be on the cards. The administration has had rough edges – delay in making ministerial and other appointees subtracted especially for a change government that needed the first few months to record a very excellent first impression; the fight against Saraki is denting, it would’ve been avoided if the president realized he ought to play politics, the same for the controversy that followed the budget. Buhari means well, is disciplined and has the political will. He still has time to consolidate his position on the front line and all he has to do is to act more like a statesman, roll out the projects and hasten their execution and of course play the politics of governance. He has the men like Tinubu and others with deep political sagacity and above all his support base the APC ought to be very active. If even elections were to be held today, Buhari still remains a strong political force, all he needs is political connectivity and knowing when to do what. This time is not about force, it is more about gathering together.
This concluding part was scheduled for last Sunday