By Muhammad Ajah
Just like the presidents of every country of the world are very important to their citizens, the case is the same in Nigeria. Nigerian presidents are of great significance to their people. And so President Muhammadu Buhari has been the central point of focus for the Nigerian people since he took over the leadership of the country.
It is so much so for two key reasons. One, he is the first Nigerian citizen with all the best leadership qualities to have resisted intimidation and political humiliation for over a decade – twelve years to be precise – to finally defeat stubborn incumbency and take over power through the ballot. It is quite uncommon in Nigeria and therefore, all eyes have been on him from within Nigeria and outside. It was a wonderful occurrence, something that could be likened to an intertwining of the paranormal and enigma in Nigeria, thus, nothing less than wonders – the supernatural’s – were expected from him as a ‘superman’.
Second, he suddenly developed health challenge which was quite unpronounced like that of his kinsman and former president Umaru Musa Yar’adua. He has been away to London to seek medical attention for two long times, the second time longer than the expectation of Nigerians, a situation that has rekindled the concern of the citizens on him. The long absence has also aggravated the criticism from the opposition groups. It is supposed to be a normal thing worldwide because human beings, regardless of position and status are fallible. If ill-health were to be goods, no one will bargain for it. But no human can assure of perfect health forever.
But in Nigeria, things seem to be a bit different in the sense that, because the Nigerian presidents had in the past underperformed against the expectations of the people, good things about them have often been undermined. Only negative things about them sell newspapers. Worse still, the people feel they have often been deceived by the leaderships by not imposing apt solutions that can better their lives. Rather, successive governments had imposed injuries, sufferings and hardships on the citizenry.
From another consideration, the wrong impression of Nigerians about politics and the devilish north-south political dichotomy wielded into the mindsets of the politicians have remained the bottleneck in the overall selection/appointment of whoever leads the country. Under this north-south power-shift arrangement and understanding, Nigerians have become impotent, as mediocrity and nepotism lord over competence and merit.
Vibrancy, dexterity, and selflessness in service have all been let to the bin. On that note, they want things to happen the way their political godfathers, great-godfathers, godmothers and godsons want the politics to be played. If it is not done that way, they rent crowds sometimes made up of known citizens to cause tension and drive home their selfish interests.
Although Nigerians are very happy people and probably, according to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the happiest people on earth amidst prolonged hardship, they have often questioned how long it will take the leaderships at all levels of government in Nigeria to get it right and turn the fortunes of the country for the benefit of all or majority of the people. That is why emotion overpowers reasoning whenever any matter concerning a Nigerian leader is thrown up for public debate and scrutiny. Buhari has, thus, been in the mirror of the people, the elite and the populace alike.
President Buhari took over Nigeria’s leadership with the hope of fixing the country, knowing full well he must take the path of the unorthodox, the path that definitely demands trampling on toes or even administering hard purgatives.
He came into power with the anxiety of a responsible father over his family to provide, to defend, to nurse and educate as well as to instil good understanding of togetherness and the yearnings for posterity. Nigerians, being humans who often resist change, proved what they have been; a group in support and a group in the opposition – wicked opposition indeed. Overwhelmed by the challenges and juxtaposed with the eagerness to overcome them, the man who was sound and without dangerous health problem suddenly began to weaken.
President Buhari overworked himself. For the desire and readiness to die for Nigeria, he overloaded his schedule, ensuring that every bit of governance is done attended to. That was really an unusual way and against the philosophy of division of labour. But he was actually in a fix, knowing who Nigerians are and the difficulty in entrusting critical positions to unknown persons.
However, he was confident he would deliver, so he toiled from early morning to late evening, sometime late nights every day. He was sure that a lot of visits to outside worlds would yield quick results to the nation’s growth and stability. So he made himself available for the visits during which he sought mutual cooperation with the host countries to recover Nigeria’s looted funds starched in those countries. He was also concerned about how the huge properties bought with the nation’s looted funds could be identified and taken over by the federal government, sold and the proceeds brought back to Nigeria.
This attitude, no doubt, is required to make Nigeria great. But Nigeria is a too complicated country that one must feed well, rest well, consult widely well and above all pray very well to firstly sustain life and then administer the affairs of millions of human beings. A lot of Nigerians, truly, have tested positive to untrustworthiness. Every national leader, events have shown over the years, seeks the position for the ‘national cake’.
I pitied the President as he carefully went through the pages of the 2016 Budget, gave it to his vice to go through. Yet, the padding was difficult to dictate. That is how expenditures from the commonwealth are manipulated and the experts ensure that no eagle-eye pinpoints such.
Also, because he was confident to succeed and abhorred too much haste, he preferred to work with a large chunk of appointees of the past government probably thinking that if he could lure them into believing in the new political order the country required to progress, his control over his own members with same mission for Nigeria would be total and fruitful. It was clear, according to unfolding events that the past leadership of Nigeria sold out the country to itself.
It is an interesting episode that Nigerians are waking up from their slumber to monitor the government and ensure good governance. Those patriots who want President Buhari back to duty have shown love for the country; that the country should not be left for a long time without a leader – such person like Buhari.
They only got it wrong by including the slang of resignation when they know that Buhari is a human being with all human shortcomings. Interestingly, he did what the constitution demanded of him by transmitting power to his able and loyal vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who has been discharging his duties without complaints, taking critical decisions and making appointments as the president would have done. What else has Osinbajo not done in his capacity as the acting president that would warrant the call for his taking over when the president is recuperating and just waiting the final release by his doctors?
I hate to call those patriots who want President Buhari back to duty as anti-Buhari because they are worried of the state of Nigeria. Unless if proved beyond doubt that they are playing the script written by the anti-Nigerians, their intention should be subjected to fair criticism rather than outright condemnation. I recall that in a letter to President Buhari by Charles Oputa aka Charly Boy, he was in support of Mr. President anti-corruption crusade.
He urged him to recover Nigeria from all looters and destroyers and deliver the nation from the vile, evil and wicked politicians/cabals that have enforced poverty, hunger, hopelessness on Nigerians with impunity. He recalled the running battles Buhari had with some of the blackmailers, scammers, certificate forgers and the riff-raffs in the National Assembly saying, “After all, Obasanjo dealt with many of them in the house; Goodluck dealt with House Speaker”.
The pro and anti-protests are democratic. Notwithstanding the tension both groups created in Abuja on Friday, August 11, the timely intervention of the Nigeria police was laudable. Spokesperson for the FCT Command, Anjuguri Manzah, said officers moved to disperse some miscreants, hoodlums and other criminal elements that have infiltrated the protest. He had accused the protesters of blocking major roads adjoining the area, thereby preventing citizens from free passage. This should not be do if the protest was in good faith and intention.
One cannot but rejoice for the stand of the Senate that the protesters were being unreasonable, as the president had not committed a crime. The protesters claimed that Nigerians have been kept in the dark over the heath status of their president. Though in support of Buhari’s corruption fight, they observed that the controversies, narratives and different conspiracy theories surrounding Buhari’s heath were not good for the country. Oputa was joined to sign a document by Deji Adeyanju and Adebayo Raphael for their group called: Our Mumu Don Do Movement.
On the other hand, the supporters of President Buhari, under the umbrella of Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative (CGGCI), also have shown love for Nigeria. But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu saw the anti-protest as a fight-back from the beneficiaries of the old order, recalling warnings from Nigerians that corruption will fight back. According to him, the protesters wanted to cause distract while the government was focused on delivering its promises to the people of Nigeria.
However, the federal lawmakers and the presidency are in unanimity that President Buhari has complied 100 per cent with the constitution by handing over power to the Vice-President before proceeding on his vacation. This means that he has not breached any law or the constitution by staying away from office to take care of his health, thus the meaninglessness of the protests against the President’s medical leave to London. The President recently received a team of media men in London and promised to return as soon as his doctors release him.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org