So, Buhari won’t make history, after all?


Martins Oloja

‘The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things’ – Ronald Reagan

It is in the light of the above powerful words of one of America’s greatest leaders, Ronald Reagan that I am persuaded to join good people who would like to encourage our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari to make history by getting good people around him to do one of the greatest things – signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law to begin a clean process of leadership recruitment in our failing country. If the President can also embrace restructuring through return to federalism we lost since 1966, he will make history despite his apparently poor performance his reputation managers are speaking in tongues about at the moment.

Behold, in the next few days, our leader needs to renew his mind, rally his governing party and citizens behind him to restructure Nigeria without dividing it. And that should begin with calling the bluff of the retrogressive forces in APC, his party and signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law in the next few hours – before he slips into the dark side of history. This is possible only with a sincerity of purpose as the driving force. This is what drives me to think that at the moment, the President needs encouragement more than condemnation from any quarters: He is surrounded at the State House, Abuja by only his kinsmen most of whom would not like to tell him what he could do to leave Nigeria better than he met it.

Specifically, in the beginning, the kinsmen who helped him to make his cabinet did not assist him in making a great cabinet. It is quite obvious that the President was not told by those who helped him shape the presidential bureaucracy and the cabinet in 2015 that no leader can do well in office with a mediocre presidential bureaucracy and cabinet. After about six months of assuring the people that he was head hunting good and reliable thinkers, what he came up with was quite disappointing, after all.

No insult is meant here, please. This is without prejudice to the few good ones who have been unequally yoked with mediocrities (not mediocres, please) that abound in the place. We are just discussing simple points in nation building within the context of the new world that social and digital technologies daily disrupt. Yes, only leaders who surround themselves with very smart managers can make history in the new world of business and politics.

Besides, our president has obviously compressed his own agenda to fighting corruption and insecurity. But there are no indications yet that our taciturn leader, PMB can make history with fighting corruption and insecurity, especially in the North East Zone and North West where the evil ones are now resident. His reputation managers may not agree but truth matters, in this regard. Now the North is demonstrating against Buhari’s inability to provide security for even the North – his people and indeed the country.

What is worse, the military establishment that we used to be proud of appears to have lost its mojo. Even the presidency doesn’t believe in operational efficiency of the police force anymore. We see the spirit of errors everywhere, especially in the North East and North West where the Air Force once erroneously bombed an IDP camp? We have lost so many officers of the Nigerian armed forces to the war in the North. The other day, there was a supplementary budget of about one trillion naira to fight insecurity at the time university lecturers were gearing up for yet another industrial action. That is what happens when the illiterate of the 21st century are allowed to take charge as major state actors. That is the view of a writer on leadership and management, Alvin Toffler, who always muses on “rethinking the future”. According to him, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. This is why most modern leaders always strengthen their governments with strong men and women, who can learn, relearn and unlearn even in office.

Let’s look at the machinery for fighting corruption. There are three agencies comprising the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The arrowhead here has always been the EFCC. But the President’s ruling party was once so disorganised that the first EFCC acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, nominated since November 2015, was not confirmed by the Senate dominated by the president’s party before he was removed in 2021. How else does one understand the politics in the presidency where the secret service chief executive twice wrote to the Senate that Magu should not be confirmed? Magu was  somehow stranded for six years and even the influential Attorney General and Minister of Justice appeared to be at war with him throughout his turbulent tenure. Curiously, Buhari’s presidency didn’t settle their rift.  How can the president make history through his war against corruption when Magu too was once quoted as saying that he was losing the war? Even the ICPC chairmanship was once in a hibernation mode: a board member once acted as Chairman from July 2017 when the tenure of the Chairman expired in December 2018. Acting Chairman of EFCC since 2015. There was once an Acting SGF from May 2015; there were once so many ‘actors’ in office in Buhari’s presidency of anything is possible.

How can the president make history with this kind of executive inertia and ad-hocism? Can there be history making in fighting official graft without reforming the NNPC according to the new Petroleum Industry Act? What has changed apart from the name as a company limited by shares?  That is why I feel we should begin to encourage the President to pay due attention to the Committee his party, the APC set up to prepare a blueprint on the hurricane called ‘restructuring’. There is some sense in that critical national assignment.

Despite the fact that some president’s men may not like Malam Nasir el-Rufai’s face and politics, the Kaduna State Governor and chairman of the APC Panel definitely has enough cognitive resources to handle the critical assignment. He gave the Party and the President a good document on restructuring since 2018. Even the resourceful Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, a member of the Committee, is a pan-Nigerian governor and very educated political leader in whom there is no guile. He holds a doctorate degree from the University of Ibadan. He is a quiet and wise operator who can also help the president and the party to make history from restructuring.

The only trouble with the APC Committee may be a vicious cabal around the President who might have been obsessed at that defining moment about politics of a second term without thinking about the implications of absence of major achievements in the first term. Now there is no fear of a second term. The president should restructure Nigeria and begin this by signing that electoral bill into law today.

But the president should note that if he continues to adopt I-don’t-care attitude to clamour for restructuring of the federation as most hawks around may advise, the consequences of the verdict of history may be harsh on him. He will go down in history as a military leader and politician who just wasted our time in office without any significant achievement. And so, the President should just renew his mind and begin to talk to his allies in other parts of the country about what the people feel on this town talk called restructuring and the electoral bill. Yes, you don’t have to link genuine restructuring to dismantling of the federation. It is to be done to strengthen the federation itself. It is running away from it that can dismantle the beautiful federation, after all. Verily, verily I believe that the President can make history if he can restructure Nigeria to run as a federation where the present states can leverage on the endowments in their areas to create wealth. To set the tone for that, our leader should sign the electoral bill that will assure Nigerians that we can elect our leaders peacefully without recourse to the courts that seem to be the dominant electoral factor now. Our President should listen to Dolly Parton who once noted that, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader”.

Mr. President, be of good courage! Support restructuring after 61 years of unitary nonsense! You are on the verge of becoming a significant history maker. Do it. Yes, you can by signing that Electoral Amendment Bill into law

On June 7, 2020, I wrote here about ‘Buhari’s presidency and near-success syndrome’. Then I quoted Socrates who said, ‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’. I also quoted Abraham Lincoln who reveals to us that, ‘Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most’ to encourage our leader to be decisive.

It is quite important for us to understand what this enemy called ‘Near Success Syndrome’ (NSS) is all about. If several times, you have been so close to achieving a goal, dream or desire in your life but it seems like the moment you are on the verge of breakthrough, something comes and snatches it away from your grasp, you are welcome to the roots of this deadly syndrome. When this occurs, it can really hurt. When this scenario plays out, sometimes can you question your faith. In other words, have you ever wondered why you have often failed almost at the peak of your success? This is what our leader should reflect on: near-success syndrome (NSS). That is the deadly virus that his party men are foisting on him now by asking him to withhold assent from that significant electoral bill.

That is why I would like to remind the president what the oracle noted in 2017 that he (PMB) might not go far in fighting corruption and insecurity, after all. Our president should, therefore, conquer himself, renew his mind about restructuring of the federation and signing of the electoral bill into law. He should meet with the national assembly leaders now and lobby them to fast track an executive bill on federalism after signing the electoral bill. That is the only ‘weapon of mass disruption’ of the lie that we call our constitution. That is the only way President Buhari can make history. And failing to do that sooner than later will confine him to the dark corners of history of those who under-developed Nigeria, after all.


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