By Hon. Josef Omorotionmwan
There is rarely a second chance in Nigerian politics. When it comes, it provides an opportunity to see what mis-steps one had the first time. Such would invariably benefit from some amendments.
Apparently, for two principal reasons, the Muhammadu Buhari Administration and its party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, came to power in 2015, totally unprepared. For one thing, you can hardly blame a man for clinging tenaciously to his past. Virtually all his life, President Muhammadu Buhari had been used to the Sole Administrator style of rulership – from the military high command system to military governorship of a State to military Head of State. Suddenly, he found himself the President of a democratic setting where he was constitutionally bound to function as a team leader, not the sole determinant of policy direction.
Secondly, it was the first time that an incumbent administration that lost an election would relinquish power without a fight.
So, President Buhari, who was almost caught napping, spent the first six months without a cabinet. In the midst of the ensuing confusion, Buhari was perhaps thinking aloud when he said that Ministers were unnecessary and wasteful. But we had a constitution that must be respected.
This second time around, we expect the President to promptly put a cabinet together and hit the ground running. In the more advanced democracies, candidates and their political parties always, particularly during the electioneering campaigns, have a shadow cabinet, which would migrate with them into government if they won the election; and if they lost at the poll, that group would form the nucleus of their next campaign. That way, no one is caught unprepared.
The President-elect should pencil down a few names and keep them close to his chest pocket. Occasionally, one or two names would be thrown up to keep the press busy. In those other climes, between dining and wining, a few major appointments that may not necessarily require Senate’s Advice and Consent would be announced at the inauguration ball. The Senate should get the President’s Buhari’s nominations soon after inauguration.
Again, if you promptly constitute the vital Boards, you enhance the possibility of carrying your people along; and at the same time, you avoid the dominance of dead people on those Boards, resulting from delayed appointments.
The Almighty God is different from humans in a number of ways. One way is that He can never give you more burden than you can bear. But for men, in just the same way as those the gods would kill they first make mad; those men want to destroy, they overload with responsibilities – a lot more than they can carry!
Many have boked in this direction in trying to seek explanation why, when Buhari finally decided to constitute his cabinet, he concentrated the three most powerful Ministries – Works, Power and Housing – in the hands of a single man, Babatunde Raji Fashola.
Such people reason that Fashola’s profile was rising too fast; and there was need to cut him short. The grand design was to overload him with enormous responsibilities and prepare him for such a colossal failure after which he would become such a liability that no one would consider him for appointment even as a class monitor.
The young man took the appointment and the rest is now history. We watched him ageing fast and greying overnight. Meanwhile, he lost all the opportunity to practice those elegant legal phraseologies he had picked up from the University of Benin, UNIBEN. What a loss!
The Fashola experience is reminiscent of the ancient mythology of the ant and its big luck. The ant went to the native doctor and asked him to prepare for it, charms for big luck, which the native doctor obliged. When the ant was returning from the native doctor’s place, he found a dead elephant. Big luck, isn’t it? But from where would the ant start eating a whole elephant?
President Buhari granted the same big luck to many others across the land, including Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Transportation – Land, Air and Water as well as the life Director-General of Muhammadu Buhari’s campaigns. In the latter capacity alone, while he was running round the country – from Kaura Namoda to Oghada; from Calabar to Maiduguri for Buhari’s election – his opposite number in the PDP, Rivers State, was busy canvassing for the people’s votes for himself. The rest is now also history.
In all this malfeasance, our nation is the worse for it. In this second coming, how much of the big luck will Buhari be dispensing?
Incidentally, it is only the Senate confirmation process that could have curtailed the malfeasance but the first time around, Buhari sent empty names to the Senate without an inkling of the Ministries to which he would assign them. This time around, the Senate must insist that the President accompanies his nominations with the proposed Ministries. If he decides to reshuffle his cabinet a day after, that’s another ball game entirely. At least, he knows the world is watching us.
So sad to watch good love go bad. Buhari came to power at the crest of popular acclaim. He was loved by the citizenry. But all that love got eroded when Nigeria turned a killing field for the Fulani herdsmen.
The herdsmen versus the farmers’ imbroglio succeeded in turning the President Muhammadu Buhari administration into a clueless and an uncaring bunch of people. From the beginning of 2018, the Middle-Belt area of the country witnessed the most bizarre series of killings, starting with the 75 people slaughtered in Benue State on New Year’s Day. Still more dastardly were the 19 worshippers, including two Revered Fathers, who were massacred in a Catholic Church, also in Benue State.
As at April last year, a national newspaper had put the number of deaths in the hands of the herdsmen murderers at well over 900. Everyone soon lost count of the casualty figures and the killings continued unabated.
Yet, the Buhari administration remained clueless. We faced the moral equivalent of war.
The impression was given that what the President had for some of his men transcended respect into the realm of fear. For example, there is no escaping the inevitable conclusion that the former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had since become a loose cannon – loyal only to his own ambition. For him, the President, the National Assembly and the judiciary counted for nothing. And the President looked on?
The Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, was in a world of his own, issuing his own proclamation of sorts – condemning and single-handedly quashing anti-grazing legislations that were validly enacted by democratically elected State Assemblies. And the President looked the other way?
Members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association openly claim responsibility for the wanton killings, maintaining they were all reprisals for their lost or killed cows. Yet, we had a sitting government and nobody was asking the professed killers any question? Haba, Mr. President!
In peace and in war, federal character – as expressed in Section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution is not a term in the abstraction – it is real. This is one area where our President could easily be guilty as charged. We shall here restrict ourselves to just one narrow confine of the nation’s security. Even as at now, apart from the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olanisakin, all other members of the Security Council are from the North: President Buhari himself; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Alli; National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongonu; Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu; Director-General, SSS; Yusuf Magaji; D-G, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; and Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar. This type of aberration is President’s appointments in the first tenure. What a height of nepotism!
The greatest onslaught on the collective sensibilities of Nigerians came during the campaigns when the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association bold-facedly threw their support behind the candidacy of Muhammadu Buhari, promising to deliver 4 million votes of their members to him. If this was not criminal receivership, what was it?
More so, it is not by accident that since campaigns began, these senseless killers have kept a truce and a perfect cease-fire in honour of their boss and his administration.
Now that the elections are over, President Buhari has a responsibility to keep them that way. He cannot now claim not to know them and their criminal hideouts! They are in the open!.
This seemingly lengthy narrative is for instruction. More so, Buhari’s re-emergence is LAST CHANCE. Buhari has a choice whether to squander it like the original last chance of Lagos or to repent from the past, make amends and more on. History is waiting.