This may be rather early but part of the reasons for disloyalty to the president could be murmurings about succession. What does the president’s body language indicate about whether he will be re-contesting his position in 2019? Who are the possible persons or groups of persons who can take his vision further? Could it be that politicians are already positioning for politics by forming themselves into fiefdoms? President Buhari needs to listen to the pulse of the street while scrutinising his team.
I read a disturbing headline in which President Buhari was quoted as saying that there may be people around him sabotaging his efforts. He was quoted in an interview on Aljazeera monitored from Doha and reported by The Cable newspapers. Many people are very surprised with the statement of our president. For a long time after he was elected, President Buhari could not announce many of his appointees (and has not still finished doing so) because he was reportedly scrutinising each one of them to ensure that they are not tainted. He was even quoted as saying that he was going to appoint only those he can trust. Fair enough. So what happened? How did he end up appointing these ones who are not on the same page with him? At what point did the saboteurs come in? Who are they?
These questions need to be asked very urgently, especially when one recalls that the former president, Goodluck Jonathan made similar speeches with respect to his inability to successfully fight the boko haram insurgency at that time. It is possible that there are those who may be disloyal to the Commander-In-Chief or who may be in pursuit of a different agenda. Rather than give excuses or speak as if he is helpless, his immediate task of the boss should be to investigate them, and if he has incontrovertible evidence, he should fire them accordingly. No one complains about such thing. He should waste no time to rid the system of elements who are capable of betraying his vision and derailing his mission. At the end of the day, Nigerians will hold him responsible for his performance during his tenure, the same way they held his predecessor.
But beyond the immediate action or inaction of the president, it is important to do a proper diagnosis on why there could still be such elements within the Buhari government. It appears that the Nigerian president is probably too preoccupied with governance to bother much about politics. For the kind of situation, he inherited, with falling oil prices and the current state of the economy, it is imperative to focus attention on issues of governance to deliver visible results. However, he should not continue to ignore politics. It has a way of overshadowing governance in a country like ours. For instance, the feeling among many people is that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is still struggling endlessly to assert itself as the party in power almost after one year of defeating its rival, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). It seems as if they probably underestimated what it means for a political party to have remained in power for sixteen years at a stretch. Such period was sufficient for the political party to have extended its tentacles to every strata of the Nigerian society. It will take a lot of effort to root out PDP and entrench APC in the polity.
It will be recalled that since the victory of APC in the 2015 elections, the president and his political party beat a retreat into an apparently relaxed mood. They have not done much to consolidate after this. Apart from a few components of their manifesto that resonate from some of the speeches of the president, little is known about how the APC will like to do things differently. The ruling party has practically lost every other election that has taken place thereafter. Why? Look at what happened in Bayelsa State and how the APC allowed intra-party issues to ruin what was a clear opportunity to take over power in the State. All the Senatorial re-run elections in Taraba and Benue have been won by the PDP. After APC had done the most difficult job of unseating an incumbent president, how come it has been unable to consolidate the gains by showing steady popularity in other smaller elections? What has changed between 2015 and now?
Again it seems that APC decided to open its flanks too quickly to decampees from PDP to populate it and even take strategic positions in its hierarchies. Some people argue that the difference between the PDP and APC now exists only in name, as there is a free movement across the two parties for political convenience and survival. The implication of this is that those who consider themselves ‘original’ members of APC in some states feels short-changed, especially in relation to appointments.
For a political party that won election through the coming together of people of diverse political persuasions, the proper thing to do after elections was to find a way to establish itself among the people. The most suited person to lead that effort the President, supported by the party to popularise the change manifesto. That would have helped win genuine converts to the party and empower those who want to promote its vision and mission. So far, it is not yet clear to many people the substance upon which the change mantra promoted by APC should rest on.
Again it seems that APC decided to open its flanks too quickly to decampees from PDP to populate it and even take strategic positions in its hierarchies. Some people argue that the difference between the PDP and APC now exists only in name, as there is a free movement across the two parties for political convenience and survival. The implication of this is that those who consider themselves ‘original’ members of APC in some states feels short-changed, especially in relation to appointments. And, others who are new entrants have now been catapulted to important positions without necessarily understanding the foundation upon which the party was built. The aftermath of the ministerial nomination precipitated some divisions that are still lingering in many states. Some office holders today are APC in flesh, while they remain PDP in their soul and spirit. Even at the national level there have been concerns about the national spread of the president’s key appointments, although he has continuously defended his position as constitutional.
In particular, there are those who consider what happened with the 2015 budget as a product of sabotage. Really? What should have been an internal party matter was unfortunately allowed to become a media affair. I will rather describe it as an error rather than sabotage. On another note, it may be important to talk about another salient but silent factor. This may be rather early but part of the reasons for disloyalty to the president could be murmurings about succession. What does the president’s body language indicate about whether he will be re-contesting his position in 2019? Who are the possible persons or groups of persons who can take his vision further? Could it be that politicians are already positioning for politics by forming themselves into fiefdoms? President Buhari needs to listen to the pulse of the street while scrutinising his team. It may well be true that some people are sabotaging his efforts or that he just needs to scale up his politics to root himself and his party in the heart and minds of Nigerians.
Uche Igwe is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Politics, University of Sussex, UK.