Contemplating President Buhari’s Message of ‘Hope’ to Nigerians, By Ahmed Oluwasanjo
…as citizens we have roles to play in uniting Nigeria and combating corruption, as suggested by Buhari in his October 1 speech. But Buhari cannot continue to give those close to him the “carrot” regardless of their sins, while he descends heavily on people from other regions with the stick and expect us to trust his leadership.
In his widely published October 1 speech, President Muhammadu Buhari, once again, reassured Nigerians that all hope is not lost. The change we vigorously campaigned and voted for will eventually come, he reassured Nigerians.
With a brief reference to how past massive looting and mismanagement of our oil wealth brought us to where we are today, Buhari modestly highlighted what his government has achieved since he assumed office two years ago. However, Buhari’s message of hope cannot not be taken hook, line and sinker.
To be specific, Buhari’s disappointment with regard to how “responsible leaders” of a certain region of the country failed to play their part in telling their “hot-headed” youth about the dire consequences of pushing the country off the cliff and his stance on how to adopt a “bottom to top” anti-corruption strategy that involves active participation of citizen, brought to mind questions that border on his leadership style.
What do I mean?
From Buhari’s public declaration that he would be president to those who voted for him to the obvious manifestation of this in his lopsided appointments in 2016 into the State Security Service (SSS) in which Buhari’s home state, Katsina, got more slots than the entire South-East, Buhari has obviously failed to manage our diversities as expected of a national leader.
If the Nigerian military could clampdown on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), swiftly declaring them a terrorist organisation, while killer herdsmen that have wreaked devastating havoc across the country were treated with kid gloves; if the Arewa youths, who issued the threat of a quit notice to Igbos were regarded as untouchables and Buhari has no qualms going after IPOB, then the president is showing where his heart truly lies. It cannot be true anymore, as he once claimed, that he “belongs to nobody (an)… belongs to everybody”.
Buhari’s clannish leadership has increased suspicion and the fear of maginalisation across groups in Nigeria. It has created a conducive atmosphere for disgruntled elements to spread hate, using ethnicity to push the country towards another civil war.
Whereas it is Buhari’s primary duty to provide leadership that unites and gives every Nigerians confidence that no ethnic group is superior to the other in the country, however this has not been the case. So, if Buhari expects those who are still grieving over their 2015 electoral loss and are eager to see that he fails like their hero, Goodluck Jonathan, to help calm down “hot-headed” youth in their region, then it means that Buhari was never prepared for leadership beyond the comfort of Aso Villa.
That said, that Buhari, in his October 1 speech, could “call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn by not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption”, left me wondering if he has taken previous reports that exposed unethical and corrupt practices in the country seriously.
In other words, why should a call to Nigerians to report unethical practice be coming from the same Buhari who overlooked different investigative reports by PREMIUM TIMES and Sahara Reporters, exposing corrupt elements in his government?
Where was Buhari when different recruitment scandals were reported in the media? Where was he when Abdulmumin Jibrin, the lawmaker representing Kano, publicly confessed to how he and other thieves in the lower chamber padded the 2016 budget?
Before now, the excuse for the delay in the prosecution of David Lawal Babachir, former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), who allegedly diverted funds provided to care for Internally Displaced Persons in the North-East, was that a panel of inquiry must look into the issue before the president acts.
But since the presidential committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo submitted its report in August, it appears that Buhari has been preoccupied with how to chase rats out of his office than looking into the reports and implementing its recommendations. So, as I write, it is correct to say that, Mr. Grass-cutter is abiding under the shadow and wings of President Buhari, counting his booty.
If reports on “unethical practices” are very important for Buhari’s government to combat corruption in a holistic and “bottom to top manner”, he has more than enough reports in the public domain to do so.
For instance, in a leaked letter written to him in August, his minister of state for petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, reported the shoddy deal going on in Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), accusing the group managing director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, of awarding contracts worth $24 billion without adherence to due process.
Similarly, Azubuike Ishiekwene, a much respected journalist, in one of his recent articles titled, “Alhassan And The Game Of Long Knives”, authoritatively touched on the rackets going on in the sale of communication spectrums in Nigeria, specifically citing the sale of 7MHz in a transaction in which the country lost well over $100 million under Buhari’s watch.
Of course, as citizens we have roles to play in uniting Nigeria and combating corruption, as suggested by Buhari in his October 1 speech. But Buhari cannot continue to give those close to him the “carrot” regardless of their sins, while he descends heavily on people from other regions with the stick and expect us to trust his leadership.
His actions will determine whether the public should take him seriously or not.
Ahmed Oluwasanjo writes from Abuja.