Buhari should listen to Nigerians -By Robert Obioha

Filed under: National Issues |

Dear Nigerian Citizen, Buhari is Not Your Baba -By Elor Nkereuwem


When President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office over two months ago, Nigerians’ expectations were so high. It was so high because of the lofty promises and the media blitz that preceded his coming to power via a democratic process. Buhari’s first coming to power was through the barrel of the gun and he was adjudged to be dictatorial at that time. That is why the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo pontificated that the worst civilian administration is better than the most benevolent military regime or something like that.

While Awolowo’s position is debatable, its import cannot be lost on us in this clime where every military rule means erosion of personal freedoms and fundamental human rights. The irony of our leadership styles so far is that whether in military or civilian regimes, Nigeria’s destiny has been toyed with and our rights abridged through one inimical policy or the other. That is why our 55 years of independence has not much translated to the people’s welfare and fulfillment. It appears that the post-independence disillusionment is still very much with us. Hence, we still pray for water, light, food, health, roads, peace and security.

Every epoch, whether military or civilian produces its praise singers, while the masses wallow in abject poverty, want and deprivation. No year is good for the poor man seems to be the lot of most Nigerians.
Since independence, we have grappled with the problem of post-colonial nations like corruption, nepotism, falsification of census figures, political violence, coups, civil war, religious crisis, separatist movements, and militancy. All other countries in Africa and Asia that shared similar colonial experiences with us have solved theirs and moved on but here we are still talking of how to restructure the country, how to select our leaders, how to confront our ugly past, how to exclude some sections from governance and how to distribute government development according to percentage of votes the president received from each zone.

Not done yet, we are still debating which regime to probe and which not to probe, the ministers to probe and those we should not touch, those that will make our ministerial list and those that will not make it.

This is not the Nigeria our founding fathers dream; it is never the Nigeria of my dream and I believe this is not the Nigeria most of the citizens dreamt of. Nigeria is a great disappointment to her people, Africa and the black race. Nigerians from Port Harcourt to Kano and from Maiduguri to Lagos and from Lagos to Onitsha loved and cared for each another. The tribes that form Nigeria today have lived and traded with one another before colonialism. But, we are now more divided by politics and religion than tribe.

Prior to the 2015 general elections, Buhari came to us as a born-again democrat and miracle worker. He even bore names and wore attires that suggested his changed status as a pan-Nigerian citizen. He vowed to be truly Nigerian.

And during his inauguration, Buhari pronounced antithetically that he belongs to all and belongs to no one. Many have tried to explain what the Daura-born General meant but to no avail. But his actions so far tend to suggest that he belongs more to his people than to all of us. His appointments so far had demonstrated this pandering to the North.

He has talked tough on the war against corruption. His decision to probe only the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration is not proper. Apart from being selective, the outcome is predictable. It smells more of a witch-hunt. Chief John Oyegun’s defence of this selective probe is shallow. Buhari should listen to Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose’s stand on the matter.

Buhari should not forget that one probe may lead to another and may even cut across political parties and individuals including those in All Progressives Congress (APC). Buhari’s probe should not be limited to a particular regime because no regime can actually be said to be free from corruption from 1999 till date and those before them. Bribery scandal like the Halliburton demands probe. If Buhari insists on probing Jonathan’s regime only, his anti-corruption war will face some moral dilemmas that will make it fail.

Apart from the federal government, state governors should be probed too, including some of those that surround Buhari now as progressives and change apostles. Former Kaduna State governor, Balarabe Musa’s revelations in this regard should not be dismissed. Apart from fighting corruption, Buhari should form his cabinet and make other key appointments. He cannot continue to run the country alone. It is not in tandem with democratic norms.

Buhari has this week made some moves that suggest he is removing the “go slow” toga with the shake-up at NNPC. He should follow it up with the appointment of ministers and the remaining key ones forthwith. It is not complimentary staying beyond two months after inauguration without a cabinet. The September date is damn too long. Buhari should break his silence over what his administration will do with the recommendations of the National Conference.

Some critics have criticized his appointment of his clansman as Director of State Service (DSS) boss. They have also criticized his appointment of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Buhari should be worried by these criticisms.

It is imperative that Buhari listens to Nigerians and address their concerns. After all governance and development is about people. No one man can do it alone. There is no way Buhari can rule this country effectively without restructuring it. The National Assembly should take the issue of restructuring the country up and ensure that there is a legal framework to ensure its realization.

We need strong democratic institutions and not strong men. We have had enough of strong men in power. Buhari should act like a true democrat he claimed he was during the campaigns.

He should form his cabinet now because governance is not a private affair. Nigeria is our collective enterprise. Together, we shall rebuild it.