President Buhari: How Patience Will Win the Race -By Jide Omotinugbon

Filed under: Political Issues |
Jide Omotinugbon

Jide Omotinugbon


There is this clamour on the need to separate politics from governance which, quite frankly, seems difficult if not impossible. The views on this need for separation hinge on the fact that we should only “play politics” for election purposes, while governance is strictly about allocating resources. Someone whose name I do not now remember however, is of the view that separating politics from governance is like taking mathematics out of physics.

The Democrats and President Obama of the United States, for an example, won the policy war in passing the healthcare reform law but seemed to lose the politics of it, going by the different derogatory names the law has come to be known: “Obamacare,” “death panel,”…etc. which, despite the benefits inherent in the legislation, these seem to make it unpopular. The US president thought that since the healthcare law was for the good of the people, there was no need to put much efforts in “selling” it to the people. He now knows better.

Politics is not just about elections. Politics, according to Harold Lasswell is about who gets what, when and how. What is to be given out and to who? When is it to be given out? And what is the repercussion if it is not allocated at the appropriate time? How is it to be allocated for it to have value? Doing all the above would certainly require “playing some politics.” And it takes time.

President Muhammadu Buhari rode on the goodwill of the people to win the last presidential election, on the basis of a number of factors. Not just because of the overused “inept and clueless” nature of the past administration about true governance but also in terms of the perception of Buhari, who like Caesar’s wife, is generally considered as being above board. It would however be a mistake to assume that the latter alone is enough to win him the required support in the actual business of governance.

The Buhari administration is barely two months old and we almost already deem it a failure because he has not appointed people into certain offices. We seem eager to know who gets what and when but not necessarily how. He might be for “everybody and for nobody” as he announced during his inaugural address but I believe the how (translated as the process) is equally important. We all have ideas on how things should be done but according to former President Clinton of the United States, in his memoir: one thing is to know about the presidency, another thing is to be the president.

Patience is a very scarce commodity. We read in one of those classical fairy tale books of old that if one has the attribute called patience, it would not be difficult to successfully get close enough to the lioness to access her breast milk. The patience that the vulture lacked is reputed to have led to its bald head. The patience that the hornbill lacked is said to have turned it into the only bird with a protruding fused vertebrae on its neck. The tortoise is said to have had it (patience) in abundance and long enough to bring an elephant alive to the town!

For the Buhari administration to succeed, we need to give it the required support. We need a measure of patience as he himself has appealed for the umpteenth time. It is in our (human) nature to see only the things not done right. And by the time we mention ten reasons why a policy would not work, we are yet to suggest one reason on how to make it work. For some people, the glass is always half empty; to others, it is half way full. And there is the third way: playing the opportunist by drinking whatever is in the cup and letting the optimists and pessimists continue with their argument.

No matter what the Buhari administration may eventually accomplish, it would still not be enough to satisfy everyone. And no one I suppose, is thinking along that line. The saying, which has been in the public domain for so long and would therefore be useless looking for, or naming the source, that: “I do not know the secret of success. But the secret of failure is in attempting to satisfy everyone”, aptly applies. One hopes the administration would focus on tangible things people would remember rather than meaningless stuff like “Transformation Agenda” that could not bring regular electricity nor good roads. No matter what anyone may say about the Obasanjo administration, I can seamlessly talk to my mother in the village from anywhere. And there was this public figure, who is still a public figure, remarking then, while in uniform and as a minister, that telephone service was not for the poor. Let’s have something positive to name after Buhari after all is done. And it boils down to how the politics of who, what and how is played. The how, no less important than the who and the what.

Jide Omotinugbon writes from Louisville, Kentucky and can be reached on [email protected]