President Buhari must do more to counter the grave challenges of the administration
There was an abysmal lack of statesmanship in the speech delivered last Sunday, October 1, by President Muhammadu Buhari to mark the 57th Independence anniversary of Nigeria. Aside rehashing the recurrent theme in his recent public utterances that only the states and National Assemblies were the proper forum for discussing the idea of restructuring the country on which there was already a broad consensus, the speech in its entirety dripped with sloppy partisanship.
In a democracy, every forum is a legitimate venue for the articulation of grievances: beer parlour, campuses of institutions of learning, media platforms, ethnic association meetings, market places, town halls, etc. In fact, it is from these venues and their multiple agitations about what irks the people that the lawmakers, whether in the states or at the centre, derive their agenda. It is therefore a strange democracy in which the parliament generates public opinion and discourse and also legislates on the issues that arise therefrom.
However, the challenge facing the Buhari presidency today goes beyond his speeches or his rigid stance on restructuring. With his anti-corruption campaign unravelling, critical members of his government and political party are also fighting dirty in the public arena. From the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, who is being accused of sundry acts of impropriety and professional misconduct by a serving Senator of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC), Isa Misau, to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director, Dr Maikanti Baru, also battling allegations of mismanagement from the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, it would appear that the centre can no longer hold for the administration.
In a letter dated August 30, 2017 and addressed to the president but leaked to the media last week, Kachikwu accused Baru of insubordination, and called for the cancellation of the recent appointments by the NNPC. Kachikwu also appealed to President Buhari to move in quickly to save the NNPC and the oil industry from a systemic collapse arising from what he described as the lack of transparency and accountability in the management of human and financial resources.
Since Buhari is the substantive Petroleum Minister, Kachikwu’s letter was more an indictment of him than Baru. Therefore, the easiest way to restore order on the matter is to underline the sanctity of hierarchy which requires that the GMD submits his policy and major administrative initiatives through the NNPC Board which is presided over, in this instance, by the minister of state. While there are, of course, all manner of underhand insinuations that this development provokes, we must insist on the primacy of due process and the need to ensure orderly administrative work flow in the critical oil and gas sector.
Meanwhile, when the foregoing is added to the pending case of the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr Ayo Oke, as well as the lack of clarity about the position of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) acting chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu whose nomination has twice been rejected by the Senate, we get a clear picture of a presidency bogged down not only by inertia but also by an inability to clearly define its essence.
While the irreducible minimum under the current dispensation is the elementary dictum that the buck stops at the desk of the president, mounting instances of tardiness in taking prompt decisions on matters of transparency and accountability have begun to taint the personal integrity which initially qualified President Buhari for the job. Indeed, as things stand, all the raging issues of deficits of enlightened governance and lack of fidelity to rudimentary public morality run counter to the avowed commitment by this administration to right the wrongs of our past.
In all of this, the prevalent public disillusionment occasioned by severe economic hardship is being capped by a thorough sense of betrayal of election promises. Therefore, the responsibility is now on President Buhari to move quickly to retrieve his administration from the vice-grip of embarrassing incompetence, worrisome clannishness and shrinking nationalism.
In a democracy, every forum is a legitimate venue for the articulation of grievances: beer parlour, campuses of institutions of learning, media platforms, ethnic association meetings, market places, town halls, etc. It is from these venues and their multiple agitations about what irks the people that the lawmakers, whether in the states or at the centre, derive their agenda