WHO SAYS PRESIDENT BUHARI ISN’T A POLITICIAN

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PEDULUM By Dele Momodu, Email: dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com
PENDULUM
BY DELE MOMODU 
Fellow Nigerians, I had another privilege of meeting President Muhammadu Buhari two nights ago in Abuja. I had accompanied the former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, one of the most expansive and incredibly fortified State Houses on planet Earth. I had not seen the President one on one since I was invited to meet him about two years ago, after I sent him a desperate memo informing him about how his government was losing steam and velocity so early, in its infancy.
We had very high hopes, and expectations, in his ability to bring about quick-fire changes in our dear beloved country. Notwithstanding the fact that change has been sporadic, if not epileptic, I still have no doubt that he was the only option available to us then, if we were to be rid of the rot that had become a malignant cancer in our system.  Of course, he will always remain one of the most decent leaders Nigeria has ever had. Our interaction at that 2015 meeting was convivial and I left reasonably assured that everything was going to be alright. 
Unfortunately, the government started on a combative note, perhaps, because of its avowed promise to tackle, fight and exterminate corruption in our nation. The in-fighting within the ruling party was also a matter for serious concern. It appeared the giddiness of defeating an incumbent President in Africa affected the way the All Progressives Congress (APC) managed, or mismanaged its landmark victory. That was how the Party started frittering away its massive goodwill and monumental equity. What was worse, the devil is a liar, the President suddenly became afflicted and badly affected by ill-health whilst he had not even spent two years in office. Those he left behind during his long medical sojourns abroad were too careful not to be labelled disloyal and thus could not operate full throttle. It was a period of confusion and commotion. We tried to warn against starting on such note, but the falcon refused to hear the falconer. 
Eventually, things appear to have returned to normal. Reality has set in as the President has returned back home and settled into government despite the wishes of his vilifiers. The President has survived remarkably well, and we are extremely glad he is back to his home and office. However, even though his desk must be overloaded with files seeking urgent attention, some of his staff are still busy bickering and tearing at each other’s throats. Similarly, his Party, APC, appears to be falling apart and things seem no longer at ease. Yet, his kitchen cabinet would want him to seek a second term. To do this and hope to succeed, he needs the services of some of the experienced politicians who brought him to power in 2015. Many of them seem to be rebelling. You can’t totally blame them. They think and feel they’ve been used, abused, dumped and left in the proverbial lurch. 
From the swift moves made in the Presidential villa this week, it is obvious that the President has bought into the idea of running for a second term. It is his legitimate right if he so wishes. I advised against such move weeks back for several reasons. I believe at 76, by 2019, and 80, by 2023, when and if he completes his second term, age would no longer be on his side. He would have become a Robert Mugabe and Nigeria is too complex and complicated to be governed by a leader without maximum alertness and stamina. Two, I feel the President should kindly attend more to his health from now onwards. There’s much he can still achieve in the next 18 months or so. In seeking a second term, he would have to compromise on a lot of things. He can never win the election without the services of the ubiquitous “bad boys” of Nigerian politics.
The furious and spirited political activities this week suggest that the race for 2019 has begun in earnest and that President Buhari is a prime candidate, as he seeks a second term. He called and chaired a meeting of his Party caucus, apparently, the first of its kind since attaining power at the centre. Baba’s voice was sonorous and his choice of words soothing. The glow and glint he radiated on his face and eyes reflected his innermost joy and pleasure. He mingled freely. He was full of grace and gratitude to Party members. The effusive praise for the National Assembly was extraordinary. This was a radical departure from the brickbats thrown at them from time past. This was certainly a new budding romance and honeymoon. To cement what appears to be the President turning a new leaf, dinner was even hosted in their honour. Baba seems to have learnt his ropes and is now a quintessential politician.
The APC, itself, suddenly appears to have woken up from its deep slumber. A Party meeting was called and held which was well attended. To God be the glory. No one was fooled about its intents and purposes. Elections are fast approaching. The rains are coming. Judgment day is near. New promises must be made. Frayed nerves must be soothed, massaged or even cajoled. Among the promises, there would soon be a bazaar of appointments. Even some Ministers may be fired to give way and room to bring in some new ones for deft political purposes and moves. I pray, that in any reshuffle, the good ones would not be fired while the bad ones would be retained due to interventions from the godfathers. We are expecting a deluge of appointments into parastatals. The President in the spirit of jollification says since the economy has improved, he’s ready to declare some surplus. So, we are likely to be back to the good days of merriment. Why not? Politics is a game of interests and whosoever supplies the whiff of cash is likely to laugh last and longest.
At the very best, this would guarantee another four-year term, but it would not last an eternity. A demystification may occur inadvertently or inevitably, if care is not taken and Baba loses the election. Electoral victories are never cast in stone. No one can predict the outcome of the 2019 elections no matter the enormous powers the President wields, ask President Goodluck Jonathan. Is it really worth the risk, wasting time, energy and resources on mere vain-glorification? If I were the President, I would spend a fruitful single term, like Nelson Mandela, quit when the ovation is loudest, and work hard to leave an enduring legacy. I know how tough it is to quit power, especially in a country like Nigeria where the President wields such humongous power of life and death. But the greatest achievement is never in doing and repeating what others have done before but in treading the roads less travelled by most people. It was, for me, a sort of poignant reminder,  of what can happen, that I had gone to see Baba with a younger, hardworking charismatic leader, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana, who had sought a second term in his country, but who had lost gallantly. The days are gone when the power of incumbency ensured that a sitting President won elections, almost effortlessly. Elections are also more difficult to manipulate these days. And an anti-corruption government, such as ours, should not even contemplate such fraudulent act.
For me, and despite my love for and enchantment with President Buhari, I believe that the way forward is for him to step aside after having ensured that he leaves the country in the hands of an astute, much younger leaders who will protect his anti-corruption, economic and security legacies. There are more than enough young, cosmopolitan, visionary, well-educated and very vibrant people who can still be groomed even now to take over power in whatever combination. Only a strong man like President Buhari can have the courage to change how we’ve been doing things repeatedly in the past. Fortunately, he has now had the time and opportunity to study most of his lieutenants.  He is in a good position to provide full support to those he knows will valiantly carry the flag and assume the mantle that he will be relinquishing.
If the President fails, whether in his second term ambition or in leaving us with a worthwhile, creditable and veritable leadership, all hope would have evaporated. Baba can help us kill zoning and cronyism permanently by assembling a star-studded team of leaders. The world would applaud. Nigeria is so richly endowed with human and material resources. We are not able to harness this gift of God because Nigerian politics hardly throws up the best. More often than not, it throws up the worst. This must stop in order for Nigeria to make any meaningful progress. We all know what is wrong with us and also know the solution, but lack the willpower and pre-requisite sacrifices needed to turn our situation around.
Seeing the President two nights ago, I was extremely proud for the miracle God has performed in his life. He looked as handsome as ever. His handshake was firm. His sense of humour was on point. “Dele, have you added weight?” he thundered at me. We all bursted out laughing. There is always this childlike innocence about him that mesmerises and hypnotises those who come in contact with him. He is of course not the demon his detractors had tried to paint him to be. Former President Mahama never stopped admiring and appreciating him. There was a warmth they shared which I had noticed since the President visited Aburi, Ghana, in September 2015. Theirs is a relationship infused with great respect, a truly mutual admiration between the two! President Buhari is that likeable and admired. However, his taciturnity may be his biggest undoing. A man of few words is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. The Buhari you meet is clearly different from the one you see from afar, read about or watch on television. Such is the irony of life. 
I’m not sure President Buhari needs to worry too much about how long he stays in power. He should worry more about what he will bequeath to humanity. I’m genuinely troubled about APC wasting this golden opportunity. I can see the way PDP is repackaging itself slowly but surely. Let no one underrate or write them off. If they decide to learn and borrow lessons from the misadventure and misfortune of their recent past, history may actually repeat itself. All they have to do is build a broad coalition like APC did and attract the most electable candidates from everywhere. APC must not make the mistake PDP made when it allowed some of its greatest assets to saunter away to another party. This may happen again from the look of things.
The President has so much to do if he truly wants to run again, despite the advice of well-meaning Nigerians, like me. We sincerely mean well and want him to succeed where others have failed. His biggest burden would be how to keep his Party intact and together. It would surely take more than a few meetings with Party members to smoothen and straighten things out. He would have to use all the persuasive powers in the world, and may even have to mortgage Nigeria in advance, so as to reassure some foxy and ruthless politicians that he would not run them out of town after winning the next election. Sometimes being mortally scared makes strange bedfellows. We have seen this in the recent past.
Whichever way the President chooses to turn, he has a herculean task ahead of him. It is a huge mission that must be achieved. Leaving Nigeria with a heritage of integrity, incorruptibility, good security and remarkable economy is not Mission Impossible! That should be President Buhari’s ultimate aim and agenda.
  • Mystic mallam

    Dele has turned full circle – back to his old sycophantic ways, neither bird nor mammal, neither here nor there, anything to flash attention on, and ingratiate himself with the powerful. The same Buhari whose inadequacies for the office of president he tutored us about some couple of weeks ago, is suddenly the one to leave us a ”heritage of integrity, incorruptibility, good security and remarkable economy”. Give us a break Mr. Dele Momodu, you’re simply irredeemable.

  • jasper123

    Bob Dee! I keep waiting for the day you would disappoint me! Obviously that day is not nigh!

  • Intrepid

    Sorry guys, nature has already endowed the chameleon with colour -altering chemicals in its genes, that in whatever enviroment, the chammy sheds whatever nature has given him to his environment, to defend, attack or even mimick, as this Writer always do.
    So are every specie of the chammy. There is nothing one can do about it.

    Rely on the Chammy and its specie, to your own peril.

  • RumuPHC

    Dear Dele Momodu,

    This sermon is needless. Writing a long epistle to readers advising another man not to do what he probably has made up his mind to do , is not just a waste of the readers time but very much condescending for a columnist.

    You hard the opportunity to tell PMB this hard truth when you met but sadly you must have chosen the safer and more familiar path of effusive praise singing as most Nigerians are wont to do when in the presence of power.

    That Buhari’s mind is made up is no longer news . We have gone through this route several times in the past and the signs are clear for all to see. The real issue however is where is the alternative and whether the presidency will allow the will of the people to prevail? It is the pursuit of answers to these posers that I suppose you( we) should invest our time rather than oration to Buhari to relinquish his fundamental right to seek a second term in office.

    In a similar vein, blaming Aso Rock insiders and section of APC leadership for prodding PMB to take the plunge is equally a worthless exercise. Buhari is the talisman of APC and people of little faith in themselves will necessarily need supernatural means to achieve victory in their personal undertakings. Buhari as presidential candidate of APC means continuity in Aso Rock and second term for the governors irrespective of performances in office.

    Realistically much will be gained by those of us who do not wish for a second term for PMB by addressing the posers raised in the foregone instead of appealing to Buhari not to contest via social media and lampooning those who are legitimately planning for the survival of their jobs and reign as chief executives.

    The person , the platform and the the process (3 Ps) . These are the challenges to counter a Buhari presidency to 80yrs and 2019. Pleas and lamentation or “wailing ” just won’t do the trick. Dele Momodu please take note.

  • Wikileaks

    PMB has promised to make more political appointments as part of his strategy for 2019. Hope Uncle Dee will be made a minister this time.

    • Chichi Girl

      I hope so. Then he will be too busy and no longer torture us

      • Bishop

        Hahahahaha

      • MilitaryPolice01 [Joint Chief]

        the baboon would likely be made information minister, the torture will be X 10

  • KWOY

    You give the impression you are coming to acceptance about Buhari’s second term, yet you quickly revert back to denials… It is a pity!

  • John Paul

    “We had very high hopes, and expectations, in his ability to bring about quick-fire changes in our dear beloved country. Notwithstanding the fact that change has been sporadic, if not epileptic, I still have no doubt that he was the only option available to us then, if we were to be rid of the rot that had become a malignant cancer in our system”
    ——————————————————————————————-
    This comment is partially correct and partially incorrect

    No doubt, kicking out the idiotic PDP out of power was, and is still is, the best thing that Nigerians have done since 1914. Additionally, since then, Nigeria has changed for the better. With their votes, the masses made it clear that looting can no longer be business as usual, in Nigeria.

    And the message has been heard, loud and clear: anyone that loots the funds that is meant for the development of Nigeria, is a vermin

    During the years of the locust, corrupt fuel marketers, armed robbers, corrupt public office holders and kidnappers routinely went to church, for thanksgiving, to celebrate their loot. We do not have that anymore

    Even though things are not perfect ,and can never be perfect, the sociopathic vermin that looted, and have the mentality of looting our resources, have been relegated to the rat holes where they belong

    Nevertheless, we must remember that many intelligent Nigerians did not, and do not, have “very high hopes, and expectations” from PMB, or any other Nigerian leader’s ability to change Nigeria, all by themselves

    On his maiden visit to Africa, as President of the United States, Barack Obama’s single message to Africa was clear: “Africa doesn’t need strong men, it needs strong institutions”. PMB tried to add that truism: “But is takes a strong man to build strong institutions”

    PMB was wrong

    It doesn’t take strong men to build strong institutions. It takes “critical mass” to building strong institutions. If the “vocal majority” of Nigerians are serious about change, that change will appear like magic

    They will keep their streets clean. Blow the whistle on the armed robbers, looters and kidnappers, among us. Protest injustice, or stay away from defending injustice. Call out, with one voice, for the scrapping of one of the houses of the national assembly. Unite. And take ownership of their communities

    If a majority of Nigeria’s elite do not embrace change, at the same time, no leader – even a combination of Lee Kwan Yew and Franklin Roosevelt – can change Nigeria for us

    Matthew 13:58

    • Daniel Obior

      Nigeria has indeed changed for the better, based on the perspective of the dishonest. With the economy in problem, citizens in more poverty, the country more divided with our fault lines wider than it had ever been, armed robbery, kidnappings and the murderous activities of herdsmen at their worst, the judiciary and the rule of law under perpetual assault by the government itself that swore to protect it, associates, friends and family members of the president stealing and looting with his protection, and the president himself swindling the country with the non disclosure of virtually everything including the cost to this country of his medical holidays. You sure have a sense of humour. It is however in the poorest taste.

    • Toby

      Did you hear about grass cutting corruption. Did you hear about the ikoyi billions of stealing. Did you hear about NNPC ‘s billions of dollars kwaruption?, the inspector General thiefries? The Maina’s kwaruption scandal? All under this your Buhari’ s government just within 2 years? Maybe you live abroad. There will be more scandals and corrupt practices as the sick, old Buhari attempts to die for a second term.

      • austin

        Add the MTN bribe-for-fine-reduction, Fx scams as detailed by Emir Sanusi, Aso Villa hospital as voiced out by the First lady and first daughter, and finally what we are not even talking about – Lamonde being back to the fraud unit of the police.
        John Paul is obsessed so much with 16 years of PDP that all infractions of 2 years of APC flies him by.
        He does not live abroad, he lives in Aba.

    • “Korede

      I am with you in all you said here.

  • Drake Solo

    When you were off here for 2 weeks, I had rejoiced thinking Obaigbena had done the needful throwing you out. I just found out you are still here with your weekly torture.

    It normally takes a super human to start and finish reading your articles. I can’t make out what you really put out here. The President is more handsome now , he was greeting party chiefs, Bla! Bla!! Bla!!!. Any time you visit the villa you get hypnotised and vomit rubbish the next day.

    If I might suggest to you, you should have at least touched on the Maina scandal and other scandals presently afflicting this scandal ridden govt. Does it mean you would have written nothing if Mahama did not visit?

    • Chichi Girl

      Thank you. God bless you. Apt,Apt,Apt !

    • Bishop

      The first paragraph was all i needed to switch off. No need torturing myself with Dele’s wishy washy epistle. I get better educated from the comment section.

    • LagLon

      only 2 sentences these days.. utter junk…
      tis painful..

    • MilitaryPolice01 [Joint Chief]

      My bruh, the guy is a bloated idiot, very irritating, I wonder why these guys in power tolerate the buffoon

  • Daniel Obior

    “…….that I had gone to see Baba with a younger, hardworking charismatic leader, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana,….”. This sounds like ex-President Mahama was in the entourage of Dele Momodu, to see Buhari. Again this is more about Dele, letting us know he was recently at Aso Rock. Never mind all the other contradictory waffles that make up the body of the article. Its main objective is the self adulation of Dele Momodu, the Mr Selfie. As for Buhari, he has failed and the next 18 months will not make any damn difference. If he runs, it will be another four year disaster. If he chooses not to run, he will impose another failure like him. His parochial and nepotistic appointments are sufficient grounds not to expect anything good Buhari touches. Dele Momodu should please do himself a favour and stop these worthless sermons that suggest Buhari is redeemable. Buhari is as irredeemable today as he was 30 years ago, in 1984. That is fact without doubt. The only area of doubt is whether Nigeria is redeemable after all the abuses from our leaders. It will depend on whether we are ready to bite the bullet and restructure. The country will likely die a slow and painful death, if we do not. We can choose to doubt this at our peril.