Buhari’s Second ‘First 100 Days’…

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Muhammadu Buhari

Saturday COUNTERPOINT

By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Loosely defined, dream is not merely a wool of incredible actions, impossible distortions and alignments; nor is it always tissues of reality and fantasy welded in one’s subconsciousness. Sometimes, with eyes wide open, steeped in a state of frustration, disappointment, drudgery or stagnation and despair, we begin to visualise situations and circumstances of positive and robust turnaround. We see a pond bursting with whales, to make mockery of our tilapia reality!

 We are often advised by motivational speakers and religious ciphers to think big, and channel our energies away from the undistinguished current reality… on the wings of colourful dreams and positive thinking…into a place called El Dorado… diamond-crusted expressways that can be downloaded into reality by sheer will, sacrifice, perseverance, opportunity, and, of course, the good old grace of God, otherwise known as “good luck”.

 In my study, few hours before the “low-key” second inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, I conjured a series of dreams…it started as a wish-hint, then developed into unguarded visions of a pleasantly unusual protagonist, looking very much like the incumbent president, but behaving very much unlike our man from Daura of the past four years.

 Seduced by the wonderful apparitions, I surrendered myself completely to the sweet glory of a dream bejeweled from start to finish in “happy endings”… and this is how I visualise Buhari’s second “first 100 days” unfolding – no, exploding!

 I am seeing a man whose voice, diction, mien, and moves completely unsettle his ministers and aides. His ministerial list had been a flick of jest amongst the once-powerful cabal members who now stand stupefied at the names and designations the boss is rolling out. They had all brought their well-manicured “agreed” list to the meeting (even the ‘Option B’ list was tucked in someone’s starched Babanriga)…the stubborn and uncouth ministers who needed to be cut to size…those who would be guests at the EFCC lodge before the end of June, and those to be disgraced at the security screening sessions when unimpeachable petitions emerge to castrate them comprehensively.

 Now, Baba has somehow kept over 30 names away from them, all these months?! Only about four of the old ministers are coming back; most were on their “Kill-It-List”. And yet, most of the new names are not “really” known to the cabal. “Mr President can’t be serious…” they chorused in guttural knowingness, winking at the president, who sits dead-panned, and reels out portfolios he wants each nominee to hold. Then, he requests any cogent reasons that can disqualify his picks.

The self-appointed members of the inner caucus of the president’s kitchen cabinet are so aghast that instead of making spirited remarks on any of the nominees, they simply nod their approval accompanied with dropping jaws and teary eye-lids. Not a few are sweating in the chilly air of the president’s office. Their eyes are fixed on a sheet of paper in between the Vice President and his principal. What can be so unique about this paper that middle-aged men have grown pale and fidgety?

 From my exalted position, I can peer into any crevices, much less a small piece of paper right in the open. It is a list of 12 names simply titled “Senior Presidential Aides” – apart from two familiar names, none at the meeting is on the sheet!

 The President subsequently commands that the ministerial list, profiles, security reports, associated notes on corresponding portfolios and justifications should be sent to the National Assembly. That will be the first order of business as soon as the legislature appoints its leadership.

 As if driven by an unseen force, the President, alongside his vice and few others in his old cabinet, invites principal officers of the National Assembly to a parley. In a cordial atmosphere, spiced with eating, drinking and back-patting, the President lays out his economic plans; one tiny part is to reduce his emoluments, and that of his vice, and federal executives and agencies, by 40%, for the country’s economy is tail-spinning into irreversible recession. That it is now time for true leaders to step forward, make necessary sacrifices and lead by personal examples. The dumbfounded legislators are moved to tears, assuring that they will convince their colleagues in both houses to adopt the executive spirit, and deflate the ballooning welfare structure of national legislators.

 In another meeting with governors, their deputies, speakers and principal officers of all 36 state assemblies…the swanky crowd from different political parties hurrayed the impassioned call of the President to cut “cost of governance” so that “dividends of democracy” may become tangible in our lifetime. They also agreed to terminate the capriciously designed and recklessly implemented “severance package” for governors, legislators and other political appointees. The country explodes in indescribable joy and astonishment. Yet, the dream has just started!

 Gripped by the state of insecurity across the country, the President suddenly backtracks on merely encouraging the military hierarchy to escalate the complete mop-up of dissidents, insurgents and terrorists. Younger, hungrier and fit substitute officers are pencilled down to revamp the image, morale and vibrancy of the three arms of our armed forces, with a vehement mandate to get the job done ASAP! The current uninspiring bunch is therefore given two weeks to shape up before being pulled out.

Suddenly, the Sambisa forest has been leveled…the entire echelon of power structure in Boko Haram, IS-West Africa and other infidel-crazed mushrooms are laid prostrate, with their foot-soldiers fleeing our borders, seeking survival in far-flung caves.

 In the same week, the newly confirmed Inspector General of Police has reverted to his”acting capacity” mode, pending a review of the security apparatus and current status of criminality in the country. The Vice President reads the “riot act” to the IGP, the heads of ‘Civil Defense’, Immigration and Customs – berating them for the recent ungodly surge in kidnapping, abductions, Yahoo-Yahoo killings, ritualist binge, human trafficking, smuggling, farmers-herders mayhem, proliferation of small ammunitions, and a general sense of fear blotting the veins of the populace.

 The security officers are given timelines and ultimata, according to their across-board service review and reports. Instantly, the streets, hideouts, havens, dark spots, illegal joints, rogue routes and cartels begin to unravel, shrivel, crumble, disband, surrender. The shocking results, even before the deadline is reached, make the government pause on their resolve to sack and replace incompetent and inactive service commanders.

 Zzzzzzzzz…and the dream goes on….