Shall We Beg The President?

Muhammadu Buhari


By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

We used to console our helplessness by concluding our tales of horrors and such blood-cuddling stories by saying something like surely, when they start attacking (add killing, abducting, kidnapping, shooting, etc) people who were close or related to people at the corridors of power, then “they” would be forced to act, and put a stop to the pervasive terrors that tormented us then. There is no longer succour in that.

 In the past few months, people at the receiving end of blood-thirsty fiends are not only close to people in power, the powerful themselves are no longer sleeping with the two eyes closed. Trouble is everywhere. Really, they don’t get so big as the abducted ‘traditional ruler’ of the President’s home town, Daura; the son of a Minister serving merely three weeks ago, among so many high-calibre victims of the current madness.

 The fad now in Nigeria is kidnapping for ransom – no one is safe: professors, monarchs, expatriates, herbalists, pastors, imams, children, politicians, political appointees, technocrats – the bigger they come, the harder they fall (apologies to Jimmy Cliff). 

 What was once deplorable has now become unimaginably devastating, such that nationals of some foreign countries (and few Africans to boot) have started receiving inflammatory advisories from their governments warning them to steer clear of Nigeria.

 It is even more frightening when our armed forces begin to point accusing fingers inward, claiming”low morale”, dwindling “commitment” and such winnowing excuses for our unending efforts to bring Boko Haram on its knees. Even more worrisome was the lamentable head-scratching by the Commander-in-Chief on occasions when the flurry of terrorism and hedonism torment and devastate several states in the country he has sworn to protect and secure every inch of it.

  Of course, at the root of this hydra-headed menace are the long-term effects of our abdication of responsibility and common sense: widespread unemployment, corrosive corruption, infrastructural naivete, decaying educational system, soul-destroying escape into religious indoctrination, reckless slide of youth to criminality, cultism, terrorism and such vices which are admittedly the consequences of political and economic myopia, mediocrity, thievery and blatant sabotage.

 So, what’s going to happen? As we say on the streets: Na so we go dey go?

 We must tackle frontally, boldly and selflessly, the twin ogres of political and economic dysfunctions. We must do away with laws, policies and diktats that favour mediocrity, inequalities, discriminatory appointments, clannishness in state matters, spineless dependency of so-called federating states on Central cash. We must revoke and reconfigure this unsustainable quasi-democratic unitary system of government that fuels confusion, stagnation, idleness and anaemia in planning, administering, articulating and managing our immense natural and human resources. 

 Politicians and policy planners must accept that our governance structures and features, as they are right now, can only lead to further deterioration, destruction, and inevitable disintegration. It is still apt the saying that you don’t follow the same route, at every opportunity, and expect to end up in a pleasantly different destination, somehow. That is another name for insanity.

 It is however heart-warming to read that governors of the south western zone of the country, have set aside their political affiliations and internal power battles, and have met twice this month, to collectively tackle the creeping spate of insecurity and violence across the usually peaceful zone. The traumatised citizenry of that section of the country will joyously appreciate urgent, tactful and far-reaching interventions, and quick return to normalcy, peace and order. That is the only guarantee for a possible emergence of a  progressive and prosperous nation-state.

New Governors On Adrenaline

  The rate at which new governors are driving governance, we hope and pray that there is a long-term bouquet of programmes and ideas that will temper their current fervency, and make them provide the necessary amenities – economic and political environment – for the vast majority of their compatriots to feel their impact and presence. 

In Imo, Ogun, Kwara and Oyo States (typically run by governors who ascended via erstwhile opposition parties) there are threats and “gra-gra” exhibitionism, to probe and disgrace the immediate past administrations, ostensibly as pay-back for their predecessor’s failed efforts to truncate their ambitions. Already, vitriolic accusations of pilfering the state treasury, sacking of government fleet, derogation of blue-collar enforcers masquerading as transport owners/workers (they were allegedly co-joined in perfidy with ousted administrations)… and even in some cases, outright dismissals of duly elected local government officials, in spite of clear judicial intervention from the highest court in three land as far back as December 2016! 

 On this sore point, the jurists were very clear in correcting Governor Kayode Fayemi (during his first tour of duty when he sacked the 16 Ekiti LG chairmen) that there was indeed “sacrosanctity on the elections of such officials whose electoral mandates derived from the will of the people freely exercised through the democratic process”. Tellingly, this affirmation was repeated by the same Supreme Court just this month, and the governors, in a fit of ultimately futile machismo, continue to disobey logic, justice and the will of the people!

  While one can perhaps understand the desire of the new helmsmen to cleanse the Augean stables, and correct iniquities that they believe could ultimately stunt their programmes and threaten their grip on power equation in the state, we should quickly warn that vindictiveness and witch-hunting as state policies often stagnate and maroon the political and economic progress of states where the old and new governors appear to lock horns and daily swap allegations.

  We cannot wish away the possibility of vested interests and strategic “implantations” that can clog the wheels of progress for a new administration. It is even possible that such clogs were not deliberately positioned by past administrations as land-mines and detonators; some individuals simply find it convenient to cry more than the bereaved while inflicting maximum damage on corporate goals.

 We advise caution and circumspection… where reviews and evaluations of past deeds and deals are necessary, do so with as much directness and professionalism as possible. Note that because your predecessor disgusts you, in acts and facts, does not mean he or she has no disciples, deep in your new administration, who see no evil or hear none concerning the object of your annoyance. 

 Just get on with your rescue mission, or whatever task you have set for yourself, for the sake of your people.