HISTORY OF PRESIDENT BUHARI’S public life, as military Head of State, in politics, and now President of Nigeria, has not been to his credit. It showed leadership of “inflexibility, dissension, dictatorship, muzzling public voices and opinions, gagging freedom of expression, taming the media, uncertainty and stagnation in national life”.
HE CONTESTED presidential elections thrice. Three times, he failed. In 2015, riding on popular goodwill from Nigerians, on the platform of All Progressive Congress, APC, Buhari emerged president of Nigeria.
BEFORE AND AFTER his election as president, Buhari flaunted to Nigerians, what seemed a new personality and new leadership characteristic blueprint. First, that he was a “repentant democrat”. Second, that “he belonged to everyone, but belonged to nobody”. According to analysts, these statements implied he would be a “servant leader”, perhaps, entirely departing from his past leadership records.
FIVE YEARS on, and counting, Buhari’s leadership in government, has placed Nigeria as a recluse nation at a cross-road, bleeding from leadership failure and direction. Nigeria and its citizens groaning in unprecedented economic hardship, perverse injustice, insensitive leadership, restiveness across the nation, and widening the division among ethnic and regional groups.
This SPECIAL REPORT, reflects on a Systematic Denigration Of National Hope, by Buhari’s government.
LESSON OF POWER, initially, when Buhari emerged president in 2015, was that his government will rekindle national hope. Hope for good leadership, and hope for good governance. Buhari’s government was not the first to rekindle hope to the nation when new government emerged. Hopes were renewed and dashed, many times in the past. Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Musa Yar’dua, Goodluck Jonathan – all past leaders, rekindled national aspiration and hope when they emerged. Hopes they dashed.
Political and economic analysts, however, say, no government in Nigeria has, so blatantly, disregarded legitimate public outcry and calls for popular policies to better the lots of the nation, as Buhari’s presidency. When the slightest pressure builds up, on popular demands, on any particular issues in the country, for the president to act on, the usual response from Buhari’s presidency was that the “government was in control, and cannot be rushed or pressured” to act on issues of national interest.
The president’s actions, observers noted, gives the impression that Buhari governs the country as personal estate. The concept of collective leadership has been absent in his government, and substituted it by “ill-advised unilateral actions”. And government’s hostile disposition and reactions to public criticism and opinion, have been suffocating national development and growth.
The results, they say, are seen in the present state of uncertainty and stagnation in the country. Propelled and perpetrated by a small group, whose interest is parochial and primordial, and not progressive national agenda for the country. Nigeria’s national life has continued to be plagued by “misdirection and ill-motivated power play”.
President Buhari attributes slow pace of actions by his government to what he often described as “enormity” of problems his government inherited from the previous administration. Observers noted, however, that while there were problems left behind by the previous administration, there has not been positive “change” achieved by his administration. Five years in office was sufficient for his government to make significant progress in governance.
PRESIDENT’S BUHARI’S TRIP to Lagos, Sunday, November 8, represented by government delegation, headed by the president’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, to meet south-west leaders and traditional rulers, on the aftermath of #EndSARS protests, has been quite revealing. The Yoruba leaders told the president to, urgently and practically, take steps to return the country to true federalism, and avert resurgence of further destruction of lives and properties in the country – including states, national, private sector and individual assets; as well as save the nation from disintegration.
Thirteen-point communique was issued after the consultation. They include the demand from the president for the “review of the report of various constitutional conferences”, as well as, “the 2014 National Conference”, and the implementation of the recommendations in the reports, especially, areas affecting security, economy and equality of citizens of the country. The Yoruba leaders, also, demanded adjustment and overhauling the security architecture of the country, to address growing insecurity.
To prevent the repeat, of hoodlums hijacking peaceful and organized demonstrations, like the #EndSARS protests, the leaders requested that “security must be strengthened in all states”, and government must take preventive measures to forestall break down of law and other. They advised governments, politicians and critical stakeholders against treating issue of youth unemployment and insecurity lightly, as this could destroy the country.
“We call for specific measures and proposals to repair damage done to the physical infrastructure and economic assets of the south-west. We endorse the call by traditional rulers for regular consultations with state governors and federal authorities on challenges facing states and for appropriate recognition of their role in the constitution”, the communique highlighted.
A COHESIVE NIGERIA, with mutual trust, was handed over to President Buhari in 2015. Political, economic and social stability, with focus on national development and economic growth, was also handed over to Buhari in 2015. Today, the government and politicians in power, according to observers, are consistently, identified with failure and trust deficit. Providing the citizens, what seemed “deceitful and untrusted” leadership.
The trust deficit, in particular, seemed very high, according to analysts. They noted that the promises made by President Buhari when he assumed office, have not been kept. And Nigerian nationhood is fast titling towards “anarchy and disintegration”.
Perhaps, in reaction to the distrust of his government, President Buhari, Thursday, November 5, 2020, delegated his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, to lead government officials to parts of the country to engage the youth and other stakeholders, as part of the process to address their grievances. This was after the president met selected traditional rulers, led by Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
During the meeting with the Monarchs, Buhari told them that he heard the “load cries of the youth and children”, during the #EndSARS protests, and was attending to their concerns. He noted, however, that “To succeed in all of this, we would require your support and voice to help amplify the message. Your proximity to the people places you in a unique position to communicate and ensure that our response is targeted and impactful”.
Buhari also told the traditional rulers not to compromise their neutrality, being “guardians of our traditional values and culture”. Ibrahim Gambari is expected to report back to the President on the deeper perspectives of problems confronting Nigerian youth, from his teams’ public engagements with youth and stakeholders in different parts of the country.
WOULD PRESIDENT BUHARI, after the extensive public engagements, and consultations by his presidential team, led by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, listen to Nigerians, take proactive steps and firm decisions, to address national critical issues affecting the Nigerian state – primarily, “restructuring” and reflecting “true federalism” as national character in his administration?
Political observers, say, perhaps, the #EndSARS protests, was the tonic President Buhari needed to seat up, and imbibe the principle of engagement, to deal with critical national issues, efficiently and effectively; in national interest and overall nation building.