Nigeria And Problems Of Rigid Presidency

By Casmir Igbokwe

One major quality of a good leader is flexibility. He listens to good advice and makes changes when it is absolutely necessary. This does not stop him from being assertive, if he is convinced that his policies will better the lot of his people.

From all indications, President Muhammadu Buhari has shown that he is not flexible. Nigeria is burning. But all entreaties to effect some changes in his style of leadership have fallen on deaf ears. It is as if he doesn’t listen to news or his advisers don’t give him good advice. His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has been the one talking to Nigerians. His expertise is in countering some good suggestions or moves seen as not being in the interest of the current occupants of Aso Rock. His latest tantrum was against southern governors for banning open grazing in the South.

Shehu’s colleague and the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, last Friday, released a 45-page document, which he described as this administration’s giant strides. What giant strides? Of what benefit will it be if you achieve milestones in infrastructural development (which is not even the case) but your citizens are not alive to enjoy them? I don’t want to dwell anymore on the number of people killed and those abducted in different parts of the country by bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and sundry criminals since this administration took over power.

If, for any reason, our country collapses today, Mr. President cannot escape the wrath of history. Nigeria is a heterogeneous and complex society. It requires tact and broad-mindedness to weave the different groups inhabiting the country together. This is lacking currently and it will spell doom for this country.

Nigeria used to stand on a tripod. For any major policy to succeed, the interests of the three major ethnic groups must be factored in. To achieve some balance, the interest of the minorities must also be considered. Today, what we have is clearly a nepotistic government.

I thought the President would have used the opportunity of the unfortunate demise of the former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Attahiru Ibrahim, to correct the imbalance in his security appointments. Again, he did not disappoint, as he still appointed a northerner from Sokoto, Farouk Yahaya, as his new army chief.

What this means is that in any security meeting in Nigeria, the South-East will not be represented. The powers that be can take a decision to send the new Tucano fighter jets to the region to wipe out the youths and label them members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). There will be no voice from the zone to speak for it.   

Yet, they were too quick to blame IPOB for agitating for self-determination. They were too eager to rush to court to declare it a terrorist group. They are too happy to announce it whenever they succeed in killing some ‘IPOB terrorists’. Fine!

But, what is stopping our troops from similarly invading some forests where some foreign criminal AK-47-wielding herders hibernate to wreak havoc? Why have we allowed these criminal herders invade our country from wherever they might have come from? Why have we not retrieved their deadly weapons and ordered them to leave our country?

A country where there is no equity, justice and fairness will never know peace. It is very painful when you see your child score high in common entrance exams, yet he cannot gain admission in our so-called unity schools. But another child scores very low and is admitted simply because of where he comes from. Yet, when it comes to appointments, the same child, who probably managed to pass out of school, lords it over your brilliant child simply because of where he comes from. What manner of country is this?

This is why those benefitting from this imbalance will not want to hear the word ‘restructuring’. But for how long! They do not want to devolve powers. But for how long! They are afraid of regional or state police. But for how long! They are afraid of implementing fiscal federalism. But for how long! They are afraid of the ban on open grazing by southern governors. For how long will this continue?

I see danger ahead. Farmers are afraid to go to the farms because of herdsmen. Different Nigerian staples are very scarce in the market now. By this time last year, corn had flooded the market. If you see it at all today, the price will be double what it was last year. Prices of most other essential commodities have ballooned. The poor have further been impoverished. Most families do not know where the next meal will come from. We have moved on as if nothing is amiss.

Senior pastor of the House on the Rock Church, Pastor Paul Adefarasin, has asked his members to plan their exit from Nigeria in case things spiral out of control. “Get yourself a Plan B. Whether that’s an okada to Cameroon or a flying boat to Seme border, a hole in the ground, a bunker, as we call it. Just get yourself a Plan B because these people are crazy. They are nutters, the whole bunch of them,” Adefarasin warned.

There is still time to begin to look for the black goat. Nightfall is fast approaching when we may not see it, no matter how we search. The National Assembly has embarked on a jamboree across the states. They are collecting data for constitution review. Good intention, no doubt. But how far will they go? Why not take a look at the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference and adopt or make amends where necessary? What of the report of the Nasir El-Rufai committee set up soon after this government took over power? What has happened to the committee’s recommendations?

At the end of the day, billions of naira will go down the drain in the name of constitution review. I will be pleasantly surprised if anything concrete comes out of that exercise. Even if they come out with something good and generally acceptable, will the President assent to it? Did the previous National Assembly not come up with Electoral Act Amendment Bill before the 2019 election? That bill would have drastically minimized incidents of rigging. But did our President sign it? We are wasting our time as far as this government is concerned.

 

Re: Malami’s malevolent moo

The coming together and speaking with one voice for the first time by the Southern Nigeria Governors has revealed part of the underbelly of our co-habitation as one country; the clannishness of the northern elite and the level of disdain they hold the South. To the North, the serfdom called Southern Nigeria lacks the right to self-assertion and its leaders are serfs who must take orders and seek permission from their masters (the northerners) before espousing any idea, not to talk of taking a collective stand on any issue.

In the past one month or so, we have heard leaders whose views belie their positions, a Senate President ridiculed his status by giving tacit support to brazen acts of vandalism because his kinsmen are involved. We have heard a professor espousing a thesis antithetical to his avowed training, promoting a 19th century brand of cattle rearing while canvassing the usurpation of other people’s lands because his tribesmen are the perpetrators. There is a sitting governor reminding his people of their long memory heritage in remembering wrongs and inciting them not to forget to revenge when the time comes. And then the chief law officer of the federation electing to turn logic on its head, misrepresenting the Constitution he swore to defend because nepotism has blinded him to the call of duty. Malami’s stand as shameful and, painful as it is, is a clear manifestation of why we are how we are: TRIBALISM.

– Aloy Uzoekwe, 08038503174

Casmir, Malami’s utterance is not surprising. He has been one of the prominent trusted ministers in this present administration. He has manifested his hypocrisy through his activities. History will always remember him as the architect of PMB’s failure. He is a disappointment to the committee of SANs.

– Pharm. Okwuchukwu Njike, +234 803 885 4922      

Mr Casy, logic is an enemy and truth is a menace; truth counts for nothing and vice is upheld as virtue. The harvest of illiteracy has built a cult of ignorant followers of a fascist hero. Any state, entity or ideology becomes obsolete when it stockpiles wrong ideas.

– Emmanuel, Wuse 2, Abuja, +2348035585109

Dear Cas, from the word go, Malami has always left substance to chase shadow, taking him serious is waste of time. Their hatred for Igbo people will always overshadow their sense of reasoning. We develop wherever we set our foot. Let Malami show us a single place Fulani headers have developed. They subject their people to archaic and primitive ways of life while their elite children enjoy the allure of modernity. Woe unto them.

-Tobias Igbokwe, +2348064067302

Dear Casy, after watching Malami on Channels TV in his warped comparison of Fulani herders’ business with that of motor spare parts sellers in the North, I couldn’t but pity our President, nay Nigeria, and, therefore, began to pray for him. Reason? When the likes of Malami hover around the President, the consequence is that the President tends to forget that he is the father of all Nigerians and drifts into Fulani ethnic jingoism that further creates hate mentality or syndrome. Hence, all the unholy silence, rhetoric and sophistry that attend the sordid activities of Fulani marauders. Education is meant to distill a person and broaden his mental horizon. Is it because this is Nigeria that Malami’s education as a lawyer is shackled in ethnic jacket?

– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731    

Dear Casy, Malami, Lai Mohammed, Isa Pantami, Femi Adesina, Garuba Shehu have become more trouble to the oga of Aso Rock and to themselves. They are using their offices to destroy the country. Nigerians should now ignore them with their nuisance. Their gang-up against Nigerians will fail because nothing good comes out of their mouths. The second genocide is on across Igboland.

– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495      

Comparing or relating criminal invasion of people’s farmlands and crops to a group’s involvement in a legitimate and well-structured business of sale and purchase of spare parts would earn Malami an instant sack in a clime where the rule of law takes prominence over tribal loyalty. That the powers that be ‘are only just aware’ that our latter-day herders have overstepped their boundary smacks of suspicion and speaking politically correct. It was the same Malami who submitted that the rule of law was inferior to National Security.

– Edet Essien Esq, Cal. South, +2348037952470      

Dear Casmir, it’s not good for leaders to say things just for saying sake. In the 80s, a minister said telephone was not for the poor. As minister for FCT, El-Rufai was quoted to have said that Abuja was not for the poor. Inciting remarks by a South African minister led to xenophobia. Now Malami has mooed, thereby distracting unity. Leaders should be taciturn when making press statements and make sure they are free from fever.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +234 909 538 5215     

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, May 31, 2021

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