By Owei Lakemfa
Many of us love President Muhammadu Buhari, so we cannot wait to see him leave office on May 29, 2023. This primarily is because he has done his best for the country. But as all honest Nigerians can see, his best is not good enough.
It is like piling a load even a lorry should not carry on a car, only to turn round to complain about the car being slow. So, Buhari deserves to rest after six decades of labour.
Besides, every negative happening in the country is ascribed to him or he is blamed for it. This cannot be correct. For instance, a crowd of able-bodied youths, training as professional educators, ‘gallantly’ engaged a fragile, unarmed lady, Miss Deborah Samuel, in a deadly combat, killing her and burning her corpse, is not a failure of leadership, but of followership. Even if this is proven to be correct, there are those who will argue that Buhari’s body language encourages this type of impunity.
Despite this situation, it is surprising that some are campaigning that he should stay beyond his eight-year tenure. One of such chorus leaders is an elder statesman and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Robert Clarke, who is campaigning that Buhari stays an extra six months in office supposedly to give the retired General enough time to fix our serious security problems. His primary argument is that the next 12 months are not enough to put in place the security measures necessary to ensure smooth general elections next year.
The arguments of the senior lawyer appear quite strange. What difference will six months make for Buhari who was well apprised of the security situation in the country before coming to power and has spent the last seven years as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces?
Then, the learned gentleman and grandpa tried to frighten Nigerians, telling us: “Because I swear to God Almighty, without stability in Nigeria, without security, Nigeria is going nowhere… God forbid, this country will go down in flames.”
So, what do we make of this Arthur Nzeribe-like outburst? To me, a wise man is he who does not deceive himself; I do not think Buhari should be taken in by such admonitions.
We need fresh hands to run government and the politicians seem to agree, which is why some four dozen of them, mainly from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are speeding up the highway to the Presidential Villa as aspirants.
Some, of course, are rough drivers who neither trafficate before hitting the highway nor indicated they wanted to stop, before applying the break. So, we need to check the driver’s licence of people like His Excellency, Senator (Dr.) Chris Nwabueze Ngige, MD, OON, the Honourable Minister of Labour.
After blowing a lot of hot air, he drove to the Presidential Villa on May 11, 2022, to intimate an otherwise busy President Buhari about his running for the presidency. Two days later, the same Ngige was back in the Villa to tell Buhari he is out of the Formular One Race to the Nigerian Presidency.
Rather than just go home or worry how to resolve the on-going three-month strike in our public universities, he chose to disturb our peace by shouting in the media:” It is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision …”
In his usual theatrics, he told Nigerians: “I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the government, weather the difficult last lap in the life of the administration…” So, he is just waking up to this realisation? Ngige has not stopped amazing me since 2003 when he and a gang hijacked the governorship of Anambra State and then fought publicly over the sharing of the loot.
Another rough driver is the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who suddenly swerved on the road to the Kebbi State Government House with the intent of occupying it in 2023.
After failed attempts to change the Electoral Law which would have allowed him to remain in office while running for the gubernatorial election, he made an emergency stop on the highway and began reversing against traffic to his office. He must have reasoned, like Ngige, that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.
Again, like Ngige, Malami did not quietly return home or to his desk, he thought he had to disturb us with some childish excuse. The reason he gave was worse than Ngige’s as he claimed to have withdrawn from the race based on “patriotism.”
How is offering to serve as a state governor an unpatriotic act? To be fair to Malami, I am not sure that was what he meant. But as usual, his speech writers who issue statements on his behalf are famished on the English Language Road.
For instance, what do you make of this last sentence in the statement from his office stating that his withdrawal from the gubernatorial race “is a commendable posture worthy of admiration coming from paragon of virtue?” Is it any wonder that the Office of the Attorney General loses a lot of cases?
Like I wrote on President Buhari, I cannot wait longer than the constitutional handover date of May 29, 2023, to see the Ngiges and Malamis of this government leave office, for they have done their best.
However, I must place Nigerians on notice that there are key officials of this administration that may stay in office beyond that date. One of them is the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele. He is one of the luckiest technocrats in our history.
He was the bridge between the policies of the Jonathan administration which the in-coming Buhari said were a disaster, and the new administration. Under Buhari, he took us to the dizzying heights, getting brand makers to design all sorts of programmes.
Today, he wants to again build the transition bridge between the dying Buhari administration and a planned resurrection of the ‘clueless’ Jonathan administration. Who knows, if Jonathan who had been blessed with power, wealth, and apparent good health returns to power, Emefiele might simply continue his beautiful work as an undertaker to 2027.
Many have asked me why Jona is sleepwalking into the APC primaries and possibly the 2023 presidential election. The truth is that I am as baffled like the rest of us; those who know are the honoured gentleman himself and the puppeteers behind the curtains.
Owei Lakemfa, a former secretary general of Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), is a human rights activist, journalist, and author.