It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari is going to again contest. It had been an open secret for a while that the president would go for another term in office. Pray, tell me, which of the Nigerian leader had ever felt the need to put the country first and voluntary relinquish power due to ill health or the fact that younger elements needed to be mentored or given the chance to administer the country with modern ideas? None. It is stretching it a bit far to even believe that an elected president in this clime would willingly relinquish power. Even if such individual wanted to do, the hawks and the power mongers would not allow it. Sadly, there is hardly anyone willing to speak truth to power due to what they stand to gain in allowing the status quo to remain.
But I do not want to begrudge our president his right to contest for a second term. I am only concerned that most Nigerians and especially the younger elements are making the exercise such an easy one for him. Yea, if PMB is not magnanimous enough to tell us he would not contest, the ticket should not be handed over to him on a platter of gold.
Come to think of it, is Buhari the president we need today when his performance is assessed and placed besides the promises made before he won the 2015 election? How have Nigeria and Nigerians fared since these past three years. What is the situation of employment? Are there more industries? How should we describe the state of infrastructure before and after he took over? Most importantly, is Buhari the president Nigeria needs considering the health challenges he had a few months back? Like I have always said, I do not have anything against President Buhari. I do not hate him. But I am concerned about Nigeria. I am concerned about the continued motion without movement. I am concerned about the decay that is evident in our nation. I am concerned about the lip service that we pay to development. In today’s Nigeria, little or no value is placed on civilian life. Year in year out, it is one story of killings by Fulani herdsmen; they operate with impunity across the country. There is hardly a part of the country that they had not spread their carnage- wanton killings of young, old and innocent, EXCEPT the northern state. Ever since this started, there had not been a whimper from the presidency except to repeat the worn out statement that the government would investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. The other day, over 50 people were killed in Benue state. Children and women were not spared. Is this not enough to reject Buhari in 2019, if we are a critical and thinking nation? As Commander- in-Chief, he has a duty to protect lives, it is enshrined in the constitution, but on this, he has abysmally failed. Throughout year 2017, it was the story of Fulani herdsmen attacking different parts of the country. Sadly, the government has shown a total lack of will to tackle the problem. Herdsmen had visited violence on Benue communities on several occasions. It is the same with the other parts of the country. Enugu, Abia, Oyo, Ekiti, Ondo, the list is endless. But none has been brought to justice. No one has been caught and made example of. The level of carnage they leave behind is mind-boggling. They have no respect for human lives; their lawlessness is staggering and goes unchallenged. And we claim to have a government in place.
As stated, I do not have anything against President Buhari, but his coming for a second term will not do us much good as a nation. If he had been younger, I would have given him full support, but the Buhari of today is not the Buhari, the military Head of State. He is not as alert or as agile. Foisting him on Nigeria in 2015 was a mistake, allowing him to continue in 2019 would further compound the mistake of 2105. We need agility and youthfulness to galvanize the country. The president Nigeria needs today is a digital president, not an analogue. Buhari is analogue. There is no hiding the fact that the presidency has been taken over by some people. They are known as the cabal. They determine what happens. They dictate the pulse of the nation. Most of them are also analogue. They need to vacate the scene for the younger ones. They should sit back and take a long deserved rest. They should start cultivating the idea of telling tales during moonlight to their grandchildren. They should be the ones to pass on the mores and culture to the younger generation. Sadly, they are no longer doing this.
Today, Austria has the youngest leader in the world when it elected 31-year old Sebastian Kurz as Chancellor. The other time, it was France that elected a 39 year old president. Some people would want to say that age is not a consideration and they are always quick to cite the Donald Trump example. The American president is in his 70s. But my response to that has always been that America is not the same as Nigeria. America is a made country with strong institutions. No one is above the state in America. America runs like a well-oiled gigantic machine. It is not the same with Nigeria. We have not started. We have not meshed all the parts together in Nigeria the way America has done. Nigeria is still a disparate entity; it has not achieved the status of nationhood in the real sense of it. We are hardly an industrial giant. We have not even started to aspire to be one. We thus need a young leader with vision, a leader with vigour, a leader who can think critically and act decisively. It is only when we come to that realization that we can thus begin that journey into nationhood. But I have fears, I have fears that the status quo would remain.
Apapa gridlock, national assets and Lagos (2)
Unfortunately, that is not likely to solve the problem. It would not make the trailers disappear from the road. Loading would still continue and by extension there would still be an influx of trailers into the area. It is thus important for the government to think critically about what it must do to ensure sanity on that road. I gathered on good authority that the Lagos state government would have taken up the challenge but the idea is being greatly hampered by the ‘redtapism’ involved. Sources close to the seat of power in Alausa informed me that getting the necessary approval from the ministry in charge had been a major issue. The source cited the controversy that trailed the Oshodi-Airport road axis which the state government wanted to take over and was blocked by the ministry involved until the vice president had to intervene by giving approval when he was acting president. The transfer of the state house marina was also cited, giving insight into the cold relationship between the Lagos government and the ministry. “Take the case of the TBS and the National Theatre that the Federal government is planning to sell. In the first place, the federal government does not have the power to sell, especially the TBS as it was held in trust for one of the Obas in Lagos that gave out the land to the federal government when the Queen was visiting Nigeria during the 50s. So when did the property become the FG’s”, the source queried.
Still on the Apapa gridlock, the federal government should focus on reducing the presence of the trailers in that axis. It should develop other means of transporting some of the goods to and from the port. The waterways should be developed while other ports can also be made use of instead of focusing on only the Apapa ports. The rail should also be developed such that some of these goods could be ferried through the rails. A trailer park is essential and the trailer drivers should be compelled to use the ones that are available presently and should only come to the ports when they have to load. Solving the problem should be holistic. It is the expectation of many Nigerians that the present situation does not continue till next year.