“POLITICS”, Winston Churchill, the World War 2 British prime minister once said, “is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once but in politics many times.” If truth be told, we would readily agree that Buhari has died many times since he decided to take his full political rights. It started with the misinterpretation of his noble intention to bring back sanity to the nation for the brief months he served as military head of state; even the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), which many patriotic citizens agree should form part of our culture today was discredited by the few vociferous anti-progress elements in our midst. When Buhari took the needed plunge into partisan politics, his case became a different issue. The argument became why and this was happening at a time several others of similar training with Buhari had made the foray and had even become elected president or givernors. Since this gentleman and great patriot became president, in spite of manifest good intentions, he has virtually been under massive criticism and doubt in a manner alien to true democratic culture.
The president has four years to prove whether he is an effective leader or not and if that is the case, any leader can determine his style and choice of strategies. Sometimes leaders choose to follow general opinion. There is nothing wrong with this but the truth is this method suits revolutionary interventions when a group seizes power unlawfully and through bloody means and then desires to quickly establish a justification for what is obviously a wrong act, so they take to general opinion including such brazen acts like the release of some criminals from prison and giving away state funds to those they consider the masses. Often this kind of response is not deep-rooted, grounded resolutions and solutions are products of what scholars describe as popular views. Popular views take time to emerge, and often outcomes of deep thinking and proper gathering of all relevant facts.
This approach usually doesn’t appeal to the public because it takes time and energy to arrive at, and these are what a society in deep mess like ours requires; it is not about shortcuts and cannot be after 50 years of nationhood. Unfortunately, many of our countrymen and women are yearning for quick fixes, and to compound the atmosphere, many of us equate change with magic and are gradually making the nation hostile for progressive development. I think there is a sense in what Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders of America, said when he observed that “path to subverting a nation lies in flattering the prejudices of the people and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions to throw affairs into confusion and bring on civil commotion.” This is what we are doing when we think that the promise of change has no part for planning.
Our assessments of government has always taken the abnormal format and produced the wrong sound bites because the basis for good and scientific assessment is not there. We have neither set of ideals (forget the verbose statements we have) nor clear and prioritized projects we want and well-defined benchmarks for achieving them. This is why both in prescribing solutions and verifying performance our views are at variance with one another. Often the partisan crowd usurps the vacuum created and takes advantage of the opportunity to service negative interests. We are neither a capitalist nor socialist nation, not a welfare state either, and so what are we?
We are talking about privatization for which we have sold vital government agencies and we are saying government has no business in business, whatever that means and yet experiences of even capitalist nations show that at this level of development there are fundamental things government must undertake else there won’t be progress. I knew President Buhari whatever be his plans would be a victim of this conflict and that we can see from the economic retreat that was organized last week; the kind of incentives for the masses and the general vision the president announced confirms him to be a nationalist, left of the centre. He spoke right and showed amazing understanding of national problems when he alluded to privatization and its problems and gave indication to protect public interest, strong pointer of government intervention especially at the commanding heights of national development.
I would continue with his economic outline but let me say that the Buhari personality is an asset to our nation. Firstly, he is sincere and if there is any other time we need sincerity in the conduct of our affairs, it is now. I am sure we are all thrown off balance by the level of impunity that went on and nasty revelations we are being assaulted with arising from the anti-corruption crusade; stealing was not just pervasive, the amounts involved left many of us wondering whether those involved are really human beings or satanic agents sent to destroy Nigeria.
If the nation has gained one thing from Buhari it is that his sincerity has at least relieved us from massive loss of funds at the federal level, and more than that, it has knocked some sense into the political class that a reaction would always trail every action and this is good for our development. Some have said the crusade is not well spelt out, that could be true but the journey of a 1000 miles has to begin somewhere; whatever is left in terms of scope should be the responsibility of the technocrats around him to fill.
Buhari is also genuine; we should be counting ourselves lucky that we have a president that is not beholden to any single individual as has always been the case. The economic retreat is good and I’m happy with the government’s intentions, on agriculture, re-inflating the economy, social security net, power, manufacturing and housing. They confirm the president wants to develop the nation from the foundation and above all, he cares for the masses.
For these reasons the president deserves undiluted support, I declare mine but even as I do I have no hesitation at pointing out a few things that have attracted criticisms: the ‘closed’ nature of the kitchen cabinet is responsible for limited perspective on some crucial issues and wrong sound bites, one of which is on the Biafra issue. The president could say ‘I understand your problems and it would be tackled’ as against ‘it can’t be tolerated.’ This style depicts strong-arm tactics. Tact and diplomacy remain strong tools in the hands of a democratic leader, there is nothing as plain truth especially when a leader operates from the commanding height, and this is not to say a leader should tell lies.
The other would be to diminish the power of internal enemies, the ministers must know what to say, when and how just as the APC governors must leave shadow and chase substance. What El-Rufai is doing with religion can be subtractive especially for a party that talks change and new standards. Finally, the president has men like Atiku, Tinubu, among others, the truth is that the citizens are looking out to see a cohesive approach and this I can vouch contains seeds that can enlarge the president’s image, legitimacy and sit him strong for 2019. Certainly, any president needs more than four years to bless Nigeria.