Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja The third Council of State meeting under President Muhammadu Buhari is currently underway inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa. The three former Heads of State in attendance are Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar. Former Chief Justice of Nigeria in attendance are: Mohammed Uwais, Idris Kutigi, Alfa…
Last week, in the discourse titled, “NASS: The lost opportunity,” I began with the acknowledgement that our nation is in deep trouble and I said the situation was being compounded by the lack of true saviours. Senate President Olusola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu and others who spoke on their failure to set the path for a new Nigeria, said they succumbed to the pressure of primordial sentiments. This disclosure is horrible and should trouble every lover of this nation. If we were to put it in summary, it would be that many of those we call leaders and on whom we have placed so much trust still cannot overcome ethnic and religious influences. That was the point last week.
One week after, I am being forced to do another work to show that we are in a deeper trouble than I had imagined. There is serious disorder in the ranks of the Federal Government and general disorganization among coordinate agencies. It is messy, disgraceful, embarrassing and constitutes far bigger threat to the survival of our nation than Boko Haram and hunger put together. It is now a settled matter that President Muhammadu Buhari is sick, but if you ask me, I would say very sick. He has been away for a very long time for treatment. The Constitution says if he is not available, the Vice President should take over in acting capacity. This we have done and that is where it stops.
The Acting President is not functional. If the flashes of administrative excellence he displayed the first time he acted are anything to go by, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo wants to work but it would seem the same enemies of this nation are throwing up negative attitudes to make things difficult for him and by extension, our nation. The problem of this nation is not that it is so big and thus unmanageable, but it is that a few persons from a known section of this country have conspired to arrogate to themselves the nation and nothing should happen outside their dreams and thoughts. This is why the nation is boiling and in spite of this they are not willing to let go or change for good.
As you read this, I see enough signs to show that the presidency is in disorder. Few weeks ago, the Office of the Acting President published an intention to have two ministerial nominees cleared by the Senate sworn in. At the time the statement was released, the two spokesmen of the President were made a statement that they were not aware and in fact, it was not in the plan. Few minutes after, they said the disclosure did not follow the normal protocol for issuing presidential statements. I am still wondering what that protocol is, perhaps somebody else has to vet and approve before the media department can let Nigerians know what their president has said. Not too long ago, the Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, had to publicly contradict the President and the issue was Ibrahim Magu and the chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The President said Magu would stay, Senate confirmation or not, Malami and Mohammed did not waste time to counter him, and in doing so they were so rude to the point of telling the President he was on his own. Two weeks ago, the Acting President announced nominees for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and before the nation could digest the news, EFCC came out with the story that two of the nominees were under probe for alleged offences. It may be true, but it raises critical questions of relationship, organization and thoroughness which also impinge on respect and dignity attached to some offices especially the Office of the President. By the time I wrote this, the President had had to swallow the demeaning pie of having two of those nominees withdrawn.
My pity for the Acting President and the nation has grown in volume since last Sunday, when vandals descended on Ozubulu, a quite community in Anambra State and killed scores of worshipers in a church in that vicinity. Several hours after that barbaric incident, the Office of the Acting President did not react but the President’s reaction had been made public. The manner of application of power in this instance is a confirmation of distrust, disorder and big disorganization. The President signing anything in his capacity as President while an Acting President subsists is an anomaly and an administrative malady of the highest order.
The other matters are the increasing visibility of the military and paramilitary agencies in public affairs. The other time, the Chief of Army Staff made allusions to the possibility of a coup. At that time I recall asking if such information was for the public and if indeed there were to be a coup, was he the appropriate authority to go public with such a development? What are the roles of Ministry of Defense and the Defense Minister in a democracy? Here we do not learn. Few days back, the same army chief was on stage to play to the gallery again with a public order to his troops to capture Shekau, head of the dreaded Boko Haram, either dead or alive within 40 days. No well trained military commander declares war in the public and if anyone were to do what he did it should be the Commander-In-Chief, who is the President. The military in internal security arrangement is a big distortion. I am still wondering why we have not developed the mobile police unit of the Nigerian Police.
The Department of State Services (DSS) is also running according to its own whims and caprices. Apart from running at cross purposes with the Presidency, its visibility is becoming such that all Nigerians should be concerned. In other places this organization is a faceless one and their operations are usually underground. But in our nation, you don’t only know them and their modus operandi, gradually they are becoming the de-facto power. “The period of grace is over, now we shall deal will with whoever goes against the law of the land,” thundered the Director General of the DSS, as he rea the riot act. The DSS boss spoke like the Commander-In-Chief. The question would be to who, citizens, animals or invading barbarians?