President Muhammadu Buhari is living up to the status of the strongman Nigeria needs at this critical juncture in our national life. Prior to his ascension to power less than a year ago the nation was roundly abused hanging precariously on a precipice of hopelessness and helplessness. Saddled with a clueless, incompetent, disoriented President in Goodluck Jonathan, the country drifted aimlessly towards a foretold national calamity. Today a leader, in the right sense of the word, has emerged on the chaotic scene sounding a warning note of no-nonsense and giving hint of what awaits those who still believe in the business-as-usual doctrine pervading the landscape before his triumphant victory at the polls.
Buhari has bared his fangs early enough taking on the many executive criminals masquerading as politicians and businessmen in the system, stepping on powerful toes and leaving bare for everyone to see his methods and tactics. He has been criticised and condemned (especially the opposition PDP) for his actions and inactions but what distinguishes a great leader from the very opposite is the ability or otherwise to act no matter the consequences or unpopularity following such action(s).
To be fair I have not yet seen nor heard of anything that the President has done thus far deserving of excoriation or condemnation. I have not heard of the President or the law-enforcement agents or agencies going after any innocent man or woman doing their legitimate businesses. Those arrested or detained so far have one way or the other infringed upon the law of the land and there is no way the culture of impunity must be allowed to fester. Critics would readily point to the ‘indiscriminate’ arrest and prosecution of the opposition, looters and lawless elements; the flouting of subsisting court orders; the lack of observation in the spirit and letters of the constitutionally-guaranteed separation of powers.
The continued detention of the national publicity secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, I was told, has a subsisting court order covering his perpetual incarceration pending the outcome of investigations into the shady deals he was involved in while serving GEJ and the PDP. Nnamdi Kanu of the IPOB and Rado Biafra fame is still being held even after a competent court had granted him bail. Ditto Sambo Dasuki. But the government has made it clear that letting them off the hook could lead to them jumping bail. Dasuki reportedly wanted to go to London or Dubai for some medical attention. While his health condition matters no sane government would allow such high-profile man standing trial for a monumental fraud to escape abroad on flimsy excuse of medical treatment. If he is indisposed there are facilities here to take care of him or is he reminding us of the “mere consulting clinics” of the Abacha era? If the billions of Dollars Dasuki wasted on politicians and politics were used to construct hospitals in many cities across the land he may not need to apply for medical trip abroad before a Judge! So letting him go might jeopardise national security.
The President is faced with the 1984 scenario after the removal of the corrupt Shagari administration. The late Umaru Dikko, the former Minister of Transport in the ill-fated Second Republic and notorious head of a Task Force on rice importation had fled to safer London as soon as Buhari and his men struck. The General had wanted Dikko desperately to face the music after discovering the staggering sum he stole. Many politicians were jailed then as draconian measures were put in place to restore a broken nation. The Mossad-assisted spirited attempt to crate the drugged Dikko back home was unsuccessful leading to a diplomatic row between Nigeria and Britain. Dikko never answered for his misdeeds as he only returned home when the political climate was favourable to him. Today, he is dead and justice was not served! Too bad for a flamboyant looter going to his grave without having the opportunity to respond to querries over his stewardship before a competent jury.
Another Dikko (this time living in flesh and blood) in trouble lately happens to be the former embattled Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullahi Dikko. The EFCC reportedly laid siege on his residence in Abuja looking for huge amounts of money, in dollars, believed to be stashed in a residential building owned by the former Customs chief. Dikko was not at home by the time the operatives arrived as he was said to have travelled out of the country to Dubai. Dikko was wanted for massive fraud relating to his stewardship as the Customs boss under the late President Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. In one instance under Dikko’s supervision, the Service was said to have spent a whooping N3.5bn to upgrade the Internet facilities!
If Nigeria must survive the monumental heist of the recent past there is need for a wholesale redemptive cleansing, one that necessitates certain brutal measures which may insignificantly violate the democratic tenets. I hold that Nigeria deserves a benevolent dictator, one capable of providing strong leadership at a time like this when things have fallen apart! To heal the land everyone must behave themselves or be forced to toe the line or get crushed! We have reached that sordid point where there should be ‘no retreat, no surrender’ in combating graft. We know that when you fight corruption corruption hits back as the ex-EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, had confessed openly after surviving few assassination attempts on the line of duty.
While we recognise that the retired Katsina-born General is a product of democratic consensus, if in seeking to make whole again the raped nation involves bending some democratic rules in order to achieve results then so be it. Whoever is law-abiding and decent in their ways have nothing to fear.
We must admit as a salient fact on the ground that President Buhari is confronted by an awful mess. The task is even more Herculean than his first coming. Nigeria of 2016 is far worse off than the Nigeria of 1984. Very much has changed since Buhari’s first coming. Between 1984 and 2016 a lot of water had passed under the bridge. Nigeria then was safer, saner, less corrupt and more united. Now the prevailing situation amounts to a revolutionary circumstance but without revolutionary enablers! Our daily supplication to the higher forces above is for the President to bring immediate restitution to a Nigerian populace braying for the blood of their tormentors and oppressors. Nothing less is expected from a great man on whose lean shoulders lie the hopes and aspirations of a people abused and raped for decades.
Nigeria is a very difficult country to lead. Populated by a majority of people with cupid inclinations cultural values are diminishing fast as people worship money and give unnecessary attention to wealth and the wealthy in the society. With corruption very rampant we are tangled in a fictional midday darkness, a dreadful situation that requires ‘dreadful’ solutions.
To sanitise the polity there is an urgent need for the President to knock back sense into a senseless situation. While one does not subscribe to the emergence of a dictatorship in whatever guise what is advocated for patriotically is for a wholesale dismantling of a rotten corrupt system that has held us back for decades and arrested consequently the development of a nation. Whoever has a case established against them must face the full wrath of the law.
Looking at it from a critical point of view what Nigeria faces currently as national challenges warrants a state of emergency, one that would confer extra-ordinary powers on the President to arrest anyone associated with terrorism or economic crime and detain them until exhaustive investigation was carried out to ascertain their innocence or otherwise. We are in a state of war — international war against Boko Haram, war against indiscipline and war against economic stagnation. In prosecuting these wars collateral damage ought not be ruled out.
President Buhari is biting the bullet — dutifully, doggedly and defiantly! And he deserves our collective support and prayers. No distractions please, my General! Remain focused and fearless as we march on to a certain triumph over forces of evil. Remain blessed!