Just a month into his inaugural tenure as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the infant administration of Muhammadu Buhari is already under siege. So early in his stewardship, question marks are already being raised by both objective and blind critics as to the new President’s ability to take Nigeria across the Rubicon of squalor, inefficiency and rank rot it has subsisted in for decades. These well-targeted arrows are being fired from all corners by an impatient horde of skeptics always in search of a single devil to blame for the country’s woes.
Some of the key accusations that have been hurled at the retired General are that: “the channels of communication between his administration and the people who voted him and his party into power are blurred, a development that is supposedly estranging him from the people on whose goodwill he rode to power; that the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East has shown no signs of abating, despite his much vaunted commitment to nipping it in the bud; that the state of the economy has continued to worsen, despite promises to improve it; that the supposed snaillike pace it has taken him to form a new cabinet shows he is bereft of ideas and; that his inability to make any key decision weeks after his inauguration is gradually eroding public confidence in the ability of his administration to bring about the radical change Nigerians desire”. But plausible as some of these accusations might sound, I, however, beg to defer, counterfactually speaking.
Any dispassionate observer of the macabre drama on Nigeria’s political stage can decipher that most of the tasking challenges the Nigerian State and its citizens have had to grapple with over the years are direct consequences of the ill-conceived, parochial, hasty and largely wishy-washy actions of past administrations in choosing the wrong crop of individuals to oversee the country’s affairs over the years. It is no secret that cabinet positions in the past were distributed to serve narrow political objectives; an avenue for compensating the Czars of the political establishment who saw the Nigerian State as their private property. This resulted in the appointment of some of the most incompetent, despicable and reprehensible characters to run the affairs of the country, resulting in the monumental failures that have become traditional hallmarks of governance in Nigeria; a shameful legacy of mediocrity; pitfalls the new administration obviously wants to avoid.
Thus, rather than blame Mr. President for taking too long to jumpstart his change agenda for the country, he should be roundly and soundly commended for his painstaking efforts at making sure that the most competent and committed individuals are chosen to join his formidable team of Musketeers. Considering the fact that the buck – of whether his government performs poorly or impressively in the next four years – ultimately stops on his table, MB should be given top marks for his meticulousness and astuteness. Were he to fail – God forbid – the same set of people blaming him for wasting too much time in putting his cabinet in place will also be the first to crucify him.
Also, anybody blaming the President for the worsening security situation in the North-East should go for psycho-analysis. Agreed that the President has promised to do all within his powers to quell the Boko-Haram insurgency, it will be preposterous – to say the least – to expect an overnight miracle in that regard. Rather that play the blame game, the President’s critics should applaud some of the key steps he has already taken towards checking the depraved activities of Boko Haram. As proof of his intent, the President, on assumption of office, ordered the immediate relocation of the Military’s Command and Control Center to Maiduguri, Borno State the center of the insurgency. The President has also been rallying the support of Western powers and neighbouring countries in the war against this group.
What the President’s critics are obviously oblivious of is the fact that wars – regular or guerilla – are not fought on the battle field alone; they are also fought through multilateral diplomatic channels, involving alliances with stakeholder nations with similar threat indicators. Had the same procedure been followed by the previous administration, the violent intensity of the conflict would have been significantly checked.
Again, anybody blaming the President for the worsening economic situation in the country must have a rethink. Nigeria’s economic woes are traceable to the intransigencies of her past leaders. MB inherited an economy in complete free-fall; a directionless, lethargic Dinosaur; an economy brought to its very knees by a combination of fiscal irresponsibility and asphyxiating corruption. Expecting a sudden turnaround in the sordid, sorry and blurred state of such an economy, would be tantamount to literarily asking to be given the moon.
For the records, the new administration, despite the crude criticisms that have been aimed at it, has actually hit the ground running very fast. Within his first month in office, MB has already shown his commitment to the tasks ahead by: announcing the first appointments into his administration with Mr. Femi Adeshina as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu as Senior Special Assistant Media and Publicity and Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure as the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP; ordering the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector- General of police to dismantle all military check points nationwide in order to free military manpower and resources for the conflict against Boko Haram; announcing the dissolution of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; within the same period, the National Assembly elected all four presiding officers, with three of them coming from the ruling APC; attended the 25th African Union summit in Johannesburg, South Africa; and attended the G7 Summit of the World’s leading economies in Germany – the first time in a long while that Nigeria was invited to the summit.
The truth must be told that MB is simply trying to clean up the messy state of affairs he inherited from the clueless, debauched and greed driven Goodluck Jonathan-led government; a gargantuan task that will take a lot of time, effort and resources to accomplish. After only one month in Aso Rock, it will be ridiculously premature to blame MB for any of Nigeria’s current woes. Rather, he should be supported in his ongoing attempts at bringing back some form of sanity to the governance of the country. Considering the gigantic odds currently facing the Nigerian State, It can be safely conjectured that MB, of all the Presidents that have been privileged to stir Nigeria’s ship of state, faces the mother of all challenges – confronting and defeating a hydra headed monster.
MB’s critics are obviously poor students of history. That is why their cockeyed, sentimental carpeting of the President should not be given any serious attention by any objective and soundly educated mind. One truth that has withstood the test of time is that every great feat is achieved through patient painstaking work. According to the common maxim, “Rome was not built in a day”; it took several centuries of hard work, meticulous planning, dogged commitment and determination, and most importantly, patience by the Romans of old to constructs an empire that went on to dominate the affairs of the Mediterranean and the rest of the known world for centuries.
Accepted that things are yet to start getting better; that the economy is not showing any positive vibrations; that the state of insecurity in the country continues to exacerbate, and that other traditional challenges the Nigerian State and its people have had to wrestle with over the years are showing no signs of abating, Nigerians are urged to continue supporting the change agenda of the new government as it offers the only feasible way out of the current quagmire. Nigerians will have ample time to judge whether this government has performed well or not. The President has four calendar years to prove himself to Nigerians and the global audience, and decide which side of history he wants to be on. But until that time comes, Nigerians must endeavour to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s exercise some patience, please!