THE NIGERIAN FRONT: Mr. President and the Courage of his Convictions

by Olu Ojedokun

The recent silence from the front has been based on one consideration, the appropriateness of providing space for the President to consider the road map we have previously published. We consider a honeymoon period allows the newly elected President time to establish the courage of his convictions, fine tune his team and assume stamina for a sprint lasting the next four years. We believe everyone is entitled to such a period of grace, but the danger arises when honeymoon becomes a regular feature of governance and cover for shenanigans such as term extension.

After a review of the state of our Nation we are sorry to declare that the omens so far are not good and the initial signs indicate Mr. President is intent on proving the critics right. The first few weeks have been characterized by weakness, lack of direction and a continuation of the prevarication of the past 12 months. Those who thought a mandate achieved through an electoral process would embolden Mr. President to go for the sprint, casting aside special/vested interests have been left bewildered. The President is yet to come to grips with the fact that he can accomplish more in a day than most people can ever do in a lifetime.

A symptom of this is the amount of time the President spent prevaricating over the appointment of his Chief of Staff, a very intimate but strategic appointment the hallmark of the process was indecision. However, we can only hope the flaws in the process was mitigated by the fact that the President considered the following questions in the appointment:

-Is the current Chief of Staff smarter than him?
-Would he trust him with his life?
-Will he keep the wheel of government turning?

If Mr. President has been unable to process the answers to these questions then we appear to be in for more of the same, lethargy, weakness and prevarication disguised as governance.

Then there is the saga in the recent composition of the ministerial list, supposedly drawn up in our very own ‘Camp David’. The list was forwarded to the Senate with names of nominees who had already undergone necessary security checks and then at a moment’s notice withdrawn just before being screened by the Senate. What is puzzling, is the government is still unable or is incapable of offering any form of explanation whatsoever for the shambles of the process. In this failure he demonstrates his inability to hold on to the courage of his convictions and escape the narrow party interests.

We are also concerned with the handling of the Boko Haram crises, which has bordered on appeasement rather than dealing with the roots and causes. We remind the President that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the empire free of the fear of molestation. He could walk across unharmed, cloaked only in the protection of the words civis Romanus — I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally certain, should any harm befall even one of her citizens.

Now we ask where was the protection for the countless numbers of Nigerians that have been murdered by Boko Haram? Where was the retribution for the families, and where is the warning to the rest of the group that Nigerians shall walk this length and breadth of its land unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the mighty military force comes crashing down on their houses? In other words, Mr. President what are you doing about Boko Haram?

What about the war on corruption? Is Mr. President serious about such a war? We suggest that for any war to succeed it needs heroes and not cowards, however, there are limited signs that it is forming the highest of his priorities. We have the spectacle of the current Attorney General trying to hobble the powers of prosecution of the EFCC. Further doubts are raised about Mr President’s seriousness when one understands that Mr. Francis Ugochukwu Elechi, the nominee for the Chair of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission is a card carrying member of the ruling party. We suggest seriousness should start with a Presidential communication to the nation along these lines:

More than any time in recent history, Nigeria’s destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with the evil of corruption. Yet the true measure of a people’s strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. Every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet the challenge of corruption, we look up and we are reminded that the capacity may well be limitless. In our war against corruption I realise this is a time for Nigerian heroes and I am prepared to go down fighting corruption as one. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for Nigerian heroes and we will fight the root causes of corruption and ensure accountability is restored.”

In conclusion we refer to an article written in the first few months of term of the previous President:

“A pattern, one, that seems to have emerged with this President, is a recurring theme that maybe crucial in the understanding of the character of his administration. I see in the many government actions or inactions rarely any capacity for straightforwardness, directness or transparency. For it appears it is congenitally incapable of being frank, clear or assertive. Furthermore in my limited perception I believe this administration is playing some complex, convoluted game while Nigeria stagnates. President Yar’Adua’s return, rather than a return to the routine of governance has been fraught with ambiguities, knee-deep in complications with hidden meanings, veiled power-struggles, passive-aggressions and paranoid confusions. The Nigerian President’s handlers seem perversely determined to make everything as difficult as possible for his administration and for the country.”

We do hope history is not about to repeat itself with this new President.
However, it would be wrong to limit the critique to Mr President when we have a legislature that took the earliest opportunity after being sworn in to proceed on recess and has been unable to constitute the committees necessary for its oversight function of the executive. Some would suggest this is amateur hour all the way but we will remain steadfast on the front.

Dr. Olu Ojedokun writes on behalf of The Nigerian Front.

Signed by the following Representatives of The Nigerian Front: Mr. Remi Jibowu, Dr. Onochie Okoye, Alh Ismaila Zakari, Prince Asuquo Ibok, Mr. Bashar Dankaro and Dr. Olu Ojedokun

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