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Ministers designate: Buhari and the sum of all good

By Jide Ajani

Does President Muhammadu Buhari mean well for Nigeria and how does he plan to go about it? Discuss!Any fair-minded Nigerian willing to interrogate the delay in the appointment of ministers would come down hard on Buhari.    That, four months after his inauguration, he was yet to constitute his cabinet. But that is where all that ends.

Grabbed footage from the video of  exclusive interview President Muhammadu Buhari had with Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hasan in the tv's wide-ranging and flagship current affairs show, ‘UpFront’
Grabbed footage from the video of exclusive interview President Muhammadu Buhari had with Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hasan in the tv’s wide-ranging and flagship current affairs show, ‘UpFront’

Therefore, observing the intelligence on display while Buhari’s ministerial nominees responded to questions from senators during their screening, last week, would cause any critical individual to overlook the delay.    From the self-confidence and surefootedness of Babatunde Raji Fashola, to the erudition of Kayode Fayemi, the intellect and hands-on responses of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the experience of Engineer Adamu or Dr. Enahire or Adeosun, it became obvious that the President may have, indeed, decided, like none before him (except Ibrahim Babangida), to put together a team of those who know. Doing this was also not as easy because some leaders of his party fought hard to squeeze their cronies in. Yet, as in all endeavours of men, vigilance should be the watchword for Nigerians.

Whether Buhari would allow these men and women to do their job is another thing.

Far from being the President’s burden alone, Nigerians must be part of the process by holding him accountable and not pamper him as has been the case since he was sworn-in on May 29, 2015.    He has been allowed to get away with so many things which may come back to haunt the polity.

This story of how not to indulge an individual should interest Nigerians.

It is the sad story of former American President Richard Nixon.

It is also the story of how not to always look for the easiest way out whereas there is a thorough way out.

Although there is yet no scandal surrounding Buhari – we do not pray for one – his handlers must ensure that, as President, he does not always have his way lest he ends up like Nixon.

Now, for a man reputed to be imbued with good thinking and intelligence, Nixon had an attitudinal challenge: He was a very clumsy individual.

His clumsiness was most manifest in the way he dictated his memos, among others.

It became so bad that a five-paragraph text could take an hour or more to be done with. Why? Nixon was always requesting for cancelation of some words or phrases or sentences or whole paragraphs.

After many failed attempts at persuading Nixon that he should just dictate while his speech writer and Chief of Staff, Harry Robbins ‘Bob’ Haldeman, did the final draft, insisting on the need for time management, his handlers succumbed by fashioning out a recording system that would ensure that Nixon would, at the switch of a button, engage the record mode and, thereafter, press the stop button when he was not recording.

Unfortunately, this suffered a discount as a result of Nixon’s clumsiness. He would sometimes keep talking while forgetting to engage the record mode or press the stop button whereas he needed to engage the record mode because he was talking.    This created its own problem.

It was in a bid to have an easiest way out that a voice-activated recording system was placed in Nixon’s office.   This appeared to solve the problem as Nixon’s every conversation was recorded.

However, this was to create a problem of gargantuan proportions for both Nixon and his Chief of Staff.   The recordings of the conversations between Nixon and the Chief of Staff formed the core of the linkage between the White House and the burglars who stormed the Watergate Complex office of the Democratic Party.   Even attempts to erase some parts of the tape led to other further incriminating circumstances that forced Haldeman to resign and ultimately Nixon too.

Therefore, whether it is about Buhari’s finicky approach to doing things, or his insistence that things be done in his way, or the overtly indulgent disposition of the once-critical media, opting instead to allow things pass because, as the All Progressives Congress, APC, Buhari’s party, wants Nigerians to belief, whatever Mr. President does – including appointing some family members into sensitive and critical offices – Nigerians should embrace him in the new-found spirit of ‘change’.

But for the ministers-designate, it is hoped that they would carry their show from the Senate into the Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, thereby setting new standards of rulership that should, expectedly, transform or change Nigeria – might we add, for the better.

On the ministers-designate, Buhari has scored – not minding the political discount some leaders of his party may have suffered.



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