By Ademola Adedoyin
It is heartening and reassuring that after 104 days of suspense and uncertainty and national lethargy, President Muhammadu Buhari returned home from his medical vacation last Saturday raring to go.
Descending sprightly from NAF 001 (Nigeria Air force One), on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, President Buhari’s lively mien, brisk gait, disarming composure, sharp reflexes and coherent and clear banters indeed confirmed that, health wise, the worst was over for the old general. Even the most implacable adversary could not dispute the fact that Mr. President looked healthier, more vibrant, and more sure-footed than he was when he left these shores some 108 days ago. His three minutes, fifty-three seconds address to the nation early Monday morning further reinforced the contention that Mr. President has really returned to resume fully and to take charge totally.
Indeed, one would not be wrong to describe President Buhari’s situation as that of the captain of a football team who had to be carried out of the field some minutes before the end of the first half owing to exhaustion or some injury.
If such captain is fortunate to recover and come back to the field of play shortly after the second half, his club’s fans and stakeholders would not be wrong to conclude that the captain, on his second coming, is loaded with new strategies and better vigor to tame his opponent.
In President Buhari’s second coming, it is to be expected that he is loaded with new strategies, that he has reflected thoroughly on his first two years and he is now set for the “second half” with winning formulae that will stabilize the polity, take the nation out of the woods and put her on the path of growth and development.
Truth be told, a number of factors, many beyond the making of the Buhari’s government, have conspired to make Nigerians high hope of positive change just that – mere hope- a little over two years down the line. For instance, for a mono-economy such as the one Nigeria operates, that relies almost totally on a commodity that is as volatile in the market place, as the commodity itself, it was not the fault of the Buhari government that it arrived the scene at a point in time when the price of the commodity had gone southwards.
Again, it was also not the then new government’s fault that it inherited an economy that had been criminally pillaged by the rampaging crowd of political buccaneers who had planned to hold the nation by the balls for 60 years before they were stopped in their track in the 16th year of their heinous mission.
The Buhari government inherited an economy that had been looted on a scale beyond believe and a people truly traumatized by the gluttonous disposition of their rulers and therefore badly desired a change for the better.
But then, this is as far as this goes. Two years and a few months later, the blame game has lost its cogency and the people are seriously troubled and worried that the pact which the All Progressives Congress, APC led federal government had with the electorate has been largely unfulfilled.
Reversing this position through aggressive implementation of the APC’s campaign manifesto and consolidating the strides achieved thus far is the yeoman’s task before the veteran warrior who just got back to his desk with better health status and renewed vigor.
To achieve this, there are some urgent steps and measures, many of them truly tough, that President Buhari would have to take if history must recall his second coming with great applause.
The first major and urgent task before President Buhari on this second half of his four year mandate is to stabilize the polity. No matter what may be achieved in the war against corruption and getting the economy back on track, if the polity is divided and unstable, these strides will amount to pretty little.
Now is the time for President Buhari to play the role of a statesman, the true father of the nation and the rallying point of all the tendencies and disparate viewpoints. Now is the time for President Buhari to rejig his team, both the Presidency Officers Corp and the cabinet, and bring on board accomplished men and women from all the six geopolitical zones; now is the time to forget the zone that voted or did not for Candidate Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 election. Now is the time to have a Presidency officers Corp and security apparatus peopled by respected and selfless leaders and technocrats from across the six geopolitical zones. It is the time for Mr. President to reckon with the fact that Nigeria- all of it- is his constituency. This will be the first great step in stabilizing the polity and giving everybody and every zone a true sense of belonging.
Resetting the Nigerian project to make it work and function better is one other area that Mr. President cannot ignore in the second half of his four year mandate. It is reassuring that the President alluded to the fact that there are genuine grievances that needed to be addressed in his Monday broadcast to the nation. The fact of the matter, Mr. President, is that these grievances are so weighty and so compelling and urgent that they cannot be left to the National Assembly and the Council of State. It is a national project involving all under your leadership.
The current agitation for restructuring goes deeper beyond the antics of some rabble rousers threatening secession or giving some ethnic group deadline within which to vacate their region. It goes beyond the misguided Kanus of the East or the intemperate Shettimas from the north.
We cannot wish away these genuine grievances simply by stating, for the umpteenth time, that the nation’s unity is non-negotiable. We cannot deploy the unity mantra to paper over injustice, inequity and unbalanced and faulty federal arrangement.
Mr President, we need to reset this union, we need to dialogue, we need leaders of the country to put their heads together on how to make this union work better for all; history beckons, Mr. President. Jawaharlal Pandit Nehru did it in India, you can do it in Nigeria.
Giving every zone a sense of belonging and addressing the genuine concerns of each of the six zones in this union will stabilize the polity and kick-start the economy. This will help a great deal in consolidating the gains recorded so far in the economic front.
In this second half, President Buhari will have to lead his government to take the country out of recession, build a strong and virile economy and set the nation on its journey into the fold of the Committee of Prosperous Nations.
Adedoyin wrote in from Ikeja.