By Donu Kogbara
THIS week, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo – or “Baba” as many Nigerians, including this columnist, like to fondly call this outspoken old soldier – decided to publicly advise the current President to forget about seeking re-election next year.
The open letter he wrote reflected the feelings of the many Nigerians who are disappointed in Muhammadu Buhari. It was not a relentless or vitriolic attack. It contained some polite acknowledgements of this administration’s achievements.
But Baba still somehow managed to portray Buhari and his team as woefully inadequate overall; and his latest foray into brutal frankness about the state of the nation will go down in history as yet another Big Baba Bombshell.
However, I was actually more struck by the supremely professional and stylish response of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information.
Alhaji Mohammed respectfully described Obasanjo as a “patriot” and thanked him for acknowledging the government’s achievements on the anti-corruption and Boko Haram fronts, while expressing the opinion that “Chief Obasanjo, because of his very busy schedule, may not have been fully availed of developments in the government’s efforts to revamp the economy…”.
Then, after listing some of the positive moves that the government has made and promising us better days ahead, Mohammed said that: “…We have no reason to believe that…Obasanjo has any motive beyond the well-being of the nation…We have taken his admonition in good faith, and we thank him most sincerely for taking time off his busy schedule to pen such a long statement.”
So diplomatic, balanced, mature, clever, courteous and classy!
I suspect that even Baba would have been impressed by this response!
Democracy and change feedback
LAST week, I explained that I campaigned for Buhari in 2014/15 because I had lost faith in Dr Goodluck Jonathan, a fellow Niger Deltan. And I said that I had found it very hard, emotionally, to walk away from Jonathan.
I then admitted that though Buhari has done well in some areas, he is not doing well enough. And I pointed out that the whole point of democracy is that it gives us a chance to achieve change…which means that those who voted for Buhari should feel free to ditch him in 2019 if things don’t improve enough!
No nonsense posture
I thought that some Vanguard readers would contact me to defend Buhari, but nobody contacted me to defend Buhari. ALL of the responses I received from Vanguard readers echoed some or all of the sentiments in the following email from MUDIAGA OKORODUDU (email@example.com):
I read your article titled “DEMOCRACY AND CHANGE” published in the Vanguard newspaper of January 19, 2018. Let me be frank with you here that I was almost moved to tears because I felt the pictures you painted so graphically. I cannot but agree with your views. I share in your pains because in so many ways I appear to be in the same boat with you on this.
I come from the same region like you, and my belief then was that the then President Goodluck Jonathan deserved to have been voted out, having failed overwhelmingly in the act of good governance. I opted to cast my vote for Mr President – Muhammadu Buhari, because I felt he was the right man to turn things around in this country because of his no nonsense posture . Recall that this was a period when Nigeria State was practically sliding into a state of complete anarchy and something needed to change.
In electing President Buhari I thought we were going to witness a new Nigeria in our life time. Alas this dream has been dashed. Yes, like you rightly mentioned this government has done well in some areas like agriculture and security related issues. At any rate, it will appear at the moment, that there are question marks on the issue of security. The criminal activities of the herdsmen is being allowed to go on with apparent lack of unwillingness on the part of government to address it frontally.
One area I thought this government ought to have been different in view of the fact that they rode in to power with the CHANGE slogan, was on the area of appointment. Public appointment to key offices is terribly skewed to a particular zone of the country.
This would not have been an issue if the persons so appointed were tested technocrats or persons who one can comfortably described as best of the best brains; but alas what do we have, most of them are recycled politicians which explains why this government is largely failing in attaining the expected result, economically, politically and socially, etc.
I think it is painful and shameful, that this government has not been able to address some basic and fundamental challenges that has bedevilled this country for several years. For instance, electricity supply is yet to improve; we are yet to have improved fuel supply for our motor vehicles, the hospitals I can describe at this time, are still ‘mere consulting clinics’. The issues of corruption cannot be fought successfully on adhoc basis without an enabling law. The question is, where are the comprehensive laws fundamental to fighting corruption ? I am afraid, they are not there.
In conclusion, I think our present day politicians are not sincere in so many ways. What they say, in most cases, is not what they mean and this is why we are where we are. Our leaders must strive to serve the people, and should be reminded that they will be held accountable; if not today then by tomorrow, if not to man then to God.
Nobody should be allowed to be above the law. Here lies the difference between our nation and the advanced democracies of the world. Having said all, a condition sine qua non for progress of our great country is THE RULE OF LAW.
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