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President we have versus the President we need(2)

By Dele Sobowale

A fool if given eternity will not know what to do with it.”

Epicurus, 341-270 BC, Athenian philosopher.


Don’t get me wrong, President Buhari is not being called a fool. I have too much respect for elders, and especially those providentially placed in high positions for that – unless, like Baba Iyabo, they don’t know when to quit. Then, it becomes imperative to remind them, in the words of Elphinston that “You have had your share of mirth, of meat and drink. It’s time to quit; it is time to think.” Buhari has not reached that stage yet. He might still be persuaded to ignore Alhaji Shittu, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and Minister of Communications and throw in the towel on his own.

More than half of American Presidents served only one term and the nation was the better for it. Some, like Lyndon Johnson, 1908-1973, voluntarily quit. Johnson was elected by one of the largest landslides in American political history in 1964. He was forced to withdraw from the presidential race in 1968 on account of majority public opinion. Richard Nixon, also re-elected for second term in 1972, was forced to resign in 1973, on account of the Watergate scandal, similar to our own Mainagate, when his personal involvement was known. Leaders in civilized democracies know that the Presidency is a trust and not a birth right. They quit when the ovation stops and the sniping increases.

Nigerians now know that Buhari was aware of Maina’s return to Nigeria despite the monstrous charges against him. He was provided security and even promoted – even as he was still a wanted man. That is obstruction of justice by any definition known to man.

However, because it is “un-African” and particularly un-Nigerian for failed Presidents, governors or senators to quit on their own, we might be called upon to administer the English treat to Buhari. Shittu, leading a mob of faceless people recently announced that the Buhari/Osinbajo re-election committee will inaugurate the campaign in the South West on January 20, 2018. Yours truly will occupy a ring-side seat to watch the charade for report and commentaries. But, why wait until January 20 to tackle Buhari and Shittu? Let’s start now. This promises to be fun.

“The arch-flatterer with whom all petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man’s self.” (Francis Bacon1561-1626.

Shittu, who until his appointment as Minister in 2015, was an obscure lawyer, but definitely no historian, gave the “victory” over Boko Haram as his reason why Buhari deserves a second term. Poor Buhari and poorer Shittu. Apart from the fact that Boko Haram is still very much around, the two need to be reminded of what happened to Sir Winston Churchill, 1874-1965, Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1940-1945. Churchill led Britain to victory in a far bigger war than the bush skirmish to which Buhari is claiming credit. Yet, on the very next election after the war Britons sent their war hero packing. They decided another leader was needed. So, Nigerians should also thank Buhari and send him back to Daura in 2019. A new leader is needed. And permit me to continue where I left off last week with another column written in SUNDAY VANGUARD in 2005.



Governing Italians is not impossible; it is merely useless”. Benito Mussolini( Il Duce) 1883-1945, Italian Fascist Dictator

To that Leopold Mozart (1719-1781), the father of one of the greatest music composers the world has known, Wolfgang Mozart (1756 –1791) has added the observation which perhaps remains true till today: “Italians are rascals the world over”.  But, if the dictator and Leopold were alive today, they will discover that one nation has outclassed Italians in rascality and perhaps in being almost ungovernable the world over. That nation is called Nigeria. Of the thirty-six states constituting this geographical expression, as late Chief Obafemi Awolowo called Nigeria, two states can claim without any argument to constitute the melting pot for the almost three hundred ethnic groups in the country *. Lagos ranks first and Kaduna would come a close second; very close. It is quite possible there is no ethnic group in Nigeria without a representative in Lagos and Kaduna states each of which can be regarded as a mini-Nigeria. The governor of such a state for eight years, if he is as successful as Governor Makarfi has been, must have learnt how to promote peace among those different groups. In addition, Kaduna is also home to various religious groups, not just Islam and Christianity as well as to the broad spectrum of political positions. The mixture is a powder keg which is not only potentially explosive but which was actually detonated during the first term of the governor threatening the delicate co-existence that has characterised life in Kaduna, which unquestionably is the most congenial of all northern cities. When the religious/ethnic conflict occurred in 2001, there was widespread apprehension that Kaduna would go the way of its neighbour – Kano – where southerners left in droves never to return.

Having lived in the north for years including several years in Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Bauchi and Sokoto and having been present when several violent conflicts occurred, I had expected the worst. And indeed the large number of refugees leaving Kaduna in the beginning appeared to confirm my worst fears. But, I failed to reckon with the bridge building skills of the young governor, Makarfi, who almost miraculously went to work. Meeting with different groups night and day, mediating conflicts, offering financial assistance to the afflicted, the governor in a record time restored normalcy to Kaduna in a manner that left no lasting recriminations anywhere. Friends who had fled the state promising never to return were back a few months after and have reestablished their lives. By contrast, I cannot recollect a single person who left Kano and returned.

That achievement alone demonstrated that in Kaduna, we have a governor who is capable of providing the sort of national leadership required in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-party country like Nigeria. But the governor provided more reasons why his claim to national leadership must be taken seriously. He has achieved an almost rancour free relationship with his state legislature; being a professional accountant, he has introduced a high degree of transparency and accountability resulting in minimised corruption; and he has delivered on most of his campaign promises. In fact, if the concept of moving a political entity forward has any meaning, it is contained in the achievements of this governor in Kaduna state. I have been privileged to enter Kaduna state from all the approaches to the state possible. In fact next to Lagos and Kano states, Kaduna is the state I know most intimately. From 1999 till today, I have traveled through Kaduna at least twenty times and I have personally seen the improvements made in the state since Makarfi became governor. Compared to the Federal government, which had been long on promises and short on delivery, the governor of Kaduna state, who actually talks very little, had delivered on most of the promises to the people of Kaduna state.

After Obasanjo, who must go in 2007, the Nigerian people would be well advised to consider Makarfi as one of the worthy successors.”

P.S.  Anybody interested in obtaining the list of ethnic groups identified can write to me providing a postal address and the list will be dispatched for your use by registered mail by our NGO for a small processing fee.

Taken together with last week’s recall of the first 2005 article on Ahmed Makarfi, then Governor of Kaduna State, it is obvious that we have had living among us a leader worthy of notice. And, as it turned out, I was not alone in my assessment of Makarfi as a plausible presidential candidate.

Mercurial Governor Fayose has revealed how he was drafted by Obasanjo to survey PDP Governors in 2006-7 to determine which of them was considered the best qualified to succeed the outgoing president. According to Fayose, Makarfi was the overwhelming choice. But Obasanjo turned him down because he could not be controlled. That tells us lot about the esteem his colleagues had for him then and some still do now.

Finally, at least for now, everybody should recollect that the PDP was virtually dead two years ago. The remnants of the greatest party in Africa then turned to the most reliable pair of hands they could find to repair the damage. Despite the challenge of the impostor, Modu Sheriff, the majority trusted Makarfi to lead them through the storm of reconstruction and to safety. That the PDP previously regarded as moribund could successfully hold its convention, elect its officers and return as a credible opposition today can only be credited to Makarfi’s bridge building and leadership skills.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, the ruling party led by the President of Nigeria has not been able to hold its own convention. The President of Nigeria cannot even rule his own party.

LAST LINE: You have read about the appointments of Board members of various government agencies, almost three years after APC took over. It included the names of dead souls, people now incapacitated, father and son, and a whole lot of people illegally appointed to serve on the Board of APCON.

What, exactly can the Buhari administration get right?

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