By Dele Sobowale
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists…worst when they despise him.” Loa-tsy, 6th Century Chinese philosopher.
After trying to be president three times and failing, Buhari must be wondering now whether it would not have been better to have lost again and leave Nigerians dreaming of the wonders he would have performed. Almost three years into his tenure, he has become the subject of derision in many quarters. Most of those who want him to go were people like me who could have sworn on mother’s grave that the man will check corruption and bring an end to Nigeria’s security challenges. Today, even his vocal spokesmen who attributed self-righteousness to their boss cannot find their voice as evidence of corruption under Buhari mounts daily. Suddenly Nigeria’s former “Mr Clean” is having issues. Nigerians now literally hold their noses when the subject turns to Aso Rock and its transient landlord. The place needs to be fumigated.
Two current events playing out in our country illustrate the ineptitude and the lack of an ethical standard of this government. Bearing in mind that “An institution is the lengthened shadow of one man” (Ralph Emerson, 1803-1882), every government is the image of the President. Buhari, according to those who know him and from what we now know is a poor administrator. Great, or even good, administrators are masters of grueling routine. They work sixteen hours a day, pore through every scrap of document placed before them and have a lot of relevant facts at their finger-tips. They are also great thinkers. Buhari is none of these. The word those who worked with him use to describe him is “lazy”.
He has never been and is incapable of building great teams because, with his deeply ingrained nepotism, he invariably starts his team selection from Katsina, Daura and Daura family. If he had been the National Coach of the Super Eagles, half of the team would have come from Daura. This accounts for the first example to prove the charge that the President and his government are incompetent.
GENOCIDE IN ZAMFARA
Every Nigerian recalls how the Inspector General of Police, IGP, not too long ago, made the absolutely absurd statement that the massacre of people in Benue and Taraba resulted from anti-grazing laws signed in those states. One does not have to have the encyclopedic record of all the herdsmen’s attacks in Nigeria from 2010 to date to know that the IGP was talking rubbish. Several attacks on Agatu including the one that caught global attention in 2016 occurred long before the law.
The massacre shifted to Zamfara State two weeks ago. Suddenly, Governor Yari, an ardent fan of Buhari and one of those who recently endorsed the President for a second term had this to say. “Whatever was humanly possible to have done, we as a government have done to mitigate this disaster. But, it does appear that security agencies are failing in their responsibilities.
“I feel let down facing the people of this state whenever I remember the promise I made to them that if they elected… Buhari into power all the killings would end. But, unfortunately things are getting worse.”
Now, which security agencies “are failing in their responsibilities”? The first is the Police and that security force cannot discharge its duties as it should as long as they have as head an IGP who is so totally confused as to ascribe mindless killer seeking of ethnic hegemony to a law passed long after the killings have started. Then, there is the Department of State Services, DSS, headed by Mr Daura (naturally). About the DSS, a traditional ruler in Zamfara, Emir of Zurmi, said: “I had reason to personally inform Zamfara State’s Director of the Department of State Services sometime back of a large cache of weapons being brought into the country, but no concrete action was taken until the containers were moved away.” So, what can Nigerians really expect when the two frontline security agencies are in the hands of such leaders?
Then, as he had done before in Maiduguri and Benue, after lecturers were killed and the rest kidnapped, and 77 died, Buhari ordered the Minister of Defence to move to Zamfara State. Three things need to be noted about this comical directive. First, the Minister also attributed herdsmen killings to anti-grazing law. Now they have ravaged a state without an anti-grazing law. Even a moron can see that the Minister is not the right person to send. Second, how many battalions will accompany the Minister to Zamfara? If he goes with his usual escorts, he is mere canon fodder for the killers – if they choose to attack. Where was the army when the place was sacked? Third, how long will he stay there? The IGP ordered to Benue spent less than a week. Was that the solution? If not, how can a president who has a firm grasp on issues continue to apply remedies that will never solve the problems? If Buhari had gone for peer review exercise and presented his “solutions” to serious national problems, his colleagues would have treated him with the contempt he deserves.
STEALING FROM THE VP’S KITCHEN – FRAUD FORETOLD
“Govt admits fraud in N1trn Social Investment Fund” – national newspaper
“NEC: Social Investment Programme Marred by Fraud” – national newspaper
Seldom does a columnist have the opportunity to tell Nigerians “I told you so”. On this occasion, it is a duty mingled with sadness that once again, government officials have been proved to be dishonest despite all appearances to the contrary. But, the sad aspect of this particular example of Made by Buhari Administration Corruption is the fact that I have been warning My Fellow Nigerians about this scam right from the time the 2016 Budget was presented to the National Assembly.
Buhari, in fulfillment of his campaign promise had launched what was to be his legacy project – the Social Investment Programme – under which four key separate projects were to be undertaken. They include: support for technical training, hiring of 500,000 teachers for schools, payment of N5000 per month to 1 million poor Nigerians and the flagship project – Feeding 5 million School kids.
In 2016, N500bn was budgeted for the entire scheme – even when the details of each sub-programme had not been worked out. That was the first sign that a scam was in progress. I was not the only one who predicted corruption taking control of this programme. Senator Danjuma Goje had made the following observation:
“There is no detailed and clear-cut structure being laid down for the implementation of this project because what we have in the budget is N300bn recurrent and N200bn capital. We had to push hard yesterday to get some details, which are not convincing. For instance, the explanation we got is that N5000 will be given to one million Nigerians. Who will choose the one million? What structures do you have in place to make sure you choose the right people?” Senator Danjuma Goje, Chairman of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation, Thursday, March 3, 2016.”
Earlier I also raised alarm in a column written in August 2016, stating that”
“Meanwhile, despite the inevitable harsh economic realities facing workers, the government announced last week that it all is set for the commencement of the Welfare Programmes promised during the campaigns. Many of us cannot wait for it to start. However, before government starts dishing out the free food and giving out the free money, it certainly will not be too much to ask for total transparency in the disbursement of the benefits. Nigerians would not like free food to be distributed the same clandestine and corrupt way Central Bank jobs were secretly handed to those close to the corridors of power. Those claiming to fight corruption must be prepared to be totally open.
As a minimum, Nigerians must be told who will be the beneficiaries of these programmes, how they were selected, where they can be located in order to verify the claims by government about performance later. Does this sound like no trusting government? You bet it is.”
Last week Mrs Uwais, in charge of the SIP, confessed to widespread fraud…
OBASANJO’S RIGHT TO TALK
“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” Hubert Humphrey, 1911-1978, USA VP.
As if to prove that he still suffers from buccal dysentery, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, whose letter to Buhari brought with it unintended and unpleasant consequences last week, pronounced that he will continue to speak out on Nigerian problems. It was an unnecessary declaration. Nigerians know the man is an incurable egotist who loves to hear his own voice. As in Alice In Wonderland, he wakes up every morning; looks in the mirror and asks “Who is the cleverest and most righteous in Nigeria?” The face in the mirror replies: “You”. His self-admiration is limitless and becoming comical.
Obasanjo, has not yet understood, like Donald Trump, that a leader who talks all the time sooner or later talks rubbish. At any rate, “familiarity breeds contempt” and a “hero becomes a bloody bore”. So, he can talk as long as he also realizes that his interventions have reached the point of what economists call “diminishing returns”. He gains nothing more; loses a lot more each time.