By Emmanuel Aziken
Some leading lights of the Muhammadu Buhari 2015 presidential campaign were undoubtedly taken in by emotion last Tuesday when some of their compatriots converged for a meeting with their patron at the presidential villa. At the head of the team was Col. Hameed Ali, rtd. the scary but yet organised former military governor of Kaduna State who served as Buhari’s chief of staff until the presidential inauguration on May 29, 2015.
Ali did not continue in that job after the presidential inauguration as he was moved to the Customs Service. He as such did not become the clearinghouse for the president as he had done previously as many had supposed.
Suppositions on what value Ali would have added to the Buhari agenda as encapsulated in the campaign manifestos remain a matter of speculation. Whether he would have done a better job of coordinating the affairs of the president and helped in truly effecting the change that the Buhari campaign promised is indeed, one of the most engaging issues of analysts of the Buhari presidency.
After being shoved from the heartbeat of the Buhari presidency, Ali has had an engaging time trying his best to reform the Customs Service against institutionalised corruption that the agency has been well noted for.
When Ali gave his assessment of the progress of the change agenda of the Buhari administration last October at a ceremony to open an office complex for the BSO in Abuja, he gave what was at that time considered to be a very harsh appraisal. Not only did he say that the administration had failed in its set goals, he lamented that several positions in the Buhari government had been taken by the bad guys who crossed over from the PDP.
At that time some imagined that Col. Ali may have spoken out of malice, having not been appointed chief of staff. However, those who know him say that the man is more broadminded and perhaps so loyal to Buhari as to wish him harm irrespective of the very harsh assessment he gave of his government.
So, when Ali led a delegation of the BSO to Buhari last Tuesday, it was not surprising that the occasion would inspire nostalgia from those fans of Buhari who were at the heart of the 2015 campaign.
Those who were in the delegation would have been elated at the sight of their beloved general finally taking his place in the seat of power after many failed attempts. However, for many, many others, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Many who were at the beginning of the struggle, especially those in the defunct The Buhari Organisation, TBO and those who have been displaced from Buhari’s court by those who crossed over from the PDP, that solidarity visit was another reason why Buhari needs help.
The day the BSO called was also the same day that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo represented Buhari at the burial of 19 priests and parishioners killed by herdsmen in Benue.
In lamentation of the killing and several other killings in the land, Roman Catholic faithful across the country organised protest marches to draw the attention of President Buhari to the issue.
It was as such shocking that it was on that same day that the president chose to approach the taunts of his former ally, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo.
Better reasoning should have prevailed despite his hurt at Obasanjo’s assertions.
The president as consoler in chief should not have been seen playing extreme politics when a significant number of victims of the violence in the land were being buried. Imagine the newspaper clippings of the president attacking Obasanjo competing with space of the burial.
It is possible that as a human being that it may have slipped the president that last Tuesday was not an appropriate day to launch his salvo on Obasanjo, but unfortunately there was no one to tell him. That is another reason our president needs help.