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Second term: Can Buhari reinvent himself?

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By Banji Ojewale

…We will continue to engage all parties that have the best interest of Nigerians at heart. Our government will remain inclusive and our doors will remain open. That is the way to build the country of our dream- Muhammadu Buhari, after being announced winner of 2019 presidential poll.

IN our traditional winner-takes-all approach to elections, and with Nigeria more rivened now than at any other time in our history, the only sane path to follow in order to heal poll-inflicted wounds and distrust and draw all back into the common ground, is a resort to an inclusive government President Buhari is talking about. He has also pleaded with his party members and supporters to be reticent in excitement.

President Buhari

He says: ‘’I would like to make a special appeal to my supporters not to gloat or humiliate the opposition. Victory is enough reward for your efforts”.

What you do about the grief experienced by your defeated opponent is the real test of your integrity. No matter how the world rates the contest, free and fair or biased and compromised, managing your victory in the face of your fallen challenger counts more than all else. You push him farther afield if you don’t control your celebrations.

He goes back into his closet to start another battle just when you aren’t in the mood for new hostilities. The real war starts when you have scaled the hurdle, as it were. Winning the peace after the war is the enduring victory. Otherwise your days after the triumph that should be bliss would be a blight.

So, Buhari is not only morally right with the proclamation of sheathed celebrations and a decision to go for inclusive government, but also, it is politically correct to take that way in the interest of peace. But it would require him to reinvent himself and resist some hawks around him who would insist on the party cornering all the spoils of war as the reward due them after their ‘sacrifices’ to clinch the trophy. It is a weak and unsustainable argument that collapses when we present the larger scenario of a faltering polity on its knees due to its politics of division. It isn’t a time to talk of a so-termed 97% versus 5% booty sharing policy.

So how would Buhari abandon the beaten track? The other day at a dinner organised by the youth and women of the All Progressives Congress, APC, he gave Nigerians an opaque and worrisome hint. He said those who would make his cabinet in his second coming would be ‘’men and women of integrity ‘’. He acknowledged the ‘’significant role” these played in his reelection and declared he would not disappoint them.

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There is no radical departure from the past if that’s all Buhari is going to do. It does not capture the notion of inclusiveness he lovingly embraced in the quote above. To meet the iron and noble demands of that principle of political strides towards mending broken bones, our president would need to build his cabinet in a walk with some of the stalwarts from the major and so-called minor political parties who challenged him.

Of course, the president can select from APC and friends he can trust for their integrity and unquestionable commitment to patriotism. But he can find the same breed in the opposition fold as well as in the professions. He can give his nation an A-team that we require to launch us to the next level of greatness he based his campaign on.

Let me give an idea of the rainbow I am talking about. Let him go for Kingsley Moghalu as his Finance Minister. The professor and ex-deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria is known for innovative ideas that draw dead institutions back to life. Mr. President also has the suave Fela Durotoye to call on: his incisive findings on the education sector can be deployed to halt the rot in the system. How about Tope Fasua? This charteredaccountant given to practical exploration in the sphere of corporate economic management can safely handle our budget, which in its current volume is dead on arrival, according to him. Omoyele Sowore is also available for the country. He is said to be steely for Nigeria’s staid system. But who says we need only conservatives and yes men. We want less of establishment men and women to drive this nation to the ionosphere of political and economic development. And who says we can’t also work on AtikuAbubakar or Peter Obi to be part of the team giving Nigerians a fresh breath? It’s going to be a galactic era offering what is beyond the next level. To be sure we have a great pool of talent and skills to pull from.

I’ll work harder this time – Buhari

 

Several decades ago, the legendary Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of modern Ghana, established a mega football club he called Real Republicans. The Ghanaian president picked two of the best players from the leading clubs to form the new team: Accra Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko, Great Olympics, etc. Real Republicans were invincible for years, as they won the major trophies year after year.

The club was responsible for the devastating form Ghana’s national football team assumed to make Africa proud in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Unfortunately, the military struck in February 1966 and displaced Nkrumah’s progressive administration. It was also the end of Real Republicans. And the end of the African leader’s experiment to prove that strength lies in the coming together of the best, whether in sports or politics.

It’s Buhari’s turn to validate that truth as he ponders which way to go after winning the poll.

Ojewale, a public policy analyst, wrote from Lagos

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