By Funmilola Adigun
The last session of the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja provided a very apt occasion for President Muhammadu Buhari to declare his verdict and he did not mince words or lose face. He rose in a robust defence of his cabinet ministers by deflecting orchestrated criticism of his decision to retain them till the end of his first term.
In the process, President Buhari impressively saluted the courage and conviction of the ministers, noting that in the situation of serious challenges confronting the nation at the inception of the administration, which many commentators described as hopeless, “many would have given up.”
But they stayed on, united in determination to fulfil the campaign promise of rescuing Nigeria from its parlous state.
The president then captured the pure essence of stability of the government as the anchor of nationhood when he specifically stated that he retained his cabinet because “each of you has a unique skill and strength.
“We are a reflection of Nigeria we aspire to achieve, a diverse but tolerant nation where no one is silenced and where every opinion should be heard and considered.”
He enumerated some of the major achievements of the administration, such as curbing the Boko Haram insurgency, revamping food security, the diversification agenda, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, rail infrastructure and the social investment programmes. The president then added: “I want you all to leave this meeting proud to have served your nation to the best of your ability…..your achievements have guaranteed your position in the history books of this country. You have certainly built the foundations for an improved economy and a more purposeful government.”
At this point, discerning readers will realise the salient issues from which the president draws both inspiration and determination to soldier on regardless of the shrill criticism of the vocal minority escalated by media manipulation.
It is one thing to be recognised for certain ethical and governance principles and to be propelled into presiding over an elected government by an expectant citizenry.
It is quite another to be able to weather the ensuing storm of real and contrived challenges without succumbing or getting distracted.
But the ultimate success lies in taking charge with focused commitment and making the positive difference that defines progress in halting decline or deterioration and preparing the grounds for a renewed initiative for reformed implementation.
President Buhari’s political mission was defined by the frustration with the excesses of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, a state of anomie that was rejected by the masses.
Not even the former president could have accurately and comprehensively accounted for the full dimensions of the damage done to the economy and the polity, certainly not in re-election season, so there couldn’t have been anything like proactive preparation for righting the wrongs by the incoming President Buhari.
As a reform-minded non-conformist political leader with a well-informed insight into the evils of bad governance perpetrated by corrupt politicians, the opportunity of getting elected into the leadership of the country could only be the first step in a long and laborious march against entrenched enemies of the progress of the country.
Indeed, the first steps in the long march, equivalent to the first term, were certain to encounter all manner of rough tackles and even shifting of goal posts to frustrate and sabotage such that, as President Buhari observed earlier, “many would have given up.”
Giving up was exactly what the opposition-powered, elitist minority intended to impose on the incoming anti-corruption Buhari administration as a forced alternative.
A return to the bad old days of economy-deflating squandermania must remain an abominable option that requires all patriotic Nigerians to thank God for the re-election of President Buhari for a second term.
It also calls on them to rally round for the deep entrenchment of the reformist agenda, especially the anti-corruption and economic infrastructure development components, in the last four years of the tenure, appropriately tagged Next Level.