By Muyiwa Adetiba
I cringed when I read the word ‘reckless’ in the comment attributed to President Buhari at his party’s NEC meeting. It was allegedly said when he was trying to disabuse the minds of Nigerians through the party executives, on a possible Third Term Agenda. He had used age and the constitution as his defence. They make a very valid defence any day, anywhere. In fact, the constitution is enough of a defence. Our constitution does not encourage a sit tight President or one with a messianic syndrome. He now, in my opinion, put his foot in when he was quoted to have said: ‘I can afford to be reckless because I will no longer seek anybody’s vote.’ I was expecting an immediate retraction from his spin doctors with a message to say he was quoted out of context and for them to give a more humane, more presidential version. It is possible he meant to say he could afford to step on toes now because he didn’t need another term.
But words are words and what he said was what he said until denied. And words matter; in my trade as a journalist, in the President’s current trade as a politician, in his previous one as a Military Officer, in his position as a leader. Words matter and can be weighty especially if you are naturally taciturn and economical with words. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,’ says the holy book. Words are the expression of intentions; of the heart. Uttered words have caused the ouster and elevation of many leaders. Uttered words are causing a certain Mr Trump a lot of discomfiture at the moment. It is because words matter that our elders say in a proverb that a soft word brings a kola nut out of the pocket while a harsh word brings an arrow out of the archery.
Words matter. And because I do not want to be accused of being wild and reckless myself, I had to check the exact meaning of ‘reckless’ out. One definition said ‘Inattentive to duty, careless, neglectful, indifferent.’ Another said: ‘rashly negligent, utterly careless or heedless.’ Neither definition is complimentary. Neither is good. Neither projects goodwill to its recipient. So when my President says he can afford to be reckless, I need to be worried. I need to go on my knees and beg him. Men and women of goodwill need to beg him not to be reckless for the sake of the country. We cannot afford to have him heedless, indifferent or neglectful. Too many things are crying for his attention; for his personal touch. It is bad enough as it is without having a President who promises recklessness.
Like I suggested earlier, if what the President meant is that he can now afford to step on toes in his attempt to put an end to the seemingly endless shenanigans of politicians and the political class, or to the self-seeking hypocrisy of socio/cultural leaders or the antics of top government workers, then I am all fours with him. If he meant he would no longer care whose ox is gored in his quest to rid the country of economic and political distortions, then I am on the same page with him. If he meant he would no longer consider party membership in dealing with looters, then I am in agreement. If he meant that the processes which throw up political leaders via INEC needs to be completely overhauled, then I am in cohorts with him. But he doesn’t have to be reckless or even arbitrary to achieve these things because the relevant laws are there. In fact, he could achieve more while earning the respect and cooperation of the international community if he followed due processes and procedures. All that is needed is the will and the determination to clean the smelly Augean stable starting from his own house because nepotism is in itself, a form of corruption.It is an aberration that this country has turned into a norm. Someone has to put an end to it. Why not him?
I have lived long enough on this planet earth to appreciate the fact that there is order to the seeming chaos around us.The overarching law of nature still reigns supreme over the affairs of man, beast and plant. It is a simple law of give and take; sow and reap. No man-made laws can supplant this. No created being can escape it. The creator, however we call him, has made all things beautiful in his time. The emphasis is on his time; not ours. Empires have risen and fallen. All in their due seasons. America was not always, and will not always be the greatest nation on earth. Its season will pass and another will take its place. Nations merge and nations disintegrate. All in due seasons. Soviet Union will not be the last amalgamation of nations to disintegrate. Others will still follow. Some could even merge. But in all of these, the creator uses his creations to achieve his supreme purposes. He once used a disciple, a close confidant of Jesus to achieve his purpose by betraying him. He once used a king to divide Israel. He used a Prime Minister to divide the Soviet Union. He used a leader to cause World War Two. But he also used a leader to build Singapore. And he is currently using a leader to build Rwanda. Even the touted climate change, largely caused by man, could be the creator’s way of achieving the long predicted end time.
The point, if you believe in my line of thought, is that if it is the appointed time for Nigeria to break up, he is going to use a leader. But woe unto the leader that he will use. His linage will forever be in ignominy. And if it is time to make Nigeria great, he is also going to use a leader. The name of that leader, like Yew of Singapore, will be etched in gold. Nigeria is heading to a point where something will have to give. For President Buhari’s sake, I pray that he will be used by the creator of the universe for equity, for justice, for good. I also pray that his promised recklessness will not be read as rashly negligent or utterly heedless of the needs of his disadvantaged and impoverished country men. Now that he has said no to a Third Term Agenda, he has about three years to decide what kind of a leader the creator is going to use him for. That would indicate how he would be remembered.