By Emmanuel Umohinyang
GOD, give us men! A time like this demand
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honour; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps. — Josiah Gilbert Holland
ONE thing that has become almost incontrovertible about the psychology of political leadership is the overriding desire to secure “a place in history.” From Mustafa Kemal, popularly known as Kemal Ataturk (or the father of Turkey), through Abraham Lincoln also fondly known as the honest Abe, the Rail-splitter, or the great emancipator, to Nelson Mandela (the great Madiba), there is one common thread running through the life history of these leaders, namely, that, through their extraordinary achievements (by the standards of their times), they have indelibly etched their names into history and elevated themselves to the higher realm of demigods and perpetual objects of national veneration.
Every leader should have an eye on the verdict of history and that is why a good leader must push forward the frontiers of possibilities well beyond that which he met in office. Ever since he made his foray into national consciousness, one thing has always separated President Muhhammadu Buhari from the pack – honesty of purpose. For him, the goal has always been an avowed commitment to ideals that will stand him in good stead before God and humanity.
It is, therefore, unsurprising that after many years of service in the Military, occupying high ranking and tempting positions, including that of military administrator, minister of petroleum and even military head of state, honesty, integrity and hard work have always been the guiding principle. Therefore, when he was overthrown by the Babangida regime, alongside his friend and confidant, the late Maj. Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, nothing incriminating was found against him.
His untold offence then was that he was too ruthless against corrupt politicians of that era and even the military hierarchy who took advantage of their office to loot the cookie jar. Such politicians were not only shamed; they were given long prison sentences and their ill gotten wealth ceased by the military tribunals set up to look into their activities by Buhari. Many years after, President Buhari soldiers on like somebody not ready to surrender until his mission of seeing the extinction of vices that have kept Nigeria down are extinguished, despite his age.
This no doubt is one of the reasons he in his first term paid special attention to corruption across political lines. The speed with which he has moved in his second term is awesome, clearly showing he does care who ox is gored. Buhari is a no nonsense leader who prefers his work to speak for him, and that he has clearly demonstrated in every facet of our national life.
As somebody who has worked with him, I have come to further appreciate him as an enigma, tireless and bountiful in his desire for a better and prosperous Nigeria. He is an unusual politician because this Buhari will not double-speak. That is why he has remained constant like the Northern star. May be because of the depth of his professional training, personal conviction and faith, he freely expresses his views, not minding the backlash that may ensue. But these do not take away the fact that he is a dedicated family man, defender of the poor and teetotaler with a puritanism social life and clinical political attitude.
His guiding principle is that when he gives you an assignment, he gives all the necessary support for you to thrive. Those who call him ‘Baba go slow’ have finally eaten their words, as the president has demonstrated that he is not slow after all. He has used his second term to let us know that he used his first to lay a foundation of growth and development which is today impacting positively on the nation and her people.
For instance, in the area of transportation, the nation is set to be linked by railways as this administration is fast laying rail tracks across the country, even in areas like the South-East, which the president received the least votes. It is the credit of the Buhari administration that the rail project is connecting to Apapa and Tin Island ports, the nation’s gold mine, to ease vehicular movement and ensure longevity of the roads.
The story is the same across all critical sectors of the nation’s economy, which is fast gaining a rebound as a result of deep thinking, honesty and commitment on the part of this administration. This is in addition to the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, East-West road, second Niger bridge which are at commendable stages, after many years of neglect under the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Even the 2020 budget was passed within a record less than two months, by the National Assembly due to the statesmanship displayed by Mr. President and the support of the National Assembly leadership.
In all these, Mr. President has ensured frugal utilization of resources and widened the tax net, which has in turn brought in more money through tax-generating agencies like the FIRS and the Nigeria Custom Service, NCS. Like never before, the EFCC has been up and doing, securing high profile convictions, recovering monies running in to trillions of naira, other denominations and confiscating choice properties, to demonstrate that the war against graft is total, even if it concerns the President’s family members.
It is equally on record that this administration will be the first to wield the big stick against our neighbours who have been abusing our benevolence, by exploiting our porous borders to weaken our fragile economy. This brave decision by President Buhari has been commended by all and sundry, including his fierce critic, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
With the border closure, Nigeria Customs now rakes in billions monthly, with smuggling of rice, arms,poultry and petroleum products hitting an all-time low. This singular action has not only halted wastage of billions of Naira on rice imports, it has turned many rice and poultry famers into millionaires as this has boosted local demand. This is aside creating more jobs in a sector that the Buhari administration revamped in his first term through planned and deliberate strategies to boost local production.
An appreciative Buhari, has also stepped up social intervention programmes like N – Power, Trader Moni, Famers Moni, as a way of lifting millions out of poverty. This is most commendable, against the background that these Nigerians have stood solidly behind this President in his bid to put Nigeria back on the path of greatness and prosperity. As his family, friends, relations, groups and organisations, locally and internationally celebrate his birthday on December 17, 2019, I remain fervent in prayer for President Muhammadu Buhari, that his dream of a greater, better and prosperous Nigeria come to fruition before his very eyes.