By Dele Sobowale
A leader is best/when people barely know he exists/not so good when they acclaim him/worst when they despise him… – Lao-tsy, 6th Century, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 124.
Every ‘Father’ – whether of home, of family or of a nation – has four cardinal tasks to perform: Security, economic development, plan for a sustainable future and provision of social/ethical compass. Universally, leaders have been judged by how well they performed on these criteria. Buhari is not different. Incidentally, Buhari might have performed better on the economy if he had been elected in 2011. The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, was already working on BLUEPRINT FOR ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE which would have made it easier for him to articulate his economic policies and programmes. It is difficult to determine whether APC undermined Buhari or not after winning at last. Now, there is little chance he will leave a good legacy on the economy. Today, he is almost a figurehead.
As usual, I contemplated several titles – including BUHARI IN SLICES – before settling for this one. It was the Sultan of Sokoto, as Fulani, northerner, leader and Muslim as you can get, who decided for me in a message published.
“Sultan’s group blames govt for killings, others” – PUNCH, June 18, 2020, p 9.
The Sultan, President General of the Jamaatu Nasril Islam, had finally joined the growing list of northern leaders singing our song and pointing to the impotence and incompetence of the Buhari administration in the face of a region which is increasingly ruled by bandits and other hoodlums. Here is what his Royal Highness has to say – hopefully to people in Aso Rock who have not only woken from their slumber, but, have put on their thinking caps as well. The Sultan joins Professor Ango Abdullahi, Dr Mohammed Junaid and the youths of Katsina now criticizing the President.
“These repeated calamitous scenarios would have been avoided had the government risen to the occasion. We, nonetheless, as always, condemn the repeated brutal acts in their entirety; especially the lackadaisical attitude of relevant security agencies that seem to be overwhelmed, despite repeated calls by concerned and well-meaning Nigerians for a decisive action…
“Government should not reduce itself to just issuing light press statements on security upheavals…Governments at all levels should do everything possible, as a matter of urgency, to stop these evil acts of terror being unleashed on innocent souls and restore peace..”
The Sultan has my sympathies. Everybody knows who is being addressed in these observations. It is the ‘Father of the Nation’ – who, on May 29, 2015, promised to “restore peace” throughout the land. Instead of the tranquility Nigerians were led to expect, the nation is now far more insecure than ever. No bandits invaded Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara or Sokoto under President Jonathan. Those states now are prostrate under the crude sandals of bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, and, yes, armed herdsmen.
The herdsmen in particular were nurtured to become the national menace they have now become by a complaisant government which had excused all their atrocities. Now, northern governors and leaders, who were previously accessories to herdsmen’s atrocities, are experiencing the boomerang effect of allowing the armed cattlemen to operate with immunity. Everybody is now looking up to Sai Baba for succour. I have bad news for them.
The President is our father. But, he has demonstrated another characteristic which can be acknowledged. That attribute is precisely what renders the Sultan’s call for action “as a matter of urgency” a waste of time. It took Buhari five months to appoint his cabinet in 2015 – a task which other Presidents accomplish in a week. One of his loudspeakers told us he was trying to avoid making mistakes. Can anybody now point to a solid achievement by any of those appointed? Katsina, his own state, was already threatened by bandits even before the 2019 elections. Yet, nothing was done. Today, the governor of Katsina shares power with bandits. Still no decisive action taken!
LAMENTATIONS OF MASARI
Certainly, Buhari qualifies to be called ‘Father of Katsina State’. Read the anguish of the governor of that state and tell me if Buhari has developed the will to rescue his own state from hoodlums:
“I don’t know what to tell them (referring to the people of the state). I cannot look at them in the face because we have failed to protect them, contrary to our pledge to ensure security of lives and property throughout the state…I am a very unhappy person because we have never had any moment of respite in the last five years…”
Masari, who commands no army, was at least very honest with journalists – perhaps because he is in direct line of fire. Buhari, on the other hand, can afford to feed his “children” those “light press statements” issued on his behalf by loudspeakers. It invariably invites the sort of response Baba is now receiving from home – Katsina:
“Buhari and Masari resign if you cannot protect us. End banditry in Katsina”. This was followed by another one: “Enough is enough. Katsina is a home of hospitality. We need peace.” Those were the words on placards carried by youths of Katsina on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Unless my memory has faded, this is the first time in Nigerian history when the kids of the Head of State would be asking their ‘Father’ and ours to resign from office.
In fact, there is another irony of our recent history here. Buhari and the former National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, never wasted time asking Jonathan to resign each time Boko Haram slaughtered 20 people in the North-East. Today, hoodlums massacre 100 or more across Nigeria. One would have thought that Buhari should practise what he preached when out of office.
Predictably, there were two responses to the youth protest. First, armed security men proceeded to arrest the unarmed leaders of the protest. These are the same cowardly security men who folded their arms while armed bandits romped all over Katsina. They terrorise innocent Nigerians exercising their rights to peaceful protest. They will run for dear lives if bandits appear. Second, a detachment of top security people ran to Katsina. It is not clear what their mission is; but, they are too few to fight the bandits and risk becoming cannon-fodder themselves. And, nobody knows how long they intend to stay. American cowboys will describe the feeble response as “locking the farm gate after the cattle have fled”.
APC WITHOUT A FATHER
“APC CRISIS: Buhari’s silence frustrating – DG, PGF” – VANGUARD, June 19, 2020, p 7.
It has been one of my longest held beliefs that “a group without a leader is a mob” (VBQ p 82). Today, Nigeria has no ruling party in the real sense of the word ‘party’. The President in every nation is regarded as the Father of the ruling group. One of his fundamental functions is to keep order within his party. The APC is in disarray because Buhari has abdicated his role. The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, Salihu Lukman, has merely voiced out loud what others less courageous already feel – leadership vacuum within the party. There is a shocking explanation for the party’s predicament. Buhari tried four times to be President before succeeding in 2015 just to prove those who removed him from office in 1985 wrong. But, once in Aso Rock, he discovered a more complex country and polity than one which could be governed by orders issued to be carried out with immediate effect. He also discovered that he has to share power with the legislature and the judiciary.
At any rate, he was ill-prepared for office. The party was also left adrift. At least until the next election in September, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, now has a governor added to its list. That is a potent weapon to have in any election in Nigeria.
ON THE HOME FRONT
Two shots heard around the world would be the way to describe what happened when Mrs Aisha Buhari had an altercation with Baba’s nephews resident in Aso Rock three weeks ago. But, for divine intervention, any of those shots could have become a stray bullet lodged in somebody’s head or heart. That the President’s wife was once again involved in a power struggle for the control of the household which has now escalated to exchange of fire is indicative of a home in which the head of the house has lost a great deal of the traditional control expected from someone in that position.
“BANKS, CBN AND OLD, SICK NIGERIANS
“The banks and government only help those who don’t need it. The ones who need it get no loans, no advice, not even a simple guide on how to start” – Ibrahim Okhai, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, P 20.
I found out how true that statement was when I approached one of my banks for a N2 million loan to cover my unexpected medical expenses. I had invested for my old age when in active service. But, suddenly, there is a mismatch between the maturity dates and my needs for funds to pay my bills. So, I approached my bank. Despite having more than sufficient collateral, I went through a lot of trouble getting the loan.
Is there nothing the Central Bank can do for people in my kind of predicament?