By Patrick Obahiagbon
I would like to state prestissimo, and from the outset of this lucubration, that I do not doubt the capacity of President Muhammadu Buhari to take our beleaguered nation out of the woods into which successive civilian administrations from 1999 had led it until 2015. Talking about 16 years of misrule by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has become fashionable for good reasons. Because the Augean stables had been unconscionably polluted by the praxis of sleazy and public treasury looting game, there is pomp that there is now a spartan Buhari in the saddle who has put his nose to the grindstone in a bid to halt the impunity and bring about national redemption.
His anti-corruption and pro-discipline antecedents as former military Head of State from 1983 to 1985 were referenced in 2015 by the vast majority of Nigerians in their decision to invest in him their mandate as a moral compass and quintessential navigator through the vaudeville acts of corruption that had submerged the philosophical essence that provided the basis for the corpus that birthed the Nigerian nation state. It is in this context that the return of Buhari as a patron saint is viewed and subjected to critical appreciation.
But unlike the military vehicle of getting into power characterised and injudiciously tempered by authoritarianism, dictatorship and unitarianism in its modus operandi and modus vivendi, his current intervention made possible by partisan politics is actualised through the vehicle of the All Progressives Congress (APC). His governance philosophy is thus essentially and logically preponderated by democratic tenets, constitutional circumscriptions and the reciprocal exertions in the interactions among the trinity of the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
Indeed, beyond the confines of the trinity are the public space and tentative cosmos of political party engineering where he is the Chief Engineer as the national leader of the APC, which is the political machine with which to drive the essential theme of his administration’s philosophy in the arduous and urgent task of reconstructing the nation’s socio-economic and political defence walls and moderating the ramifications of the good actions beyond 2019 and until 2023 when he will get to the terminus of his second term in office. Therefore, all that the APC needs presently is to retool and restrategise to fit into the visionariness of the inimitable anti-corruption poster boy-President Buhari.
The rationalisation supra finds anchorage in the writ-large commitment by Buhari to ensure a national renaissance. That commitment cannot be questioned regardless of some perceived failings of the administration. I must state at this point that there is no perfect man; no perfect administration; no perfect political system and ideal anywhere in the world. Therefore, those who had expected so much from Buhari in a very short time within the complex Nigerian situation should have realised from the outset that he is human, shorn of the divine character of perfection and must operate in concert and dissonance with elements in the other arms of government.
This perspective has become germane in the context of the urgency that Nigerians want to see in the responses of government to existential challenges and in the execution of policies, programmes and projects. Military regimes that operate by decrees are different from democratic administrations that operate by the observance of the rule of law and due process. Regardless of the inherent limitations, Buhari has committed himself to clearing the Augean stables of public funds misappropriation and allied vices in the management of our public finance. The results may not be magical but they are steadily and incrementally manifesting.
Indeed, those whose preoccupation it is to manipulate the financial system for pecuniary interests are feeling the heat. They have been smoked out and are fighting back, even though feebly. As they continuously buckle under the moral weight of transparent leadership exemplified by Buhari, we have begun to witness cornucopia of infrastructure projects across the length and breadth of the country, resulting in exciting talking points on development issues in the political economy. It is only the naysayers in the opposition parties that would not agree that there is a great deal of difference between where the country was under the PDP rule and now.
I am aware that Nigerians are experiencing pains in some areas of their existential living. That is to be expected. These pains are inevitable and temporal. They are analogous to the pains a pregnant woman experiences in the labour room. Once she is delivered of her child, she begins to experience unspeakable joy of motherhood. The present pains due to the on-going surgical operations on the economy and other social capitals will soon be over.
We must all support the effort to rebuild our nation. The APC as a political vehicle through which Buhari got his job to attend to the bad health of the nation must double down his support for the president. Therefore, I believe that the move by the president to ensure that there is an elective national convention in June this year in line with the provisions of the APC constitution is in apple-pie order and should enjoy the backup of the NEC. The move will certainly conduce to legal propriety that will mark out the party as the bastion of respect for the rule of law and due process. Besides, it will be salutary to the consolidation of internal democracy in the APC.
This is the way to go and it is heartwarming that President Buhari is pointing in that direction. Knowing how strong willed he is as a stickler for proper conduct in public and private lives, I am confident that he would not be swayed by the shenanigans and brinksmanship being adopted by some interests in the government, acting in concert with the current NEC, to possibly compromise and befuddle the president’s unambiguous position on the testy issue of tenure elongation for the NEC.
The president had declared the decision by the NEC to extend its tenure till June 2019 illegal and I dare say, any recommendation by the Technical Committee that is not in pari materia with the president’s position, should be seen as disingenuous. Leaders of our party should not indulge in subjecting the President and his proactive intervention to the tensions of their parochial goals and objectives.
All hands must be on deck to emplace a more vibrant NEC headed with a public space national chair that will be able to adumbrate on the policies of government to party members and Nigerians at large. The president is understandably taciturn even if he is a man of action. The national chair of the party should make up for the president’s taciturnity and equanimity with his rambunctious and profound elucidation of the nitty-gritty of the president’s policy directions. The search for such an appropriate personality for the job should be our sincere preoccupation presently and not the maneuvering to supplant the president’s good counsel.
What is crystallizing in our great party is a warlike situation. As Peter Maurer was quoted to have once said, “They say that truth is the first casualty of war. But there is another casualty as well: trust. As conflict escalates, trust between people and political leaders crumbles away as surely as night follows day.” There should be restraint on the part of vested interests. President Buhari’s truth should be safeguarded. He should also be trusted to be able to pragmatically manage the fallout of the elective national convention in the praxis of fair accommodation of political interests. I hope my intervention does not attract or suffer any form of logomachy. God bless President Buhari and the APC.
Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon, an APC chieftain, contributed this piece from Benin.