By Zayyad I. Muhammad
The emergence of Boss Gida Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) is a product of providence and due to former SGF Babachir David Lawan’s avoidable ‘economic’ and ‘political’ blunders. The new SGF, Boss should learn from his predecessor’s mistakes and successes; successes? Well, Buhari’s adversaries will argue Babachir recorded no successes as SGF. The truth is, Babachir made some remarkable contributions to the Buhari administration- unfortunately, his political blunders overshadowed them.
The ousted SGF is an experienced man in his own right as well as longtime confidante and loyalist of President Muhammadu Buhari. A man who stood with Buhari through thick and thin and has overtime earned the president’s trust. But Babachir committed cheap surprising blunders. Babachir, as SGF pettily allowed his personal ‘business’ to mingle with government business. The accusations were: he abused the use of funds meant for the Internally Displaced Persons in the North East; disrespected his own office as SGF, inflated contracts and was also complicit in 21 bogus contracts awarded to families, friends, cronies and the members of the then Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
Babachir second blunder is attitudinal – he is a poor politician who only sticks to people from his clan and hardly stretches his handshake to other people; he also lacks efficient image managers, furthermore Babachir was arrogant and talks more than he works.
The Office of the SGF is a big national office that requires one to be smart politically as well as be watchful of one’s moves. Any person occupying the office of SGF should be very careful not to be caught in a tight web of political intrigues- especially when one is an important member of a Buhari government whom some people are working tirelessly to paint as being corrupt so as to rubbish the government’s fight against corruption.
Public office in Nigeria comes with some privileges, authority and huge funds to spend, so if one does not apply measured restraint and discipline he/she can easily fall into the trap of corruption without even knowing.
Boss Mustapha says he will work to ensure more cooperation between government ministries and departments. This is good. Babachir was arrogant and undiplomatic in his relationship with other arms of government and his style of politics was pathetic that he failed to get any meaningful public sympathy or concrete defense from the political class. Even his primary constituency- the north, northeast and Adamawa state, gave him no backing. This is a big lesson for Boss; one cannot be the Secretary to the Government of the Federation of Nigeria and behave like the secretary of a hamlet’s cultural association.
Boss should bring his political and administrative experiences, simplicity and humor to the SGF office. We do not want the SGF to always be in the news for the wrong reasons. However, one cannot isolate the SGF’s office from politics. Boss is a politician that has gone through the mill. So he must expect political punches from different angles, in fact he was already welcomed by a political tone- ‘Boss is Babachir’s cousin’- because he is from Kilba by tribe from Adamawa as Babachir. Boss is more of a Jimetan (Yola-North LGA) than from Hong LGA- all his credential carries Yola, in fact, he represented Yola in the constituent assembly during the IBB era.
At his age, Boss Mustapha understands the expectation of young Nigerians as well as what leadership needs to do, so Boss will bring simplicity and new approach in the relationship between the executive and the other arms of government. Over his political sojourn, Boss has been a product of friendship and consensus- he will bring that to the SGF office, the Buhari/Osinbajo government needs it now more than any time.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State