Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari appealed to Nigerians to apply the principle of fairness while assessing the performance of his administration.
This is coming on the heels of many criticisms, not just from the major opposition party, PDP and well-meaning Nigerians, but from some members of his party, APC.
This, and two other stories, kept the seat of power, Aso Rock Villa, abuzz past week.
Lonely at the top!
On June 11, President Buhari, while speaking on a national television, said if Nigerians had reflected on the country’s situation before the inception of his administration on May 29, 2015, they would appreciate what he had done.
He had said, “I want Nigerians to be fair to this administration. They should reflect seriously on the time we came in, especially relative to the North-East and the South-South. They should consider where we are now, the resources, how much oil we are producing; the previous administration before me was producing 2.1 million barrels per day at the price cost of $100 per barrel.
“When we came in, militants in the South-South were unleashed on this administration and production went down to half a million barrels per day and then in the market, the oil market collapsed. I would like Nigerians to reflect on those in terms of resources and I believe that we have not done very badly.”
Buhari’s appeal for fairness confirms the cold reality that it could sometimes be lonely at the top. This derives from the burden of leadership which rests squarely on the laps of Mr President, and worsened by the fact that the presidential system of government confers on Buhari so much powers that he cannot afford to shift the blames elsewhere.
Therefore, while the President has the right to spring excuses for his perceived low performance, he should also admit that the buck, by design, stops on his table.
Being emotional at this time would, perhaps, do little to ameliorate the general feeling of poor performance by most citizens. The situation is also not helped by the fact that the administration had almost always refused to own up to glaring shortcomings but blame past administrations.
Indeed, it wouldn’t be out of place to remind Mr President that against his claims of successes, hundreds are still being killed, kidnapped or rendered homeless while secessionists movements are waxing stronger in different geo-political zones.
The pangs of poverty are also hitting harder as unemployment rates keep soaring and food insecurity stares Nigerians in the face.
Facts are sacred and President Buhari may do well to remain strong for he signed on to deliver on these tasks. He should be consoled by the fact that it could be lonely at the top, sometimes!
Two other talking points
President Buhari, June 10, affirmed that all his appointments were strictly based on merit and not based on ethnic or regional balance.
Speaking in an interview with Arise TV he noted that he could not overlook seniority and merit for balance and federal character.
“People who have been there for 18 years or even for 10 years, they trained in Zaria or in Abeokuta, they come through the ranks. And because they served under all the circumstances, the crises and everything and they gradually rise to that status and you think you just pick somebody just to balance up? These positions have to be earned,” he said.
Not a few have quarreled with Buhari’s claims, arguing that his reference to merit-based appointments are laden with half truths. The position of critics is strengthened by the President’s willful disregard for the Federal Character principle as dictated in the Nigerian Constitution 1999.
Indeed, no where is this more prevalent than in the country’s security architecture where only recently several Army Generals were retired to secure the elevation of a preferred choice, Farouk Yahaya.
Buhari’s glaring nepotistic appointments have largely been viewed as part of the reasons why there is a growing lack of sense of belonging in the Nigerian project. The resentments find expression in the rising clamour for self-determination and secession.
Whether Mr President would tamper his latest hard posturing is a matter of conjecture. For now, he has more than enough in his mouth to chew and must avoid being constipated by his profession of half truths.
On June 10, President Buhari reiterated his support for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), and did not hide his intolerance for all criminal activities in the entire country.
The President made this known while speaking in Lagos during the inauguration of security vehicles and crime-fighting equipment bought by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for the Lagos State Command.
He had said: “We will deal firmly and decisively against any and all persons fomenting or carrying out attacks on our Police Force or other security personnel. Let me also use this opportunity to reiterate that my directive to security agencies to shoot any person or persons found illegally with AK-47 and any other assault weapons remains in place.”
Buhari’s reiteration of shooting those illegally bearing AK-47 explains how frustrated he is with the growing insecurity in the country. It is unarguable that the order goes against constituted rules, and amounts to an endorsement of extra-judicial killing.
It must be said, and this has been argued at several fora, that an enduring response to the nation’s security challenges must entail a total overhaul of its security architecture, beginning with the establishment of State Police.
As with the Lagos show, President Buhari is, therefore, challenged to initiate the strategic step of restructuring the country to allow for State policing in the true sense of the word.
By John Chukwu…
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