PMB’s body language
On July 31, President Muhammadu Buhari betrayed his emotions. Short of pronouncing some public officials guilty of crime, he couched his disappointment in fanciful phrase.
Speaking on the ongoing probe of the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, as well as that of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development (NDDC), by the National Assembly, Buhari alluded to ‘abuse of trust’ without mentioning names.
He said: “There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by previous administration and this administration.
“This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place.”
The President’s reaction to the alleged financial misappropriations in the EFCC and NDDC had long been anticipated. Not many were, however, expecting him to strike a judgmental chord.
Perhaps, Mr President was just right to speak about breach of trust given that, by his exalted position, he could be privy to some privileged information. But some critics have also queried if such privilege extends to acts that could impugn on the reputation of others.
Buhari’s response, therefore, to the alleged malfeasance in NDDC and EFCC raises some pertinent posers:
1, Why is Mr President not considering the need to properly constitute a judicial panel of inquiry, with all the legal powers, to deal with the EFCC matter, rather than an administrative panel that lacks any meaningful bite?
2, Why is he not also interrogating the need to urgently redirect the NDDC probe where the protagonists have positioned themselves to become judges in their own case?
3, If the alleged corrupt acts have become such a huge embarrassment to the much publicized fight against corruption, why is there a seeming foot drag in asking key public officials to step aside from their offices to allow for independent, transparent investigations?
Nothing would be more pleasing than to see Mr President match word with action and pace.
Two other talking points
President Buhari, while fielding questions from State House correspondents, on July 31, caused some unease. He asserted that he had done his best in the fight against insecurity plaguing the country.
The President had said: “I want Nigerians to be very conscious of their country and what we inherited when we came in 2015 was Boko Haram in the North-East and the militancy in the South-South. Nigerians know that we have done our best.
“What is coming up in the North-west and North-central is very disturbing indeed but I believe from the report I am getting, I think they could do much better.”
At a time the Boko Haram insurgency and other forms of criminality were still threatening the peace of the nation, it was least expected that the President would travel the path of self-adulation.
The puzzling nature of his statement has got many struggling to place an appropriate meaning to it.
Does it mean that the President has reached his wits end in checking the insecurity scourge? Has he left Nigerians to their fate? Indeed, is he indirectly telling Nigerians to seek other alternatives to secure themselves?
These questions will continue to beg for answers unless the president realizes that only Nigerians can score him fairly well in the office he occupies.
For now, he should do well to ponder on the July 29 attack on the convoy of the governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, in Baga town as well as the murderous reign of bandits across the northern belt of the country.
What manner of palliatives?
Buhari appears unfazed in his resolve to ease the sufferings of Nigerians brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, on July 29, the President said, “On our own part, we shall continue to provide economic reliefs to the people to minimise the unintended hardships these (COVID-19) guidelines have inflicted.”
He stated this while reiterating his call on Nigerians to continue to exercise patience and understanding in keeping to the precautionary measures taken to curb the pandemic, especially in the places of worship.
Being responsive to the yearnings of citizens is the hallmark of good governance. Whether the President has acquitted himself in that regard remains a subject of rigorous debate.
To most, the handling of COVID-19 palliatives has left much to be desired. The complaints range from mismanagement to outright theft of items targeted at the poor.
These feelers should challenge the President to do more as the expectations of ordinary citizens soar in the face of abject poverty.
Ultimately, President Buhari needs to be reminded that he owes Nigerians long term sustainable economic plans that can reposition the country from its back waters into a more competitive economy capable of guaranteeing prosperity for its teaming population.
By John Chukwu…
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