Just What Is President Buhari Doing – One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards? | By Frisky Larr

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For some time now, a heightened sense of bickering has been taking control of the Nigerian political establishment. Trepidations are growing on the direction that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is heading. Many adversities have crept up over the months leading up to the
anniversary of the president’s tenure.

Disillusionment has been feared much like disappointment in the president’s actions. Yet, the president has managed to survive and public confidence has largely remained steadfast in spite of isolated and individual detachment from mainstream support by the weak and
unprincipled. Let us for once forget the president’s lack-lustre inaugural speech, in which we expected him to spit fire and read the riot act to criminals that
ruined the nation in no time and he ended up with belonging to everyone and to no one.

Forget for once the clumsy selection of ministers and the length of time it took him to come up with modest results in spite of years of preparation. There was no alternative to the former General in
a society that had been allowed to drift
completely out of control by a highly unqualified and self-styled doctorate degree holder with no publicly known dissertation.

Well-wishers and hopeful Nigerians clung on to the president in the hope of things to come. He did not disappoint them. The ferocity with which he clamped down on Sambo Dasuki and the pathetic lost son of Igboland called Nnamdi Kanu rekindled hope in the course of leadership that the former military General sought to provide. He
followed this up, very quickly, with a wave of serious anti-corruption arrests, quiet refund of stolen properties and the promise to explore possibilities of exposing thieves who are choosing the face-saving channel of quiet refunds.

Unfortunately, however, the crises soon began. Falling oil prices in the aftermath of geo-political bickering amongst world powers spelt the need
for a quick realignment of economic parameters in Nigeria’s struggling economy. In fact, even with moderately high oil revenue under the leadership of the self-styled doctorate degree holder, signs of an impending doomsday were
already made manifest in the project of
borrowing to pay salaries when naked crisis was yet to make itself manifest.

When the crisis came, the president reacted and sought to keep official exchange rate stable and permit the unregulated parallel market thrive on
its own rules until the country is reasonably brought under control and unregulated lawlessness becomes history. The consequence did not wait long. A barrage of attacks was unleashed on the president and his economic team in uncomplimentary languages from home and abroad. International financial institutions,
suspected of roles in the advancement of neo-colonialism, do not surprise any observer these days, when they attack poorer countries for policies that are exclusively in their own domestic
interest.

Unfortunately, however, Nigerian middle-class entrepreneurs who, understandably, did not want to bear the brunt of the hardship required
for the long-drawn transition, launched their own attacks. They were backed by partisan voices from the intelligentsia and erudite minds, who were suspected of thriving under the weight of shared interests and corrupted compromises.
This was soon followed by engineered fuel scarcity in a ploy to show the president the series of instruments that were available to reveal to him his limits. Again, the consequence was not long in waiting. Disenchantment grew in the public psyche. Some government supporters became restless, heaping the blame on a government that was out on a corrective mission. They simply lost track of the sabotage
acts of the vested interests that they only expected the government to crush without much effort.

Latest then, many wished Muhammadu
Buhari was still a General in a military
government. It became obvious that the only quick-fix solution today, would have been possible only, under dictatorship – the Lee Kwan Yew style. Since no one was prepared to take the
heat in the corrective process, Nigerians were happy to have one Ibe Kachickwu, who picked the gauntlet and found the third way out. Fuel
scarcity receded and the commodity has largely become affordable.
Meanwhile however, the president had given in to blackmail and permitted the devaluation of the nation’s currency to the dismay of the same people who cried out loud for devaluation. Today,
they count the worthlessness of the country’s currency against the major currencies of the world and ludicrously heap the blame on the president for achieving this within one year. The president lost his doggedness when and where it was badly needed.
Today, the cry is all about rising commodity prices in the open market. The president is blamed ignorantly without a care for the militating adverse market conditions at home and abroad.

Then came separatist agitation that was quickly brought under control in spite of the exuberant doomsday scenarios that were authored by
wannabe analytical pugilists. It was quickly followed by resurgence in militancy and the blowing up of pipelines. Even though swift action
was taken ab initio to bring the culprits to book, it soon became clear that the underlying diabolical network spanned political intrigues and fifth columnists within the current system. When
the respected Ibe Kachickwu suddenly derailed, however, and dabbled into a field in which he lacked the requisite experience and wherewithal to be the saving guru, the nation expected the
president to issue a public rebuke. The president failed. Instead, Kachickwu was quietly redeployed.

The greatest failing of this president so far though, is contained in his lack of political acumen and mastery of intrigues and counter-intrigues. One year on and still counting, he has
failed to deal a symbolically decisive blow to leading perpetrators of corruption, who are openly daring him and even threatening to deal with him.
How on earth does Muhammdu Buhari seek to explain to Nigerians that the renegade father of filth and stench in the name of Bukola Saraki is continuing to occupy the seat of the Senate President till today, in spite of the fact that he is not covered by any legal immunity of any sort? How does Muhammadu Buhari want to explain to
Nigerians that a judicial process started one year ago, is not nearing any conclusive phase and this major character in the game of corrupt scheming and criminal brigandage is continuing to have his field day in freedom, knitting webs of wickedness?
Where is the president’s pride? Where is the president’s honor? Who is becoming the laughing stock and who is fooling Nigerians? What has happened to all the talk of reforming
the judiciary? Will it all end by the mere dismissal and disciplining of a few judges by the Nigerian Judicial Council? What happened to the speedy conclusion of politically exposed trials?
Has the message ever gotten to Muhammad Buhari that Nigerians are often wishing that Olusegun Obasanjo was handling the likes of Bukola Saraki and Dogara today? To add insult upon injury, Nigerians are now being told that the president is coming to the rescue of Speaker Dogara.

Just what does Muhammdu Buhari think he is doing? What manner of anti-corruption fight is this, in which a whistle-blower is publicly betrayed and thrown to the wolves without any attempt to act in the semblance of righteousness? When, beside Jibrin, another lawmaker comes out openly, to not only express – at the risk of being
charged for false accusation – that the budget was padded after it was passed in plenary session, but also provided an example of the padding, then just who are these Senator Ita Enang and Mr. Ismail Kawu that were quoted in the media today, as saying the budget was not padded? Worse still, they are said to be clarifying the president’s position on the leadership rift in the House of Representatives as it affects the
budget. If this is President Buhari’s concept of fighting corruption with selective tolerance, we’d better pull the curtain now and bid the entire project farewell.

The movie village project in Kano that hit the headlines lately, has been openly reported to be a product of padding that the general session of the legislative house was not aware of. A
plethora of evidence has been poured in the public domain by Jibrin and sympathisers of his cause, who should have been viewed as God-sent in this project if the anti-corruption campaign was serious and purposeful. Just what
is this Jonathan-type cover-up that is not even attempting to probe the issue before uncovering a debatable and provocative whitewash? Nigerians have forgiven a wide range of lapses on President Buhari’s part so far. The paramount and overriding hope has been the perceived genuine effort to fight corruption and reset the button of sanity in Nigeria to an acceptable level,
where nation-building can start afresh.

Should Buhari continue on this very unpalatable and angering path of one-step-forward, two-steps-backwards, however, the ultimate solution that
Nigeria will face for redemption, may be the Rawlings option or a bloody upheaval. Before then though, the president will lose no time in
realising that the consequence of anger against him in the aftermath of cowardly disappointing hopes may be very vicious. After all, if the president struck a deal with the legislative chambers to accept a limited scope of
padding in the budget to hasten budget
implementation – that has now been slowed down by shortage of revenue anyway – what hinders him from being open to Nigerians at the right time? This singular act will go a very long way in defining the president’s image and his overall legacy.

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