By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, let’s call a spade a spade, and not by any other name today. I’m seriously perturbed that while our dear President is indisposed, for now, some of his so-called friends are only interested in consolidating themselves in power. I think President Muhammadu Buhari deserves better than this. Hate him or love him, President Buhari remains one of the most honest Nigerians alive today. Not even his worst enemy would accuse him of being a corrupt leader. As a prominent Nigerian businessman once told us: “I can’t imagine anyone discussing deals with President Buhari… The atmosphere would not be conducive…” We all concur to that.
I’m of the opinion that it is not Buhari’s fault that he has health challenges. All mortals are prone to sicknesses. No President is immune from it, simply by virtue of his occupation of that position. Even if he has not divulged his exact ailment, he’s been honest enough to tell us that he’s never been this sick before. That is honesty and humility at its best. At the very least, he deserves our sympathy and prayers. I’m impressed that he has not succumbed to pressure from real or imagined cabals or mafias. These people who seek to hijack the Government for their perfidious ends have been able to do so because they have kept us in the dark about the status of the President’s condition thus fuelling the rumour mills. The President will do well on this occasion to manage that part well and provide regular updates to Nigeria as to his welfare. This should include photo and video opportunities as much as possible. It would put paid to the nefarious activities of those seeking to profit from the unfortunate illness of our beloved President. Those who reap the biggest benefits from government are not always those who worked assiduously for power. They are usually scavengers of opportunities who have the expertise of forcing themselves into any government in power, AGIP party members, as we used to call them. That is why they are unscrupulous and are not loath to exploit any opportunity that presents itself to further their base and primordial interests.
Those who wish to help Buhari govern by proxy are nothing but enemies of the President and even worse, enemies of Nigeria. Thank God, so far so good, Buhari has shunned them, albeit stylishly. He has handed over power appropriately to his able and capable Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo whenever required to do so and saved Nigeria the uncertainties and ambiguities that bedevilled the similar situation during President Yar’Adua’s enforced medical absence from the country. That is how it should be. No matter how imperfect our Constitution is, there is no iota of ambiguity in what should happen in such absences of the President. It should be repeated here for emphasis that if Buhari and Osinbajo shared a joint ticket, theirs should be a marriage made in heaven and no one should try to put the union asunder. I think they both complement each other. I love the palpable camaraderie that exists between them. Why would anyone wish to destroy such a peaceful and beautiful wedlock?
The time has come for all reasonable Nigerians to support the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. You cannot but love how power moves smoothly and seamlessly from Buhari to Osinbajo to Buhari and back again to Osinbajo. Everything should be done to cement that bond. This type of synergy is what our country needs to move forward. Nothing should be done again to slow down the new vigour and frenetic pace we see currently in government. Those who are busy fanning the embers of disunity will fail ultimately. If Nigeria survived such a calamitous fratricidal war, our country will survive the renewed political conspiracy to subvert or abort the democratic process and the will of the people.
It is obvious to me that an average Nigerian wants to live in peace. And it does not take too much to please us. Those who use ethnicity and religion to divide us definitely understand their evil strategy. The whole essence is to enslave us and sentence us and generations unborn to eternal servitude. But Nigeria and Nigerians are very resilient and this too shall pass away.
I’m happy that President Buhari has refused to destabilise Nigeria for personal aggrandisement. It is absolutely unnecessary. Professor Osinbajo is cool, calm and collected. He is a man of the people. An engaging personality who clearly knows what it takes to heal the wounds of this nation and deliver on the ‘Change’ agenda that brought their administration to power. That he does so in a distinctly unique humane and sensitive way is borne by the experience gained not only as a seasoned lecturer, administrator and topmost professional advocate but also as a respected and revered pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). These are impeccable credentials and veritable sources of knowledge and compassion. They are needed to drive the nation from its present perilous state to the destination of success and prosperity desired by the vast majority of well-meaning Nigerians.
The Acting President is not a man with inordinate ambition and he would work according to the mandate handed to him by his boss. That the two men are constantly in touch with each other and that President Buhari approves of what his deputy is doing in his absence is obvious from the confidence with which Prof Osinbajo is dealing with his duties. A typical politician would have scattered Aso Rock Presidential villa with satanic intrigues by now. I’ve been studying him like a textbook for some time now. May God continue to imbue him with uncommon wisdom.
I love the way Osinbajo is carrying every part of Nigeria along. His recent strategic visit to Garki Market and interaction with a fish seller, coupled with his exchanges and discourse with some Nigerian children from 23 schools in Abuja in commemoration of Children’s Day, demonstrate that he is someone in touch with the masses and positively geared for the task ahead of providing an enabling environment for future generations of Nigerians to thrive. As he tweeted in respect of those children that he met, “They and future generations are the reason we must committed to the growth of our nation and shared prosperity of its people.” A President and Acting President are fathers of the nation. Once you attain that lofty height, you’re instantly transfigured into a father for all and must automatically shun parochial interests and primordial sentiments. That is what many Nigerians have noticed and noted in recent times by the attitude and approach of both President Buhari and the Acting President, Prof Osinbajo.
We all know what is wrong with Nigeria. We also know the solutions to our debilitating and intractable problems but feel too timid and extremely selfish and docile to do anything about it. The first is ethnicity. If we do not kill it fast, it will kill Nigeria ultimately. I personally do not care where the President of Nigeria comes. What I worry about is his/her level of performance. Everything else is secondary or complete balderdash.
Out of 36 states of Nigeria, Niger State has produced two former Heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar; Ogun has produced General Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Ernest Shonekan and, but for the fiendish perfidy of man, Chief Moshood Abiola would have been President. Katsina has produced at least two Presidents, Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua and General Muhammadu Buhari. Kano State has produced two Heads of State, General Murtala Mohammed and General Sani Abacha. Plateau State produced General Yakubu Gowon and Bayelsa State produced Goodluck Jonathan. The occupation of the foremost position in Nigeria by indigenes of these States has not turned those States or regions into paradise. Rather the converse has been the case for the most part. Why then the hoopla by their tribesmen and others who agitate for rotation or scream vociferously for their kinsmen to be given the chance to rule if the result is second rate leadership at best. Nigerians must learn from our ugly past that grabbing power for your own kith and kin by all means has never brought development to those parts. Otherwise, some places would have been more beautiful than Dubai within Nigeria.
The truth is that until we learn that our country’s salvation will only come from choosing our best materials for the most important leadership posts in our beloved country we will continue to miss it and bemoan our fate. Perhaps, one of the biggest legacies of this administration will be that, by happenstance, God has allowed us to see what is possible and achievable when two leaders complementing each other with their remarkable but different capabilities occupy the top leadership position in this country.
My prayer is that Buhari would be allowed to recuperate and fully recover and no one would bundle him back home in a hurry like it was done last time. Nothing tangible was achieved by that ill-managed publicity gimmick. Indeed, all that the protagonists succeeded in doing was to portray a very sick and feeble man to the country. They may indeed have demystified the man by parading him in his weak and vulnerable state when he should simply have been left to undergo his treatment and recover faster than he now will. My guess is that this stunt set back the course of the President’s treatment by a few good months. Certainly, not the best at all.
I’m very sure that if, on this occasion, the President’s doctors can have their way and treat him with the full course of treatment and rehabilitation that he requires, by the time he comes back fit and ready to resume the mantle of leadership of this great country, he would be proud he left some competent and loyal disciples behind and not some Judas Iscariot. Those who wish to use Buhari’s government to instantly obliterate their poverty or satisfy their greed should understand that certainly tomorrow will come.
Every part of Nigeria is blessed with great people. We should allow them to thrive. The biggest test Nigeria faces is how and when our leaders would agree to assemble and make use of our best brains. For as long we continue to recycle the dregs of society, we are going nowhere. The world today is driven by knowledge and fired by uncommon vision. We cannot continue to reason and act like pre-historic human beings and expect our country to experience sporadic improvement and development. Fortunately, in the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria has such a man and we must all do her best to ensure he succeeds whilst he deputises for President Muhammadu Buhari.
ANOTHER APPEAL TO OUR FRIENDS IN POWER
This is yet another passionate appeal to our friends and brothers, Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Senator Hadi Sirika who are both in charge of the Transport and Aviation sectors respectively, that something urgent and drastic should be done about the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. In the name of God, someone needs to save us from this incredible shame.
I have chosen to write about this subject today because I did the same thing when Princess Stella Oduah was Aviation Minister and many thought we were writing and criticising because we hated President Goodluck Jonathan. That is far from the truth. Anyone who loves Nigeria would naturally worry about the monstrosity that this airport has become. I have already written several times about different aspects of the operation and condition of the airport but cannot stop because it is the number one gateway to our country for most potential investors.
I use this opportunity to mention another inglorious aspect of this airport to the esteemed Minister and Minister of State. When we landed in Nigeria two days ago from Accra, Ghana, the stench that welcomed us was too disgraceful. I don’t know what is responsible but human sweat caused by the absence of any sort of climate control must be one factor. The deplorable state of the sanitary facilities is definitely another one. I still don’t understand why anybody can survive inside such squalid conditions on a daily basis. The place is a certified health and safety hazard and bodes ill for the good health and welfare of workers, passengers and other users of that airport. Our two Ministers must do something drastic to bring that place to the best of international standards. We cannot afford to continue to do things shabbily.