“Every human welfare and development index measuring the wellbeing of our people is in decline. Given our resources endowment, this state is a serious indictment” …. Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar
Nigeria attained 100 years of amalgamation in 2014 and celebrated its 56th year of independence anniversary having been left off the British colonial yoke on October 1, 1960. But what has independent Nigeria got to show for it’s over 100 years of existence as an entity and over 50 years as a sovereign nation? The story is a catalogue of woes, failures, dashed expectations and frustrations snowballing to self-induced, terror and anarchy.
The ugly scenario logically throws up the queries: Is time up for the slumbering giant of Africa? Has the long night fallen for the black behemoth without a glimmer of light in the tunnel? As the visionless and directionless groping continues, isn’t the edge of the dreaded abyss nigh? Is the all-consuming tragic fall into the lake of unquenchable fire beckoning?
Today, when many of Nigeria’s age mates (as at her independence in 1960 such as Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia) have joined the league of developed countries, our socio-political space is still seaming with sundry graft, retardation, militancy, terrorism, kidnapping and general decay. The music remains the same – a tell tale of dashed hopes and expectations. Even formulas and recipes that worked superbly elsewhere have all floundered in Nigeria as the reverse gear journey seem to continue.
Rather than the bonds of our unity and common brotherhood growing, the sinews of fanaticism, intolerance, tribalism, regionalism, bestial killings and extreme religiosity have continued to fecund. With the sundry ills spiraling by the day, is there any hope for Nigeria as one is forced to ask?
Despite the seeming irredeemable state, there is yet a small colony of incurable optimists, to which I holistically belong, which believes that the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari yields room for a flicker even as the country’s injury time ticks away inexorably.
Nigeria, indeed, still has, perhaps, last chance to survive and reinvent or implode. And on the broad shoulders of a retired military general, rest Nigeria’s final opportunity for national redemption or perdition. What is to be done? Can Muhammadu Buhari muster the wherewithal to bailout Nigeria from the cadaverous cesspool? Yes, he can. No he can’t. What do I mean by this seeming doublespeak? The import of this is that he packs the capacity to fly or fall. What weapons does he possess?
President Buhari has what it takes to salvage Nigeria and reposition her on the path of irreversible growth. First, the Constitution of the Federation of Nigeria, as deficient as it may be, confers on the President adequate powers to make things happen in a most revolutionary manner. Second, by his meteoric rise from several defeats to victory and military background, Buhari should be rugged enough to square up to extraordinary challenges. Third, with his leadership experience and exposure, he has the requisite potentials to dream and envision big. And fourth, with his patience and humility, he can muster the required balance and circumspection to steer a highly complex and heterogynous Nigeria.
Added to these are President Buhari’s administrative and political experience having climbed the democratic rope with measured gait from the moderate Petroleum Resources Minister, Military Governor, General Officer Commanding, Head of State, PTF Chairman to the ultimate presidency. He is also religious, composed, physically and mentally strong with a reliable political team behind him. With this combination of leadership qualities, what is Buhari doing to avert our looming Armageddon?
There is an Igbo adage that says if a wild animal makes a dangerous dash, the hunter responds with a dangerous spear. Armed with the Constitution, President Buhari has no choice at this stage than to wield the big stick. He must muster the will power to deliver the killer punches. Nigeria in its present state is like a tuber of yam which must be dealt a machete blow and possibly buried before it can germinate, multiply and blossom. The case of Nigeria does not call for a kid glove. It calls for an iron, yet democratic hand. The multiplicity of ills afflicting the country for decades and multiplied by the Jonathan cluelessness begging for solutions are legion and pernicious: unemployment, corruption, insecurity, compromised security, greed, indiscipline, un-patriotism, intolerance – the list is endless. Now, the orgy has taken on a deadlier dimension with the introduction of militancy, kidnapping and terrorism. The killing fields are fast expanding threatening to envelope the entire polity.
And now, the big snag – Can the oft selfish and narrow-minded political elite, especially those in the Red and Green chambers of the dome, yield the needed space for Mr. President to perform the badly needed surgical operation on the sick nation? With the offensive smell of sharp corrupt-practices oozing out from the two chambers of the National Assembly, can President Buhari perform creditably well in the fight against corruption? Can the lawmakers support the fight with their might and allow narrow considerations take the front burner at the expense of national interest? Yes, I can see the National Assembly as the real spoil joys capable of wrestling the country down unless Buhari devises some ingenious ways of anaesthetizing them while he performs the compulsory surgery to remove the malignant tumors and deadly cancers from the body of Nigeria.
With an emphatic four-year mandate from the electorates to wit, President Buhari, having sacked several corrupt public officers and investigating others with some in hiding, he has started clearing the path for a better Nigeria. He should not relent until he forms a formidable team of like-minds that can deliver sincerely. My dream team should comprise tested, dedicated, courageous, selfless, focused, visionary and patriotic men and women to guide politicians in government to do the right thing. He should avoid the bequeathed path by not retaining those technocrats who nurtured corrupt practices and still in office. Aides should not be appointed based on cronyism, god-fatherism and primordial sentiments. The Chief Surgeon must not gloss over the fact that the best way to ensure his patient emerges from the operating theatre alive is to recruit only qualified, competent and meritorious hands to help him perform the all important surgery. Anything outside that will be suicidal. EFCC should be given extra powers of arrest, humiliation, retrieval and detention to serve as deterrent to will be crooks. The anti-corruption agency should also investigate itself or be investigated to live above board. In the present situation, there are rumors of hidden crooks within who shield the corrupt for patronage.
Muhammad was the Editor of Bauchi based Weekly Newspapers, The Trumpeter/Kakaki
By Sanusi Muhammad