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Wednesday 26 August 2015

Dictator Buhari: Nigerians are worried about their new President

For a man, President Muhammadu Buhari who once led a coup that ended his country’s path to a second republic; who once  suspended the constitution and ruled as a despot –  all that glitters may not just be gold.  Prior to his election, the All Progressive Congress (APC) had promised Nigerians that their candidate – an ex-dictator  had been intellectually refurbished to undertake the challenges of the representative system. However, barely 30 days after taking office, Nigerians are worried about this new leader and his single-handed approach so far on essential issues of governance.

Besides his inability to communicate guidelines, critics and observers are worried that President Buhari who is yet to name a single minister or adviser has resumed duties unaccompanied; and has been randomly verbalizing policies without applicable process, and without consideration of mandatory relevant factors. For instance, his recent directive to dissolve the board of the state oil company as an attempt to fight corruption in the industry was immediately faulted as redundant and constitutionally unnecessary.  According to the “Petroleum Act,” the board stood dissolved the moment erstwhile Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, left office. This serves as an indication that President Buhari does not articulate the rules of public engagement in a democracy.

Two weeks ago, President Buhari without consultation with the appropriate sectors, went on the air to declare that his country's treasury was "virtually empty," claiming that the previous administration had stolen billions of dollars. But the immediate past minister of national planning, Dr Abubarka Sulaiman quickly deprecated these claims as inaccurate, expressing with physical proofs, that the former regime left about $30 billion before handing over. Similarly, last weekend, Babs Omotowa, the chief executive of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG), claimed that the company paid $1.6 billion in dividends to the Buhari government, adding that the President was either hiding the correct amount paid to his government in order to justify his claim of inheriting “an empty treasury” or that the NLNG was playing a game on Nigerians.
Yesterday, the newly inaugurated Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki opened up on plans made by unnamed individuals to kidnap and prevent him from emerging the senate president. It may be recalled that President Buhari and his party members chose another candidate, Femi Gbajabiamila for this position.  Dr. Saraki however, outmaneuvered their plans by arriving at the facility as early as 6am, stayed in a car parking lot till the resumption of house business. Hence, his emergence as the senate president came as a surprise to both President Buhari and his party.

In the past week or so, Nigerians have suffused  the social media threads with frustrations and  expressions of disappointment about the direction of the regime so far in bringing about a proposed transformation. Citizens who at this time rely on ill-informed party bloggers to learn about important government policies now question a disconnection between their new leader and pertinent engagements of the representative process.

To make it worse, a newly inaugurated 8th National Assembly expected to collaborate with the presidency on ministerial appointments deliberated only on their huge allowances and adjourned for four weeks. The APC had initially claimed that Buhari was waiting on the National Assembly to convene so he could present his team but before the recess, ministerial appointments remained an obscure gamble. The Deputy Senate President, Sen Ike Ekweremadu, in response to a public outcry twitted, “We will reconvene once the Ministerial list is ready.” Internal party sources claim that an in-house tussle between the President and party stalwarts over choice of ministerial positions have grounded his appointments. “The President must remember that he is no longer a dictator but a civilian president, and must respect the process,” a senior party member told the International Guardian.

President Buhari’s issues may be more than just his autocratic demeanor. His skills to undertake the new leadership challenges remain another factor that may further jeopardize his chances to succeed. For instance, in his first 14 days in the job,   Buhari surprised the entire country with 14 exceptional executive tasks. He held five private meetings to get hold of the national security and intelligence; five secret meetings to initiate a transfer of the nation’s armory to Borno – his location preference; one oversea trip, and three major shameful oratory blunders. In  several dishonorable speech miseries, he had referred to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel as President Michelle and referred to Germany as West Germany.

Yet, without doubt, Nigerians have every reason to worry about this leader.  In a complex economy, installing a leader without relevant skills is like hiring a carpenter in an Intensive Care Unit to perform surgery. A leader who swaggered the transformation mantra as an electioneering promise must at least deliver some basic skills such as; transparency with public issues, collaboration with subordinates, and funny enough, the ability to appropriately identify names of friendly countries, and their leaders.

There is obviously a confusion in the Nigeria’s leadership suite, and the consequences have punctuated the running of the system. One thing is to rustle power, another thing is to manage it. Truly, Buhari and APC are confused about “change.” they are subjugated by the demands of the transformation process they professed, and they are disgracefully overwhelmed by their own campaign promises and how and where to start. As a remedy, it must be noted that; in the world of executive governance, confusion is not a taboo but a challenge that can be managed through reconciling ambiguities, admitting to contradictions, and resolving them while still maintaining a functioning capacity. An existing incompatible Buhari/APC team cannot overcome this shortfall through their current deception of the masses, playing hide-and-sick with critical issues of public policy, and engaging in fruitless media attack of a predecessor that had long gone.

By Anthony Obi Ogbo

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