Bring back the Buhari environment
President Muhammadu Buhari in his near-infinite goodness is seeking emergency powers to do things to return the sinking economy to buoyancy. But most surprisingly, some people are declining this wonderful offer. The man has pleaded repeatedly his constraints under the 1999 Constitution, even as amended, to deliver public good as president. I cannot understand why Nigerians are co-operating with him.
Here is a God-sent Buhari, offering to suck out the economic heat precipitated by the badness of previous regimes and only seeking our permission, by way of emergency powers, and we are calling him names, with some even naming dogs, cats and snakes after him. Truly, we are a very bad people. We make so much noise about the ‘sanctity of democracy’, ‘constitution’, ‘due process’ and ‘rule of law’ as if any of these words or phrases was invented in Nigeria by Nigerians and could cause the naira to appreciate one to the dollar.
I shall appeal to Buhari to be gentle with Nigerians. It is usually the cross of saviours of mankind. Often than not, they are misunderstood, vilified, humiliated, rejected and even killed. The Israelites of old were like Nigerians too; perpetually rebellious in their suffering. Even when God was touched by their situation and sent a helper, they rebelled against the one that was sent and actually killed him. Isha Allah, nothing, I mean nothing, will happen to our Buhari and he will accomplish his mission here in Nigeria as purposed by God.
Let us be fair for once. After three failed attempts at rescuing us from ourselves, Buhari gave up on the divine mission and was sitting jeje on his own in his farm in Daura, attending to his cattle and goats when Tinubu dem drafted him to try one more time. Because of his love for Nigeria, he accepted without asking questions or giving conditions. On our side, we accepted too that he alone knew precisely the path to follow from the wilderness of hopelessness, to the Promised Land and to follow him through obediently.
Given this background, what has Buhari done wrong in asking for our cooperation? In any adventure, the interpretation of the roadmap is never an ambiguous task. It belongs to the pathfinder, who is Buhari, in the mission at hand. It is only in Nigeria that people would elect to do follow, follow and still seek to dictate the direction. No dialectics supports that kind of rascality. Your guide is as good as your god within the given circumstances and doubting his navigational judgment is tantamount, as Chinua Achebe would say, to challenging your chi to a wrestling match after a good meal. Surely, you shall be vanquished.
That is the way of the world. It is even more of the way of God. A man prospers by the same measure that he planned and worked. You don’t plant mangoes and then hope to harvest apples at full cycle. On that fateful day of the presidential election in 2015, we had sowed a seed and the seed is growing to yield its kind. What the rest of us can do is to step up the nurturing in anticipation of a bumper harvest in the near future.
With the Buhari seed, which is almost like a hybrid, we have started harvesting ahead of season. We have reaped a corruption-free Nigeria with all the corrupt PDP politicians mopped out of circulation. We have also harvested humongous savings arising from non-payment of subsidy on imported petroleum products; appointment of competent persons into public offices based on federal character and total defeat of the Boko Haram insurgency, with the non-release of the adopted Chibok girls as the only outstanding issue on that score.
Other big yields include; a highly efficient customs and excise department that has blocked all import leakages, thereby forcing fraudulent shipping companies and importers to look elsewhere for their nefarious businesses; safe keeping of all revenues accruing to government in a Treasury Single Account (TSA) to deny thieving public servants and bureaucrats access to a loose treasury and ceaseless inflow of Direct Foreign Investments as a result of the relentless diplomatic shuttles of Mr. President. The harvests are far more extensive than what can be adequately captured in this humble endeavour.
If a man has done this much in less than a year and a half within a four-year performance framework and he is only asking for an enhanced operating environment, in terms of a non restrictive legal frame work, otherwise known as emergency powers in order to do even more, it is only fair we oblige him. In fact, it is sheer wickedness to deny the powers that Buhari seeks. We are making it look as if the man is making some kind of extra-ordinary demand that was not captured in the original understanding.
In the heat of the current debates on whether or not Buhari should be granted emergency powers, we are forgetting or pretending to forget something very important. I will explain that thing by asking a few relevant questions. How did we come to settle for Buhari in 2015? Answer: We chose him based on his records of performance as military head of state between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985. Question number two. Did the powers with which the big achievements were recorded flow from decrees or the 1979 Constitution? Answer: The powers came from decrees because he had suspended the constitution.
The next time Buhari came onto the public space was in 1994 as chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), an interventionist agency created by late military head of state, General Sani Abacha to address deficiencies in physical and social infrastructure with accruals from increased petrol pump price from N3 to N11 per litre. The PTF with mega bucks to feast on came close to equating the Federal Government in magnitude. Question number three: How was the PTF managed? Answer: The fund’s big budgets were made and spent under emergency powers completely outside the encumbrances of a functional legislature. In the end however, the overall rating was that Buhari did fairly well with the PTF.
These, in a nutshell, were part of the credentials that Buhari presented as he applied consecutively, in each recruitment season since 2003, to be president of Nigeria for the second time. And in all cases, the theme that was underscored was the incorruptibility and high level performance of the applicant. The operating environment under which he had excelled previously was not so much emphasized. That aspect was lost in the consuming euphoria to hire a doer in the presidency after serial failures of previous occupants since 1999 when the new democratic journey began.
But the chickens are now coming home to roost. After a fruitless experimentation that has spanned exactly 15 months today, Buhari is earnestly asking Nigerians to bring back his operating environment so that he can perform as he is known to do. He is kind of telling us that, a shark does not maintain the same predatory instincts outside the deep blue sea. This is where we are right now. We cannot unconditionally say yes to a man in 2015 and wake up in 2016 to create conditions. It is not proper and I am wholly behind Buhari in this epic struggle to recover his lost operating environment.
Although democracy and its practice do not have more than one interpretation, for the good of Nigerians, it will not be too much to reinvent the process to accommodate Buhari. You do not teach a 73-year oldman new tricks. Some people are afraid that granting him emergency powers is akin to feeding a snake with alcohol. Well, I do not know about snakes drinking brandy or whisky. What I do know, however, is that a snake on a sandy terrain cannot glide smoothly.
Having made things a bit clearer, I would want to end today’s outing on a musical note: We have decided to follow Buhari /we have decided to follow Buhari /we have decided to follow Buhari / no turning back / no turning back. One, two, go!