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Buhari and near success syndrome


President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO: REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’ (Socrates).

It is quite important for us to understand what this enemy called ‘Near Success Syndrome’ (NNS) is all about. If several times, you have been so close to achieving a goal, dream or desire in your life but it seems like the moment you are on the verge of breakthrough, something comes and snatches it away from your grasp, you are welcome to the roots of this deadly symptom. When this scenario plays out, it can really hurt and you can question your faith. In other words, have you ever wondered why you have often failed almost at the peak of your success?

Often times, we are asked to go for ‘deliverance’ ministration in a tabernacle or temple to curb this scourge called ‘Near Success Syndrome’, which some believe is a spiritual malady. Someone else has painted a picture of it thus: You need some cash urgently and decide to go get some money at the nearest ATM and after queuing for long hours and it gradually gets to your turn, immediately you slot in your card, the machine goes out of service and guess what you see a message, the machine cant dispense cash at this moment.


The intractable distraction of the powerful Covid-19 pandemic may have taken some steam out of some purely domestic issues that should have attracted our attention at these times that we need to understand. One of such issues I have noticed is that our leader, Muhammadu Buhari appears concerned about legacy as he slipped into his sixth year in office. His body language is showing that he would like to listen to some voices of reason on how to restructure this convoluted federation that he has been leading for five years. My oracle has detected that he needs encouragement at this time because of the deadly NSS that is as devastating as a virus in this context.

It is therefore a time to persuade our leader that we have been watching his recent actions on how to make the federation work in his time. And it is a time to encourage him with the ancient word from Socrates that, ‘The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not fighting the old, but on building the new’.

And here is the thing, it seems to me that our president would like to restructure the federation but there is too much of the organic (core) north in him. There should be no doubt about the fact that the north is still not ready for restructuring of the federation, although the power elite behind the resistance cannot deny that they know it is an idea whose time has come.

A time has also come for us too not to abuse the power elite in the north. They need our encouragement about the shame that the current global forces have just exposed about them. What is this reproach? The Kano State government just dealt a devastating blow on the awful management of the Almajiri system in the core north by sending the Almajirai who are not of Kano origin to their respective states. But at the moment, it is only the Governors of the two major states in the north, Kano and Kaduna who have taken up the gauntlet to abolish the Almajiri system that is no longer in existence in any parts of the Middle East and Arab world. The arrival of some of these Almajirai in parts of the southern states amid Covid-19 lockdown has elicited muted questions about why the northern power elite we accuse of dominating the political system through presidential appointments have allowed the dehumanising Alhajiri system’s spectacles we just saw on national televisions.

It is clear that the northern elite need to answer some questions on what they have used the power and office they have been occupying to achieve for their people who are now seen as the poorest of the poor in the country. Sooner than later we will also ask them to explain to us in this federation why there have been more mosques than schools.

We will ask them why local political leaders have been spending more on the emirate system than on education of their children. They should relax for now. The question time on that emblem of shame is not today. This is a time to encourage Nigeria’s leader not to allow the debilitating disease called Near Success Syndrome (NSS) to get him enrolled in a Hall of Shame for Nigerian leaders. History beckons on the General from Daura to enroll in a Hall of Fame by leaving all political actions for ‘Restructuring of the Federation’ now as a fundamental objective. That should be a one-point agenda fit for this time.

Barely three days to the end of last month, President Buhari in his capacity as Chairman Police Council, approved what was reported as ‘Reorganisation of the Nigeria Police’ ostensibly to tackle the ticklish spate of insecurity in the country.

Accordingly, the reorganisation created of five new zonal commands and two FCID annexes.  The reorganization detail includes full autonomy of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FBI), which was formerly under the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID). By this approval, the FBI will become a full-fledged department to be headed by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, DIG, and expected to fully integrate intelligence-led policing strategy to the Community Policing initiative.


Our leader also approved further decentralisation of the FCID with the establishment of two additional offices in Enugu and Gombe States. While the office in Enugu is expected to take care of investigations of major crimes emanating from the South-East and South-South geo-political zones, the office in Gombe will take care of the North-East zone. Each of these Annexes, in addition to the pre-existing ones in Lagos and Kaduna States, accordingly, shall be headed by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) who shall report to the DIG in-charge of the FCID, Force headquarters, Abuja. This was contained in a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, (DCP) Frank Mba. The statement read: “ The reorganisation also included the creation of five additional Police Zonal Command Headquarters. With this new arrangement, the Nigeria Police Force now has eight Departments and each is headed by a DIG.

“The Departments are: Department of Finance and Administration; Department of Operations; Department of Logistics and Supply; Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) Department of Training and Development; Department of Research and Planning; Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Force Intelligence Department “ In a similar vein, five new Police Zonal Command Headquarters have been created for the Nigeria Police Force in addition to the hitherto existing 12 Zonal Command Headquarters. This makes a total of 17 Zonal Command Headquarters in the country. The five new Zonal Commands are Akure (Ondo/Ekiti Commands); Awka (Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi), Yenagoa (Bayelsa, Rivers Commands), Maiduguri (Yobe, Borno Commands) and Katsina ( Katsina and Kaduna commands). “


President Muhamadu Buhari expresses confidence that the reorganization will further bring policing closer to the people, improve the response time of the Police to incidents across the country, and generally promote efficiency in service delivery”. This looks good on paper but it is merely a cosmetic reform, which nurtures the much dreaded Near Success Syndrome’. It would have been a success syndrome if the president had sent a bill to the National Assembly for constitutional restructuring of the Nigeria police – to reflect State and Community Policing that has been advocated by most people in Nigeria.

In the same vein, on May 22, 2020 the President signed an Executive Order No.10 for the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary. According to a statement from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a Presidential Implementation Committee, the new order follows a Presidential Implementation Committee constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for states’ Legislature and Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution. Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution states: “Any amount standing to the credit of the judiciary in the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State shall be paid directly to the heads of the courts concerned.”

Abubakar Malami, added that the new order would further make the two arms more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy.

The Order provides that, “The Accountant-General of the Federation shall by this Order and such any other Orders, Regulations or Guidelines as may be issued by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, authorise the deduction from source in the course of Federation Accounts Allocation from the money allocated to any State of the Federation that fails to release allocation meant for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in line with the financial autonomy guaranteed by Section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended)”.

And so based on the new order, all states of the federation shall include the allocations of the two Arms of Government in their Appropriation Laws.


This presidential gesture too appears to be a good step toward practice of federalism. But it is still a bridge too far and it is not yet part of ‘Success Syndrome’.

The Buhari’s new deal with federalism began on May 6, 2019 when his administration drew battle line with state governments over financial autonomy for local government councils. The federal government had then through the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) outlawed meddling of states in council allocations. The Government then set June 1, 2019 as the takeoff date for the new order making it compulsory for all LGA allocations to go straight to their respective accounts. The governors have been fighting the president ruthlessly in all these reforms because they are still ambiguous in the constitution.

And so an executive order alone cannot ensure compliance. That is why the president should migrate from ‘Near Success Syndrome’ to ‘Success Syndrome’ by sending an Executive Bill to the National Assembly on ‘Restructuring of the Federation’. That is where all these ad-hoc issues including police reorganisation and autonomy for state legislature, state judiciary and local government will be taken care of. That is the only way President Buhari can make history in this his ‘second coming’.

All these salient issues are in the original document the El-Rufai Committee on Restructuring submitted to the ruling APC on January 25, 2018. May our President be delivered from an old disease called ‘Near Success Syndrome’ (NSS) some others would like to simplify as Adhocism.


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