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Buhari and the imperative of failure


President Muhammadu Buhari

When he is not whining, Colonel Hammed Ali is a man of few words. A couple of days ago, he came with a heavy carriage of words with which he wept out the disappointment of Nigerians with the performance of the Buhari administration. Thankfully!

Admitting that the PMB government has not kept its promises to Nigerians, his mathematics was good when he said that by reason of that, they had failed Nigerians. And although he didn’t grade the failure, he didn’t need to. Failure is not ‘‘gradeable’’. All failure is 100%. Only passes enjoy the luxury of grading. Yet to make his point more strongly as regards the size of PMB’s failure, the good colonel suggests that it is ‘‘more bigly’’ than GEJ’s (to borrow words from another misfit) and that it would continue until the elections, when he confesses that ‘‘the challenge ahead of 2019 elections was bigger than that of 2015’’.


Perhaps a more fitting venue for parts of that speech would have been a rally in which the stern colonel declared his support for another party or his intention to run for President. But we have no such luck! He was speaking, perhaps blinded by loyalty or by blood, at the unveiling in Abuja of an ‘ultra-modern’ office of the Buhari Support Organisation, the umbrella body of all pro-Buhari support groups that coordinated the President’s 2015 presidential campaigns. It is no longer a suggestion then, that PMB is running for a second term in office, having essentially “failed” in his first – perhaps in keeping with the anecdotal logic of he who I fondly refer to as ‘‘the Esama of the World,’’ Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, who famously demanded from the people of Edo State the entitlement of his son to a second term with words to the effect that, ‘‘if pikin fail for school, na repeat e go repeat. So mek Lucky repeat as Governor!’’

Well, I cannot quarrel with the logic of rewarding failure. After all, isn’t that how state by state, and even at the centre, our democracy has been sustained until date? What I first quarrelled with was the reason the Colonel offered for failure. He had given as reason, a claim that ‘‘PDP controls 50 per cent of our government’’, which like belches from a mouth suffering from the absence of sanitary care, immediately upset my sense of responsibility.

But I was reading with the eyes of a young man. Maturing upon a second read, I heard the other words unspoken by the Colonel, a 62 year old, versed in the language and mannerisms of elders, i.e.:
i. that half of the failure lay with the other 50% of ‘‘sabotaging/incompetent’’ non-PDP members of the APC government i.e. PMB and his appointees, and
ii. that the remainder failure was because of the President’s retention or appointment of ‘‘sabotaging/incompetent’’ members of the PDP into his government and its agencies.

I hope PMB hears the words unspoken by his loyal junior as indeed his age, 75 years in two months, recommends. But if he doesn’t easily understand, let me remind him that culturally and militarily, when a younger person wishes to chastise his elder, good breeding recommends that rather than attack the sense of the elder directly, he would, pretending not to know that it is the elder’s errand that is being run, interrogate the sense of those who execute the elder’s instructions.


Whichever half we look at it, the lynchpin remains PMB! He is either in active connivance or indolently complicit in the mis-governance we suffer today. It is time those of us who support him, stopped exonerating him from the mess that has become governance and making excuses that he is held hostage by cabals, as we ‘scapegoat’ his advisers. If there is a cabal, it is he that anoints it – daily, and he must take responsibility for their actions and inactions.

The system of government we practise is named after him and no other. If nothing else directs him to his responsibility, this should. The buck stops squarely on his table and he will not be excused his obligations to provide good and effective governance, if he leaves the buck unattended because he chooses to fill his table with droplets of kunu or prescription medicine or the unattended resume of qualified persons while he makes calls all over the place seeking for appointment, persons who share blood relationship with him or if he spends his time under the table chasing rodents which have become lodgers in his office on account of his inactivity in the first place!

Instructively, the repairs required to stir us into good governance today, can only constitutionally and practically be undertaken by him. Only he can attend to and redress the claims that of 100 appointments he has made so far, over 80 have been of northerners or perhaps he can at the minimum, show us the census figures which he uses that make 80%-20% an expression of equality! Only he can ensure that the nolle prosequi entered by his Attorney General to shield Mr. Ahmed Gambo Saleh who was sufficiently indicted such as to be arraigned for theft of over N2 billion, yet unaccounted for, is redressed. Only he can visit the matters over the involvement of his chief of staff in several alleged fraudulent schemes that, amongst others, undermine the claims that his government seriously fights corruption. Only he can bring out from under his pillow, read and act on the recommendations of his own committee on the allegations concerning the loot discovered in the pocket of his SGF or that privileged safe house in Ikoyi. Only he can act on the report on the Maina scandal, which has now joined the SGF report in gathering dust in his room. Damn it! If he is not going to read reports, why does he seek them?

At this point he alone must clear the mess that in fact, only he can clear. Their names will be revealed from the list of culprits presented by the reports which he has sought, and their removal will be one of the requirements for winning the confidence of Nigerians. He must step up to the microphone and try to convince even the least of us, that those who call him messiah do not have his blessings and that he will carry everyone along in his efforts at governance. He must show us his vulnerability, and seek our strength and support himself, instead of hiding behind appointees whose body smell drive all of us away. To be sure, let him, himself come perfumed, please!


And he must act fast, even desperately. Just in case he hasn’t thought about it, it is a demonstration of how bad his own supporters perceive his government, that even when there is no visible opposition anywhere, they do not seem confident enough to seek votes mainly from the physical evidence of good governance even if sparsely littering our landscape, but from the rhetoric, songs, trumpets and cymbals of mobilisation expected to be employed by the hired crowds of the Buhari Support Organisation.

•Akporugo is an attorney based in Lagos

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