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BuhariWatch: Time to block sycophancy and mediocrity



In an ancient political plot captured by Shakespeare in his classic, ‘Julius Caesar’, a minor character, Artemidorus, prepares what he calls a caveat for Caesar. He reads the warning aloud that he (Caesar) may escape an evil plot by his friends and members of his ‘inner circle’.(Reading aloud from the letter) Artemidorus warns in clear terms:

“Caesar, beware of Brutus. Watch Cassius. Don’t go near Casca. Keep an eye on Cinna. Don’t trust Trebonius.
Pay attention to Metellus Cimber. Decius Brutus doesn’t love you.
You’ve wronged Caius Ligarius. These men all have one intention, and it’s directed against Caesar.

If you aren’t immortal, watch those around you. A sense of security opens the door to conspiracy. I pray that the mighty gods defend you!
Your friend, Artemidorus.”

To ensure that Caesar gets his message this is the strategy of Caesar’s friend:
“I’ll stand here until Caesar passes by, and I’ll give him this as though it’s a petition.

My heart regrets that good men aren’t safe from the bite of jealous rivals. If you read this, Caesar, you might live.
If not, the Fates are on the side of the traitors….”
There is a sense in which we can say that Shakespeare, the seer for many dispensations, wrote these lines for President MuhammaduBuhari now in the eye of the storm created by his own men.


Clearly, the only difference inside Aso Villa setting is that there is yet no Artemidorus, a friend who can genuinely stand between the Council Chambers and the road leading to the other room to warn the good man but naïve Caesar (President Buhari) to beware of the dangerous cabal members who are bent on foisting their “unenlightened self interest” on the nation.
This is the time an Artemidorus needs to tell our own Caesar. “PMB, lend me your ears.

Beware of Mammah. Watch Abba. Don’t go near Mallamy. Keep an eye on Lawal. Don’t trust David.
Pay attention to Bukky. Amaychy doesn’t love you. You’ve wronged Bola.
These men all have one intention, and it’s directed against PMB. If you aren’t immortal, watch those around you.
A sense of security opens the door to conspiracy. I pray that the mighty gods defend you!”
It is a pity, no one can keep vigil like this Caesar’s restless friend to say to PMB when the cock crows at dawn that, “my heart regrets that good men aren’t safe from the bite of jealous rivals, after all….”

The article above is excerpt of an article titled, Redemption Songs for Buhari’s Presidency in this column column dated 12 August 2018).

Since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge of the Buhari presidency and the bridge even requires some integrity test to determine its durability. Even the First Lady who curiously disappeared in the middle of the just concluded presidential election campaignshad reconfirmed the existence and powers of a cabal, in the presidency, shortly before her disappearance – as soon as she too inaugurated her campaign team.
What is more curious, Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman of the EFCC who was seen to have tacitly participated in the just concluded election campaigns, has not been confirmed about four years after nomination (he was nominated in November 2015).

No doubt, acabal that has been part of appellation of this presidency through a string of consistent revelations by Kano-based social critic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, is generally believed to be a critical factor in the Buhari presidency. And on the cabal, all the perfumes of Arabia can’t wash the hands of the president clean in the governance journals of his presidency.

Again, as the election management agency, INEC has declared Muhammadu Buhari winner of the 2019 presidential election, this is a time an Artemidorus needs to tell our own Caesar: “PMB, lend me your ears again:

‘Beware of the men called Daura. Watch Abba. Don’t draw too much near Mallamy. Keep an eye on Babagana. Funtua is not too far from Daura, but don’t trust that man from Funtua…

Pay attention to Bukola’s next move. Petite Oshio isn’t a people person…Amaychy doesn’t love you. You once wronged Bola…
These men all have one intention, and it’s now directed at how to influence PMB during(2019-2023) value allocation. If you aren’t immortal, watch those around you…
A sense of security (that has just been procured through controversial re-election) opens the door to conspiracy. I pray that the mighty gods defend you!”

Here is the thing, in a ‘School of Disciples’, teachers once taught us some classics I can share with leaders in my country at this time: That your enemy will watch and seek to destroy you when you just secure a victory and you are celebrating. In the same vein, this is not a time for Nigeria’s president to continue to throw some missiles at the opposition leaders they first defeated four years ago. It is not a time to continue to blame the opposition for a systemic failure inherited four years ago as the president just resumed after re-election. It is time the words of the president should minister grace and healing to Nigerians including the more than 11 million who didn’t vote for him.

There shouldn’t be room for toxic campaigns after election. The President and his reputation managers should shun words that divide us at this time. This is a time to ask the Oshiomholes and others who don’t know how to speak to the people to take some back seat. The low turn-out in yesterday’s governorship and state assembly elections is a pointer that most people are still smarting from some stark reality that their votes in the presidential and national assembly elections didn’t count, after all. Aggrieved electorate may not be protesting in the streets but they should not be taken for granted at this time. This is a time to unleash orators who can heal the people with good words.

Specifically, the president should note that this is not a time to allow professional sycophants to pollute the system. Sycophants are more dangerous at a time like this. Most of them now resort to congratulatory messages in the media. They want to be noticed as they want such a gift (sycophancy) to make a way for them when it comes to value allocation soon. They bury truth in a grave to praise and praise even misguided leaders until crisis hits the fan.

This is a time for leaders to appreciate the value of what Balroop Singh was saying that, ‘all people like to be praised as it boosts self esteem, keeps them motivated and happy but it also pushes them into the abyss of sham, which is propelled by hypocrisy and sycophancy’.
This is a time to appeal to or lobby the opposition leaders to drop their election petitions in the interest of peace and stability. But how can that peaceful atmosphere occur when the EFCC is deeply involved in raiding estates of opposition leaders in search of cash on the eve of elections even when they know that ruling party leaders are desperately sharing vote-buying money even in bullion vans? Is a time of healing a time the EFCC should be arresting members of the family of the main opposition leader the Peace Committee has been wooing to drop election petitions? I think state actors need to be more careful in their celebrating with a song that, ‘It is well’. They should look round and feel the pulse of the nation. Sycophants around won’t tell them from intelligence that ‘it is not well’.

There are indeed weightier matters of state and governance that the president should concern himself with at this time. We should not fail now to remind our leader that there have been some institutional weaknesses that negatively affected efficiency of his first term. There shouldn’t be any illusion that the president didn’t run the 2019 election campaigns on his performance in the last four years. The president’s performance was not significant enough. And part of the reasons are not too far to seek: They include: weak presidential bureaucracy; embarrassing parochial appointments; a cabinet of mediocrities; lifeless economic team, etc.


Parochial appointments: This appears to be the president’s weakest point and has been very embarrassing. Which was why there was a recent comment here that the Chairman of Code of Conduct Bureau, the Chairman of Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Attorney General of the Federation, (their team master) and even the prosecutor of Chief Justice of the Federation now in the eye of their storm and possible replacement for the CJN, are all Muslims from the North. In the same vein, the IGP and DG, DSS the Code of Conduct Tribunal ordered the other day to arrest the CJN, are all from the North too. Besides, last Monday, a colleague and communist of significance, LasisiOlagunju in his Monday Linesnoted casually in his seminal article titled, ‘The North’s 2019 presidential votes’:

‘…We just had an election in which two major candidates were northerners. An election conducted by a president who is from the North and by an INEC chairman who is also from the North. These men just gave us a challenged presidential poll closely guarded by security chiefs all from the North. The North, through this election, has told us clearly that it owns the yam and the knife of Nigeria. It should therefore learn to be a responsible husband, doing things well and tidying up properly going forward….’

The simple salient point here is that the winner and leader of Nigeria at this juncture should not allow the sycophants in his presidency to dismiss those who express fears about the state of the nation this way. Presidential appointments since 2015 have been curiously parochial. And perception of nepotism, in this regard cannot help in building confidence in the nation he leads at this time. So, the president should reflect on the complex nature of the diversity in the nations within the nation – that should not accommodate this parochialism. He should flush out all mediocrities in both his presidential bureaucracy, comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF) Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) and Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC). Instead of blaming the erstwhile ruling party, he should begin to consult seriously for a robust cabinet and economic management team that can deliver services this time.

*We should continue on this note this week.

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