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Is Buhari being wisely advised?

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
23 December 2020   |   3:03 am
Since the beginning of time, rulers across the world have depended on diviners, soothsayers, fortune tellers, spiritual counselors, and plain charlatans to advice and plot their every move

President Muhammadu Buhari PHOTO: TWITTER/BASHIR AHMAD

Since the beginning of time, rulers across the world have depended on diviners, soothsayers, fortune tellers, spiritual counselors, and plain charlatans to advice and plot their every move. Therefore, the pre-eminence of advisers for whoever occupies the Aso Rock Villa or any leadership position for that matter is a good idea. This is because it is difficult to successfully get along as a leader in Nigeria’s politics without having competent advisers to assist the President to make the right decisions on the economic and political progress of the country among others. No doubt, competent advice to political office holders has proved remarkably successful by historical records.

For instance, during Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s tenure as finance minister in the Obasanjo and Jonathan regimes, her financial prowess, experience, and general intelligence plus candid advice saw the nation’s indebtedness to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and others cancelled just as the nation’s wealth fund savings increased respectively.

Regrettably, in recent times, President Muhammadu Buhari has been a recipient of several advices, some of which are quite misleading and have caused bad blood in the polity. Of course, public opinion is increasingly divided by such misled advice, just as some political analysts argued that President Buhari’s priorities are fast changing for the worst in his second term perhaps due to poor advice.  A school of thought believes that no matter how hard the ruling government tries to focus attention on matters of national interest, some misleading advice creeps in to overwhelm the agenda. A case in point is the proposed floating refineries in the Niger Delta regions. During President Buhari’s first term, he was intent on fighting corruption and insecurity among fulfilling other promises. But as time went by Nigerians began to notice some unprecedented and lackadaisical attitude that resulted in his wife Aisha alleging that hyenas and leopards have taken over his government. In like manner, well-meaning Nigerians have expressed displeasure in the way Mr. President is handling the Nigeria project, his body language towards tackling the ugly security situation, the lopsided appointment that favours a particular ethnic group, and of course his new formed shunning character.

Recently, the unhealthy advice that broke the camel’s back was when Abubakar Malami the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the other day said President Buhari cannot honour the House of Representative’s invitation because the National Assembly lacks the constitutional powers to summon Mr. President. It is absolutely surprising that the minister of justice could toll such a wonky line of argument. Under the ancient African traditional practice for instance, if farmers in a community were unable to yield good farm produce for a farming season without any known reason or a certain strange ailment is killing the people and the Chief Priests have tried their best to no avail, the king and his chiefs will come down from their royal positions to the market square to deliberate with the people on the way forward and how to stop the anomaly. Therefore, in the 21st Century modern society, the invitation from federal lawmakers who are representatives of the people was neither unconstitutional nor out of place considering the series of killings, banditry, and kidnappings in the country that necessitated the invitation.

The dust had hardly settled down from the presidency shunning of the South-South leaders and their governors than Malami created a niche for himself to speak in the manner he did. It was inappropriate to shun federal lawmakers. The President ought to have honoured the invitation and appear by way of courtesy to the lawmakers. In a way, the action has exposed the ruling government as being very efficient for the wrong priorities. These ugly scenarios go a long way to tell Nigerians that President Buhari’s claim to be a ‘Born-Again’ democrat is mere camouflage as he constantly shies away from democratic principles. Therefore, it has become clear that Buhari shunning is not simply an aftereffect of poor advice. Rather, it is the chronic reflection of the military mentality of the President that is eating out the administration’s tattered reputation. In no small measure, Nigerians are disappointed by the ruling government antics as many think that by now, it would have turned its collar round. Nevertheless, when the political Left or the opposition parties tries to ideologically identify the missing link, they are rewarded with banalities such as: The government will not be stampeded, the presidency will not be blackmailed, stop politicising the issue, the sovereignty of the nation is non-negotiable among other lousy phrases to save their face from shame. 

It is always telling when a President goes out of his way and makes a public pronouncement and one of his principal officials chose to debunk the statement. Such poor traits would make the President look like a weak leader and someone who is not in control. Currently, the chief threat to the unity of the nation is insecurity which has manifested itself like a colossus in the Northern parts of the country while spreading its tentacles to other parts. Insecurity has become a paradox for the ruling government as emotional feelings, suffering, and pain from its effect on Nigerians continue to grow daily. Indeed, the controversy over the state of insecurity in the country has necessitated the outburst in the cry for help from every corner in the country, chiefly among them is the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar as people no longer sleep with their two eyes closed.

Astonishingly, the ruling government continues to exaggerate the Army’s success in dealing with the security challenges just to mask the contradictions behind it. In Buhari’s reckoning through his advisers, the service chiefs scored a full 100 per cent in every aspect of its programme, only that their best was not good enough in fighting insurgency. The problem with the ruling government is that while the security challenges in the country are clearly troubling, it does not obviously constitute misdemeanor sufficient enough to justify the rejiging of the Service Chiefs. Having embarked on the path of self-deceit, the Buhari administration must have at the back of its mind that the killings, abduction, and banditry will get to a point where it would swing public reaction against the government, just like the #EndSARS protests.

The shunning character of Mr. President has spawned a new dilemma, deeper and more profound. But the best character actors in Nigeria’s politics are President Buhari advisers, like Malami who breaks all the linear reasoning to make a counter statement after President Buhari has assured the nation of his intention to honour the lawmakers’ invitation. In this kind of political setting, there is a need for circumspection by all men who value integrity. The president of a nation must, in particular, be mindful about the kind of advice he consumes so as not to have bellyache that may result in a running stomach in the middle of a press conference. He must be sure that the advice is genuine and not coloured with politics, ethnic or religious intentions, or sheer grandstanding. A lot is going to depend in the remaining years of the Buhari administration, on how the President advisers will manage him.