Limits of Muhammadu Buhari’s critics
CRITICS are of two classes. There are the constructive and the destructive critics. Some critics argue that President Muhammadu Buhari is too slow in his administration. Others allege that he is yet to commence action; they believe that the President is merely pussy-footing.
Some others counter the fault-finders for their political ineptitude, contending that he needs to watch his steps lest he slips, falls and eventually elicits condemnation from the same critics.
To an extent, I am on the same track with the President, but I disagree with him in another respect to be proved later – Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
To start with, it must be realised that the Peoples Democratic Party’s unbroken rule of 16 years has created many difficulties. A journey of such long duration has several potholes on its paths.
Therefore, there is need for patience. In the words of C.H. Spurgeon, in his “Plain advice for plain people”, “Patience is better than wisdom; an ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains”. Also, as it is often said, “Slow and steady wins the race”.
Consider, for example, the huge problem of corruption when the country made N41.6 trillion revenue in four years from crude oil proceeds, taxes and duties, yet it is cash strapped to the extent that paying the salaries of public sector workers becomes impossible.
Secondly, the intra-party wrangling has occasioned unabated cataracts of invectives, making it well-nigh impossible to appoint ministers. Also, members of the National Assembly are major gladiators inveighing against President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration.
The ensuing ruckus is prohibitive to smooth take-off of governance. What with the uproar in the House of Representatives where the pro-party leadership members of the APC clashed with those opposed to toeing the party’s line over the elections of the principals of the lower legislative chamber? For over two hours, there were physical attempts to seize the mace.
What impresses me about the President is that he refuses to associate with any side in the politicking. If he supports one side, he shall incur the grievances from the other, and thus puts cogs in the wheel of his governance; a poisoned chalice of sort, that is.
By maintaining neutrality, he is demonstrating his senses of impartiality and of sincerity of purposes, as instanced in his appeal to the All Progressives Congress (APC), “Forget your differences and personal ambitions in order for the party to achieve its campaign manifestoes of addressing security, economy, employment and corruption”.
How else do we assess a man’s maturity? Maturity is tested more in actions than in utterances, although through both. My understanding of President Muhammadu Buhari is that, he and Alhaji Lateef ’Kayode Jakande are compatible elements; both are not garrulous by nature. The former Lagos State Governor is not given to much talk, but many actions.
The same is true of the present President who does not believe in noise-making to over-egg his puddings. No sooner was President Buhari sworn-in than he embarked on the actions that prove his mettles.
Because of the over-whelming down-pour of criticisms vented on him, it is reasonable and desirable to enumerate few of his achievements between May 29 and today.
On security, which is basic, he established the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to tackle the Boko-Haram insurgency, necessitating his meetings with the Heads of Government of the surrounding countries for supports.
In this respect, the service chiefs were sacked to achieve the desired goals. Also, he dissolved the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Board of Directors.
Minutes after it was inaugurated by Buhari, the National Economic Council (NEC) raised a four-member committee to probe alleged misappropriation of over N3.5 trillion from the coffers of the NNPC as well as alleged N2 trillion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
In further efforts on the economy, the Federal Government perfected plans to tap from the enormous reservoir of the wealthy super-rich Nigerians who move around the world in their private jets, from which it hopes to rake in N38 billion annually. Similarly, President Buhari directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to review existing agreements for swapping of crude oil for refined products with a view to injecting more honesty and transparency into the process to reduce costs.
The aforementioned steps were carried out within two months, yet fault-finders claim that the President is slow. In an argument with a neighbour, I contended, “Is it when Buhari provides soup in our pots that he is deemed to be hard-working?” My view point is that the President does not have to be stampeded.
However, I differ from the President on the deferment till September of the Ministers’ appointments. This is saying that policy-making and executions shall devolve on the Permanent Secretaries and civil servants of lower ranks. A minister is not the same as a permanent secretary; both are of distinct responsibilities.
One is a politician, whilst the other is a civil servant. As the term implies, a permanent secretary is permanent in his department. A minister comes and goes. In their explanations by J. Harvey and L. Bather, as syndicated authors, “The relationship between the Minister and his Perm Secretary is compared by Lord Beveridge with that between husband and wife in the Victorian households.
The minister is the head of the household. The business of the Perm Sec is to mind the house, having no public life; is quite unknown outside the house; wields power by influence rather than directly”.
Therefore, governing by Perm Secs is wrong; they must be insulated from politics, and not involved in politics. To rely on them in much the same way as the Ministers for governance, leaves much to be desired. Having to defer ministerial appointments till September is to taint them with politics; it must not be as long, especially as most of them have served the PDP for so long.
I am not advocating that the Perm Secs should be sacked. Far from that. My standpoint is just that the Ministerial appointments must be soonest to temper the politics in the Perm Secs. Apart from this aspect, President Muhammadu Buhari is on the right track. Other things considered, he deserves the appellation, ‘Action President.’ • Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.