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Why Buhari needs inclusive government now!

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President Muhammadu Buhari

It is still too early to leave President Muhammadu Buhari to his devices at this time that party members and manipulators of all hues can resort to deadly stratagem to get his attention, especially for appointments. He needs our prayers and good counsel to succeed, lest we will all suffer the consequences of manipulation at this time. We were told to leave him alone to appoint those he could trust – four years ago. We have all lived to regret that naivety and simplicity. Yes, he is the president and chief executive of the federation. He has the prerogative to do what he likes, having obtained our mandate to do so. But we the citizens should have our say too: he can have his way. But we want his way to be for the common good, especially at these unusual times. That is why we are active citizens!

No doubt, like the Issacharites, Nigeria’s leader at this time needs to understand the times and know what Nigeria ought to do. The ancient world, ever so true, teaches us that children of Issachar were so gifted that they understood the times and knew what Israel ought to do. That is what the leader needs now. He needs to understand the times. He does not need insults and lamentation lines – to serve the public good. He needs to understand that it is not well with the country he is leading at the moment. Elections are over. Election petitions are being prosecuted. But he has been sworn in for four years to lead Nigeria. His party was desperate to get him re-elected and they desperately did so. I had noted before the election that they were curiously desperate even to lose Nigeria just to get the president re-elected. In the Sunday January 6, 2019 edition of this column, I had noted under a title, “Curious desperation to lose Nigeria”.

“It is unfortunate that our unscrupulous politicians, our dealers who call themselves leaders have failed to read a classical warning from Henry David Thoreau who once noted that, ‘it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things’. Yes, it is now crystal clear that Nigerian politicians are very desperate at the moment and their desperate situations make them do desperate things – to win election, even if they lose the country in the process. They don’t care. They are in a hurry to pull down their country, win election and then set up a bunker in which they can run their country.

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They want to win at all cost. The country can be lost. They want to create a Syria out of Nigeria. They don’t care anymore. They seem to have picked up a Samuel Doe’s strategy paper: win election, remain in the government house as long as you are safe until you lose everything including your country –to satanic forces….

(https://guardian.ng/opinion/curious-desperation-to-lose-nigeria/) They have won but there is a difficult task before the leader.

The Yoruba are agonising and organising…
This is a time to tell Nigeria’s leader that the Yoruba people are angry. They are organising as they are agonising beyond what the physical eyes can detect – about the state of the nation. The Igbo people have been complaining. They are also organising beyond commerce in a nation where they feel they are not yet free. The Middle Belters and the north-central Nigerians who have been nursing their ancient grudges against all governments in power have stepped up their grouse against principalities and powers that they often allege have been marginalising them. Are the organised militants in the Niger Delta area happy with the state of the nation? Have the NDDC, Niger Delta ministry and federal government’s amnesty programme addressed the agitations of the oil-rich Niger Delta region?

I know enough to know that the Yoruba nation is quite angry at the moment about so many things including president Buhari’s carefree but curious attitude to the ‘national question’ we simplify as federalism and contextually report as restructuring (of the federation).

Specifically, the Yoruba people are quite disturbed about the arrival and settlements of Fulani herdsmen and bandits in Yorubaland who have started kidnapping their people and destroying their farmlands. They will announce their harmless but strategic agenda sooner than later. I know they are organising in their agony on many fronts. I understand they have many issues with President Buhari that they will state sooner than later. State actors should note this intelligence that sycophants would like to dismiss at this time. This is part of the reasons I stated earlier that the leader of this country at this time should understand the times and know what Nigerians of various extractions can and ought to do.

As our pilot, our leader needs to know, alert and assure all of us that indeed ‘we have entered some areas of turbulence but there is nothing to worry about’. This is the right time for our Captain to assure us through the shape of his new government that he indeed belongs to nobody and belongs to all of us.

Specifically, in shaping his new government, the president needs to have victory over self. He should note that he needs to thank God that Nigeria is still one and united country in his stand despite the objective reality that his appointments in the last four years have threatened national security, after all. Those who don’t want to tell the truth will be talking of the elephant in the room: religion as a sensitive fault line political analysts and journalists should avoid.

Nigeria’s leader should be told point blank that he would not be doing his government and indeed the country any good if most of the service chiefs, security and intelligence chiefs this time, are Muslims from the core North. He does not need that burden at this moment. He needs to assure all from Maiduguri though Jos to Calabar that he is Nigeria’s leader this time. The nation expects him to headhunt good and competent officers from all parts of the country. He should begin from the presidential bureaucracy comprising the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), the Chief of Staff and Permanent Secretary State House now in the mix.

Seeing our leader all the time on television and in the newspapers with only state officers and officials from the far North who are mainly Muslims at public functions, does not portray him well as the Father of the Nation. The current SGF, the Chief of Staff, Chairman Federal Civil Service Commission are from the North East and North West, respectively. The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) is the only one from South South.

It is time for our leader to look up to the hills of the other regions in national security and intelligence appointments. In what way have the current appointees from the North helped in our current national security challenges? As I have noted before, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) hail from Borno State where we have had more headache. Immediate past Inspector General of Police and the current one are from Niger and Nasarawa states respectively; The Chief of Air Staff, the Director General, State Security Service, the Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Director, Defence Intelligence Agency, (DIA), Minister of Defence until last Wednesday (Zamfara), Minister of Interior (Kano), etc are not only from the core North, they are Muslims. Have these presidential appointees made any difference in tackling insecurity in the North? They have all been technically defeated as an editorial succinctly put it recently.

Let’s not go to other key sectors including Education and Finance, for instance. The immediate past Minister of Finance and the two Permanent Secretaries in the ministry are from the far North and they are Muslims. Same for Education: the immediate past Minister of Education and most heads of education big-budget agencies can be similarly labelled too. If we compile all presidential appointments in the last four years, it can be very embarrassing.

This is where most citizens from the North Central, the South West, South East and South South would like the President of this country to say no this time to his aides who keep recommending people from the President’s own region and religion. It has not been helpful in nation building. It is time to tell the president that Christians in Nigeria have not felt any inclusiveness beyond the choice of Vice President who may not have been allowed too to make input in major presidential appointments in the past four years.

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The conclusion of the whole matter is that the President Buhari should not feel comfortable with the fact he has been condoned in these parochial and lopsided appointments since 2015 and so nothing will happen if he continues. As he prepares for his second term, he should make inclusiveness, the centrepiece of his governance policy. He needs to run an inclusive government. He should celebrate an inclusive democracy now to put a lie to what the Obasanjos are alleging about Fulanisation, Islamisation and Northernisation as state policy.

The Nigerian leaders at all levels need to imbibe this best practice of inclusiveness, especially in a complex federation such as ours. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) an influential intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member (wealthy) countries always advertise a fact that an inclusive government is for a more inclusive society. The organisation tells the world that inclusive growth is crucial not only for a fairer society but also for a stronger economy. The OECD always wants democratic government leaders to ask themselves whether the public sector, a major employer in the economy, is representative of the society it serves, whether it should aspire to being and ‘inclusive employer’ and if so, what that would entail.

Therefore, as President Buhari seeks to search for new ways of improving living standards and sharing the benefits of growth more evenly across all groups in society, his public sector policy he needs to reform, has a critical role to play this time with respect to the inclusiveness of the public sector itself, the inclusiveness of policy-making processes and the inclusiveness of the outcomes that government seeks to promote. If he decides to do what he likes with the delicate federation he has to manage at this time, the consequences may not be healthy for the country he has to lead as a glimmer of hope for the Black race.

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