Buhari: Race horse among the cart breed!
From any angle it is viewed, the ubiquitous question “what manner of change is this?’’ should not be asked outside the immediate precincts of beer parlours. But, you do not have to dismiss it as such especially if it is a question posed by a supposedly learned individual. Here, supposedly learned individuals are treated as sore losers who deserve some attention, anyway! Drunken sore losers are a different ball game altogether.
On the one or two occasions I was confronted by the question, posed by a supposedly learned person but who fits our definition of a sore loser, my response simply was: if the only achievement of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration is to pull the rug off the feet of looters, then it has started a great revolution without having to shed any blood! Nigerians clamoured for change. Now, they have change. It is the incorruptibility, forthrightness and doggedness of the two men at the helm of affairs that continue to inspire confidence in a country best known for throwing up incompetent and clueless leaders. The president and his deputy are gradually proving that there is still hope of salvation for a ‘captured’ people.
The Buhari/Osinbajo administration came to power on the strength of three promises: securing the nation, genuine transformation of the economy through diversification and giving corruption a bloody nose. In none of the three can the administration boast of sterling performance; no well-meaning Nigerian expected the administration to clear the rot it inherited in such a remarkably short time and lay the foundation for genuine transformation. Still, its harshest critic cannot score the administration zero in any of the three items on its wish list!
In fact, the anti-corruption war which, for very obvious reasons is the most challenging of the trio, has been the administration’s major area of success. The change Nigerians clamoured for is the need to reverse the way things were done in this country. It has taken the Buhari/Osinbajo administration for Nigerians to know that no one is above the law when matters border on public trust. You don’t steal money, no matter how highly placed you are, and enjoy your sleep. There would have been no way an average Nigerian will ever believe he will live to see the day retired and serving army generals and their equivalents in other services will have their ill-gotten wealth confiscated and hauled before a judge.
Had the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket failed, nobody would have heard of the embezzled billions appropriated to fight insurgency in the north east. Nigerians would still have been breathing fresh air with Sambo Dasuki, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, a retired army colonel and prince of the Sokoto caliphate junketing around with raised shoulders as untrained Boko Haram gunmen killed and maimed more Nigerians. Just pause to imagine what Alex Badeh and other thieving armed scoundrels would have turned Nigeria into had Nigerians failed to disperse the inept and fumbling Goodluck Jonathan crowd. Imagine too, the vile designs Mrs. Patience Jonathan and other close Jonathan family members had for Nigeria!
It was hope built on trust in the President Muhammadu Buhari that encouraged some Nigerians to trek or cycle hundreds of kilometres across the country at the beginning of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. It was the same hope, especially, in the person of the president that led some Nigerians to vow to embark on a ‘long march’ to register their displeasure in the unlikely failure of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. In spite of everything, it has been this hope that dissuaded cross-country trekkers from embarking on long marches to register displeasure with the way battered economy is being turned around.
As was anticipated at the inception of this administration, the economy has not failed to excite. It is no longer news that the administration inherited an economy that was only good for intensive care unit! Very few Nigerians are truly surprised that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who superintended the Goodluck Jonathan wrong-headed economic transformation agenda and who serially gave the economy a clean bill is now singing a different tune. We now know the Goodluck Jonathan crowd consistently borrowed to pay salaries; that the voodoo economists of the Goodluck Jonathan administration failed to save in the midst of surplus and, that the public till was treated as private bank accounts by politicians who acted as if money was going out of vogue!
The challenge which, for fear of a possible backlash past administrations sidetracked, has been to genuinely diversify the economy. The process to diversify the economy has finally commenced. The years of lip service and outright dishonesty on diversifying the economy has ended and the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has literally taken the bull by the horn. Attention is gradually shifting from oil which has proved to be the nation’s nemesis. It has finally taken the Buhari/Osinbajo administration for Nigerians to realise that oil can no longer be a weapon to employ in holding compatriots to ransom. The transition is going to be painful but necessary! No reasonable Nigerian thought the transition is going to be painless, anyway.
Much of the credit should go to President Muhammadu Buhari who, without doubt, is the leading light of the administration. Say what you wish about him but even his worst enemies concede that President Buhari is not a thief, does not condone stealing and will not glorify and celebrate criminals. As a military governor, petroleum minister as well as chairman of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, a General Officer Commanding, then Head of State and Commander in Chief and later as chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, General Buhari could have been the richest retired general today. He had every opportunity to loot the treasury and amass enough wealth to take care of his needs but never did. He never will if he has to live his exemplary life all over again!
For the second time in a little over three decades, President Buhari has the onerous task of leading a team to get Nigeria to walk and work again. It is a rare opportunity that could be likened to a race of a lifetime that demands speed and accuracy. Only race horses, not the cart breed, are best suited for this kind of race!
It is a race for which Nigerians made a valid choice by staking on the right race horse. Never a man to hide behind a finger, President Buhari has consistently said the administration simply cannot afford to disappoint Nigerians in its advertised mission to change Nigeria for the better. But, the desired change will not be meaningful if it does not begin with you!
For Nigeria, the sun will shine.
Magaji is based in Abuja