Buhari watch: Where is the change promised?

President Muhammadu Buhari

This is not a time for speaking in tongues. It is a time to tell President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) and all the governing APC chieftains that two years should be enough to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, as someone once put it comically too, there is neither a tunnel nor light in the country where mediocrity is daily nurtured by sycophancy. Indeed, a season of sycophancy is here again and the cheer leaders and mega sycophants who are members of a mega party called AGIP (Any Government in Power) will heap mega praises on the Buhari administration for dealing decisively with corruption and insecurity in the North East. And we in the media will readily assist them in propagating the ‘monumental achievements’ in the last two years. In fact, their consultants within the media have begun the journalistic legwork. And from tomorrow, we will be reading balanced stories with headlines such as “knocks, kudos for Buhari’s two years in office”. In the end there will be more “kudos” than “knocks” for the wonderful administration, an idea no force on earth could have stopped in May, 2015. We are indeed in an era of sycophancy that has shaped massive mediocrity everywhere we go in the country.

As I had noted in this column before, I learned from my pastor, Kunle Omotosho, now in New York that your best friend really is the one who can ignore a spirit of flattery and tell you the truth you ordinarily would not like anyone to tell you. That is why I would like to tell PMB and his men in APC that there is no substance to celebrate if tomorrow comes. In my village where I attended a Local Authority (LA) Primary school too, I learned that if you do not tell the wicked of his wickedness immediately, he will be the first to proclaim himself as a nation builder. This is a time to tell this administration that it will come to pass soon when mere “technical defeat” of Boko Haram, securing the release of103 of the abducted 276 Chibok girls and arrest of a few but prominent suspects, not yet charged with specific offences will not be enough to flaunt as achievements. I think it is not so proper to hail an administration that has no clue about an economy that is not performing. Just as it is not going to help either the governing party or the people of this country should we continue to doff our hats for a government that cannot create jobs for its teeming population in a country where churches and mosques are daily spring up where factories used to stand.

There is therefore a sense in which we the people can say today that freedom for some of the missing Chibok girls and not-so-technical defeat of Boko Haram insurgents and largely media trials of corrupt people cannot be used to answer a pertinent question at this time: where indeed is the change promised? Two years on, the superman and change poster boy from Lagos, Babatunde Raji Fashola is still speaking in tongues about radical changes in the works and power sectors, let alone housing. So, it does appear that the action man from Lagos, BRF has been largely inactive in a strange political environment called Abuja. Yes, Abuja a land that mysteriously demystifies and paralyses its brightest. BRF is in a den of unarmed killers of dreams; a work environment that most times elevates its dullest and demotes its best. No one has heard about any worthy policy thrust from one of the pillars of the administration from Port Harcourt, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi in the realm of transportation. Aviation industry he supervises is facing some strains.

Transport (land, railway and maritime, et al) is experiencing stresses. What is more, the health sector being supervised by a Professor of Medicine, Isaac Folorunso Adewole is not yet a place to be proud of. What is more telling: the president is receiving medical treatment in a country that 60 years ago developed for us a University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan that used to be a world-class hospital. The education ministry headed by one of the president’s well-known men, Malam Adamu Adamu, cannot be proud yet of any significant changes in the sector.When the cock crows tomorrow for the hours of reckoning for PMB, Adamu can only clap with one hand. What about the critical Justice system? There will be a not-so-loud applause tomorrow for anti-corruption fight.

There has been so much noise about exploits in this sector of the criminal justice system. But I dare say that even the Attorney General of the Federation who is not too sure that he is charge of the anti-graft bodies cannot join the bandwagon of celebrators tomorrowto claim that it is well with both the EFCC, ICPC and CCB. The two bodies can only praise themselves tomorrow and members of AGIP will clap for them. But they cannot say that their investigations have been thorough, transparent and fair. It has been noted here that only a reform of the system that recognises the prime place of the Attorney General in this connection, will benefit from war on corruption. Besides, beyond media trials that many citizens have been complaining about, it is only when the war on corruption can also focus on recording breakthroughs in preventing stealing in the public sector that we can celebrate. There have been indications that current public servants are still very involved in stealing public funds. And so if the next administration can still find “execu-thieves”, “legislooters” and “judi-sharers” in the current administration, it means the whole exercise has been a charade, after all.

As the PMB administration steps out tomorrow to mark second year in office, even the head of the presidential bureaucracy, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation will be missing in action. The SGF, Mr. Babachir David Lawal was on April 19, 2017 suspended from office on corruption allegation. This is not a credit as some cheer leaders would want us to believe. The federal bureaucracy and indeed the entire machinery of government have been incredibly epileptic under PMB. Most of the federal agencies including economic, health, education ones, and extra-ministerial departments whose heads were removed since 2015are just getting replacements. Most Of them are still without substantive heads.

I complained in this column a few weeks back that even most of the diplomatic missions abroad whose envoys were also recalled two years ago are still awaiting replacements. These include priority ones such as United Kingdom, United States, Germany, France, Russia, Spain& Vatican & China. The ambassadors-designate have since been cleared by the Senate and service orientation done for them two months ago. But the powerful procrastination spirit in the presidency has not lifted its ban on operational efficiency there. Despite the unnecessary delay in selecting them, the envoys have not been posted. It is doubtful if the acting president now surrounded by a wily cabal will approve the posting of diplomats that even the foreign affairs ministry didn’t know when they were nominated.

What is worse, I just confirmed that even the unique administration of the Federal Capital Territory under the APC’s two-year old government has been uninspiring too. Two years on, the FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello too has not constituted the Executive Council members to manage various sectors such as Education, Health & Human Services, Engineering, Public Works, Legal Secretariat, etc. The implications are clear: there have been no political heads for all the mandate secretariats since the last minister left office in 2015. Besides, there are no substantive directors in the bureaucracy. Most of the directors in the FCT bureaucracy have been in hibernation mode: And all the acting directors were appointed from the rank of assistant directors, not from deputy director’s cadre. And wait for this: the acting directorswho were appointed long ago through a press statement, have no appointment letters yet. That is why critical infrastructure in Abuja, our Abuja too has been degenerating before our very eyes. Which was why a shocked resident once reported sarcastically that the FCT Minister posted by PMB since 2015 has not assumed duty. This is part of the ugly faces of the APC administration that they won’t want anyone to see tomorrow. I mean even the beautiful 41-year old nation’s capital has been violated by the APC administration. We need to tell them to wake up from their deep slumber from tomorrow.

A Word for Bruised PDP
It is, however, relevant to face us some facts before the lies bruise us too: It is impossible for democracy to thrive where the opposition is directionless, whipped into silence, or clueless. Gifts of the spirit of democracy are unquestionably these: steady, free and fair elections, fundamental human rights, transparency and accountability, and rule of law. They are part of the fundaments of a democratic system. Informed control of rulers by the electorate, and tolerance (on the part of government) of critical dissents– in manners expected of an institutionalised opposition and responsible citizens – are other fundamental principles that define a decent democratic culture. These elements allow both citizens and opposition parties to voice their disagreement with actions and policies of the ruling party. They are legally permitted to differ and provide reasoned alternatives to issues affecting the country. Their constructive dissents cannot be treated as treasonable acts.

And where opposition is lacking, the government and the people are doomed. In their different positions, the ruling party and the opposition must regard each other as patriotic workfellows in the vineyard of nation-building. They may exchange blows in the process but their eyes must be on the focal point – nation building!

This is the sacred responsibility that the wounded PDP and other rudderless political parties in the country’s political space have been shirking. They are the organs that should be sending data to the news media that feeds democracy. The manifest inadequacies of the ruling party should have provided a good opportunity for a thinking opposition to wade in with a cocktail of practicable ideas. The hurtful policies of the APC-led Federal Government require a sensible opposition to cushion with the balm of constructive criticism. The political press cannot manufacture data and facts to report the governing party’s appalling governance and tardiness. Journalism is safe, credible and strong when its operatives quote open sources on most issues. So, when the cock crows at dawn tomorrow, PDP should wake up from its deep slumber. It should not wait for Supreme Court’s verdict to do the needful to the nation.



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