On the state of the nation

President Muhammadu Buhari

By his recent frank and thought-provoking press statement directed at President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration, former President Olusegun Obasanjo once again relived his self-imposed messianic role of being a voice of reason for a drifting nation.

This time around, it was an exceptionally bold Obasanjo, who, in a manner devoid of his usual placations, drooled out narratives about the precarious state of the country, the poor performance of this administration coupled with widespread insecurity and biting poverty.

In his 3573 words missive titled, ìThe Way Out: A Clarion Call for Coalition for Nigeria Movement,î Obasanjo outlined and analyzed the administrative infelicities of this government, dismissed it as a woeful failure and on the basis of this, cautioned President Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.

As an alternative to the disparaged ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the ignominious Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he proposed a Third Force, a political rallying point that may ascend onto a political party.

What may be said to the kernel of the press statement are the perennial issues which many informed comments, including this paper’s, have brought to the public consciousness since the beginning of this administration.

This stable has consistently criticized the grand impunity with which a privileged section of Nigerians over-ride weak and helpless counterparts in the country. It has also, in the past two years, drawn the attention of Nigerians to a circus of shadow-chasing in economic and financial crimes carried out by Buhari’s ineffective anti-corruption machinery.

Despite the regime’s modest achievements effected by intervals of accidental delegation, there seems to be no roadmap for national development beyond prescriptions emanating from self-serving global agencies. Above all, there have been strong condemnation and serious misgivings over the president’s incurable nepotistic tendencies, of his arrogant insularity and inscrutable silence as well as his alleged relishing of a circle of self-seeking cronies.

Even with consistent benevolent prodding from the media to save the president from the possession of the spirit of error, vocal spokespersons of the administration have treated the admonitions of well-meaning informed Nigerians with magisterial vehemence.

All the issues tabled down are the same issues informed Nigerians have articulated on several occasions. What is exceptional in the release, therefore, are neither the contents nor the manner in which they were passed across; rather it is the fact that the messenger of the message is Olusegun Obasanjo. But as this paper stated when Obasanjo wrote a letter to former President Goodluck Jonathan, it should be noted that Obasanjo, like any other Nigerian has an inalienable right to write or comment on how he is being governed.

Besides, the privileges bestowed on him by both cultural rank as an octogenarian and traditional chief and by national political history, as a two-time head of state and as an elder statesman, have elevated this right to a moral duty.

However, it needs being asked what the intentions of Obasanjo are each time he engages in his characteristic letter-writing. Since 2007 Obasanjo has made himself the moral arbiter of successive administrations after his failed attempt at securing a third term. He openly anointed the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. At the death of the latter, he portrayed himself as a godfather of Jonathan, only to publicly denounce him and the ruling PDP in a dramatic manner.

Obasanjo was also a staunch supporter of Buhari for the 2015 elections. He was convinced about Buhari’s ability to perform and invoked his moral force to campaign for the latter.

But for whatever anyone cares, Nigeria has been inundated with so many associations and movements purporting to transform the country for the better. Nigerians were witnesses to the fact that no sooner had these movements been formed than they were hijacked by buccaneers and political contractors. What guarantee do Nigerians have from subscribers to Coalition for Nigeria that the same fate will not befall the Coalition?

The problem, therefore, is not with the formation of a movement or its dramatis personae, but with the structure that creates lopsided power relations which in turn privileges one group of Nigerians over another; one that undermines probity and celebrates pretentious power players over and above genuine leaders.

As has been stated often, in a situation where too much prebendal privileges are given to public office holders and retired generals, it is difficult if not hopeless, to see how a Third Force could emerge to clean the mess. As history has often thought the world, die-hard proponents or inner core members of the status quo are often not candidates to bring about change, without a prior and dramatic renunciation of the doctrines, practices and privileges they have enjoyed in their former stations.

True, the situation in the country has generated so much anguish that Nigerians are caused to seek consolation in clannish protection. Even though Nigerians are sentimental about their multi-ethno linguistic and multi-religious configuration, history has shown that they can be united over a genuine national cause. But in the face of growing perception that the president and his circle of cronies are blindly partisan to the point of compromising national interest, the government cannot be trusted with general security of lives and properties.

It is for this and other reasons that the mistake of this administration are being pointed out to it. And it should see such as required interlude for sober reflection. This administration seems to have become both over-confident and impervious to the advice of genuine lovers of this country.

The current wave of criticisms against the ruling class should be seen as opportunities for both the ruling APC and the opposition party to retrace their steps.

To this end, both political parties should carefully examine their manifestoes and begin to implement what they promised to address as a framework for national development.



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