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Saturday , 26 May 2018

Invocation for Buhari

Whenever I consider the litany of dashed hopes that the Nigerian people have had to live through, despondency appears a natural reaction. But how does one surrender to negativism so easily? I am an incurable apostle of hope. Tomorrow has just got to be better than today. It’s as simple as that.

Was it not just two years ago when Buhari rode to power on the wings of our collective hope. Now, sadly, he ails. Shortly after he assumed power, some of the more notable treasury looters relocated to various countries in Europe and the Middle East. With the president’s illness becoming so grave that he had to be taken abroad, the large army of eminent leeches has regrouped and unleashed their malodorous presence in the public space.

The strategy of those who have a case or several to answer is to capitalise on the absence of the president to reclaim lost grounds. First they want to distract the Acting President through a series of irritations. Second, they want EFCC chief Ibrahim Magu fired. Third, they want a quick release of money for constituency projects so that they can start stockpiling cash for the 2019 elections.

But at this stage of the war, at this initial stage when muscle is needed, the absence of Buhari is bad news to all those who want the Augean stable cleaned out. While the cerebral Acting President has angered treasury looters by being on the same page with Buhari on virtually all counts, it is becoming clearer by the day that we have got to a stage in this ‘roforofo’ fight that fangs have to be bared. Prof. Osinbajo, leadership is not just about being goody-goody. One side of the coin is benevolence; the other is ruthlessness against evil.

That is why I am praying for Buhari to get well and come back to face the job of repairing Nigeria squarely. Mind you, I’m not saying Buhari is indispensable, but I can wager that some people are going to soil their underpants if he returns today and some of the brazen relapse to the terrible days of yore will cease. In the meantime, let Osinbajo step on the gas.

Perhaps the period of convalescence has enabled Buhari to introspect and realise that he could actually have done much better than he did in the first half. Even as he fights corruption, the president has to improve on his pan-Nigerian credentials by ensuring that federal appointments are spread more evenly among the six zones of the country. The fact that the immediate past administration ran a skewed government does not justify a repeat of their mistake. Buhari was elected to correct the wrongs, not compound them.

Part of that introspection also must be the need for the president to shun any clandestine structure unknown to his party and the country’s constitution. Nigerians did not vote for any cabal but for a president whose integrity was the greatest selling point. Many of those who ought to be in jail if we were running a saner country, are openly praying that the president does not return. Governor Ayo Fayose, the pestilence of Ekiti State, has made his ill-will against the president so compulsive as if his very life depended on Buhari not returning to office. (Or does it!)

At the last count, at least 21 senators were either being investigated or prosecuted by the EFCC. The game plan of the legislature to frustrate the anti-corruption war is becoming clearer by the day. While the House of Representatives attempted to smuggle in amnesty for treasury looters to save many of its members from the law, the senate is even more brazen. They want nothing short of the presidency through the back door.

Last week, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe representing Abia Central moved a motion to declare Senate President Bukola Saraki as acting president since the Substantive president, Muhammadu Buhari, was away on medical vacation and Acting President Osinbajo was attending the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Ethiopia.

Some commentators have described that move as an attempted legislative coup since there was no vacuum. A badly written script was being played out.

Where was Senator Abaribe when the budget estimates for the Second Niger Bridge (a project close to the hearts of people in the South-East and South-South) was being slashed by his colleagues in favour of so-called constituency projects?

We may also look at another senator whose silence when it mattered most was so loud. Ex-radical Senator Olusola Adeyeye of Osun Central could not find his voice when the estimates for the Lagos-Ibadan highway was being slashed but he was quick to jump to the defence of the senate against the executive.

For those who still think that we can achieve some cosmetic changes to our federalism through the legislature, I have a question: Are these the same people expected to assent to the proposed changes in the constitution which probably would include —by popular demand — the scrapping of the senate?

So, I would say, perish pessimism and justifiable anger at dashed hopes. For the task at hand, I want Buhari back, hale, hearty and rejuvenated; imbued with a new pan-Nigerian fervour and determined to do justice to all manner of persons; in words and deed truly belonging to everybody and to nobody — and certainly not to any cabal. Wole Olaoye

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