The part 3 is on what Buhari must do and his order of priorities for doing them. He has to prove Balarabe Musa and many skeptics wrong that his fight against corruption is going to be a flash in the pan. Nobody who knows the enormity of what is wrong with Nigeria today would ever underestimate the problems Buhari is going to face. Very few would want to be in the shoes of Buhari, 5 days before his long-awaited inauguration on May 29 which I call a “May Day” distress call by a pilot flying a jet full of passengers. Jonathan and his Demolition Derby have ruined the country. Nigerians would be amazed when the scandals under Jonathan begin to unfold. The prognosis does not look good from all I am able to see as an insider who was in the Public Service for 25 years of my prime and who saw it all.
President Clinton once made a statement I would never forget. He said there was nothing wrong with America that could not be corrected with what is right with America. How I wish that Nigerians could, in good conscience, say the same thing about Nigeria!
Buhari and his APC have identified 3 major problems they are going to address like a laser beam, if they win. They have won now by a landslide on March 28 and April 11. The problem is what to do with the mandate Nigerians have given them.
The first in their order of priority is restoring a sense of security to Nigerians. The second is jobs, jobs and jobs and the third is fighting Corruption. Buhari has put his fingers right on Corruption when he said, “if Nigeria does not kill Corruption, Corruption will kill Nigeria. I call that “Daniel come to judgment” The guy was damn right.
I do not know who will be drafting Buhari’s inaugural address, but if I were doing it, like I used to do in my Civil Service days, I would make that speech as good as the State of the Union address by American Presidents if not better because it is the first time in the political history of Nigeria that the opposition would be replacing a sitting Government. But I would also be writing that speech with some deference to what Obafemi Awolowo did with his 1974 Convocation Address as Chancellor of the University that now bears his name.
I produced the draft of the speech that Awolowo was supposed to read but to my utter amazement and that of Abdul Azeez Attah as Permanent Secretary and Aminu Saleh as Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Awolowo took our draft, he thanked us for it but the man went to the Convocation to read a speech himself had prepared and without clearing it with anybody including General Yakubu Gowon, his boss at the time. The surprise element Awolowo explained to me later was part of the aura the speech needed to make the greatest impact on the audience and the whole world.
Awolowo sole mission in that speech was to kill the Nigerian Census, which claimed that Kano’s population was almost twice the population of Lagos. The same Census put Ikere Ekiti’s population at 144,000 and Akure at 78,000 making Ikere the most populated city in Ondo State at the time higher than that of Ado Ekiti and Ondo town. I n the last election in Rivers State alone and in many of the South/South and Southeastern states like Bayelsa and Delta, Jonathan was awarded a total number of votes that could now jeopardize the electoral map of Nigeria in making projections on the future Census of Nigeria just like the figures recorded for Buhari in Kano could also pose a jigsaw puzzle for future Census if those figures are allowed to stand. The Southeast could predictably use those figures to start asking for more creation of States in the South/South and the Southeast even if the Arithmetic does not add up.
Awolowo knew that the Census was not a child play in the electoral equation of any country. He therefore decided to fight the 1973/74 Census with everything he has got until it was annulled. It was the only thing on his mind when he was called upon to deliver the 1974 Convocation address. Neither me nor Abdul Azeez Attah nor Aminu Saleh knew what Awolowo was thinking when we drafted that speech for him. I crafted my draft based on conventional wisdom. I passed on my draft to Aminu Saleh who passed on the draft to Abdul Azeez Attah who made one or two cosmetic corrections before passing on the draft to the “Lion of Ikenne”.
Unknown to all of us, Awolowo had written his own speech and the only issue he focused like a laser beam was why the Nigerian Census must die. It was a virtuoso performance. Awolowo achieved his goal. The first thing Murtala Mohammed did in 1975 on replacing Yakubu Gowon, was to cancel the Census calling it a thrash just like Awolowo have done with his once-in-a-life-time speech.
I am encouraged that whoever is drafting that speech would do a good job if it were the same person that drafted Buhari’s Chatham House speech in London. Doing a good speech is only the beginning and not the end in itself. Buhari has to be fully aware of that. He is going to be judged on his accomplishments at the end of the day and not whether or not his inaugural speech was memorable enough to be remembered like the Awolowo speech.
I would also suggest that Buhari starts a new tradition of addressing the joint session of the Nigerian Parliament. He should use the opportunity to do a yearly review of his stewardship and agenda like American Presidents do. The move helps every American President to not lose focus and could do the same for Buhari in his 4 years in office.
The Opposition ought to make the most of the opportunity that has to dethrone the PDP. If they really wish to remain in power for 4 more years after their first term, they have to perform to deserve that. Nigeria has now made performance the only yardstick for keeping or voting out any party in power just like voters do in more civilized and more developed countries of the world like the United States, Great Britain, Germany, China and Japan and even in our own sub-region in West Africa where we have now witnessed the opposition party topple a sitting Government in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. What has happened in Nigeria will soon happen in Zimbabwe and Togo and other countries across Africa. I can tell you that Mugabe would be the last dictator in Zimbabwe and the son of Gnasingbe Enyadema, the last dictator in Togo whether they both like it or not. Their time is up.
It might take a while. Democracy is where the whole world is headed. The election of the first black President in America and the amazing legacies the miracle boy Obama has left behind would live forever. His presidency has already proved to the world that “what matters in life is not who you are, but what you do with what you have”. Many of us are not even aware of what we have talked less of tapping into it to make a difference to our own life and the world around us.
I attended a graduation ceremony this weekend at the great University of Maryland where one of my in-laws was graduating in preparation for Medical School. The keynote speaker at the ceremony touched a raw nerve in me when she told the new graduates the quotation above which received a standing ovation. The Mini University Stadium where the Convocation was held was far superior to the whole National Stadium of Nigeria in Abuja.
I multiply that Sport complex by the total number of public and private Universities in America and something tells me loud and clear that Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa and arguably the richest by way of mineral resources, is a far cry from America. As I sat in the well of that Stadium watching the new graduates as they line-up to receive their Diplomas in their academic gowns of many colors, all I could think about was what Buhari is going to tell Nigerians and the whole world on May 29 at the Eagle Plaza in Abuja.
I knew the whole world would be there, represented by their Presidents or Vice Presidents. I knew that thousands of new graduates are turned out every year in America and majority of them are absorbed into the American job market with effortless ease because American planners have done their home- work. Jonathan our first PhD holder President has kept on opening more and more Universities without thinking of how to adequately fund the existing ones or what to do with the products of those Universities after they graduate. Jonathan does not even consider how those jobless graduates are going to become part of the workshops for the Devil and the pervasive insecurity that Buhari has now identified as one of our major problems.
Those senseless policies on the part of Jonathan and his PDP are what explain the crimes and violence and the armed robberies and kidnapping in the Nigerian society of today. It is the reason why the best brains of Nigeria have long checked out of Nigeria for survival elsewhere around the world including South Africa. 4 of those Nigerians of Igbo origin have just been voted as Members of Parliament in the British House of Commons and one of them could well become the British Labor leader and a potential British Prime Minister of the future. One of such Nigerians, a woman has just become a Mayor in one of the major cities of the United Kingdom. Many of those Nigerians are busy making headlines as Basketball stars, Hollywood stars, NASA Rocket scientists, Silicon Valley Computer Wizards and Professor Emeritus in most Ivy League Institutions in America and all over the world. The brain drain from Nigeria is huge and so is capital flight.
I say Buhari must remember in his inaugural address, the fallen heroes or victims and the endangered species of Nigerian politics quite apart from the thousands and millions killed by the Boko Haram insurgents and millions that have been displaced from their homes all because of a failed and incompetent and very corrupt Government and leadership in Abuja. If I do not know any of those who died in the Northeast and the millions who perished during the costly Biafran War from 1967 t0 1970, I do know of a few close friends who were murdered in cold blood in Akure, my home town on August 16, 1983 when late Omoboriowo and the NPN rigged the elections in Ondo State.
The causalities in the mayhem that followed were late Olaiya Fagbamigbe the best Parliamentarian Akure has ever elected. Another was Chief Robert Akesogie Agbayewa, an Edo n’Ekue who became the Sashere Olowu Opotopata of Akure Land and a very patriotic Akure son. Another was Chief Akogun Oluyede of Akure and Barrister Agunbiade from Oda in Akure South Local Government. Buhari has to ensure that those Nigerians have not died in vain by doing something to honor their collective memories. If he succeeds in introducing a new template of responsible leadership in Nigeria, those Nigerians would not have died in vain.
There are few things Buhari could do from day one for symbolism and as a gesture of what to expect from his regime. There are things he could do by executive order and without a need to involve the Legislature or the Judiciary. Dropping the title “Your Excellency” or “General” are a small part of it. No Nigerian leader deserves to be addressed as “Your Excellency” because the blunt truth is that they are not even “good enough” talk less of being “excellent”. Many of our leaders have internalized those useless nomenclatures. It goes into their heads and they start believing what they are super-human. Buhari can simply outlaw that title and serve notice to Governors like Ayo Fayose who live and die by those useless titles. Murtala Mohammed our best military leader to-date once told me in a private conversation at the Army Headquarters in 1968, seven years before he became Head of State that he would outlaw such titles, if he ever found himself in a position of power.
I did not know at the time that he ever nursed the ambition to be Head of State, but all I knew was that the man was ever so much in a hurry as if he was running for time. He was the Chairman of the Recruitment Panel for commissioned officers in the Nigerian Army and I was the Secretary. No meetings presided over by Murtala ever lasted more than an hour. Late Agbazikah Innih was the Military Secretary at the time and Ike Nwachukwu was his Deputy. Murtala Mohammed lasted only 200 days in power but it was a short time frame that made him an instant hero long after his death.
No less than 60 Nigerian officers including one of the sons of Dr. “Beni Beko” Ransome Kuti another nationalist and Human Rights leaders have been court-marshaled and are currently awaiting execution anytime for refusing to fight Boko Haram because they complained they lacked the equipment to get their job done. Buhari must either confirm their death sentence or grant them clemency or grant them a reprieve as part of his inaugural address. Such a gesture on his part would go a long way to determine what Nigerians could expect from him this time around. Many if not all of those soldiers could be retired in accordance with military tradition, but under no condition must they be made to lose their life is my point.
Of course the Military, the Police Force and State Security are long overdue for a major shake-up or review because they have all been bastardized by Jonathan. By the same token many of the latest last minutes appointments made by Jonathan would have to be reviewed or cancelled altogether or put on hold to enable Buhari pick his own men and women to implement his new policies. I trust Ahmed Joda and his comrades in the Transition Committee to give Buhari the best advice on how to handle that. I knew Ahmed Joda. I served under him as Permanent Secretary for 3 years and I knew he would do the right thing.
I have already said in my part 2 that Buhari would succeed and prove Balarabe Musa wrong if he practices what he preaches this time around. The reformation must begin with him, his Vice President and his first lady and his Cabinet. Ahmed Tinubu could easily have been the man occupying the slot given to Osinbajo today, if he was a Christian by faith. But his being a Christian alone could not have done the trick. His few contradictions as a leader could also have stopped him from being considered a good pick for Vice President or even President. Why? Because the man is an unrepentant capitalist who wears the toga of a social democrat. He has become too rich to really be in touch with the needs of the common man
Don’t get me wrong as I have explained in my article on him titled, “The good and the bad Ahmed Tinubu” written out in 2 parts both of which have made the most popular article on the ChatAfrik web site the last time I checked. I am a great fan and respecter of Ahmed Tinubu and his leadership qualities and genius and the pivotal role he has played in the merger of the opposition parties in Nigeria and the victory of the APC. The PDP would still have been in power today but for God and the role and intervention of Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu as leader and founder of the ACN. Asiwaju is not a perfect human being and none of us is perfect. He still has to work on some of his “I before others” inclinations. It is not only the Igbos of Nigeria that exude that kind of behavior, some Yorubas do as well. If Ahmed Tinubu can learn to minimize that streak, the sky should be his limit.
He also has to be aware that he is not the only elephant or the only wise man in the room and should learn to accommodate others a little bit more. If he does not check that inclination, he is most likely to be a very disruptive influence in the APC as time goes by. He is going to knock heads with Buhari and so many others in his own party. That is not to suggest he must shed or do away with his sharp political instincts and deep insight into Nigerian politics.
All I am saying is that he must be aware that anything made by man and even thongs made by God can be infinitely improved because no man has a monopoly on wisdom. I am discussing the Asiwaju attribute in relation to his very close but delicate relationship with Muhammadu Buhari, the new President and with Osinbajo the Vice President, with Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, with John Oyegun and even Chief Bisi Akande to mention a few.
Some Nigerians would be watching and some would even attempt to knock Asiwaju’s heads with those of the individuals mentioned in this write up if only to sabotage or derail the APC. Those leaders must be mindful of those temptations and be ready to tackle them with tact and diplomacy now that the ball is in their court in Nigeria. How they manage those relationships is what would determine whether or not the APC fails or wins in the next 4 years. The relics of the PDP would be doing everything in their power to sabotage the APC and cause them to fail. Awareness should be the first order of business for the APC I might add.
It is saying the obvious to tell Buhari to let Nigerians know the exact state of affairs in the Nigerian Treasury at his point of entry. The Vice President has made it known in speaking to the Press that the Buhari regime would be inheriting an empty treasury with a colossal deficit or liability of more than 60 billion Dollars. Buhari must let the nation know if there is an asset left by the departing Jonathan Administration because the balance sheet cannot be all liability without some assets.
I notice that Okonjo-Iweala the Finance Minister and the coordinating minister of the Nigerian economy under Jonathan is singing a different tune saying that Nigeria has never been more economically stronger than it is now. We need to reconcile the two statements and Buhari must not fail to address that in his inaugural address just like Murtala Mohammed did when he first defined the “status quo” under Yakubu Gowon. He then laid out a laundry list of what he was going to do and the time frame for achieving them. Buhari should be fully aware he now has to operate in a democratic and civilian setting, and that requires a different set of rules and decorum and approach.
Murtala did something that no other Head of State before him has ever done with such clarity. He challenged the members of the 4th Estate of the Realm to hold his feet to fire, if for any reason he did not deliver on what he had promised. The hopelessness in Nigeria today requires such a move from Buhari. The problems of Nigeria are so complex and fundamentally endemic that no single head of State however hardworking can solve all of them in ten years.
The best approach is to identify the most urgent of them and to do a triage on how to begin to solve them like doctors and nurses do when they are attending to multiple victims of an auto accident.
The first thing is doing, first and foremost, what he alone can do by executive orders. The second is laying out a plan on how to find the funds to do what he wants to do now that the treasury is totally empty. What does he do on the short run to find the money to run his Government? Trying to recover some of the money that are known to have been stolen or saved abroad in violation of the money laundering laws of Nigeria is the way to go. We hear that Olusegun Obasanjo has already volunteered to return 200 million Dollars and to become a whistle blower for other Nigerians who had stolen money to return them. That is a step in the right direction that Buhari ought to pursue to the gates of hell, if needed.
There is an urgent need for him to sponsor a Whistle blower protection Law to be quickly passed by the APC majority in the lower and upper house so whistle blower like Captain Sagir Koli can be protected and restored back to his position and promoted while Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh is court-marshaled and retired from the Army for aiding and abetting election rigging in Nigeria.
I read on the Internet that General Overseer Enoch Adeboye the Pope of the Evangelical Churches in Nigeria and his Redeem Empire to mention just one is planning to build the largest auditorium in the world as his City of Faith on Kilometer 46 on Lagos/Ibadan Expressway. He was so confident that he divided his list of donors to the enterprise into 3 categories. There are those to contribute Billions of Naira and those to donate 100 million and those to contribute 50 million in a country wallowing in abject poverty like Nigeria.
Definitely Pastor Enoch Adeboye has to know something the rest of us don’t know to issue such a proclamation. Many of his Church members have already volunteered to pay the donations. The IRS in Nigeria must go after them not to throw them to jail but to have them pay their dues to the Commonwealth of the country.
The first thing Buhari ought to do is to liaise with Pastor Adeboye and other multi-millionaire pastors like him in Nigeria. He must obtain from the all of them the list of their donors to their Churches in the last 10 years so Nigeria can find out how much taxes those donors have paid to Government. The Government must liaise with Pastors Adeboye, Oyedepo, Kumuyi, Abiara Olukoya, Bakare, Ayo Oritsejafor, Ashimolowo, Okonkwo, Okotie and so many others in Nigeria who are able to get the rich among us to own up to their wealth by voluntarily donating billions and millions to their Churches in tithes in return for the huge favors they get from God. Those who pay such heavy donations are those who give the credit for their success and wealth to God Almighty. I do not chastise them for so doing. It is arguably the right thing to do, but they must obey the Law as well, and their clerics have fiduciary obligations to make sure they do that.
Her Majesty, the Queen of England now pays taxes on her stupendous wealth. It makes no sense to let the Churches and some of their multi-millionaire clerics and Churches be excused from paying taxes. Many of them are now richer than Government, which is absurd. It is about time the Churches start giving a helping hand to the Government if the money would be properly managed and used for the benefit of the poor among us and for services like medical coverage, good network of roads and bridges, and stable electricity and potable water and environmental needs of the society.
Some of us who think and call Jonathan the best President Nigeria has had, would soon know that Jonathan deserves condemnation for doling out no less than 800 million of Nigeria’s hard-earned money as kickbacks to those same Church leaders to get their support and prayers in the last election. Of course Jonathan failed woefully because God is not mocked. He was paying out to Church leaders who should have been paying taxes on some of the money and donations they are collecting free of charge from their rich members who dare not let the Government know how filthy-rich they are. Many of those Church leaders are accomplices to fraud and money-laundering in Nigeria and should be viewed and treated as such.
In China such leaders would have been made to face the firing squad. We are not recommending such draconian reprisals for them in Nigeria. All we are saying is that they should become partners with the Government to generate enough funds to provide regular electricity supply to Nigerians and to construct and maintain very good roads for our people.
In a country like America, the donations that Pastor Adeboye is collecting from his Church members should have been better used in constructing some flyovers on the Express road on Mile 46 to create exits leading to the City of Faith and the Holy Ghost Redemption Auditorium without causing all the traffic jam on the Lagos/Ibadan Express that have kept innocent passengers waiting for hours every time the Holy Ghost Night Crusades hold on that Express. I got caught in the traffic hold-up on that road for 8 hours and I could not believe such a thing is allowed in any civilized society. Most of our leaders including Pastor Adeboye visit America and Britain every now and then, but it never occurred to them that what they are doing is totally absurd if not sinful.
There is money in Nigeria. What is important is that Buhari in line with his new dispensation must fully tap into it. His war against corruption must be expanded to embrace all those useful hints and others yet to come. The laundry list of problems he has identified is right on target. Charity must begin from home. There are many filthy-rich multi-millionaires among some of his party men like Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Okorocha, Sola Saraki and hundreds of them in the PDP and other minority parties in Nigeria. Let us make sure they are all paying the taxes they owe to Government. Let us revisit some of the crawling financial empires of the Alhaji Dangote, Isiaku Ibrahim, Michael Adenuga and the Iboris of this world to mention a few. They have all continued to feed fat on Government ignorance and to enrich their own pockets at our own peril. Buhari and Osinbajo have their jobs cut out for them. The ball is in their court now.
I rest my case.