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The Gathering Clouds And Nigeria’s Democracy By Dele Awogbeoba

July 18, 2015

The elections are now over and a winner declared and sworn in. That winner has barely spent two months in office but certain indicators are already becoming apparent. The previous attempts by President Buhari at attaining power through democratic means had been unsuccessful because the new president had been subject to accusations of tribalistic, autocratic and sectarianism impulses and (quite frankly) incompetence in the discharge of his powers whilst head of state of Nigeria in the mid 1980’s.


Within two months of his re-election, certain indicators are becoming clear. A very clear tribalistic impulse is slowly rearing its ugly head and can be clearly discerned through the nature of his appointments. He has made close to 17 so far. 14 of which have come from the Northern part of Nigeria and 4 from the southern part of Nigeria. The method used to   make the appointments have varied. What is clear is that the end result is the same. Where a Northerner is second in command, then natural progression is used to replace the incumbent with the next in command. Where a Northerner is far from the next in command then the selected person is appointed by reference to “examinations” or over the head of 25 or more generals that are senior to that lucky candidate. Looking at the indicators so far, one can safely assume that the most important and strategic appointments to be made by a government headed by this current President in the near future will be consistent with his mode of behaviour in his past as head of state and his present as President. Nigerians should brace themselves for a highly tribalistic sectarian government in the early stages of evolution.

What was clear is that Buhari of the 1980’s (and in the prime of his life) was an autocratic dictator.  What is becoming obvious is that the new President is comfortable being the sole minister in charge of all ministries in the country and (due to the recent sacking of the board of most government parastatals) the sole administrator of most government parastatals.  With all due respect of the current president, he was never the brightest bulb in the room in his prime and is even less likely to have an incisive knowledge of complex areas outside of defense matters.  The impact of his slow, deliberate, cumbersome and highly centralized management style is that very few things will get done in Nigeria in the foreseeable future. As most parastatals now cease to have boards of directors, many deals that require board approval will be put indefinitely on hold. Very few companies will enter into deals with a company that ceases to have a board even if a permanent secretary is given “power” by the president to give approval in the stead of a board. Corporate transactions do not work in this way and no company with a competent advisers will advise it to enter into any deals with a corporate entity (parastatal or not) who is devoid of a functional board. 

Recently, we watched the harassment of the former NSA. This is a throw back to the harassment of the late Chief Awolowo by soldiers under Buhari’s former non descript rule as head of state. It appears that the erstwhile dictator is behaving true to type. 

Retrogressive governments start with incremental steps. The indicators so far shown by this new president, shows clearly that the accusations of tribalism and autocratic impulses are indeed accurate.  One can then surmise (by virtue of his past and present actions) that once fully shown the limitations of his power within a democratic environment, he will most likely revert to his natural autocratic and treasonable impulses of using the coercive powers of state to undermine and subvert our existing democracy. 

The PDP has a critical role to play here. It must act to keep the spot light on the anti democratic impulses of this new President. It must also ensure full support for and backing to the current senate President. Nigerians are yet to appreciate how lucky it is that Saraki became Senate President despite his alleged personal character flaws. A Lawan as senate President would have rendered the senate a rubber stamp. The senate under Saraki will have to pay due regard to the wishes of the middle belt and southern dominated PDP. Saraki is therefore likely at some point to act as a restraining impulse on President Buhari’s tribalistic and dictatorial tendencies.

President Buhari was elected because of the flaws in former President Jonathan and not for his “qualities” of leadership. President Buhari is confirming the fears of most educated Nigerians when faced by the ridiculous choice between two terribly incompetent choices.  I hope Nigerians do not end up regretting its choice sooner than later.  ( HYPERLINK ""

Dele Awogbeoba

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