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Buhari, Jonathan And The Loyalty Test

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I read Buba Galadima’s warnings to President Muhammadu Buhari in which, in pretty much the same way as the President’s wife, Aisha Buhari, he warned the incumbent to mend his ways quickly because the masses of Nigeria had abandoned him, Reno Omokri writes.

I was not very surprised at the strong rebuke that came from the Presidency especially as Mr. Galadima raised the specter of 2019.

In a harsh overkill that said more than it intended to say, the Presidency descended at Buba Galadima and, in a Freudian slip, confirmed the President’s desire for a second term when the statement said “suggestions that the masses will desert President Buhari in 2019 was unfounded and utterly ridiculous.” If the President is going back to Daura in 2019, why would he fear such an abandonment?

For those who do not know their history, let me bring you up to speed. Buba Galadima is a long-term loyalist of Buhari and one time National Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, President Buhari’s purpose built political party (or personality cult) which was one of the legacy parties that made up the All Progressive Congress.

He and President Buhari have since falling out (as does happens frequently with the President) and now he is in the cold.

But the funny thing is that most of the present set of people surrounding the President are, like his wife said in her famous BBC interview, new faces and at best opportunists who were not with him from the beginning, like Galadima was, and only became his best friend for life AFTER he won election as President last year.

As his wife said “the president does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.”

I can assure you that Aisha Buhari knows Buba Galadima very well as one who was with the President in good times and in bad.

Yet, he has allowed these people whose loyalty he has not tested to insult and attack and ridicule Buba Galadima, a man who stuck with him when the going was rough!

My advise to President Buhari, for what it is worth, is that he should learn from President Jonathan.

To know if anyone is loyal to you, withdraw the benefit they enjoy from you. If their loyalty fades, then they were loyal to your benefits and not to you. President Buhari should look at what is happening with President Jonathan today. Look at those aides, appointees and ambassadors who professed undying love for President Jonathan.

How many of them even remembered his birthday earlier this week? If not for the masses of Nigeria who broke the Internet in order to show their unprecedented and undying love for Dr. Jonathan, those aides and appointees who benefitted from his goodwill would have left the former President uncelebrated.

What ever you may say about Mr. Femi Fani Kayode, you must salute and celebrate his character of loyalty. He perhaps benefited from Dr. Jonathan the least but has shown loyalty to him the most despite suffering persecution for him today (a good reason for others to abandon him).

Mr. President, do note that those you plot politics with, who are presently dancing around you and lying to you that Dr. Jonathan caused all your problems are at best opportunists and not friends. Do not expect the duty of a friend from an opportunist. Just wait till your first birthday after power to know your true friends. It is then that you will value people like Aisha and Buba Galadima, when you put on the TV and watch as your new found friends are dancing the latest dance with the latest occupant of Aso Rock.

President Buhari can see the first result of this loyalty test in the recent behavior of the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

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Having withdrawn the initial benefits that Tinubu enjoyed from their relationship and then told the world what he really thought about Tinubu via his recently published authorized biography, President Buhari left no one in doubt that he was out to cut Tinubu to size.

And what has the result been? Well, let me allow another leader of the APC answer this question.

Asked to explain Bola Tinubu’s absence at the APC’s rally for Rotimi Akeredolu, its gubernatorial candidate, the Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Campaign Committee for Ondo State Governorship election, Mr. Simon Lalong said “to the party, their absence did not make any difference!”

Who would ever have thought they would live to see the day that the APC would say that Tinubu does ‘not make any difference’ in the Southwest!

How are the mighty fallen!

But then again, this should serve as an example to President Buhari of how fickle human nature can be.

I doubt if the President would be losing any sleep about Tinubu. Having been given access to the honey comb, who but a truly God fearing man would still play nice to the bee.

After all, if Aisha can be banished to the ‘other room’ on account of her public reproach of her husband, why can’t Bola Tinubu be banished to a room in Siberia?

And it is this type of disloyalty and injustice that we see in Nigeria of today. It appears that the personality of the President is affecting the destiny of the nation.

What else could one say about the injustice in Cross River where the commissioner of police, Mr. Jimoh Obi-Ozeh, made himself out as the judge and jury and declared the Cross River State Green Police illegal.

He justified his action by citing Section 214 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which provides that “there shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigerian Police Force and subject to the provisions of this section, no other police force shall be established”

But the question to Commissioner of Police Jimoh Obi-Ozeh, no, the question to President Buhari is this- why has the Kano state sharia police, otherwise known as hisbah, been allowed to operate all these years and continues to operate as an alternative police?

According to Wikipedia, “Hisbah is the divinely-sanctioned duty of the ruler (government) to intervene and coercively “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” in order to keep everything in order according to sharia(Islamic law).

So while Kano state can have its Hisbah, Cross River cannot have its Green Police to protect its environment.

This is the type of injustice, along with other reactionary policies quota system and catchment areas, that makes it difficult for many of our youths and elders to believe that all Nigerians are created equal.

And this injustice is at the root of why we have a recession in Nigeria. The truth is that if a leader wants all his followers (or subjects in the case of President Buhari) to work in cooperation and harmony to build up a country’s economy he must ensure that there is Social justice.

And even beyond the social injustice that exists in today’s Nigeria, a further reason why there is a recession in our country is because of a lack of vision not because of a lack of capital.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. Who can tell me the economic vision of this administration? With apologies to the minister of finance, it is not true that ‘recession is just a word’. It is a reality for 180 million Nigerians and the trumpeted change that President Buhari promised them is just a slogan, not a vision.

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This government does not have a solid vision. If anybody thinks I am not being magnanimous then ask yourself how it is possible for the administration’s budget minister not to have an idea how much the nation is owing or how the presidency could forward a document to the senate requesting authority to borrow $29.9 billion without listing what in specific terms the money would be used for or how it intends to pay it back. The answer is because they lack vision.

The only way nations grow out of a recession is if the leader grows. As long as he is blaming others the recession will remain. The President ought to study previous authoritarian leaders and the fate that befell their nation’s economies. A ruler focuses on increasing his authority but a leader concentrates on increasing his influence. May God make President Buhari a leader and not a ruler for Nigeria’s sake!

Why do I say this prayer? Because the only time you see President Buhari focus on achieving a goal is when he is offended. When that happens he concentrates on revenge with razor like focus. If you doubt me, then ask Bola Tinubu, Bukola Saraki and Baba Galadima. If only President Buhari could focus on achieving his economic goals in the same manner.

President Buhari must understand that he is no longer in the military fighting wars and that his critics are not his enemies. He must focus on adding value to Nigerians instead of his fixation on adding authority to himself. If he can successfully add value to Nigerians, it is Nigerians themselves that will add authority to him.

A leader must place a higher premium on his people than the value he places on his position. When you tell your people that “Nigeria cannot afford to allocate foreign exchange for those who decide to train their children outside the country” while your own children are studying in the very best of those foreign schools, what you communicate to them is that you place a higher premium on your children than on their children. Go and research. President Jonathan’s children all schooled in Nigeria while he was President yet he allowed Nigerians who were less privileged than him send their own children to whatever foreign schools they wished and even gave yearly Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme for Innovations and Development scholarships (PRESSID) to First Class graduates of Nigerian universities to the best foreign universities. This is a man who places value on the kids of the ordinary man as he values his own kids.

But it is not too late for President Buhari. He still has two and a half years to redeem himself before Nigerians and I urge him to make the transition from an authoritarian leader to a servant leader for both his own good and Nigeria’s. He must remember that a leader’s greatest victory is in conquering his own ego and not in subduing his political foes. Then and only then will we begin to see the end of this present recession.

As I conclude this piece, let me inform the President that he should not mistake fear for respect. Respect that comes with the office you hold cannot be sustained when you leave that office if you depend on official respect. Look at ex-President Jonathan. What office does he hold? Nothing. Yet, he was able to break the Internet on his birthday because the ordinary people (as opposed to the political class) released an unfeigned and un-purchasable outpouring of love on him that no serving political leader in Nigeria today can command!