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Why Buhari Must Change The Perception That Only He Can Move Nigeria To The Next Level

The Oasis Reporters

December 31, 2018

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari.

Does President Muhammadu Buhari need two terms in office? Some people close enough to know are saying this is a current concern.

As a commentator who was strongly criticized in 2011 when he endorsed Buhari’s presidential candidature over Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, I disagree, and I hope he is not listening to those who are distracting him from focusing on the present.

The way I see it, his aim should be to serve one remarkable term of office. He can achieve far more in four years of focused service than in eight simply because he can.

Here is why. The first thing to remember is that despite the mantra of “Change” by Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria will not change overnight.

All Buhari can really achieve is to set the table: moving the pieces, knocking down political glass ceilings, and shifting the assumptions so that even when he is gone, Nigeria will continue forward.

To accomplish that, Buhari should seek to change the perception that only he can move Nigeria in the right direction. No one person can. As I argued before he choose his Ministers, the answer is to work towards a system that will encourage and entice a more patriotic and responsible kind of Nigerian to seek public office.

Nobody has benefitted more than President Buhari from a credible electoral system, but he has also seen the system at its worst and most frustrating. Sadly, our best talents have no map into political leadership unless they are being used as pawns by various thieves and sundry selfish interests.

Buhari does not need eight years to address this.

This is a corollary to, and the flip side of, the war against corruption. Its achievement would be to replace the corrupt with the honourable; the incompetent with the achiever. To discredit the discreditable without crediting the creditable would be self-defeating.

Nobody who means well for Nigeria questions Buhari’s anti-corruption drive. But to give the impression that Nigeria completely lacks men of honour is even more dangerous than the politics he inherited.

By all means, let us destroy the looting culture and end the reign of looters. Let us end the pompous and false arrogance of entire looting lineages and people with seedy records who are advertised as prospective servers and guardians of the commonwealth. Let us destroy the godfather menace.

But what follows?

What should follow is that a new agriculture must emerge. Unless the farmer seeks and encourages a new and more vigorous variety of crops, he labours in vain, as more virulent strains of weeds will take over the property.

Is Buhari listening to the right voices?

For instance, another disturbing narrative was provided by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former leader, who cast doubts about the prospects of Buhari’s change agenda.

Boasting about his achievements as President, he said it appeared as if Nigeria was only just beginning the fight against corruption.

“We must kick corruption out because it destroys almost everything…Leadership has to be committed to change. Beginning with the reality of the budget, there is need for sober reflection. Rebuilding the foundations of governance involves paying attention to values, principles and practices that promote hard work, innovation and sacrifice…”

As usual of Obasanjo, it was a self-serving recall of history. Nobody can deny him some of the strides he enumerated, including the establishment of some anti-corruption bodies.

But the entire world knows it was a ruse, and evidence abounds nationwide. Former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu is on record as affirming that Obasanjo lacked the heart to fight corruption.

Staying in office for the maximum number of terms is neither a measure of strength nor a prescription for success.

What Buhari needs to achieve in the remaining months is a reworking of the political terrain to strengthen our institutions and empower the inflow of men and women of nationalism and character. This includes addressing Nigeria’s campaign finance conundrum in favour of patriots who do not want to trade with, or be traded by, political godfathers and thieves.

If he takes this approach, Nigeria can make amazing progress towards the dream not simply of credible elections, but of credible governance. I believe that one term aimed at creating a level playing field is eminently superior to eight years of one strong man during which credible successors cannot bloom.

We need a leader capable of seeing beyond himself. In that sense, 2019 is a real challenge. Should Buhari work at serving only one term, he will foster a new spirit of service and hard work, with many younger people with leadership potential able to make the argument about their suitability.

In such a scenario, assuming Buhari remained popular, he will be able to consolidate the gains of his presidency, and stick around to nurture and guide those who continue with his dream.

Excerpts From an article by Sonala Olumhense first published on February 6, 2016

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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