Opinion: What we want from President Buhari – By AYO BAJE
No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth” – Plato
If only our political leaders put the overall interest of our dear nation, Nigeria, above their greed-driven, self-serving whims and caprices; if only they see servant-leadership as their moving mantra and if only the led majority would come to grip with the truism that democracy is, indeed, theirs to dictate, that is, instead of fearing and worshipping their so-called ‘elected’ leaders, Nigeria would have moved faster into the 21st Century technologically-powered, knowledge economy.
But here we are in 2019 still grappling with the basic issue of conducting free, fair and credible elections; still battling with the rampaging monster of mass poverty in the midst of plenty for the favoured few. Here we are, still refusing to understand, or better still, accept the glaring fact that only a politically and economically restructured Nigeria, away from the bloated centre would get us, eventually, out of the weedy wood.
Oh, yes, President Muhammadu Buhari has scored a bull’s eye by winning the much coveted second term but that is only a part of the larger picture. And what could that be? To get the answer, or at least part of it, yours truly was out there on the busy streets moving from one newsstand to another at the Agege, Fagba, Ogba, Alausa areas of Lagos, listening to the variegated opinions of fellow Nigerians on their expectations from the winner. Call them members of the People’s Parliament, if you like, but their views matter a lot.
“Please, whoever knows Mister President should tell him that we are no more under the jackboots of military dictatorship, where might was right. He and his party, the APC, should stop intimidating the opposition with the instruments of intimidation, brute force and crude coercion.
“It is not possible for all of us to toe his line of policies and actions. He should open his mind to views outside his own. Credible opposition remains the beauty and bastion of democracy”. This came from a middle-aged, apparently learned Yoruba man dressed in green kaftan at Ogba.
“As far as I am concerned, my grouse with President Buhari is his one-sided political appointments, especially with the security architecture skewed in favour of the North. It shows that he does not trust other ethnic groups. If so, why is he referred to as Nigeria’s President? He should see himself as belonging to the entire nation”. This came from a bearded Igbo man, probably in his 40s,airing his views on the way forward. That was at Fagba.
“In my candid opinion, what the President needs to do right away is to constitute an economic think-tank. Erudite economists like (Henry) Boyo, (Bismark) Rewane, (Pat) Utomi and some others to be drawn from the academia should be given a free hand to critically analyse the state of the nation and fashion the best way forward.
“It is a crying shame that Africa’s largest oil producing nation should be the global capital of extreme poverty. We need an enabling environment for massive industrialisation and by extension, job creation. Emphasis should shift to small and medium scale enterprises.
“One can hardly understand why state governors collect sundry bailouts and federal allocations every month yet, refuse to pay salaries and still go back to collect more! And let me add the caveat, he should be ready and willing to listen to them and of course, act on their piece of advice.” The shrill voice came from a fair-complexioned lady, perhaps in her 30s, who added her view after buying a copy of a newspaper at Alausa, in Ikeja.
“As for me, we hear of the North angling for political power every time but honestly our leaders, not just the President but state governors and local government chairmen have to do much more to reduce poverty. More money should be pumped into agriculture. We need more farm produce as well as adding modern technology to go into processing and preservation, so that we too can export, instead of only consumption.
“Also, the Almajari schools built by former President Goodluck Jonathan should be resuscitated and new ones built. We need more hospitals, more pharmacists and doctors because of some diseases peculiar to us. Our youths are several times enmeshed in the sniffing of hard drugs. They need urgent intervention from our leaders.” Adamu, who gave his name and claimed to hail from Kebbi State aired his views. He spoke at a vendor’s stand not far from the popular Glass House, Abule Egba.
“What the President should do to be seen as a man of integrity is to fight the issue of corruption without allowing for political influences. How do we explain the Barugate, the Mainagate, the IDP sleaze, and the long time it took to begin looking at Babachir Lawal’s grass-cutter allegations?
“Even worse than that is the issue of allegedly corrupt former governors, or ministers who stole their states blind while in other political parties being welcomed to the ruling party with open arms? Is that the way to fight corruption?” An Akwa Ibom indigene spoke in his ethnic group’s characteristic tone. That was at the Ogba newsstand.
“Me, I no wan hear all ya big, big grammar. Our presido dey try welli welli. Make im catch all de ogbonge thief, thief dem. Me, I don dey enjoy Tradermoni. I don dey gbadu the new railway. Our problem for dis contri be say we no laiki the truth. We too dey believe lies. Una say Jona no good, no be so? Anyway, I beg our President, maki e free Dasuki or is he Dansiki and El-Zakzaki, make im obey wetin court tell am.” That came from Lasisi, an artisan, as he joined the hot argument going on at Fagba.
Agreed, no one or leader is perfect. But what matters most is meeting the needs of the people who elected them into power. That is by articulating their visions in line with constitutional provisions and party manifestos.
Above all, they should be guided by their legacies. What would they be remembered for? That is the essence of a leadership that lasts.Punch
Baje, a veteran journalist, wrote in from Ikeja, Lagos