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2019: Between Buhari, IBB and Obasanjo

Abdulwahaab Oba

Chief Press Secretary to the Kwara State

The conversation about our polity and its politics continued last week with various interventions from stakeholders. And it is an exciting moment for all lovers of this great nation. Although it is certain that the interventions have been largely influenced by the forthcoming election, it is still a welcome development because every election is an opportunity for a people to make significant decisions about their past and their future; to either continue with the present into the future or reject the present and make new choices for the future. 

Whatever the case may be, our collective future as a people and a country is at stake. At no time, perhaps, in the chequered history of Nigeria has our future being at greater stake than in the present time; a time when we are buffeted by the challenges of accepting one another as brothers and sisters, leading to a deluge of hate speeches that are given wing to fly far by the octopus technology of social media; a time when a greater number of our people are benumbed and disappointed by the absence of the change we so much clamoured and worked for.

Expectedly and gladly too, two of our leaders who have made personal sacrifices both as Presidents/ Heads of State, have made interventions to the national discourse in the last one week that are worth a review on this page. And I’m talking of former military Presidents Ibrahim Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo. The  incumbent President Muhammad Buhari, who incidentally has also been a military head of state in the country has not also been on a mute mode. 

Babangida has canvassed a shift in power configuration in the country, asking that the old order changes by yielding space to the younger generation. He spoke as someone disappointed by the present order. According to IBB, " we need to deliberately provoke systems and models that will put paid to this recycling leadership experimentation to embrace new generational leadership evolution with the essential attributes of responsive, responsible and proactive leadership configuration to confront the several challenges that we presently face". 

In 2019, IBB literarily proposes that this analogue leadership should "give way for digital leadership orientation with all the trappings of consultative, constructive, communicative, interactive and utility-driven approach where everyone has a role to play in the process of enthroning accountability and transparency in governance. As citizens in a democracy, it is our civic responsibility to demand accountability and transparency. Our elected leaders owe us that simple but remarkable accountability creed. Whenever we criticize them, it is not that we do not like their guts; it is just that as stakeholders in the political economy of the country, we also carry certain responsibilities."

And in a seeming response, the present order, through Buhari, says all past leader of the country are to be blamed for the rot we are, now. Buhari, whose administration has been described with a mediocre performance by Obasanjo,  said God will judge all of them. (Buhari didn't mention who will judge the rest of us).

While I agree with IBB that it would be a good thing to have a change in the power configuration, one however needs to ask him what he did for the youth when he had the opportunity? Did he prepare the ground for the young generation he is now fighting to empower?  Most stakeholders in the Nigerian project will put the blame for the bastardisation of our political process on IBB, the man who kept shifting the democratic goal posts while in office until Nigerians, tired of his Maradonic antics, decided enough was enough and forced him to ‘step aside’. Or was he not responsible for the annulment of what is accepted globally as the freest, fairest election in this country? If he had chosen the opportunity of the June 12, 1993 elections and did the right thing, may be would not have been at  this juncture again. If he had not institutionalised political and process corruption in the nation,  would we have been where we are today?

And for Buhari to blame past leaders for our woes?  Ok, we have heard him. And of course we know he would readily accept that he was one of them. Or how soon shall Nigerians forget his hard face on camera when he ruled as military Head of state? or how soon shall we forget Decree 4, which stifled press freedom and sent two prominent Nigerian journalists to underserved imprisonment?

Really, the bottom line is that it is a shame for leaders to be offering the type of interventions they are making now. And for me, their making these types of suggestions now points to the matter we all should clamour for in the interest of our tomorrow; and here I’m talking about building institutions instead of building personalities. If IBB had allowed himself to build an enduring political system that would not be based on acquiring power through the power of the pocket, if he had allowed a system that enabled a political process that gives room to fairness and transparency, definitely he would not be here today clamouring for the young to ascend the throne because the system would have taken care of that aspect and given room for the young to find their feet in the political system. 

America didn’t need a special plea to the political establishment for a Barack Obama to emerge as Presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, to eventually win the race and rule the nation regarded as the capital of the world for a solid eight years. Why? The insituitons built by the system, and respected by the polticial actors, ensured access to the platform by everyone interested. In America, no policeman would have treated a Senator the same way our own treated Dino Melaye here because the institution of the Senate is almost sacred in that clime. Of course, no Senator from the USA would also have jumped down from a moving police van because he knows that the institution of law enforcement and the judiciary are well established and even in the event of a miscarriage of justice, corrections could be made several times and several years later.  

There is no way the Senate of the USA would have invited a government official, a police boss and the invitee would take them for granted as our own IGP has done. Never! Even, the founder of Facebook with his wealth and clout, didn’t fail to appear before a Senate Committee that grilled him for hours and eventually led his organisation to making some changes to its operations; all in the interest of Americans, first! Those are the workings of established institutions. 

President Donald Trump is fighting for his seat today and despite his maverick administrative system, has only been using legal recourse to handle the investigations into his pre-election activities which those handling the case allege were AGAINST AMERICAN INTEREST.
But what do we have here? Establishment of personal fiefdom; protection of protégé and utter disdain for those not in our camp even when they occupy important institutional offices. 

Shall we continue like this and expect grace to come? Shall we continue like this and expect growth and development? Shall continue like this and expect the youth to be encouraged?

IBB will go. Buhari will go. Every one must one day leave the stage. All of us owe death this debt and pay we must. But when that happens, what happens to the system we operate? Beyond this rhetoricism, if we miss this golden opportunity to build a lasting institution for the survival of our democracy and real empowerment of our youth, the youth and posterity will never forgive us. The executive must respect other institutions, while other institutions must oscillate within the ambit of the constitution.

As it stands, our hope for a better future hangs in the balance. 
2019: Between Buhari, IBB and Obasanjo Reviewed by Unknown on May 07, 2018 Rating: 5

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