BUHARI 2015: While it’s still fresh & feisty! By Femi Akintunde-Johnson

Buhari-3Let the big guns at APC be warned: they and their strate­gies and manifestos were not the major planks that landed them the Presidency. I can identify three major factors that did the job sub­stantially.

One, the “Change” mantra tran­scended slogan and lingo – it correct­ly and timely defined the main con­templation of most Nigerians. After 16 years of PDP adventure and panto­mime, the people craved for a change in national leadership. Just some new faces, if not new ideas. Enough was enough.

Secondly, the Buhari persona – redoubtable and consistent per­sonal discipline, long-suffering and sacrifice that is largely amiss in our national sub-culture. That percep­tion has overtime spawned a cult-like adoration in the upper half of Nigeria which borders on the incredible. With the Northern masses, GMB could do no wrong.

And thirdly (surely a few more may be added) is the man himself, Dr. G. E. Jonathan – manifesting in diverse colorations and degree of conster­nation. His perceived weakness and reluctance in dealing with issues that threaten the survival and well-being of the Nigerian people have gone into popular fabledom . His sometimes surprising and spontaneous response to obviously vested programmes and vague initiatives made him a butt of many jokes. His senior talking-heads (and especially the inimitable Dame PJ) vain-gloriously built an armada of virulent political enemies while conducting official and extra-official assignments, and frantically scooped more slime water in a sea of incensed critics. On security, people felt his grasp of its dynamics and severity was very woolly and tentative. His composure and body language sug­gested a mild disdain for statecraft and frankly, a childlike hunger for Af­ganistanism.

Now, as GMB rightly suggested, let’s drop the champagne popping and throaty celebrations. I plead with GMB’s handlers to draw a clear-to-visualise, easy-to-understand and striking-to-the-senses template of ac­tions and time-lines to “attack” within the first 100 days. Let that action-tem­plate be a tough but elegant wrap­per around the three developmental pivots of his campaign stumps: Inse­curity. Economy. Corruption. These will form the kennel of the praises or punches the people who are singing Hosana now will throw his way in 2019.

Let them work on the carriage and emotional hook-lines of GMB in his interactions with his ‘countrypeople’ – he needs to come across as straight-forward, confident, self-assured, one who understands and connects with the pains of the moment; who is una­fraid to inject the needed palliatives to checkmate the drains and dregs.

Buhari is the “People’s General” (now, it’s time to drop that title – he is the People’s President), therefore his communication handlers must wean him off his current stiffness, the air of aloofness and imperceptible dis­connect from the roiling scheming and jockeying that will surely assail his incoming administration. He must be seen to be in charge without being dictatorial; to be above board with­out being clueless; to be persistent in driving stated goals and policies with­out being reckless and over-bearing; to fight corruption head-on without sparing partners and party men.

Please disregard any prompting to vengefully probe and censure old administrations and notable rogues except under on-going investigation. However, plug holes dug by pilferers and vandals; make people and proce­dures accountable and set personal standards that will inspire and domi­nate the mindsets of your team. Of course, state actors who spend the transitional period feasting on their greed and gluttony should be used as cannon-fodders for the anti-corrup­tion bazookas.

As a matter of personal ambition – GMB must study the acts, ways and words of all the last three presidents, and identify foibles and fumbles that he must never repeat or unleash on the people. Not all GEJ did were aw­ful, nor were his years so repugnant that he lacks sympathisers in relevant and sensitive positions and offices – therefore, let the President-elect tread with tact, wisdom and firmness that is rinsed in fairness and honesty. We can’t afford meddling sabotage and stiff-necked bureaucratic red-tapism on account of our haste to correct the errors of the past.

The Nigerian people worked hard to berth this change, in relation to their emotional and physical invest­ment, and thus deserve tangible changes in their lives and the future of their children. Buhari cannot al­low his twilight years to winter at the docks of disappointment, misdi­rection, frustration and non-perfor­mance. He cannot!