The End Of The Beginning By Abba Mahmood


Eleven days after taking over as President, Buhari has appointed only some journalists as spokesmen of his administration. He did not appoint the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the engine room of the government; he did not appoint a substantive Chief of Staff to the Villa; he did not change the Service Chiefs to reflect the new era; he did not appoint new security chiefs; in fact, even his own National Security Adviser he has not appointed yet. Does it mean he has not made enough consultations since he was elected over two months ago to enable him hit the ground running?

Buhari’s constituency as president is the whole country. Every other government official is only representing a fraction of the entire country. It is therefore strange for Buhari to say that he does not care who emerges in the leadership of the National Assembly. Yes, as president he cannot interfere in the work of the Assembly but that does not remove the fact that they will approve his ministers, ambassadors, number of advisers, budget, and laws and even have the power to impeach him if he breaches the law. It is therefore the height of naivety for Buhari to be indifferent to who leads the National Assembly, as he has done. That is not providing leadership which he was elected to do.

It, therefore, did not come as a surprise when the discredited Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) orchestrated a well planned coup that saw the defeated party taking over the National Assembly leadership on June 9, 2015. Some renegade All Progressive Congress (APC) legislators led by the Mullah of Zamfara combined with the most corrupt elements of the PDP to effectively bring to an end the change mantra of this administration, by surreptitiously foisting Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu of the PDP as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively. From that day, the APC is no more a governing party but a gone party if the indicators are anything to go by.

By all means, there is need for the Southeast to be fairly represented in all organs of government but not by the flotsam and jetsam of that vibrant society who belong to the arrogant and corrupt past. For the APC, what becomes of party discipline if there is flagrant disregard of party directives by some of its leading members? For President Buhari, what becomes of his government now that the corrupt elements have taken over the country’s legislature? He should get ready to bribe through his nose for any of his executive Bills to be passed, and 85 percent of the Bills emanate from the executive. In short, he should get ready to pay the price of refusing to provide necessary leadership by being indifferent in the name of a so called “separation of powers”, as if even in America the president is not concerned about who leads the US Congress.

This is not a wake-up call for Buhari and his administration but it is a challenge which he has to confront. Otherwise it will consume him. Buhari was elected to bring about change. In other words, we thought he was going to be decisive and hit the ground running. And, after being in politics for over a decade, we thought he is going to be politically sophisticated. We even thought that there would be at least one hundred days of honeymoon, away from criticism. Now, we know, at the rate we are going there is no honey, and there is no moon. Our loyalty is to Nigeria and not to any party after all, so we have the duty to tell the truth and criticise any wrong doing by any government, regardless of which party is controlling that government.

President Buhari was elected by the majority of Nigerian voters because he promised to change the country for the better, and fight corruption. It is a pity now that the change will be very difficult and fighting corruption may even be impossible as it stands now, with the current National Assembly leadership. Buhari as president is expected to provide leadership and being the commander in chief, and there is no deputy commander in chief, the Constitution is very clear that he is the Head of State. He should therefore stop assuming that it is a government of three- in- one with every arm of government working independently. It is one government serving the entire people of Nigeria, which he has sworn to head as president.

With the alliance of corruption that brought the new National Assembly leadership, the legitimacy of the anti – corruption program of this government is now in doubt. The ICPC and the EFCC are creations of the National Assembly, which has the power to control. These anti – corruption agencies will never function again, if at all they survive, since the corrupt elements in the Assembly will make sure they are frustrated. If Buhari cannot fight corruption, is frustrated by the legislature and rendered important by the very corruption he promised to fight, then where is the change? The APC as a party has mismanaged its victory. In fact, with what happened in the Assembly last Tuesday, the PDP, has the last laugh. The promised change is over as the PDP has the ultimate victory.

With the APC squandering its goodwill so fast and dampening the morale of the entire nation and with a cloned and hybrid government that is neither APC nor PDP at the centre, there is no tunnel for us to see the light. The agents of change have been short changed. It reminds me of what the Second World War British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once said: “this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end; but, perhaps it is the end of the beginning.” History is on the side of the oppressed.