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Saraki as Buhari's Collateral Damage

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Prior to the March 28 presidential election and shortly after it just before the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, many waited in high expectations and eventually heaved a sigh of relief at what seemed to be a change of unsatisfactory performance by the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in particular and the 16 years of PDP rule at the centre and at various other levels in general. President Muhammadu Buhari was widely acclaimed as the needed and long-awaited messiah to take Nigeria to that utopian state of socio-economic haven and respect for the rights of the citizens coupled with a guarantee of maximum security for everyone. Buhari was packaged as a repentant dictator who is purportedly now in tune with requirements of modern day democracy and the dictates of the rule of law.  But just like every package, the true contents unfold only when the lid is lifted.

With recent events, the claim of Buhari and his spin doctors that he is now a democrat and no longer that autocratic leader he was as military Head-of-State has failed abysmally. From the wanton harassment of Nigerians by security operatives to the invasion of private and official homes of citizens Gestapo-style and the witch hunt of political opponents for lawful dissent, the real Buhari keeps unfolding every day.

It is no longer a secret that since Buhari came to power, he has shown a grave lack of respect for the polity and our delicate realities. He has carried on as if certain people and regions do not either matter or they are not Nigerians. His appointments so far indicate a president who is not only myopic in sight but one who lacks foresight. His claim that he had to appoint those whom he trusted and who had been with him from his days of struggle is socially expedient but politically suicidal and nationalistically murderous. The question is, how did Buhari fare when these loyal apostles of his were with him? Were they able to deliver the presidency to him? if not for his new breed of friends from different parts of the country who teamed up with him not because he was in any way near the class of former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan but for the very fact that they were all driven by one desperate ambition to have Jonathan leave Aso Rock by all and any means possible, Buhari's ambition to become Nigeria's president would have remained an eternal mirage despite his association with those he claimed have been with him for a long time. In the end, such people can only be classified as “local champions” whose influence and loyalty to their principal could not deliver him the presidency until the intervention of powerful forces outside the immediate clique of Mr President.

The fact of the matter is, Buhari is one man who does whatever he likes irrespective of what the nation thinks and no matter whose ox is gored. As a man not used to democratic practices and one who is finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that he cannot govern Nigeria alone as a sole administrator but would require a cabinet to do so, Mr Buhari's only choice is to create excuses and keep giving them as reasons why he does not have a cabinet four months after inauguration.

The formation of a cabinet simply means meetings would have to be conveyed and decisions would have to be reached by means not akin to dictatorial norms. The implication is that some of Buhari's wishes might meet brick walls before ministers who might knock him out with superior arguments and proposals. He understands how scandalous things can be for him if one or two ministers or more decide to resign because of his high-handedness and incapability to succumb to superior proposals and submissions. For this reason, he might prefer to continue to rule alone.

It would have been understandable if things were either working or looking up in the country without ministers, but as it is, things are getting worse by the day. The economic indices are not favourable just as our economic ratings in the international community have dropped drastically. Recently, the Nigeria Labour Congress confirmed that 60,000 of its members lost their jobs in the construction industry alone in the first three months of Buhari's presidency, other private sector players including banks are regularly laying off workers in their thousands just to survive the negative impacts of an ill-thought out Treasury Single Account policy for MDAs, a policy that is not sustainable in the long run; little wonder some MDAs have already been exempted from it even before take-off. A more stringent and regular audit process for the MDAs would have been a better alternative.

This seems to be how Buhari is wired and it is unfortunate that for him to continue running Nigeria like a sole proprietor, Senator Bukola Saraki, president of the Senate of the Federal Republic becomes the victim and the proverbial sacrificial lamb.

The game is simple. Buhari seems to detest working with ministers. He would only do so because the constitution compels him to so do. That is widely acknowledged. No one would want to work with mere “noise makers”! Now, to deliberately delay the constitution of a noise making cabinet, the confirming organ, that is the Senate, would have to be destabilized and thrown into confusion. While the confusion in the senate lasts, and fascinated by such intrigues, Nigerians would be pre-occupied with them as Buhari keeps dishing out policies as he likes without a cabinet. This is why there would be more executive-instigated intrigues in the legislature especially the Senate so as to make it look like it is the legislature which is not ready for legislative functions while the executive carries on without checks or balances. The senate would first of all fight for its own survival before considering any requests from the executive including the ministerial list of noise makers. This game plan by the executive may still fail and “noise makers” foisted on the president so soon and against his will.

Senator Bukola saraki's travails are not unconnected with the calculation by the Buhari's camp to continue to foist anti-democratic and dangerous political experiments on Nigerians while the senate continues in an unending battle for self-preservation. Unfortunately and in all these, Senator Bukola Saraki is the collateral damage!

Jude Ndukwe ( [email protected] ; Twitter: @stjudendukwe)

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