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The tortoise's journey and Buhari's appointments, By 'Tope Oriola

By The Rainbow
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It is quite shocking to know that somewhat miraculously, President Muhammadu Buhari has begun to find meritorious candidates in the South for federal appointments. Of course, the discovery of supposedly qualified and competent persons in the South coincides with the depletion of major positions and availability of largely useless portfolios. Many of us kept an absolutely open mind defending the president privately and publicly until it became absurd to claim not to see the obvious. Mr. President, the ship has sailed. We already know who you are.

I humbly admit that many others and I were wrong to have thought that the leopard could change its spots. Part of that was our symbolic investment in the success of the administration. We badly wanted things to turn around in Nigeria. Details provided by Junaid Mohammed, the Punch editorial board on August 1st, 2016 and the evidence before our eyes point to a president unworthy of being called a national leader. It is equally inaccurate and unfair to call Buhari a president of Northern Nigeria. Buhari's Nigeria has been essentially good mainly for his family members and a handful of cronies. Those who see a strict North-South dichotomy and are in doubt should visit any internally displaced persons' (IDP) camps in the North-East. Besides the gains in the war against Boko Haram, this government has not excelled at anything. This government has not been good even for the Northern talakawa. The hungry masses from the North to the South now have buyers' remorse.

Change requires that things be turned around or upside down if need be. However, real change is not appointing your family or clan members to positions of authority at the detriment of excellence and fairness. It is a form of corruption as the Punch editorial board has rightly pointed out. Buhari has ruined the careers of many Federal Government employees who have neither been accused nor convicted of any offences. I have never had any reason to defend the Nigerian police but the retirement of 21 DIGs and AIGs to pave way for their junior, the lacklustre Ibrahim Idris, is one of such brazen exercises. Has Idris raised the dead or walked on water? Why would anyone sacrifice the careers of 21 senior police officers in order to appoint a mediocre candidate? Besides equity issues, the retirement of such a huge volume of officers is a colossal waste of human power and federal resources expended on the officers. The recent purge in the army was also used not only to ensure the exit of corrupt or politicized officers, it was used to retire anticipatorily individuals who might pose problems for the presidency's preferred candidates when new service chiefs and other top officers are appointed. The newly recomposed NNPC board is another case in point. You have to wonder what they smoked in Aso Rock when, faced with new spates of oil infrastructure bombings in the Niger Delta, the presidency could not ensure adequate representation of Niger Deltans on the board of a corporation that could not exist without oil from the Niger Delta. Ensuring appropriate demographic or geographic representation in major institutions of society is not a mere Nigerian matter. Appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada, for instance, is made in a way to ensure that smaller provinces are represented. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister, has recently unveiled plans to make the process more transparent by proposing a board to which eligible judges may apply to avoid backroom appointment.



The story is told of the tortoise's planned journey. The animals around the tortoise were suspicious of his journey and curious about when he intended to return. Rumours had it that the tortoise might stay very long. “When will you come back, tortoise?” the animals asked. Tortoise responded: “Not until I have been disgraced”.

We do not know that the president will run for a second term. We also do not know that he will not. Given the silhouettes of politics in our part of the world, it would be foolish to assume that that the president would not run. Therefore, the recent “yeye” appointments may be a down payment vis-à-vis building collapsed bridges. I do not underestimate the facticity of multiple realities. Living in the cocoon of power has a way of fabricating its version of reality. Buffoonery may begin to masquerade as strategy. The president's inner circle may be well-advised that if the recent appointments are meant to soften the (non-existing) ground, it is the stuff of AYLive comedy. The mission of the president should be a concise focus on one term. At the risk of sounding like a scratched CD, President Buhari has limited 21st century leadership capability; he is bereft of tact and the art of statecraft and has lost a significant part of his reputation. He cannot win a second term under a free and fair atmosphere.

I imagine the socio-political conditions of a second term bid. The APC is unlikely to survive the turmoil that may arise, the PDP may continue its degradation ceremony while a smaller or new party may be on the ascendance. Analysts will write about a failed second term effort. Buhari will be described as a sincere, self-righteous and disciplined clan champion, the Atun ilu se of Daura.

The story is told of the tortoise's planned journey. The animals around the tortoise were suspicious of his journey and curious about when he intended to return. Rumours had it that the tortoise might stay very long. “When will you come back, tortoise?” the animals asked. Tortoise responded: “Not until I have been disgraced”.

'Tope Oriola is professor of criminology at the University of Alberta, Canada. Twitter: @topeoriola

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of The Rainbow and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."