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Buhari: History Beckons

By Julius Oweh - Asaba
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The nation is perilously perching on the horns of dilemma inching towards a political precipice and if care is not taken, may implode. The political and economic ills plaguing the country are too obvious to warrant a repeat here. However, destiny has placed the burden on one man to make the change and save the country from the looming balkanization. That man is President Muhammadu Buhari, the only Nigerian that prepared himself for the office as other political leaders were reluctant to run for the highest office or opportunities placed them there. It is now left for Buhari to make history and carve a niche for himself as the creator of modern Nigeria. The supplication of this piece is that he should have the strength of character to cut through the maze of political sycophancy and the political cabal holding him hostage, apology to Mrs Aisha Buhari, the spouse of the president.

Buhari like Olusegun Obasanjo made history as a former military head of state that came back to office via the ballot box. The difference, however, is that while Obasanjo was drafted into the political race by some retired military generals, Buhari out of his volition contested the presidency many times until mother luck nature smiled on him in 2015. He is now in position to make another history as either the creator of modern Nigeria or a leader under whose watch the country disintegrated into many states. The signs are there and those who choose to delude themselves are very free to please themselves. There are two things Buhari must do.

The first one is that he must resist the temptation to run for second term in 2019. I am not talking about the minister who said that she has her support for a former vice president. Rather his not contesting for second term is good for his health and the political and economic health of the nation. The truth must be said. Most of his time in a little more than two years in office has been used to attend to his health challenges and thank God that he is alright today. Another rigorous campaign may have toll on his health and he should avoid it. He should ignore the sycophants including one who in a clearly after whiskey-talk said that the president could even campaign on a stretcher. He should also avoid the sentiments of some of his party men that as a president, he has the right to first refusal. The beauty of not running for a second term is that he would not be distracted and he would focus on the job. The `change` he promised Nigeria will come to fruition through undivided attention to the job. He should also not bother himself about the person that may succeed him. This is the path to integrity for which he has already acquired a legendary status.

The second reason is that he should not be dismissive of those clamouring for restructuring of the country. He should equally not be led through the garden path by the APC panel on restructuring. It is a gimmick to pull wools over the eyes of Nigerians. Let the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, a former state governor and urbane graduate from the University of Ibadan play the ostrich by saying that he does not know the meaning of restructuring. Let Lai Mohammed (a French scholar and a lawyer) speak of restructuring of the mind and that the government is already restructuring Nigeria. Nigeria cannot progress if political coloration domesticates the reasoning faculties of some well educated Nigerians. My dear president, the tenor of restructuring is very simple. Let us go back to the 1963 constitution and put behind the damage done to the country when the military imposed unitary system of government on the country in 1966. In a lay man`s term, restructuring has to do with devolution of power and that the federal government has no business digging a borehole in my village. There is too much power in the centre and that the centre should be made less attractive as it was in 1960 that Sir Ahmadu Bello, the premier of Northern Nigeria had to send his boy, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to Lagos as the Prime Minister of Nigeria. Restructuring has nothing to do with the denial of the national cake to some parts of the country. Every part of the nation has an oven to bake any cake and that these minerals should be exploited for the benefits of all putting into consideration the economic principles of derivation.

There is the accusation in some quarters that the president is more of a sectional leader. The onus is on Buhari to prove those people wrong and that the Freudian slip in one of his overseas tours that those that did vote for him should not expect democratic dividends was a mistake of the head and not of the heart. No other Nigerian leader has the integrity quotient like Buhari. It was that integrity that made majority of Nigerians to vote for him. This is the right time to demonstrate that. In the next two years, he should correct the mistakes of the past. Demonstrate a high sense of political will and deal with the marauding Fulani herdsmen as criminals that they are. Continue to fight Boko Haram and reduce their capacity to bomb soft targets. Prove to the various separatists’ agitators that all Nigerians will benefit if we remain one indivisible country. Prove to the people of Niger Delta that they would reap the benefits of crude oil. Resist the temptation of running for second term and restructure the country along the line of fiscal federalism. And it is only then, in the words of the president that `the unity of the country is settled`.

Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.