MY TELEPHONE CALL TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI
It is a blessing that Nigeria has met since its independence. It is a change that Nigerians had yearned for too long. Though in reality I have some phone numbers of Mr. President, I cannot call him because I always wonder what to tell him. Is it only to say good morning or ask for a favour which I know at least over one million Nigerians would say or ask daily? But I, with one of my friends, Barr. Saddiq, once put a call to President Buhari and he picked it. We heard his voice. This was after his landslide victory at the 2015 Presidential polls. The great voice told us: “Thank you for your support. Pray for Nigeria and please support us to make Nigeria great. Thank you.” And he put off the call. Very sure, he picked our call and many calls may have queued behind ours. His personal aide assured us that Mr. President has serious attachment to three things: first is reading virtually all Nigerian newspapers and magazines, as well as some international print media outfits; second is watching and listening to Nigerian electronic outfits, as well as CNN, BBC, Voice of America amongst others; and third is reading text messages from compatriots.
So, because I feel free to communicate with my nation's leader of today, this is my imaginary telephone call to President Buhari. It is imaginary but the truth is that both of us are thinking in the same direction of making this nation uncommonly transformed, preach peace, equity and unity amongst our diversity and give every Nigerian a real sense of belonging. And every Nigerian must accept to 'belong to nobody' – no cartel, no cabal, no tribe or religion – so that Nigeria can be developed. But change is like a tide; you either flow its direction or it sweeps you off. Here the call begins.
Writer: Hello Your Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari. Change Nigeria! This is our greetings in the morning, afternoon and evening since you were sworn-in. PMB: Change Nigeria, my fellow compatriot!
Writer: If it were possible to run the government without ministers, I would have advised you to do. The nation within the last few months is gradually stabilizing without ministers. PMB: But we cannot run the government against the provisions of our constitution. Ministers will be appointed at the appointed time. But they must be men and women of integrity. We want to also use our youth in the nation building.
Writer: The opposition party, PDP and others have been accusing you of inactions. I feel it is a sign of inferiority complex because they are seeing your success which they could not achieve in their 16 years in government. Some unpatriotic elements in the society are not happy with your stand on probing the few Nigerians who mismanaged Nigeria's public funds. Please do not be distracted. Do what will be of benefit to all Nigerians, not the very few like the past governments did. PMB: I have maintained that I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody. All Nigerians are my constituency. I will be just and fair to all.
Writer: Your Excellency, you have started making appointments. Please use your fair judgment and consider the long denied Muslims of South East in federal political appointments. The past federal governments played injustice against them by oppressing them and uplifting the Christian minority of the north. The past federal governments did not base their appointments on merit but basically on the basis of politically and economically empowering the minorities of the north which is not really unpatriotic.
PMB: Our appointments will be basically on merit. Religion, region, ethnicity or tribalism will have no place in our appointments. But yes, there are good reasons to be fair to all citizens of Nigeria in the federal appointments.
Writer: The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon told you that bad governance and INJUSTICE are the real causes of youth restiveness and terrorism. He said: “Why this insecurity and extremism has been able to take root among the people? I think that comes from mismanagement, bad governance, injustice. When you are absolutely in despair, when you have absolutely no hope for your own future, when the leaders do not care about their own people on inclusive governance, the people find some other means. Leaders have not been paying attention; they are not speaking with the people. That makes extremism to take the root. We have to prevent this. That is why I highly commend President Buhari. In his inaugural speech he said he will get rid of inequality, and he will get rid of corruption and run an inclusive government.” Mr. President, your stand on the fight against corruption and bad governance is stark. This is because you have maintained that “if we don't kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.” It is yet to be ascertained your stand on political injustice, inequality and all-inclusive governance until you have completely constituted your cabinet and finalized your appointments.
PMB: Dear compatriot, my government will put the nation on the path of truth, justice and development. We have no choice than make history. We have resolved to change Nigeria to better and there is no going back about it. We need all your support and prayers always.
Writer: While so many Nigerians are praising you and your good work, please do not be complacent with these too many sincere commendations. It is a byword that when a man is commended for a good work, it gingers him to do more. PMB: Thank you for the advice. We remain focused.
That is my discussion with Mr. President. Nigeria is on the path of development. There is now frugality in the management of public funds. Imagine that Permanent Secretaries of Federal Ministries are now afraid of approving huge financial transactions; everyone asks the other one of any financial transaction. Corrupt or questionable heads of federal agencies are relieved of their appointments. And prosecution of looters of our national treasury is on. Thanks to PMB. And thanks to the Nigerian democrats.
The true fight against insurgency is yielding fruits. By December, God willing, our dear country will be free from Boko Haram. Restiveness in the Niger Delta is being tackled. Remedies for all the identified breeders of civil disturbances are carefully worked out.
PMB is on the right path. APC national leader and former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, noted that the APC government cannot clean the 16-year mess of the PDP in just few days or months. “We thank God for cutting down the opponents' 60 years of fake promises to 16 years. Mr. President you started well; you hit the ground running. We have faith in your capacity and uprightness”.
Tinubu said further, “We cannot be PDP, we are APC, we will not repeat their mistakes. We know their errors, we understand what Nigeria wanted and Nigerians gave this party victory because of our manifesto. We are pro-people, we are progressives. We have had a conservative government in the last 16 years; this is a progressive party. We understand the hope of Nigerians; we understand the expectations of Nigerians. We believe in that expectation and in our promise of prosperity to the people. We will not change that.”
Former military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida proclaimed on Boko Haram: “We have seen the worst of human follies in the conduct of these avoidable carnage and bloodletting by unscrupulous persons under the guise of religion, doing havoc to our sense of nationality. I have implicit confidence in my mind that President Muhammadu Buhari will put the final nail on the coffin of Boko Haram so that Nigeria can truly assume her greatness in the comity of nations. Media intelligence is required in helping to assemble information and distilling such information in a manner that would benefit the fight against terrorism. Going by the news and information we get every day, I feel very strongly that the media has a greater role to play in the management of information.”
IBB suggested ways to finish the insurgents: the media should not celebrate the insurgents but rather promote the military efforts at confronting the menace; strategic efforts and initiatives of the military targeted at curtailing the spread of the Boko Haram should remain top secret within military hierarchy and the presidency; collaborative efforts should also follow similar pattern so that little or limited information is let loose for the consumption of members of the sect; information management and the encouragement and motivation for military personnel.
Former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Emeka Anyaoku, has assured that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to bring the desired change to Nigeria. “I can tell that I found myself talking with a president who is very determined to effect a real change in the circumstances of our country and very determined to bring to bear on his administration generally perceived attributes of his character for which I believe that many Nigerians voted for him”.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom said government officials in the country no longer have the gut to loot public funds because they are afraid of President Muhammadu Buhari. He said those who might want to divert funds meant for public service knew that Buhari would arrest them even if they run to Abuja. “I've said that and it has become a slogan in Benue State that when you chop money, money will chop you, and people are already sitting up and of course, if you escape Benue and come to Abuja, Buhari will arrest you, and everybody knows what this administration stands for, and that is the change we need in this country.”
US President Barack Obama broke his administration's tradition when President Muhammadu Buhari visited the United States of America, hosting President Buhari as his personal guest at the Blair House, the official guest house of the American president right opposite the White House for three days. This was a clear departure from the American government's attitude to visiting heads of state, particularly Nigerian leaders. It was also a demonstration of Obama's admiration of President Buhari and a thumbs-up for the Nigerian leader's acclaimed frugal lifestyle and disdain for ostentation.
Many prominent national and international personalities and organizations have one singular and strong belief in the ability of President Buhari to develop Nigeria on the path of justice, accountability, independence and greatness. It is becoming a reality in Nigeria that Nigerians can develop their country by themselves through President Muhammadu Buhari. God bless this path.
Written by Muhammad Ajah, an advocate of the rule of law and good governance.