Following his re-election for a second term in office, those who have always held the belief that President Muhammadu Buhari is Nigeria’s messiah have found added ammunition to further promote this view. The mammoth crowds that attended his campaign rallies all around the country no doubt points to his towering political status. In the election proper he garnered some fifteen million plus votes to defeat his challenger Atiku Abubakar by a margin of over three million votes to spare. And yes, there are places in this country where he retains a fanatical following, such that any unflattering comment about him could earn the bearer of such views any number of unpalatable treatments in reaction.
Yet despite all these for the ultimate good of mother Nigeria we must be brave and discerning enough to put in perspective what we know and have seen about President Buharis conduct of governance. This is especially relevant now as Nigerians have a lot of expectations from President Buhari as he begins his second term in office.
In this regard, we must ask that beyond the claim to integrity and incorruptibility, can we really say that President Buhari ticks the right boxes to convince us that he is that Nigerian leader who we all expect to lead the country on the road to fulfilment of its potentials?
To properly answer this question we must place Nigeria on the microscope in terms of what the country’s potentials are and what is needed to realise this.
All projections from various studies and sources agree that Nigeria has the potential to be among the top countries in the world in the foreseeable future. From the resources both human and material to the strategic position in Africa to the culture and diversity, the ingenuity and can do spirit and entrepreneurial abilities of the average Nigerian, the ingredients certainly are there. And going further it is projected that Nigeria is that bell weather country that can lead Africa and peoples of African descent the world over out of the doldrums of underdevelopment, racial profiling and discrimination and disregard from the other races of humankind.
Of course to attain this desirable objective requires that Nigeria must be fundamentally transformed from what it is currently. And this can only happen under a leadership that comes with a grand strategic vision and action platforms. With the re-election of President Buhari, Nigerians have not only laid down the marker against misgovernance in the country, they have also signalled to their current and future leaders what they expect from them.
The Buhari administration came on the wings of namely; tackling security challenges, cleaning up rot in government and diversifying the economy. While some progress has been recorded in these areas, we cannot as yet realistically say this has been comprehensive and far reaching enough to launch Nigeria into the expected path to greatness.
I attribute this to a lack of ability on President Buharis part to fit all these into one overarching strategic vision and to integrate Nigerians into adopting this vision as the ethos of our national life.
If we need any further proof of the lack of this critical messianic element in President Buhari, it is in the way he has led his party the All Progressive Congress, (APC). The impression one gets is that President Buhari prefers to pursue his own political interests exclusive of the general interest of the party. Here again because he has not made the effort to build the party into a structured, disciplined and ideologically driven movement from bottom to the top the APC faces the distinct possibility of disintegration once he is out of the scene.
The question to ask is can a ruler without strategic vision who has not been able to effectively manage the party he leads transform a very complex country like Nigeria?
In the four years of his second term mainly as a result of this observable flaw in President Buhari, his administration, party and the country itself will come under immense pressures. Those with an eye on the 2023 elections will seek to take control of the administration and party. Some perhaps seeing no accommodation within the party will seek to realign with other aggrieved elements outside the party to mount challenges against opponents.
As President Buhari will not be on the ballot in 2023, his allure and aura as a political force within the party and government will fade. President Buhari himself as he is wont to do will distance himself from all that will be happening around because give or take he will see himself as being on the way out of party politics anyway having fulfilled his desire to rule. And because the party has not benefited from the necessary strategic vision that he as leader should have provided, the party will inevitably itself under life threatening stress and strains.
To those who entertain the thought that in President Buhari we have our Lee Kuan Yew or Paul Kagame, it is a forlorn and misguided hope. From what we see about the administration of President Buhari the only thing we can concede is that yes they have been able to stanch the haemorrhage and stabilize the patient. But going forward, the patient needs a surgical operation like yesterday. And the surgery can only be done by a fit for purpose surgeon with the commensurate skills.
The expectations of Nigeria and Nigerians are too huge to be sated by puny, hesitant half measures. It is criminal and unacceptable to subject such a country with such endowments and potential to the level of deliberate underachievement that it has currently been subjected to by people who purport to be its leaders.