In past weeks, some political activities have indicated the possibility of President Muhammadu Buhari seeking a fresh mandate of four years at the 2019 presidential polls. Some long standing associates and loyalists of the President under the leadership of the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs, Hameed Ali, have converged under the aegis of the Buhari Support Organization (BSO), to drive his anticipated re-election bid. This group shares the same goal with a select number of APC state governors, apparently led by. Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i of Kaduna state and includes others like, Bello Masari of Katsina, Yahya Bello of Kogi, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano, Abdullahi Muhammed of Bauchi and Akeredolu of Ondo. Ministers, head of departments and agencies are also not left out of the Buhari must run agenda. These groups have one thing in common; they belong to the Buharists School of Political and Economic Thoughtlessness.
The tragedy in Buhari’s anticipated attempt at a second term of four more years is not even on the weakness of a government that failed to achieve any of its set goals of ant-corruption, economic rejuvenation and security of lives and properties. The tragedy of it all is the President and his ‘’Buharists’’ groups of supporters appear not to realize why they failed. The President often blames the former ruling party for the failures of his own government. Hameed Ali, the convener of BSO, while acknowledging the under achievement of the Buhari administration took the blame game to a ridiculous extent when he blamed former members of the PDP who decamped to APC and got rewarded by appointments. The way and manner the ‘’blame the PDP’’ rhetoric of the ruling APC is being propagated leaves many convinced that PDP is one corrupt DNA traceable to all individuals who are members of the former ruling party. It is precisely this simplistic approach to issues of governance that is largely responsible for the under achievements of the Buhari administration.
The anticipated second term bid of President Buhari is also blighted by the support of some group of very poor performing, bail out squandering governors whose only escape route out of the massive discontent they are facing in their home states, is the sheer political opportunism of running under the cover of Buhari’s mass following. The political thoughtlessness of this group of governors is evident in their unawareness of Buhari’s waning popularity to which they contributed the most by their inability to meet up the most basic responsibility of wages and salaries of civil servants in their states. The support of arguably the most corrupt and incompetent governors in the history of the fourth republic is a political liability and not an asset.
As 2019 approaches, Nigeria deserves a better deal than a self-preservation agenda weaved around a failed leader by a combination of non performing political appointees, corrupt and poor performing governors riding on the crest of the uninformed mob of devote Buhari worshippers. The President appears not left out of this agenda. His recent body language, pronouncements and actions suggest a dramatic shift in approach to political engagement. The first of these was an attempt at rapprochement with his party the APC. In order to placate members who are aggrieved, Buhari has promised to expand his federal executive council and constitute boards of agencies and parastatals. By this pledge, Buhari has adorned his administration with the last of the PDP garbs it has been dressed with. Having failed to improve the economy sufficiently, the only source livelihood remains the government. The public purse will come under more pressure as political appointees are expected to reap abundantly and replenish their material contribution to the election of President Buhari.
Furthermore, these new appointments will swell the rank of political appointees whose only basis for appointments were their partisan activities in support of the emergence of the Buhari presidency but not their tried expertise and trusted competence. Consequences of this mode of appointment are that sensitive and strategic national economic as well as security establishments have more often than not converted to personal fiefdoms serving partisan interests. For example, the headship of an establishment like Customs and excise is too important to play partisan politics. Hameed Ali’s renewed role as chief campaign organizer for the re-election of President Buhari will surely be prejudicial to his already not too impressive performance. The appointment of Dakuku Peterside as the head of a sensitive agency such as NIMASSA is an apparent invitation for him to recover his material loss after his failed attempt at Rivers state governorship. No new giant stride has been recorded by NIMASSA under Peterside, because his gaze fixed backward on Rivers state politics than on the economics of NIMASSA. Another prominent Buharists, Osita Okechukwu, who was rewarded with the headship of VON for his very robust support for President Buhari, have similarly not recorded any new feat in his establishment. He has remained in opposition mode, spending most of his time and energy castigating the opposition PDP without telling much about his exploits at elevating VON to the next level. The same goes for Bayo Unanuga of NAN. With these kinds of appointments and appointees, little wonder there is so much work left undone to the collective detriment of Nigerians.
Beyond blaming PDP past administrations for the failure of his administration, a Buhari second term presidency does not hold prospects of a better Nigeria. The chaliced mix of the promoters of Buhari continuity agenda indicates a predictable sustaining of the current poor state of governance in Nigeria. Nigerians may have to contend with steady decline in their standard of living largely as result of lack of ideas compounded by the corrupt conversion of public funds to private pockets by the political class. The most notorious group among the political class, the governors, will continuously extract one form of financial assistance or the other, under different guise [Bailout, Paris Club Refund], which they are certain to fritter away. Post 2019, with Buhari they may even ask for refund from the numerous loots recovered from Abacha, Diezani and Dasuki, etc.
If given the opportunity of a second term, Nigerians will be disappointed the blame game will continue to the end of Buhari’s second tenure because there appears to be no strategy towards socio-economic revitalization of the country.