The National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed never stops to amuse me. Right from the tottering days of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, CAN through the inconvenient merger of that party with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change, CPC to form today’s ruling party, his capacity to twist lies and half truths to hoodwink unsuspecting fellow country men and women remains legendary. In some quarters, many underscore him as better than Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
But that was then. Since after the April 11 presidential election and the eventual victory of Buhari, which meant the humbling of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerians including top members of the APC now see through the lies and propaganda of Lai Mohammed so much so that whatever he says and statements he issues are taken with less than a pinch of the salt.
One must note quickly that his capacity to sell dummies to the public was curtailed and to a large extent, still being curtailed by the dipping crisis rocking his party from its headquarter to the National Assembly as well as the slow start of governance in the presidency. Unfortunately, the latter is supposed to present the most worry to the leadership of a party that made very many open-ended electoral promises that it appears it is realising that actual governance like the Delta man will say, is not moi moi.
One full month after he took his Oath of office as Nigeria’s President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country, President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to decide on who aides him in administering the affairs of Nigeria via the constitutionally approved clearing house for all matters relating to state administration.
For the umpteenth time, one must stress that the longer the president vacillates on this issue or continues to grandstand on it using the caveat that he is still consulting or for any other reason whatsoever, the more he incurs the angst of the people whose mandate catapulted him into Aso Rock. The reason is very simple; as it stands at press time, there is a dangerously yawning lacuna in the administration of affairs of Nigeria.
Defending the indefensible
Hours back, Lai Mohammed attempted to address the go-slow approach Buhari’s government is approach issues of state affairs appealing to Nigerians to realising the circumstances of the administration’s emergence especially that Buhari got handover notes only four days before May 29.
He argued further that as a result of the above, efforts of Buhari’s administration to have a clear understanding of the situation on the ground before taking the necessary measures to address it were hampered ab initio. “If any disease is not appropriately diagnosed, it cannot be effectively treated. Any government that is truly desirous of bringing about real change will not act hastily and without the necessary understanding of what is on ground. Coupled with the delay in getting the much-needed information, that takes time,” Lai Mohammed added.
Nothing can be further from the truth on ground right now. If indeed diagnosis of the country’s problems is delaying the actual take-off of governance one full month after, how come the president is reeling out so many policy statements and taking very many decisions which he considers appropriate for good governance and national interest? Although they are few, their eventual manifestations have the potentials of affecting the lives of millions of Nigerians before long.
Take the president’s decision to mortgage the country’s security and military needs in the prosecution of the anti-insurgency war to the G7 leaders at the end of July; add it to his decision to also have governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states compute cost implications of rebuilding destroyed properties in their respective states no thanks to the fallouts of the anti-insurgency war for vetting by G7 leaders also, and then it will dawn on Lai Mohammed that he is not being sincere.
What about the sacking of the board of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the convening of the National Economic Council meeting by the president as well as the numerous visits he has made offshore? To me, those do not really underpin the circumstances of a new president who is still trying to settle down.
And now the question on every lip… When will Buhari appoint the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF whose office constitutionally is the fulcrum around which governance revolves? So far, this is one question every APC leader especially those in the mould of Lai Mohammed have continuously struggled to evade.
But no matter how they try to hoodwink, manipulate, dribble or even overwhelm us in whatever way, until this country has a substantive SGF, it goes without saying that the Buhari presidency that millions crave for is yet to engage a forward gear. The reason is simple, an SGF is empowered to monitor and coordinate the implementation of government policies and programmes, serve as frontline advisory institution of the Presidency, drive policy formulation, harmonization, and implementation and monitor institutions of governance.
To rub it in, the Office of the SGF deploys needed political will, administrative expertise, professionalism and the values of loyalty and commitment in support of the attainment of the goals of the federal government. And to effectively deliver on these tall orders, he superintends over the following cabinets that are in their own rights have very detailed aspects of governance:
• General Services Office
• Political Affairs Office
• Economic Affairs Office
• Special Services Office
• Special Duties Office
Thus, until there is an appointee that performs these roles as envisaged by the Constitution and relevant extant rules, the Buhari administration can only be said to be akin to a sole administratorship. And today’s democratic governance worldwide cannot be so defined or operated. The earlier the likes of Lai Mohammed in the APC come to terms with this reality and urge something to be done to rectify the anomaly, the better the country would be.