Ahead of the congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau state, members of the party are sharply divided over the sharing of the offices, writes GOLOK NANMWA
When President Muhammadu Buhari took over the leadership of Nigeria from Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on May 29, 2015, the expectations from the citizenry was frighteningly very high. This is not unconnected to the myriad of campaign promises made by the All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the election. Few weeks into the life administration, the government foot-dragged in hitting the ground running which made Nigerians to nick name their president “Baba go slow.
National leader of the APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, had to intervene in June last year to pleaded with anxious Nigerians to give President Buhari at least 100 days as he was still on “honeymoon” and that the process of change APC promised is not magical.
Tinubu, speaking with State House correspondents shortly after meeting behind closed-doors with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, said “May 29 was when this President was sworn in. It is an international norm; there is a honeymoon period, at least a minimum of 100 days’ honeymoon. And you won’t allow honeymoon at all?
“Change is not by magic. It is driven by the people, the spirit and the character and the planning,” he said.
Almost 10 months after Tinubu told Nigerians that Buhari was on honeymoon, he had cause again last month to beg for more time for the change APC promised to start manifesting and gave assurance that the change agenda of President Buhari was still on course.
Tinubu, while speaking at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University convocation in Sokoto where he was honoured with the Honorary Doctor of Business Administration, said “There is much to fix. President Buhari is committed to fixing them. But he needs your support and patience. He cannot do it all alone. We must stand beside him or else we may be knocked down and not stand at all.”
However, there are indications that even some former die-hard supporters of President Buhari appear not to be ready to stand with the President as canvassed by Tinubu. Some of them like former minister of education, Oby Ezekwesili, Dr. Pat Utomi; Femi Falana and a host of others are now hitting the Nigerian president from all flanks. Most of these high profile Nigerians were touted to be ministers-in-waiting immediately Buhari was declared winner of the presidential election. But things appears to have fallen apart as they have joined the legion of those presidential Spokesman, Femi Adesina described as “wailers.”
Many Nigerians were shocked when they read reports that quoted political economist and public affairs analyst, Professor Pat Utomi, as saying Buhari is dividing Nigerians with the manner he is running the government. When there was public outcry last year over the lopsided appointments made by the president in favour of the core north, Prof Utomi rose in his stout defense saying he is at liberty to appoint all his aides even from his own village.
His words: “Let’s get serious. Let‘s get to move this country forward and away from all this small, petty issues. To me it is not an important issue and I don’t want to deal with it. The President can appoint everybody from one village. As long as the people can get the job done, let them get it done. That is what Nigerians wanted and that is what they voted for”.
But Prof Utomi, who was unexpectedly shut out of the federal executive committee by President Buhari, recanted two weeks ago saying some Nigerians have been shut out of the government.
His words: “I think Nigeria today is actually more divided than it was two years ago. The spirit of Nigeria is much challenged today. That is simply failure of leadership. Our experience is that the trouble with Nigeria, clearly, is leadership. Nigeria is still not being led rightly. For me personally, 2015 was a huge disappointment.
“This is because what I had hoped for, what I expected was a classic opportunity to lead Nigeria, to bring everybody into a boat, saying this is the direction we are travelling. And with every body’s energy in Nigeria we will move towards that.”
The erudite professor added that, “Nigeria came out and aligned with the opposition and for the first time, an incumbent was removed…That was why I said it was a classic opportunity for good leaders to bring everybody into the house.
“But that did not happen. What happened was that the old hegemony game started. People cornering something, excluding that person, pushing that person and they just couldn’t get it together.”
Prof Utomi also criticized the development policy of Buhari, noting that it is flawed with no clear-cut blueprint for national development and growth.
“The economic challenges being faced in the country can be attributed to the visionlessness of the leaders at the helm of affairs,” he said.
The romance between the APC-led government and Oby Ezekwesili, who is one of the founders of the #BringBackOurGirls has gone sour as the former minister has gradually joined the rank of critics of the administration.
When President Buhari, in a session with foreign journalists in Washington DC during his visit to the United States, stated clearly that those who voted for him 97 percent cannot get the same dividends of his government as those that didn’t vote for him or voted five percent, Ezekwesili was prompt in lampooning the Nigerian leader.
She took to her Twitter page stating that “the primary duty of every Government is to improve the quality of life of all citizens regardless of their political preferences.
“Even wailing wailers have a right to full benefits of Governance. That’s Democracy. It is their right to decide to wail with dignity or not,” she twitted.
Oby Ezekwesili, who was almost fanatical about Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, in a series of tweets also faulted President Buhari’s economic policies saying his economic management is not working.
The former minister, whose group is believed to have been used by the APC to discredit the Jonathan administration over the abducted Chibok girls, is also not happy with the manner the Buhari administration has been handling the issue of the abducted girls.
Last week she lamented that Buhari has taken Nigeria back to the military era over the rough treatment meted out to the parents of the Chibok girls. Police officers had barred #BringBackOurGirls protesters from gaining entrance to the Presidential villa on the day which marks the second anniversary of the abductions of the Chibok Girls.
Ezekwesili expressed surprise that the group was stopped, saying BBOG would deliver its message on the road notwithstanding the barricade.
Another pro-Buhari eminent Nigerian who appears to have fallen out with the Nigerian leader is renowned human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, who could also not make the ministerial list. In the past few months Falana had taken the Buhari administration to the cleaners over several issues.
Late last month Falana said contrary to claims, the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government is not winning the anti-corruption war.
The human right fighter stated this in his keynote speech delivered at a round table on “Winning the War Against Corruption” in Lagos, Thursday, March 31.
According to him, “Owing to lack of coordination in the trial of politically exposed persons, corruption is fighting back. Painfully, the federal government is on the defensive as it has failed to counter the deliberate manipulation of the criminal justice system by the indicted looters of the public treasury,” part of the speech reads.
Falana said the government cannot claim to be winning the war if suspects are being granted bail in their own recognizance or other ridiculously liberal terms by trial judges notwithstanding the gravity of the offences allegedly committed by them.
On the harsh economic condition across the country, Falana lambasted the President Muhammadu Buhari saying the current hardship Nigerians are going through were never asked for.
Speaking at the Central Working Committee, CWC, meeting of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, held on April 6, Falana said he is in support of the decision of the union to organise a one-day strike over the situations in the country.
He lamented that Nigerians didn’t vote change for suffering and call on the All Progressives Congress, APC-led government to fulfil the promises it made to Nigerians during the campaigns.
“We didn’t vote change for agony; we didn’t vote change for tyranny. We fully endorse NLC resolutions for strike,” the legal luminary stated.
The Nigerian leader’s also appears to have fallen out of favour of some pro-Buhari groups as some of them have joined the legion of the critics of the Nigerian leader.
For instance, member of Change Vigilantes, a group hitherto known for supporting this government, last Friday, April 15, accused the government of derailing from its original visions and losing direction.
Giving their appraisal of the performance of the Buhari administration at a town hall meeting in Lagos, they urged the government to reverse itself from the wrong direction.
Speakers at the event identified corruption, epileptic power supply, unemployment, bad economy, as the major issues after almost one year of the Buhari administration.
Leader of the of group, Dr Ope Banwo stated that the president should not be allowed to fall into the same situation his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan fell into when his supporters refrained from telling him the truth.
Banwo said: “I am one of those people spending their money and energy fighting for Buhari’s government, right now am not happy with the direction the country is taking in different areas.
“We felt that the government is losing direction. So, as part of my own way to make sure the government never derails from its change mantra, we continue to call on the government, spending our resources to make sure he is on the right track.”
Speaking on unemployment in the country, Banwo said: “The government is doing well, but the government performance on employment is poor. The president must be reminded that he promised 740,000 jobs in first year, but we got more than 740,000 layoffs.”