It has been three months since President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Nigeria from his secretive medical retreat in the United Kingdom. Three months during which he has continued to act with the same lethargy and irresponsibility that has become the trademark of his leadership.
President Buhari has not been responsible for anything. The master of the blame game, the problem always lies with someone else – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), his speechwriter or even rats which are not spared for his inability to go to work. Anyone else but himself, the man at the helm.
Without mincing words, the reinstatement of corrupt fugitive, Abdulrasheed Maina into the Federal Civil Service is solely on this President. In other self respecting countries, independent special prosecutors would have begun to look at the president’s role in the #MainaGate saga, especially with Maina’s insistence that Buhari is the mastermind of his criminal recall and the revelation by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, that she had raised her objections about the recall scheme directly to the president.
And this is lost upon Buhari’s die-hard supporters who would not accept any questions asked of their leader. Let us ‘pretend agree’ with them that President Buhari is unblemished – that would still leave us with at least one question: What action has been taken against the conspirators – Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazzau; and Chief of Staff Abba Kyari?
In spite of Oyo-Ita’s confessions and the iron-clad evidence against these persons, Buhari has looked the other way. Like the three mystic apes of Japan, he would see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil of his comrades. The much touted “no-nonsense Buhari” is an old wives’ tale.
On the 23rd of October, President Buhari directed the immediate disengagement of Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina from the Federal Civil Service. He also asked Ms. Oyo-Ita to submit a “full report” to the office of his Chief of Staff (an accused party) – before the close of work, on the same day! Those who assumed that the short notice was a sign of Buhari’s readiness to take quick decisive action have obviously not been paying attention to this president.
Maina robbed President Buhari’s age mates and peers, some of who dutifully served Nigeria but – without the resources to go on long medical vacations in the United Kingdom like Buhari – have died from petty and terminal illnesses. You would think the president would be more sympathetic to their plight. Alas, Aso Rock is too far away from the backwaters where these long-suffering pensioners trudge.
But President Muhammadu Buhari is not to be completely blamed. We should add the docile civil society and chaotic opposition for rewarding this badly behaved president. Apart from a half-hearted press statement by the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and a pocket of groups there has been no major response to this calamity.
Irresponsible leadership is as good as no leadership. The words of the thieving former Secretary General of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, best captures it: “Who is the Presidency?” Lawal may have been right that one time: this Presidency simply does not exist. Buhari is not responsible for anything, to anybody and at anytime.
The recent face-off between the two Buhari-backed top national security heads and their agencies is an eyesore. The Department of State Services (DSS) led by Lawal Daura and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Ibrahim Magu have both acted in a way that has brought Nigeria to disrepute. The reprehensible inter-agency rivalry has left most confused and in the words of Ekiti Sen. Abiodun Olujimi, “this is a shame. It is gross irresponsibility and further indicates that nobody is in charge of this government.”
According to the news reports, the DSS prevented the EFCC, the anti-corruption agency, from the arrest of two former intelligence chiefs. In other words: obstruction of justice. The action, according to a civil rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, “is patently contrary to Nigerian law and international standards such as the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
The Buhari presidency which rode to power on the back of an anti-corruption campaign has become the poster child of lawlessness and impunity.
And just like in 1984, when General Buhari refused to take responsibility for his government’s impunity abroad with the violent, dehumanizing kidnap of a former Nigerian minister, Umaru Dikko at Bayswater in London despite the fact that the Nigerian intelligence officer involved, Maj. Mohammed Yusufu and some other Israeli contractors were imprisoned, he continues to shirk responsibility till date.
This – it appears – is the quintessential Buhari, a leader who cannot be trusted to own up to anything. Responsibility is a mark of maturity. A country’s president needs to display this more consistently – however, age and history is not on Buhari’s side.