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OPINION

Re: Of Course The President Is Aware

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This heading is, in a way, a response to Abba Mahmood’s damning indictment of the Buhari administration in the LEADERSHIP Newspaper in one of his Thursday Column which, from all indications, was largely based on a rather sloppy and uninformed critical observation and biased view of the way the President has been handling some major national issues. Mahmood specifically wrote on insecurity, some aspects of the economy, Nigeria Police, appointments, subordination of ministers to the Chief of Staff, among others and condemned the President, without mentioning any positive achievements of the administration. After asking a series of rhetorical questions throughout the write-up he concluded by saying that the president, as a result of his unimpressive performance, has squandered his goodwill both within and outside Nigeria.

However even to a casual observer, the entire piece is replete with half-truth, rumours and innuendo.  Whatever the case, the discerning mind would undoubtedly heap praises on the President for the way and manner he has been handling the rot and cleaning up the mess which, prior to his assumption of office, had become a “ normality “ in system, being operated by an insanely corrupt leadership.

Of course the President is well aware of the security challenges in the country, especially in the North East, as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency, which he inherited from his predecessors. You had to be in Borno State, the epicenter of the insurgency, to appreciate the depth of the problem and how President Buhari, despite the astronomical odds, crushed the insurgency. At the height of the insurgency, 22 out of the 27 local government areas of Borno State alone, were being controlled by the insurgents. Innocent people were callously murdered, their homes and means of livelihood completely destroyed. Those fortunate enough to survive the onslaught, ended up as IDPs in different parts of the country or as refugees in the neighbouring countries, that is after trekking hundreds of kilometres.

It was as a result of President Buhari’s incredible political will, powered by his uncommon commitment and dogged determination that the insurgents were finally defeated and all the local government areas, hitherto under their control, recaptured so to the people of Borno State, and the average Nigerian Buhari is a saviour even if the defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists is the only thing he did in his presidency. The only explanation one can allude to the current spate of insecurity in other parts of the country, is nothing other than the fact that corruption is fiercely fighting back in other forms, as being said time and again, to discredit the President and belittle the campaign against corruption.

Of course the President is well aware.

The office of the Chief of Staff to the President, though not constitutional in nature, like those of the ministers, is nevertheless, a procedural imperative in the administrative structure of the State House. It serves as a gatekeeper to the President on all official matters. The office, inter alia, is responsible for the handling of all correspondences to the President. In the process it sieves and filters memos to the President and summarises them highlighting the salient points without compromising their thematic integrity. The office of the Chief of Staff to the President has always been there. No minister or any top level government functionary for that matter has ever been subjected to that office, by omission or commission.

The current Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari, is a highly principled, upright and honest gentleman who has impeccable record of service and unimpeachable integrity. A product of Cambridge university, Abba Kyari has been a top level journalist, a renowned banker and a trained lawyer who has brought to bear his vast and enviable experience and expertise on his current job, without compromising his integrity or the good name of the President. The recent barrage of criticism against him was orchestrated by those who felt intimidated by his intellectual stature and managerial acumen and therefore they resort to all means to disparage his reputation. A highly disciplined man, perhaps because of his royal upbringing, Abba Kyari always exhibits incredible simplicity and an inspiring sense of commitment to his duty. An introvert by any standard and positively taciturn, the people of Borno State and indeed those who have had opportunity to interact with him, describe him as a model of discipline and hard work. As he has been doing his job credibly well his critics had to resort to smear tactics by inventing unfounded allegations against him. A classic example of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

Of course the President is well aware. Mahmood also criticised the President for increasing the price of fuel and devaluing the Naira. He however failed to analyse the background to these painful but necessary policy decisions, which were informed by the messy economic situation inherited by the President. Increase in fuel price and Naira devaluation are indeed part of a complex economic structure which, at the time Buhari took over the mantle of leadership, was uncontrollably sliding downhill, towards the abyss.  It therefore became a matter of strategic economic imperative for the Buhari administration to introduce tough policy measures to halt the slide and bring the economy back on track. The effect is that we now have a stable economy and uninterrupted fuel supply.

Of course the President is well aware.

On the Police I wonder if Mahmood was suggesting that it was President Buhari who made a downward review of the salaries of policemen in the country or that he directed that the police should not be trained. Otherwise it beggars belief that the President should be blamed for the woes he inherited and for which he has been making strenuous efforts to rectify. Mahmood obviously seems to have selective memory or is suffering from self-imposed amnesia. Otherwise he could have done well to recall that as a result of the untrained and overstretched nature of the Police Force which  President Buhari inherited that he gave a clear directive to the Police Authorities to recruit thousands more and train them accordingly, In order for them to effectively and efficiently carry out their constitutional responsibilities.

Of course the President is well aware.

On the appointment of DFAs or non-admin officers as Permanent Secretaries, Mahmood should know that the problem pre-dates the Buhari presidency. In fact it has its roots in the Yar’Adua administration when, Steven Oronsaye, then Head of Service, introduced and efficiently implemented the policy that appointment of Permanent Secretaries should not be confined to the pool of admin officers only. Thus the floodgate was opened and it became an all-comers affair.

Of course the President is well aware.

In respect of the so-called skewed appointments by the Buhari administration, Mahmood  made gross generalisation and again failed to provide any example. However it suffices to state  that only in this administration that two key positions in the Federal Service – Head of Service and Secretary to the Government of the Federation- are occupied at the same time by non-muslims. And if Mahmood had cared to investigate he would have discovered that some of the President’s key domestic staff, who have been with him for decades, are indeed non-muslims. It’s not a practice exclusive to the late Sultan of Sokoto alone as he seems to indicate.

Of course the President is well aware.

If some government agencies are working at cross purposes, as he alleged, he has not provided any example nor pointed out the negative repercussions of such on the overall polity formulation and implementation of the Government.

On the whole if Mahmood’s motive in the write-up was to stir up some form of apathy or dislike against the President especially in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, he has not quite succeeded. The president ‘s goodwill among his supporters and the average fair- minded Nigerian is as high as ever.

–By Jere wrote from Bama , Maiduguri



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