If as some Nigerians are already saying and if it is eventually confirmed that the Buhari presidency, which is barely two years away from running out, is a failure, what are historians, pundits and prophets going to say are some of the factors responsible for its failure? As a simple member of the Commentariat, I will identify one critical factor I consider the most responsible.
And that factor is the lack of wise and patriotic counsellors as well as able men in all strata of politics and governance. I will say that there are no ones. either in the APC or the government itself, who seemed willing and available to take charge when they noticed that the president was not right on some scores. I say this because in both ancient and modern times, administering a polity is beyond the frail shoulders of one man, no matter how strong, wise and capable he is.
The Biblical and Koranic King David of ancient Israel is my good example. David was a prophet, king and priest rolled into one. Yet, as anointed, able and knowledgeable as he was, he nevertheless depended heavily on the ability and competence of his counsellors and what we now call presidential aides. In fact, some of his counsellors were wiser and more knowledgeable than him. Take the man called Ahitophel of Gaol. This man was so full of wisdom and his counsels were so right and valuable that it was said that if Ahitophel gave you a counsel and you went to the Turim and Ummi for divine confirmation, it will tell you coincide exactly with what Ahitophel had told you! On many occasions, David cried out in desperation for Ahitophel’s counsel when he saw no possible solution in sight.
One example was when David had commanded that the Ark be taken from enemy territory where it was to an appropriate place in Israel. The persons mandated to transport it were instantly killed when the Ark nearly tripped and was about to fall and they reached out with their hands to balance it., Ahitophel was consulted and he pointed out, quite correctly, that the accident happened because God had commanded that the Ark be carried on the shoulder by two men and not on a cart driven by an oxen!
Again, take who the Bible describes as King David’s ‘’Able Men’’, for example. David had Edino, the ambidexter man who could fight and kill as many men with his right hand as well as with his left. We had Azariah and many others. Their individual strengths exceeded that of David’s. And when they combined them in David’s cause, great exploits were wrought for the glory of the Israelitish nation. And these able men enjoyed David’s absolute confidence and could take charge even when they noticed the leader was dithering. At one point David was almost dying of thirst and cried out if some ones could break through enemy lines and get him water from the other side. And his wish was accomplished in a jiffy, at great risk to their lives. A man with a noble soul and conscience, when the water was eventually brought, he refused to drink from it because, he said it was like blood water!
We have very few, if any, in Buhari’s cabinet and among others surrounding him who can be described as wise and patriotic advisers and able men and women. He seems to have selected and groomed men who are out for themselves and plod on every day in a manner meant to keep their jobs safe.
Closely allied to his mediocre cabinet is the fact that Buhari has the singular misfortune of having men about him who defer too much to him. None appears to have the moral authority, the pedigree or gravitas to loyally disobey an unwise presidential command or body language or tactically disagree with the president in a manner that will be inoffensive and which will make the disagreer remain in a position to influence the president positively. In fact, we need men with sufficient moral authority to disagree with, or stand up to, the President on issues they deeply feel he is wrong or not quite right on.
As formidable as the late northern leader, Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, was, the late former President Shehu Shagari once disclosed in a series of high profile interviews that Peter Enahoro’s rested Africa Now magazine had with former Nigerian leaders, that Muhammadu Ribadu was one man who could stand up to the Sokoto prince. Yes, the same fiery Ribadu you know of but not quite the same Ribadu. It was Ribadu the father of the former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, who was then the minister of defense. Maybe, courage and unquenchable zeal for the public good runs in the blood of that family!
I don’t think that Ribadu the Elder’s self-confidence and courage had anything to do with juju or anything of the sort. Such things only come from selflessness, lack of greed, fierce loyalty to the leader and one’s undoubted ability. But with the kind of system we are running now, it is almost impossible to have men and women like Ribadu who are not out to play safe to protect their high-paying jobs whether you search for them in the party, in the cabinet or in the length and breadth of the corridor of power! Woe betide a nation whose leader has no one that can challenge him with a sound and superior contrary views whose merits everyone can see and he is willing to accept such challenge in good faith.
If Buhari has people who can challenge some of his decisions and policy thrusts the unnecessary animus, for example, which he and some Northern leaders of his generation seem to harbour against the Igbos would have been challenged for the good of his government and his nation. His clear hatred for the Igbos, one significant leg of the tripod upon which Nigeria stands, is partly responsible for the turmoil in the land, the suffocating heat in the polity and the poor popularity rating he is enjoying in the country. But he and they seem not to know it.
What I pray for my country now is that the famous, or rather infamous, cabal behind the Buhari presidency should willingly and deliberately transform itself into a cabinet (a kitchen one} and take control of the government and steer the ship of state that is heading dangerously towards a rocky outcrop in the stormy sea or else the nation will break into pieces, not useful to anyone. I come in peace.