Like men beating a path to the house of aman who made a new mouse trap, many interest groups are finding every excuse to pay homage to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari. It reminds you of the Christian song,
“Pass me not by gentle Saviour
Hear my humble cry
While on others Thou art calling
Do not pass me by.”
None wants to lose out of the gravy they perceive is about to oodle out of the Buhari train. They all throng the Defence House in Abuja, Buhari’s half-way house to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. Some came with cap in hand; others, threats, flattery, or promises of good conduct.
Early callers are retired army generals and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by their former President-General, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, who incidentally is leading a separatist Biafra lobby to the United Nations in June. They regret the rebuff that Candidate Buhari got from Ndigbo electorate, but want him to, nonetheless, consider the Igbo in appointing his principal officers, and allocating infrastructural facilities. Ndigbo youths think Dr. Ogbonaya Onu will make a good Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Ikedife expatiates: “(The Igbo) have… capable, qualified, and hard working technocrats who can work with (Buhari). And there are people who worked tirelessly for the All Progressives Congress to win in the South-East…(Never mind that they attracted) low number of votes… (due to) the overwhelming South-East support for the PDP…”
Ikedife excused himself from any strenuous appointment on account of old age, but offers to play on the wings. He reminds Buhari of the primary needs of “electricity, water, roads, and construction of the Second Niger Bridge, among others,” that Ndigbo entrepreneurs requested of him during his electioneering.
Another Ndigbo group actually recanted, claiming that the presidential election in the South-East was manipulated for the Peoples Democratic Party’s Goodluck Jonathan. Every loser is an orphan. The Coalition of Yoruba Self-Determination pleads with Buhari not to sideline the Yoruba and Senator Bola Tinubu for what they stealthily hint as an us-against-others alliance of the Fulani and the Yoruba. Ex-Niger Delta militants are sending body language signals to Buhari over unpaid entitlements.
Dr. Frederick Fasheun argues that the pipeline security contract given to the Oodua People’s Congress by Jonathan, in the frenzy of electoral campaign, is a “national issue.” He thinks “Buhari will not go against national welfare,” by cancelling the contract. “If (Buhari) cancels the contract,” Fasheun says, “he will be cutting his nose to spite his face.”
Well, whatever; all ethnic militias should vacate pipeline vigilante duties to government security agencies that are trained and paid to do the job. Though his kinsmen snigger at him, the Senate Majority Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, insists he will lead what he calls a non-partisan group to visit Buhari, just as Christian believers in an overwhelmingly PDP Ekiti State have enlisted (or invoked) divine assistance for Buhari. The Chairman of Lagos State chapter of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Employees says the change in government is good for the local refineries, as the House of Representatives counsels Buhari to retain petrol subsidy.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, an APC chieftain, suggests that Buhari should reverse the privatisation of the electricity generating and distribution divisions of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria. The United Progressives Party also wants Buhari to declare a state of emergency in the power sector.
The UPP National Chairman, Chekwas Okorie, promises to mobilise support for Buhari if he will “spare no efforts to recover all – our patrimony in private hands, which has been illegally or illegitimately acquired – whether in Nigeria or abroad.”
The APC’s Governors’ Forum also called. Their chairman, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, reveals: “We have come to notify the incoming President of the challenges ahead of him. As it stands today, most states of the federation have not been able to pay (outstanding) salaries, and that is worrisome… We are hoping that the President-elect will do everything humanly possible to bring about a bailout.”
The answer to these governors’ request is in a speech made by Buhari when he was a military Head of State: “Let no one however be deceived that workers who have not received their salaries in the past eight or so months will receive such salaries within today or tomorrow… (But) we are determined… to settle genuine payments to which government is committed, including a backlog of workers’ salaries after scrutiny.”
Foreign countries like America have also weighed in, pledging support for Buhari. Americans expect him to be a more competent President who will not brook corruption. They think his reputation for integrity and military background should help in combating Boko Haram insurgents. British High Commissioner, Dr. Andrew Pocock, Angola’s Ambassador Dr. E.J. Quibato, and envoys from Canada, Israel, Morocco, China, Equatorial Guinea, have also visited Buhari.
The German Ambassador, Michael Zenner, brought Buhari an invitation to visit Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. He assures: “… There are… areas where we can deepen our relations – (the) economy, (and) energy among others.”
French Ambassador Denys Gauer, says France will assist Nigeria, especially in the area of intelligence, to combat the Boko Haram scourge. He announced a French decision to convene a security summit in Paris to find ways to contain the insurgency.
Reverend Samuel Abidoye, who seems to have some divine revelation, says, with all emphasis at his command, that Buhari and Vice-President-elect, Prof YemiOsinbajo, are “credible and committed people who would make positive impact on the lives of the people.” Abidoye vows (on his honour) that (Buhari) is a man of discipline, and with a pastor beside him, I can say that corruption is gone.”
Perhaps, the most brazen and yet hilarious entrée is that of Kayode Ajulo, National Secretary of the Labour Party. He marshalled lawyers’ “igilango geesi,” grandiloquent legalese, of “ingress,” power or right of entrance, and “egress,” power or right to depart, to insist that every Nigerian has the constitutional right to join the APC.
It doesn’t matter, it seems, if the motive is for obvious “stomach infrastructure” purposes. Buhari gives the impression of a man who will make one size to fit all.
His Acceptance Speech as President-elect reads: “I assure you that our government… will listen to and embrace all… There shall be no bias against, or favouritism for, any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, region, gender or social status… I shall work for those who voted for me as well as those who voted against me, and those who did not vote at all.”
Buhari’s mission statement is expressed in his words as military Head of State: “This government will not tolerate kick-backs, inflation of contracts and over-invoicing of imports, etc. Nor will it condone forgery, fraud, embezzlement, misuse, and abuse of office and illegal dealings in foreign exchange and smuggling. Arson has been used to cover up fraudulent acts in public institutions.”
For the economic policy thrust of his government, refer again to his tenure as military Head of State. And if his leopard has not changed its spots, you can expect that “(with) prudent management of Nigeria’s… financial resources… (we will) eventually nail down rises in budgetary deficits and weak balance of payments… The economy will be given a new impetus and better sense of direction…” Buhari’s vision is cast in concrete.
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