To President Muhammadu Buhari

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By Uche Atuma

Shortly after your victory at the polls — where you emerged as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you gave a succinct directive that the appellation of ‘General’ be dropped from your identity. A tacit demonstration of your genuine embrace of enduring democratic values and ethos. Many considered this pronouncement laudable. To some, it was more of a confirmation of the shedding off of any toga or traces of perceived military asininity — which was a major political gambit deployed by the rival opposition party (against your person) to garner votes from the electorate.
Personally, I did not applaud this gesture! My disposition at the time (which hasn’t changed) was that the Nigerian state had been pauperised, debased, and dextrously led to a state of sordidness by the political party that had presided over its affairs in the last sixteen years. Thus, my expectations and desire was a leader with the requisite political clout and traits to ‘whip’ a bemused people into line — albeit within the confines of decency, decorum and rule of law in a democratic space. Your hard stance on corruption ab initio — which is still the case even as we speak — appeared a conspicuous elucidation of this genuine intention to remedy the putrid situation. Little wonder the change mantra became more of a devotion to many Nigerians.
Considering this verve for change, I had anticipated a situation where this administration would take off instantly (in all ramifications) on a jolly flight — forget hitting the ground running! My illusion — which is my feeling at the moment — was anchored on the understanding that our ‘hero of change’, who had taken a shot at the monkey on three occasions (recording narrow misses) before finally emerging victorious, would have acquired a near perfect understanding of the enormous obstacles militating against this entity and the adeptness to bulldoze through them.
In view of this, I had opined that the change project — which had assumed the posture of a desideratum — would be implemented with, somewhat pyrotechnical celerity. Like an expectant mother, I waited with bated breadth for that first speech that would ignite a recovery process and kick-start a hitherto rusty engine. Besides your inaugural speech at the Eagle Square shortly after the handover from the previous administration, and the very brief Independence day speech, I cannot recall any other forum where you have conveyed your thoughts and aspirations to your people. This to my mind is the crux of the matter. Before May 29, Nigeria and Nigerians were in a state of disrepair and despair.
The people wanted a change. They needed to be given hope. They sought reassurances. And when change eventually swept away the old order,  they needed to be talked to. They needed to be brought into the picture of the affairs of the state —  at least to intimate them of the enormity of the encumbrances and the way to go. A formal presentation or state of the nation address particularly on the economy vis-a-vis the status quo and the intended palliatives would have been celebrated by not a few Nigerians. This, for me, could, and should have been done in the first few weeks of your administration. The impact and impulse would have been resplendent and phenomenal.
Followership would have been the major beneficiary. There is no gainsaying the fact that effective leadership thrives on purposeful follower ship. The people need to be carried along. Assumptions, imaginations and body language will not suffice in our situation. Key statements bordering on the economy and even security have been made outside our shores before international audiences. Meanwhile the feeling back home is that not much is happening.
Besides the paper-celebrated fight on corruption — no high ranking official, past or present has been convicted, jailed or publicly derided (at least for now) — and the war against insurgency and terrorism, our situation is really not encouraging. The economy is on a constant decline. All economic indices point to a recession! Companies and organisations are either shutting down or cutting staff strength. The razzmatazz of improved power supply that ushered in your administration has since waned. Power supply has retroceded to its epileptic state — may be even worse! The roads have remained as decrepit and deadly as ever. As I write this, the long queues have returned at the filling stations — and no one is giving Nigerians any vivid explanations. In fact, not one stone has been laid on another by way of infrastructural development.
Shortly after your inauguration and on your state visit to the United States, it was reported that the U.S authorities made available to you copies of the list of corrupt government officials, which you promised to make public; six months down the line, not much has been heard in this direction.
It is pertinent to note that, one key propellant of corruption — particularly within the context of our experiment — is the lucrativeness of public offices, annexed by the fact that most occupants of some of these offices enjoy varying degrees of immunity. This, somewhat, gives pilfering a semblance of normalcy.

nUche writes via

This fact amplifies the urgent need to make public offices materially unattractive. While it may be ultra vires for you to determine the make up of the second arm of government (the legislature) — being a constitutional affair, methinks that your administration should begin to advocate a one-house legislature with reduced membership. This, will obviously not go down well with our sublime lawmakers; but let it be a subject of discourse, at least in the public domain. Posterity will judge you kindly for this! Let’s not forget that four (actually, three and half) years hence, the state of affairs in the country will be solely ascribed to you.
Corruption may appear the biggest threat to an enduring democracy like ours, but the signs of the times, willy-nilly, point to the fact that our system and values yearn for rigorous restructuring.
Our political system is berserk with myriads of problems. Some are rather inane to say the least. Why should a state governor contest for a seat at the national assembly on the eve of completion of a two-term (eight years) tenure in office? Why should a governor who has (mis)ruled a state for eight years possess the legal and constitutional green light to vie for the same office again after a brief ‘rest’? These scenarios throw up awkward permutations if and when they explode. A case in hand is the political conundrum playing out in Kogi state. I shudder to think of what the consequences will be if this higgledy-piggledy had been at the national level. As we speak, several politicians who had misruled their states as governors are sitting pretty cool at the national assembly; enjoying some form of immunity, when ordinarily, they should be giving accounts of their stewardship. In a nutshell, political reform is an imperative if the fight against corruption must succeed.
Lastly sir, your perceived disdain for a section of the country where you received not-too-satisfactory number of votes at the polls is rather regrettable. As the father of the country, every corner of this project called Nigeria is your constituency and should be so treated. Psephology has no place in governance! At a time world economies are facing challenges, with nations grappling to survive, diversification of economies has become more germane than ever before. Nigeria is not left out. In our bid to diversify an ailing economy, the industriousness of this section of the country should be tapped into for the overall good of the country. What they need is encouragement and support. Not scorn or reproach! Their voting sense and style notwithstanding.

We may have spent one-eighth of your four year tenure, there is stlll time to make this change truly the change we desire; and not just a mere switch!

Uche writes via

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