Now is the time however, to look ahead with hope not
the least because Major-General Muhammadu Buhari is bringing with
him, a resume that perfectly fits the job description of a Nigerian
President of today. Since the business of ruling a nation is
basically, not a one-man-show in constitutional democracies however,
a lot of trepidations have been brought to the fore. Voices have
sounded a call for caution in the widespread optimism that has
slowly transcended into some euphoria of sort.
The latest and most prominent voice was sounded by the
victor himself in a realistic attempt to scale down expectations
with the impending prospect of not being able to work miracles in a
short pace of time. “Prudent” I would say! Unfortunately however,
massive expectations will be one of the least problems that the
President-elect will face in the days, weeks and months ahead.
The challenges are already becoming manifest. As in the
search for a running mate, the role of one man from the South-West –
Bola Asiwaju Tinubu – has been elevated in the search for
prospective lieutenants for the operative work of governance. Unlike
his performance in the search for a running mate however,
information reaching out from clandestine sources seem to indicate
that he is doing a far better job. After all, he is not insisting on
being given a prominent appointment in the cabinet as he did when he
almost crippled chances by insisting on being the running mate
himself against all wisdom of keeping a Muslim-Muslim ticket at bay.
The selection of players that will definitely not proceed without
frictions is said to be on course in a manner that is by and large,
described as acceptable.
Yet, we have been there before. We were all witnesses
to Goodluck Jonathan’s own process of team selection. We danced and
rejoiced when Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was selected for a
high-profiled post with all the requisite freedom to act and salvage
our economy. We marveled at her seeing the credentials she dangled
before us from the World Bank and her contribution to great feats in
the government of former General Olusegun Obasanjo. Today, all that
is history and we are left with our wounds to lick.
Again, we are rejoicing hearing names like Oby
Ezekwesili also from the World Bank, Charles Soludo and Femi Falana
all in their early stages of consideration. Oby Ezekwesili has won
the heart and minds of very many ordinary people she interacted with
while out of government. Many therefore feel like she’d be taking a
part of everyone with her into government if she is finally
selected. Herein lies a serious risk of hyped and heightened
expectations at a stage of the nation’s emotions in which the mood
for disappointment has been tested to the utmost limit.
Yet, the process of selection will come and go and real
business will begin for Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, who – even
though retired – will forever remain a General having once being a
General. Sorting out the mess created by Goodluck Jonathan in the
army will be a delicate dance for the General in a familiar terrain.
Thankfully, the terrain is less dangerous these days since any
serving General will dare stage a coup only at the risk of
completing the project in a tiny prison cell in The Hague. Weeding
out those Generals who are widely suspected to have collaborated
with Boko Haram, those Generals who turned into politicians and
fought civilians while leaving Sambisa a safe distance behind, those
Generals who turned millionaires overnight and many more, will be a
Fanatical Buharians will emerge as many brain-dead
Jonathanians did. Fanatical Asiwaju loyalists will emerge and blind
out rationality in favor of petty, foolish praises. Then there will
be tribalists. They will cry foul when overnight millionaires are
called out to account for their sins in the military if such
millionaires are not Northerners. Buhari will need to be mindful of
all categories of bigotry.
Buhari will be required to reverse a lot of tragedies
in the military such as the purchase of uniforms by soldiers
themselves. Buhari will have to step on toes because he will need
the decisiveness and stubbornness of a serving General to prevail on
He will feel the strength and viciousness of these
vested interests when he starts to clean the oil and power sectors
with the power of the Presidency. He may see the need to remove fuel
subsidy amid dwindling resources and probably end up angering
consumers and voters, who are not prepared to pay for age-long sins
aggravated and exacerbated even further by a clueless and spineless
Goodluck Jonathan. The depleted state of the treasury will hardly
serve to entice Muhammadu Buhari to release funds for the building
of new refineries. Yet, he will be the nation’s hero if he is able
to perform just this impossible magic.
One dangerous precipice that will be staring Buhari
straight in the face will be the need to keep Bola Asiwaju Tinubu
under control. The new President will hardly be able to afford
distractions from Tinubu like the media reported in Lagos State.
Struggling to protect or enhance business interests (which Tinubu
has in abundance) with the resources of state as has largely been
associated with the former Governor will mark the beginning of
Buhari’s troubles with his only constituency – the Nation. In spite
of all that though, we must not fail to do Bola Asiwaju Tinubu the
justice that he deserves as well. As Governor of Lagos State, his
flagship identity was not corruption. If he was corrupt, it was not
highlighted to the world by any major lapse. I remember then that he
was one of the best Governors in town.
Unfortunately however, Bola Tinubu metamorphosed into a
representative of vested interests in business who is reported to
have sought all possible contracts for his business empire alone to
keep Lagos State in a stranglehold of a lone supplier and deliverer.
Even though the picture painted may not all be true, it is yet fully
sufficient if half of it alone is true. His well-known struggle to
fix his kith and kin in influential political offices with all
attendant desperation in the political party that was controlled by
him seems to have cemented every perception of Tinubu as a corrupt
and tricky individual. Given a responsible Ministry to handle
however, I have no doubt, that Tinubu will live up to expectations
and probably replicate an action hero like Bola Ige. Muhammadu
Buhari must keep a very close eye on the double-edged sword by the
name Bola Tinubu to avoid unnecessary excesses while making good use
of his imaginative and creative qualities.
A similar event may play out in handling his
predecessor Goodluck Jonathan. The combined effort of domestic and
foreign forces engineered by Olusegun Obasanjo to rid Nigeria of
Goodluck Jonathan has become even clearer than it was in the
pre-election period. All assurances to keep Jonathan and perhaps,
his most voluble spouse out of the range of anti-corruption scrutiny
as was brokered by the forces involved in the ouster, will
definitely prove to be a problem to the new President in the course
of the Presidency. Many thieves will emerge that will point fingers
unmistakably. Some cases of corruption by individuals further down
the ladder may yet appear intertwined with interests of the outgoing
President or people that fronted for him. Buhari will need the
finesse of a sage in some instances.
The deliberate attempt to whitewash President Jonathan
following the coerced admission of defeat for clear purposes is a
welcome project that is bound to give President Jonathan some
respite in the short to medium term. As time passes by however,
ex-President Jonathan may become a difficult burden to bear. The
dubious title of a democrat for merely conceding defeat at a time he
was left with little or no option will hardly be enough to sustain
when voices get louder, urging the investigation of fake fuel
subsidies and non-remittance of fund from the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation. Should the scale of the sharing of dollars
within the six weeks of election postponement prove to have gone far
beyond all imagined scopes, the dubious title of democrat for not
challenging APC’s victory in court will hardly hold back sentiments
and calls for justice. The need for the outgoing President to
exercise some leverage over the Niger Delta militants that he
unnecessarily armed with deadly weapons and awarded major contracts
will definitely give him some relevance in the quest to defuse
tension without all-out hostilities. Yet there will also be serious
problems in the process of reining in the militants and their
illegally strengthened army as long as some of them still feel
betrayed by Jonathan’s concession. Assessing the leverage that
Jonathan may still be able to wield on the militants without the
power of the Presidency may prove to very tricky. There will be
tough times ahead of President Jonathan outside of Aso Rock and time
will sure tell how the game plays out.
For now however, every well-meaning Nigerian is
graciously thankful that bloodshed on a large-scale was avoided
while we wish the souls of victims in Rivers State and elsewhere, to
rest in peace.
I foresee a former President Muhammadu Buhari in
the year 2019 that will have fought a gallant battle and stepped
fearlessly on many toes. Whether he will end up more hated than
Olusegun Obasanjo or not will strongly depend on how he uses the
media to make electorates understand his actions and motivations.
Unexpected fallout with Asiwaju Tinubu somewhere down the line in
the course of governance will be a remote possibility that we should
keep our eye on in the scheme of things. But psssst! Do not say I
Follow me on Twitter @FriskyLarrimore, Watch out for my new book
"Africa's Diabolical Entrapment"
Frisky Larr is author of the book "Nigeria's Journalistic Militantism" probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria!