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Sole Administrator Of Democracy

If lack of team-play could be blamed in military rule, it would even be more problematic in a democracy. President Buhari needs to readjust

UZOR MAXIM UZOATU e-mail: maxim.uzoatu@theunion.com.ng

Democracy is a very tricky subject because it fundamentally involves a whole lot of people. A political party, no matter its ideology, accommodates all sorts of characters. Even if the leader is the greatest puritan on God’s earth he must find a measure of accommodation within the ranks of the roughnecks of the party and the polity.

The word out there is that President Muhammadu Buhari is a very strict man, as straight as a pin, a personage who abhors corruption with all his soul. Incidentally, he leads a ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) that has within its ranks some of the most lavish of politicians who defected from the erstwhile largest party in Africa, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

It is no longer news that a former dyed-in-thewool PDP man, Senator Bukola Saraki, emerged as the Senate President. It is being speculated in higher spheres that there is no love lost between President Buhari and Senate President Saraki.

For Nigerian democracy to have any meaning at all, the executive arm must perforce work in sync with the legislature. As things stand today, it does appear that Buhari wants to go it all alone, whence the emergence of the Sole Administrator of Democracy.

It has been reported that Nigerians may need to wait for some two months or more for Buhari to name his cabinet. Loud cries are coming from all corners that this is not the way to go in a democracy. For instance, the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria (MDCAN) has pointedly challenged President Buhari to constitute his cabinet, stating without mincing words that “delay is dangerous.” Putting to voice his dissent in Abuja, the President of MDCAN, Dr. Steve Oluwole gave vent to the great concern over the vacuum resulting from Buhari’s refusal to form a complete government one month after his assumption of power.

According to Dr. Oluwole, “It is obvious, we have concerns; we are not isolated, we are not the only ones affected; there are certain issues that we want to raise or oppose but we can’t do. But we cannot say because it is a new government coming in. Even if it is another party that takes over, things move within hours; so we can’t say because it is a new party and government that is why it is so.

We want the President to expedite action; because it becomes indefensible to our own democracy where it looks like there is vacuum, no movement in that ministry. There is an urgency to have a functional government, not just have elections, or constitute National Assembly like we have now; that is not sufficient, and I think our patience is running out now as a nation.” President Buhari cannot pretend to be unaware of the tension in the land over his reluctance to constitute a proper government. It is a clear month since he was sworn-in, and it has been all fire without any heat whatsoever. This has led to all makes of speculations.

There are no ready channels to clarify matters as Buhari has yet to appoint his immediate personal staff aside from two spokespersons, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, who almost always contradict one another. It would be such a tragedy if Buhari fails to learn from the experience of his first incarnation as a military Head of State. General Ibrahim Babangida who overthrew the Buhari-Idiagbon regime adduced reasons of lack of teamwork as making the coup possible.

Let’s hear it from Babangida on the 1985 coup: “Let me at this point attempt to make you understand the premise upon which it became necessary to change the leadership. The principles of discussions, consultation and co-operation which should have guided decision-making process of the Supreme Military Council and the Federal Executive Council were disregarded soon after the government settled down in 1984.

Where some of us thought it appropriate to give a little more time, anticipating a conducive atmosphere that would develop, in which affairs of state could be attended to with greater sense of responsibility, it became increasingly clear that such expectations could not be fulfilled. Regrettably, it turned out that Major- General Muhammadu Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance.

Efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of differences in both cultural and individual perceptions, only served to aggravate these attitudes. Major-General Tunde Idiagbon was similarly inclined in that respect. As Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, he failed to exhibit the appropriate disposition demanded by his position.

He arrogated to himself absolute knowledge of problems and solutions, and acted in accordance with what was convenient to him, using the machinery of government as his tool.” If lack of team-play could be blamed in military rule, it would even be more problematic in a democracy. President Buhari needs to readjust to accommodate the multiform realities of democratic rule. A sole administrator is anathema to democracy.

The absence of a proper government has led to rumour-mongering as a veritable aspect of state policy. Just the other day, the presidency had to perforce refute stories which made the rounds that the President had appointed Col Hamid Ali as his Chief of Staff. It looked quite odd when the President’s Media Adviser, Femi Adesina, stepped forward to stress that no appointment had been made. The matter of some Boko Haram being shipped to Anambra State has yet not been explained or denied by any government functionary. Nigeria needs to be sorely saved from flip-flops such as this.

There was even the issue of Buhari announcing that he met a virtually empty treasury only for Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State to speak after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting thusly: “What the Buhari administration is trying to ascertain is the difference between what Okonjo-Iweala declared as the balance in the Excess Crude Account ( 4.1 billion dollars) and what this administration met (2 billion dollars); also the NNPC remitted only N4.3 trillion out of its earnings, estimated at N8.1 trillion within the same period.”

Surefootedness can only be won by Buhari through immediately constituting a comprehensive governmental regime. The sole administrator idea is dead on arrival. The government must be accountable to the people in a democracy.

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