“Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”- Jim Rohn
Government, everywhere, is a continuum, just as the building of a nation-state, which is on a perpetual voyage to Utopianism. Therefore, no government or nation-state is perfect on its own and by itself without the reinforcing goodness of the citizens. But because citizens are always disparate in their world views, it becomes pretty difficult to fairly accurately identify with the ideal of perfection within the limits of an elusive universal concept of good and bad. Thus, perfection has become a rare attribute in governance across dispensations and territories.
In the profound surmising of C. JoyBell C., female thinker, writer and author of various books on Soul Alchemy, Esoterica, Poetry, Philosophy of Mind, Parenting and Fiction, the totality of human actions is seemingly deliberately shorn of perfection and this has resulted in the creation of a crippled race or humanity, of which Nigeria is a part and parcel.
One will be deluding oneself to rationalise that because God’s creation is perfect, the nation-states established by man within the spheres of creation, are perfect. Validation: man is eternally prone to errors. Jean Jacques Rousseau, a Francophone Genevan philosopher, writer and composer of the 18th Century, once said: “Everything is good when it leaves the hands of the Creator; everything degenerates in the hands of man.” Alexander Pope, in his Essay on Man, posited: “Know then thyself; presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.”
Man is prone to errors and foibles. A vast majority of leaders, sometimes, act and react imprudently. For his error to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Almighty God, Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, was turned into an animal and lived in the bush for seven years, feeding on grasses and leaves. He returned to his throne humbled before the Creator of the heaven and the earth.
The first King of Israel, Saul, disobeyed God’s instructions to completely wipe out the Amalekites. He told Samuel that the fat cattle he spared were for the purpose of sacrificing unto God. For his error of disobedience, the kingdom was taken away from him and given to David.
With all his God-given wisdom, King Solomon allowed his heart to long after strange women. A great blunder! He ended up with three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines who turned his heart to strange gods.
I can continue through time and space to reference rulers and governments that committed egregious errors. However, coming down to our nation, a few examples would suffice.
As Head of State from 1983 to 85, Muhammadu Buhari made the strategic mistake of clamping down on the political class and moving against the forces in the military that enthroned him, thus becoming very unpopular. He also failed to act proactively having reportedly got a wind of the coup plot against him. Was he in a position to take no prisoners? Maybe not!
The claim then was that he did not control the troops nor enjoy loyalty of officers in charge of strategic military commands. The men who controlled the command structures pulled the rug from under his feet and his 30-month reign came to a sudden end on August 27, 1985.
Ibrahim Babangida, who took over from him, set the nation on the most expensive and dilatory transition programme, yet, in the annals of Nigeria. He annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by the late M.K.O. Abiola and for which he has lost the vindication of history and posterity.
Sani Abacha unleashed terror on the nation, took out prominent Nigerians who were opposed to his self-perpetuation agenda, which he almost perfected through his dubious transition programme in which the nation’s five political parties, as of then, had already adopted him as their sole presidential candidate before he suddenly passed away.
Olusegun Obasanjo’s historical gaffe was the ill-fated Third Term agenda. He remains the greatest beneficiary ever of the fourth republic democratic dispensation, coming out of prison via a presidential pardon that was made possible by the then Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubabakar, to become the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
For Goodluck Jonathan, his inability to exercise fully the powers of his office was one blunder. His decision to seek a second term in office was another. Had he allowed a northerner to emerge as PDP’s candidate, Buhari would not have emerged the president of Nigeria. Holding down the PDP ticket, it became much easier for Buhari who had emerged as the “sole candidate” of the north with the support of the southwest zone to win the 2015 presidential election.
President Buhari’s first mistake is the selective fight against corruption. The targeting of opposition party leaders and members has robbed the anti-corruption war of the critical integrity capital. Second mistake: the administration claims to run one presidency; but it allows cabals to take undue advantage of Buhari’s ill-health to create tendencies that have portrayed the administration as divided.
Outside the presidency, the attempt to demystify a national leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, such that his nominees for ministerial jobs were not appointed and his preferred governorship candidate in Ondo state was defeated through the conspiracy of some Abuja politicians, as well as the battle against Bukola Saraki’s emergence as senate president and his Code of Conduct Tribunal trial, remains a strategic mistake. Today, Tinubu and Saraki’s political bases and networks are intact and rock solid. This is against their claim of a united party and government.
The attempt to undermine the acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, whose popular governance style had rattled the cabals while Buhari was away, the first time, on medical vacation in London, was a mistake. Just as the cabals that held the nation hostage under Umaru Yar’Adua when he became incapacitated due to ill-health before he eventually died on May 5, 2010, the neo-cabals in Buhari’s presidency have kept the president and his health status away from Nigerians, and have been manipulating the development to their selfish advantage.
And just as Jonathan, who was the then vice president, was undermined before and during his acting presidency, Osinbajo is having his share of mortification in the hands of the cabalistic elements in the presidency. First, they couched Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly transmitting power to Osinbajo when he (Buhari) was proceeding on his second and present medical vacation in such a way that portrayed him as a mere coordinator of government activities while the president would be away.
Although Osinbajo has already signed the budget and a number of executive orders that should prove his exercise of full presidential powers, a good number of Nigerians still believe that Osinbajo is hamstrung and tentative.
During the Eid-el-Fitri celebrations, the handlers of Buhari messed up with the recorded Sallah voice message to Nigerians, which was in the Hausa language. That is one. Second, I consider that message unnecessary since the acting president was in charge. Osinbajo’s message to Nigerians on behalf of the government would have sufficed since he personifies the government. They created the division against their claim of one presidency.
Perhaps, the greatest mistake so far that the Buhari/Osinbajo/APC government has made is its reluctance to climb on the bandwagon of restructuring of the federation despite being a critical promise on which it hinged its electioneering for the 2015 presidential poll. Therefore, Osinbajo’s cautious response that government was merely taking notes of the conversation beggars belief. Nigerians expect the APC federal government to walk its talk and expeditiously fulfill its promised restructuring of the country.
- Mr Ojeifo contributed this piece from Abuja via [email protected]