id President Muhammadu Buhari sketch around the series of crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) because he’s slow to anger and making up his mind, and taking decisive actions?
Besides, where does his mantra of “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,” and having “absolute trust” in his aides and associates leave him? Won’t desperate political actors exploit this disposition to advance their self-interests?
Buhari’s slow-walking on decisions has earned him the sobriquet, “Baba Go Slow,” which he “relishes” on the premise that he thinks through actions that would impact on Nigerians. Fair enough!
But what has prompted this unique trait, as Buhari wasn’t always like this, at least not as a military Head of State? Has his “imbibing the culture of democracy” the tonic to pull the break, and unintentionally allow issues for urgent attention to fester?
Rewind to the retired General’s first coming from 1983 to 1985, a short but eventful period in which he’s labelled a “dictator” owing to some draconian policies and drastic actions of his regime.
They’re such that the fear of Buhari and his Second-in-Command, the late Brig.-Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, was the beginning of wisdom for alleged societal deviants, wanting to “test the will” of the junta.
With such experiences, critics were quick to remind the electorate, a majority not of that era, about Buhari’s antecedents, which they propagated he could resurrect if elected president of Nigeria.
As if their “warning” had effect on the voters, Buhari lost the presidential election three consecutive times in 2003, 2007 and 2011, and the courts upheld the losses accordingly! So, Buhari vowed not to seek political office again.
But on return to the soap box in 2015, he defied the orchestration against him. He won the poll, and was re-elected in 2019 – an indication that past electoral losses could be due to the non-spread of his campaign and acceptance in some zones of the country.
Could the axiom, “old soldiers never die,” but “simply fade away” have made Buhari to turn a “democrat,” so he would leave his past behind him, and even “lend his laps for goats to do gigs”?
What better illustrates the extent of Buhari’s tolerance than “taking nonsense” since 2015 from the “heavyweights” in the APC intent on disregarding his leadership, and attendant respect due to him!
They disobey party rules with impunity, and shun his fatherly and non-coercive interventions in the crises that have engulfed the APC almost from its ascension to power in 2015.
Compare Buhari to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, also a retired General and former Head of State, who could tongue-lash his friends for crossing the line of relationship. How did he handle political associates scheming to undermine his position?
Could you imagine a national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or a state governor, in the modes of former National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, dissing Obasanjo’s intervention in their local fights that spread to the party national secretariat!
In his eight-year democratic governance of Nigeria, Obasanjo lived with five National Chairmen of the PDP, and five Senate Presidents, some of them elected and/or removed controversially, but somehow serving his personal interests, and discipline in the PDP.
He also induced or influenced the impeachment of several state governors under the guise of fighting corruption through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
So, “who born” the aide or associate to remotely hurt Obasanjo’s feelings, or breach official or political decorum and still remain on their positions for months or years?
Former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, as national chairman of the PDP, had a taste of Obasanjo’s treatment, when he challenged some of his policies. Ogbeh, who lost his position in a made-for-the-movie fashion, relayed what happened in an interview.
Famed for deploying the stick rather than romancing the carrot, Obasanjo visited Ogbeh’s house with a retinue of security agents, and as he’s ushered in, told the dazed family he’s hungry, and needed to eat “pounded yam.”
In a jiffy, the African delicacy was ready, and Obasanjo, observing the rituals such occasions demand, had his fill, before delivering the message that brought him to Ogbeh’s residence unannounced.
He dipped his hand into his pocket and produced a letter for Ogbeh to read, who, having perused it midway, realised it’s for his “immediate resignation” from the office of chairman of the PDP.
Chief Obasanjo asked Ogbeh to sign the letter, which he did. And as a parting shot, he told Ogbeh that trying to assert his independence by criticizing his policies was “a joke taken too far.”
As the “real life story” goes, Obasanjo was to return to Ogbeh’s house, as he discovered that perhaps, the veteran politician wanted to play a fast one by not dating the “forced” resignation letter.
This isn’t recommending Obasanjo’s tactics to Buhari! But where’s discipline in the APC to foster cohesion and unity, if Buhari, as the leader, literally covers the head with both hands, so the party uncouth elements “will not use his head to break coconut”?
Didn’t Oshiomhole confess to how Buhari drafted him into the APC chairmanship, and yet, defied the president’s entreaties for him and Obaseki to settle their feud in the interest of the party? Obaseki could disobey Buhari, but not Oshiomhole as the party chair!
An Esan proverb says: “When you put your hand in a deaf-mute’s mouth, they would talk by force.” That’s what Oshiomhole and Obaseki did to Buhari, and he responded accordingly.
On Thursday, June 25, 2020, Buhari struck, having had enough of clashes in the Edo chapter, and division at the National Working Committee (NWC), which resorted to taking decisions beyond its powers, and sidelining the National Executive Committee (NEC) (and Buhari) that acts on behalf of the National Convention.
At an emergency NEC meeting Buhari superintended, the APC’s NWC was sacked, and replaced with a Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, to pilot the party affairs for six months, leading to the conduct of a National Convention.
And gone with the dissolution of the NWC was the court-sanctioned suspended Comrade Oshiomhole, who rather than use his position to resolve the crises in the party, became part of the problems.
Perhaps, Governor Obaseki escaped the NEC hammer, as he had decamped to the PDP following his disqualification by APC’s NWC, from contesting at the party direct primaries for the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo.
In his second term bid, Obaseki craved for “right of first refusal” and returned “unopposed” or be subjected to “indirect primaries” with other aspirants. The APC refused the requests, and also barred him from its primaries. But he got the PDP ticket “unopposed”.
Members of the APC, heaving a make-do sigh of relief, may wish that President Buhari shelves his “democratic” toga, which critics wouldn’t ascribe to him, and begin to bark, and also bite, to instil discipline and decorum in APC, so the party can outlive him.