In a recent interview with Channels Television, President Muhammad Buhari did what could be regarded as self-evaluation when he said that he had done his best while working eight hours a day.
The President lamented that his daily eight-hour schedule was taking a toll on him, adding that he was looking forward to his exit in 17 months’ time.
The insight gleaned from Buhari’s interview with the private television station, like others before it, are enduring and New Telegraph craves for more of such. One major gain is that each interview gives Mr. President the opportunity to talk directly to Nigerians instead of through contrived statements issued by go-betweens.
It also makes it possible for the populace to evaluate the intellectual capacity and readiness of their leader for presidential duties which afforded them the opportunity to make up their minds on whether to expect something magical in the twilight of his eight-year tenure or to resign themselves to fate and allow him to exit into retirement.
There is nothing wrong in self-evaluation but that could not be said to be conclusive.
If at all, it is worth anything, it could be likened to a practice session instituted by a football coach to enable him/her assess his/her players before the match proper.
The real evaluation is the one that will be given by the populace on Mr. President’s eight-year tenure and the scorecard is already being tabulated in the minds of Nigerians, in installments, waiting to be fully delivered in May next year. We are surprised that President Buhari was quick to give himself a pass mark for working eight hours a day. Given the extensive privileges willed to the number one citizen, the eight-hour schedule, which Mr. President, regarded as adequate, is, indeed, minimalistic.
An eight-hour schedule per day can hardly bring out the results that would gladden the hearts of the populace. Mr. President may have done his best but in all sincerity his best, given the sea of human and logistic support made available to him to perform, is not enough and far below expectations of Nigerians.
Some leaders of other countries are in the habit of working many more hours a day. Such a high degree of productivity has enabled them realistically to attend and find solutions to some of the governance gaps in their countries.
With only eight hours at work, President Buhari is unlikely to be more productive than he has currently been in 17 months’ time to deal decisively with some governance contradictions such as the lopsidedness in the construction of standard gauge lines, siting of dry and seaports, and ensure the decentralization of security organisations like the police, the enforcement of the anti-grazing law and the actualization of the clamour for resource contro by the oil and solid mineralproducing communities.
New Telegraph finds as quite revealing the complaint of Mr. President over his advanced age. Acknowledged, some elderly persons have been quite creative and helped the human race to record successes at different times.
But, this does not whittle down the fact that advancement in age imposes some visible restrictions on the elderly as indicated by the admission of the number one citizen, in his interview with Channels Television.
We are sad that Mr. President failed to draw attention to the state of his health in the run up to the 2015 and 2019 elections, when he was projected to be as fit as fiddle to discharge his statutory responsibilities; only for him to transform into a huge beneficiary of medical tourism, which incidentally he had pledged to tackle in his 2015 Inaugural Address.
President Buhari has embarked on recurring medicallyinduced overseas trips spending an average of two weeks on each occasion.
While this newspaper agrees that the health of a person could be subjected to trying moments, we align ourselves with the widely-accepted view that a stable health is a major criterion for the determination of one’s eligibility for a position requiring profound capacity such as that of the President and Commanderin- Chief of the Armed Forces.
From his countenance and answers, the number one citizen portrayed the image of a person who was not appreciative of the reality that Nigeria is a diverse entity and that politics, itself, is pluralistic. He regrettably sees his position on issues as final, which ought not to be.
Consequently, New Telegraph suggests the replacement of the 1999 Constitution with an entirely new one that will drastically reduce the powers of a President and give more responsibilities to the state and local governments.
Critical issues like the administrative, political and fiscal restructuring of Nigeria should be determined by the people through a referendum instead of almost solely by Mr. President, the National Assembly and other components of the political class. The academic requirement for the post of the President, which is the evidence of secondary education, merely massages mediocrity for what is undoubtedly the most challenging job in Nigeria.
The requirement should be reviewed and upgraded to a possession of either National Certificate in Education (NCE) or at least a first degree.
There should be an additional requirement of proven managerial acumen in presiding over a congregation of not less than 10,000 people, running a business or having practiced a profession or worked in a private or public organisation.
This we feel this will go a long way in ensuring that the country should be able to get personnel clearly good enough to run such a complex entity called Nigeria – and make a good job of it.