By Bolaji O. Akinyemi
One of the most enterprising speech ever made in view of good governance within a democratic system was made by Christine Margarete Anderson, a German politician who has served as a Member of the European Parliament since 2019. A member of the Alternative for Germany. She said and I quote; “I’m really imploring the people and all the people around the world. For God sake, stop giving your democratically elected governments the benefit of the doubt. They are not deserving of that, they are not, stop rationalizing whatever your government is doing, stop rationalizing and come up with some good intentions. They have no good intentions, never! As I said before in the entire history of mankind there has never been a political elite concerned about the well-being of regular people and it isn’t any different now! why should it? Stop giving them the benefit of the doubt because I can tell you, you cannot comply your way out of a tyranny. It is impossible! Trying to do so, you will only feed a gigantic alligator in the hopes of being eaten last, but guess what! Your turn will come and then you will be the one swallowed up, I also have to ask the people end your silence, speak up for God’s sake, stop complying and start rebelling. They are out to get you if you do not resist. I would also urge you to stop voting for those who inflict this psychological abuse on you, who mock you for their own good, in order to deal with this unfree world, to defy this unfree world, I have decided to become so absolutely free that my very existence is an act of rebellion and that’s what we all need to do”. Quote end.
I have elected to be the needed rebel in the Nigeria political space, though, I may offer advice here and there as occasion demands but I will live critical of government without giving any benefit of the doubt. Against this background, I will present my assessment of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 30 days in office from the perspective of Alternative For Nigeria, AFN. Walk with me.
Should we have the drum rolled out in celebration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s one month old Presidency? Having been sworn in on the 29th of May 2023, and few days from now, 29th of June 2023 to be precise his administration will be a month old in office. A month after assumption of office, he will be due for first salary as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Though, I expected that after the mouth running of the First Lady about their family being so wealthy not to need the wealth of Nigeria, the president would have declared a no pay for work he has to do to help a nation in dire need and lessen our burden of his pension which still accrues to him as former Governor of Lagos State (300 percent of annual basic salary; N23.3million among other entitlements) and now as President. Any way, he has worked and has to be paid if he is not magnanimous enough like Obi to forsake the crumbs of retirement bread when in charge of baking a national cake for over 200 million people. Can his efforts justify his pay in the past few days in office?
The past days in office have been eventful and dramatic, some great decisions, some obviously selfish, taken only in the interest of his political class.
No doubt, Tinubu hit the ground running! But this we must intentionally and deliberately probe not for tribal or religious sentiments but for national interest and development.
A Yoruba adage says; “Agbalagba to sare inu egun, oni ohun to nle bi ikan o ba le”.
An old person running in the thick of thorns must be chasing something if nothing is chasing him.
A hurrying President I have seen in this past weeks, and I am beginning to ask myself, what is pursuing Mr President or what is he pursuing. Obviously, the past is chasing after our dear President, armed with a monstrous cudgel, will it catch up with him or not will depend on how fast, smart and brutal the President will deal with corruption not from the past but in the future. Of course, we aren’t expecting him to sweep the past under the carpet, but our judgement of him hangs on how he treats corruption going forward.
The removal of petrol subsidy was done within the first 24 hours in office in a manner that suggests that he owes Dangote money, may be for campaign or whatever. Because the only Nigerian to directly benefit from the hike in price of petroleum products is Alhaji Aliko Dangote through the operation of his newly commissioned refinery in Lagos.
The removal of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, though it heralded joy across Nigeria by the masses like the day Abachas death was announced. Insincerity of his Government on Emefiele was communicated by the video allegedly released by DSS, it reminded me of the Ikoyi flat saga. A selected approach for media prosecution to damage the image of the accused and launder that of the government to fight corruption. Sensation, that was all we got out of the Ikoyi flat charade, I am afraid it may be all we will be left with in the Emefiele debacle.
The removal of EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, raised more questions than answers to our corruption index. But who succeeds Bawa is critical to rating Tinubu of anti corruption.
Mr Bawa is among the first cadet of the EFCC in 2003 and became the youngest officer to lead the agency, and at the same time the first EFCC commissioned officer to lead, following his confirmation to the position by the Nigerian Senate in 2021.
For one, Mr Tinubu’s action was seen as retaliation because Mr Bawa had launched an investigation into Mr Tinubu’s alleged fraud and racketeering while he was in charge of the EFCC’s Lagos zonal office in 2020. On the other side is the EFCC Act which was believed to be abused by Buhari on Malami’s advice as Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on Bawa’s appointment. The Act recommends a serving or retired police officer of a certain rank for the position. Let’s leave the legal contention for lawyers to iron out. My interest is, could Tinubu as a democrat be acting on the interest of the legal framework, therefore exiting Bawa?
Opinions have been divided over Bawa’s removal: “We all saw that Bawa was investigating Tinubu just before he became the EFCC chairman and moved to the headquarters in Abuja,” says, anti-corruption analyst Sola Olubanjo.
“The president being so prompt in removing a man that investigated him strikes me as too convenient.”
Mr Tinubu’s action also appeared more aimed at giving a respite to his political allies in Mr Bawa’s crosshairs, some of whom initiated the purported petitions used to oust Mr Bawa, Mr Olubanjo said.
“We should see this second part for what it is: a clear obstruction of active investigations against Senate President Godswill Akpabio and former governors like Bello Matawalle and Kayode Fayemi,” Mr Olubanjo added. “The president has immunity from criminal prosecution, so he is only helping his allies in the ruling party who don’t have such protections.”
Bawa has been part of EFCC since inception, it goes to say he was there when Tinubu was listed among the five most corrupt Governors by the Ribadu led EFCC. How insecure is the country and her President that gave an anti graft chief an appointment in Tinubu’s presidency as Special Advicer on Security, is financial security far more important than security of lives and property in a country where insecurity of citizens is common knowledge? What does Tinubu owe Ribadu? What threat does Bawa’s continuity as EFCC boss pose to the Tinubu led administration? For credibility and integrity, Bawa should have been left to a process of probity to determine his fate than this executive pronouncement. Now that Bawa is out, we all must be interested in who becomes the EFCC Chairman. Will he choose a certain member of his kitchen cabinet, chased out of Edo State as Commissioner of Police on allegation of Corruption? Time like they say will tell!
The signing of the student education loan birthed an uproar of sorts among the youth, with almost immediate endorsement for Tinubu’s continuity. The critical analysis of the term and conditions of the said loan has led many students to accepting the street phrase; “school na scam”. The loan in all sincere intent looks like a deliberate deception to curry students favour while offering nothing.
The liberalisation of the foreign exchange market, this may be very well intended, but it is viewed in some quarters as designed to break the monopoly and dominance of the North in a sector that has been renamed “Aboki” for their heavy presence and control, this will inevitably weaken the grip and free the market for all comers.
The appointment of eight special advisers is a welcome development, 7 out of whom are fitted pegs in their hole, some round for round holes other square for square holes, with the exception of Ribadu; a policeman with specialty in anti-graft operations, for more of counter-terrorism, a job where both police and the military were assisted to fail by government conspiracies. The pragmatism of his leadership to be round and square as the need requires, the days ahead will put to test.
All Service Chiefs were sent packing by PBAT after their Commander In Chief vacated, this is commendable, a show of courage and determination to take the brutal bull of insecurity by the horn and ride it. His choice of Ribadu as National Security Adviser is in tandem with the spirit of democracy.
The sacking of erstwhile service Chiefs is an official confirmation that Buhari and his team were nothing but failure. Should we see this as a proof of a man who knows what to do to get the lame duck security structure of the country back on its feet and set it forward?
Our biggest problem is the sustained structure and undue recognition beyond what the recommendation should be of the military institution in a Democracy. With the age long “military zone; keep off” mentality, clashes should be expected as a result of this appointment. But it will definitely be a learning curve for the military who need to know how to function with a democracy. Police is the institution that must lead internal security of any responsible country in a Democracy. That lesson, we can see in the movie, First Blood starring Sylvester Stalon. Even when the National Guard was called in led by a Colonel, the Sheriff had his honour of leadership intact. Tinubu’s appointment of Ribadu comes to me as a decision of positional advantage of building an enviable police and by extension our democracy. We may not adopt policing at a comprehensive level of County, State and Federal. Obviously the need for state police stares us in the face. Ribadu’s appointment may prove to be the joker needed to get this done.
Those from who learning the democracy rope walking is expected is lead by
Chief of Defence Staff; Major General C G. Musa, from the North West, Southern Kaduna to be precise, BAT’s unspoken answer to El-Rufai’s mouth diarrhea if you ask me.
Chief of Air Staff is Major General T.A Lagbaja, South West.
Chief of Naval Staff-Rear Admiral E. I Ogalla, South East,
Chief of Air Staff AVM H.B Abubakar North West. Chief of Defense Intelligence Maj Gen Ekpa from the South South, Egbetokun completed the list from the South West as the new Acting Inspector General of Police. The spread of the appointments reflect a departure from Buhari’s years of nepotism.
In recent time, we have also witnessed the electricity deregulation which has seen an increase in electricity tariffs, like the subsidy issue this was part of the evils postponed by past generations to another day. The day of reckoning is here and the decision is a necessity if Nigeria must move forward. However, it was taken in fiat communication similar to a dictatorial leader than a democratic leadership. BAT failed by refusing to engage the masses who are now left to bear the brunt of his draconian exercise of power.
The immediate dissolution of the Governing Boards of all Federal Government Parastatals, Agencies, Institutions, and Government-Owned Companies is for me a decision a leader who has over promised must make to create enough room to accommodate would be beneficiaries. I would have expected a review of performance before such decision was reached.
Now that the President is running from his first day in office and running faster on his second day and fastest to his first month. It won’t be wrong to ask; what is pursuing our President and what is our President pursuing?
Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration hasn’t just hit the ground running, it has beaten our mark of expectation. To imagine that he boldly veered off the direction of the tailored speech which was written with the intent not to offend the masses on removal of subsidy, in line with what could represent his renewed hope promise. However the president must understand that his stance on corruption will determine how the public will rate him. He can’t therefore condone corruption by appointing any individual with trace of it as Chairman of EFCC. He already has corruption allegations as a public bagage while he may be forgiven for appointing few corrupt persons into some offices. But a person perceived as corrupt with media report attestation to that effect will clip his wing locally and internationally on anti corruption index. Nigerians may have to wait until the appointment of EFCC Chairman is made to conclude on BAT’s seriousness at fixing Nigeria.
Watch out for; What our President Should be Pursuing?
Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder, Convener Apostolic Round Table and BOT Chairman Project Victory Call Initiative AKA PVC-Naija.