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Muhammadu Buhari: End Of The Great Flop By Mobolaji Sanusi

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As l write this, my mind wanders over that 2014 early morning phone call from our newly installed President Tinubu. When l picked the international call, it was Mr. Sunday Dare, outgone Minister for Youths and Sports that echoed, ‘Good morning Mr. Sanusi and please hold on’; and from the other end bellowed the incisive voice of Asíwájú who must have been following my Friday column in The Nation newspapers, highlighting at that period in time, reasons why Buhari, who was then being touted to contest for the presidency, should not be considered.

Asiwaju discussed the Buhari issue with me on phone and l was respectfully emphatic in telling him about my doubts regarding whether the man can be trusted, with reasons. In a persuasive voice, Asíwájú asked a rhetorical question: ‘Don’t you think we should give him a chance’? Obviously, he wasn’t expecting an immediate response from me.

But having been tired of the badly managed state of affairs under Jonathan/PDP, like millions of other Nigerians, l gave the esteemed Asíwájú’s persuasion a deserved consideration. Again, this becomes easy having erroneously believed that anybody but Jonathan/PDP would rescue Nigerians from the impending collapse of Nigeria’s ship of state.

From thence, l started giving the Buhari presidential aspiration a serious thought, because of Asíwájú. That was in 2014 and by 2015, he got elected as President. And the rest, as they say, is history.

One thing is constant. And that is the widely known Asíwájú’s invaluable role in the emergence of Buhari as the President of the country. One significant but ignoble blight of his presidency was his early traits of ingratitude, indifference to good policy actions, and sometimes, self-centered policy actions; his impervious disposition to words of wisdom; his unbridled nepotism and reckless contempt for the security and wellbeing of Nigerians that yearned, futilely for official intervention from the cruelty of mostly Fulani bandits/kidnappers.

From Buhari’s inaugural day, he sent a clear signal of his ungracious intentions to sidetrack Asíwájú by his infamous phrase: “l belong to everybody and l belong to nobody.”

From that day, it became clear to me and other discerning Nigerians that Asíwájú’s support for Buhari marked the dawn of an error. Error of choice and a serious political miscalculation. But for God almighty, Asíwájú would have become political history by now. Buhari detests seeing Asíwájú being called APC national leader. This disdain, he manifested at one of the iftars during one of his Ramadan months in Aso-Villa where he clearly proclaimed himself to be the only national leader of the party; thereby seemingly displaying intolerance to Tinubu being referred to as a national leader of the progressive party.

Buhari formed his cabinet, poaching Asíwájú’s foot soldiers without really seeking his inputs. Most of these men distanced themselves from Asíwájú’s interests and more importantly presidential ambition. But most of them, especially those that served in Buhari’s government are back in President Tinubu’s fold pretending to be his locker-room loyalists. I hope President Tinubu will not misplace their hypocrisy for loyalty.

While Buhari’s ‘gbedu drum’ was aloud, his cabal and administration’s beneficiaries sustained their evil political plots against Asíwájú, as their principal looked the other way.

But Asiwaju, a cat with nine lives, survived the conspiracies by first winning the party’s presidential primary, and against all odds; won the presidential election and now got sworn-in as President and Commander-in-chief on May 29. If he had lost the primary, what would have been his fate? The reality should not be lost on the newly installed president.

Nobody should blame Nigerians for voting Buhari to power. Neither should anyone blame Tinubu for masterminding his emergence at his party’s 2014 presidential primary in Lagos and later during the presidential poll by deploying all his vast contacts to achieve this end.

For all of us, including Tinubu that voted for Buhari in 2015 and 2019, our electoral mistakes were an error of judgment. And it is important for us to note that an error is not any fault of our knowledge, but a mistake of our judgment giving impetus to that which is not true. It is also important to note that the error on voting for Buhari was done in good faith which is to establish that sincerity, even in error is strength. By leaving Nigerians worse than he met us, he crippled himself with ingratitude.

Today in the country, once presided over by Buhari, the only thriving enterprise is government patronage and banditry. The economy, he left in shambles and bedevilled by debts purportedly used to prosecute projects that are either misplaced like the Maradi railway project or left comatose by insecurity or badly executed or scandalously yet to be concluded after eight years.

Under Buhari, crude oil theft is on the increase without any sufficient official efforts to stem the tide; oil subsidy rackets were on the increase under Buhari, the value of Naira keeps tumbling to an all time high; power is epileptic, borrowings on an all time high, automobile prices are beyond the reach of average Nigerians as a result of his misplaced automotive policies cum extremely high customs duties.

Infrastructure including railway stations built with foreign loans are unusable or used with trepidation because of unbridled kidnapping for ransom and killings.

Also, fuel/diesel/kerosene/gas prices have reached an all-time high under Buhari as President, even with his disputable subsidy policy. Poverty has legalised corruption in our institutions of state because people plead it as reason for engaging in sharp practices.

Tinubu’s presidency should obviously be ready to address the shortcomings of previous leaders, especially that of his predecessor, Buhari. It’s indubitably historical that he is the only leader that truly prepares to rule the country by working assiduously to achieve that goal with divine intervention.

Hopefully by the end of Tinubu’s administration, we all should be able to applaud and say, with confidence, that Buhari was indeed a better forgotten error. By almighty’s grace, so shall it be.

By Mobolaji Sanusi

•Sanusi, a corporate legal consultant and immediate past MD/CEO of LASAA, lives in Lagos.

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Who Healed The President? – Tayo Ogunbiyi

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In the estimation of self-styled doctors and soothsayers, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ought to have died by now. They swore that he was very sick. No sooner had the then candidate Bola Tinubu won his party’s ticket to run for the presidency than they came up with tales of his terrible health condition.

What exactly was his health challenge?

Without giving any valid proof, the pseudo doctors quickly went to town with accounts of how his kidneys have gone so bad. They also gave stories of how he was moving with the aid of a machine kept inside of his left heart.

Some claimed he was actually suffering from amnesia and Parkinson disease. He would not survive the rigour of a tough political campaign.

Another tale had it that his sickness was so bad that he had started peeing on his body! So strong was this claim that it reverberated in a viral video by one of his most trusted political allies.

With all these tales of woes, candidate Bola Tinubu was a disaster waiting to happen! To really drive home the point that the man was a walking corpse, a group of jesters also joined in the fray. They composed a song titled, ‘Baba wey dey shake’(literally translated as the sick Papa).

In the said virile song, they taunted him with his alleged ill-health, contending that virtually all the organs of his body have packed up. They chorused: ‘Hand dey shake, leg dey shake, he still dey say emilokan’ (with shaking hands and legs, he still says it is my turn to be President).

Surprisingly, candidate Bola Tinubu was unperturbed by all the ill-health jibes. He surged on with the agility of an athlete poised to break World/Olympic records. In-spite of his purported failing health, he ran a most strenuous political campaign, combing the length and breadth of the country with his ‘Renewed Hope’ mantra.

He was reported to be holding a series of political meetings deep into the night. Even so, he would be the first to be on the road for yet another political engagement the following day. He even went to places considered quite dangerous. A particular case was a village in Kaduna State, Birnin Gwari, noted for its protracted terrorists’ escapades. Against every persuasion, then candidate Bola Tinubu insisted on visiting the village. He and his team got there in the dead of the night. The Emir was so impressed that he bequeathed him a traditional title.

*Yet, the quasi doctors were not convinced. He remained a sick man. The verdict? He was not fit for the throne. However, come election day, the electorate had a different view as he defeated his closest rivals to emerge the 16th President of the country.*

About two weeks after he was pronounced winner, he left the shores of the country for France. His handlers said he needed a moment of rest and reflection, considering the enormous task ahead.

But his self-appointed wannabe doctors would have none of that. He was going to France to seek urgent medical attention as some of the gadgets fixed to his body were already malfunctioning and needed to be reworked.

While in France, radiant pictures of the man and his family together with political associates surfaced online. Still, his self-appointed physicians insisted he was at the Intensive Care Unit, ICU, of a French hospital. They claimed the online pictures were merely carefully doctored by his handlers to fool Nigerians.

At the appointed time, they claimed they were going to reveal the name of the hospital where he was admitted and show the whole world how life-threatening his health condition was. It was so bad that he could no longer recognise anyone. So they alleged.

*A few days to the inauguration, Bola Tinubu arrived in the country, using his words: “after a refreshing and rewarding time in France”. He was seen coming down from the aircraft with the liveliness of a bubbling youth, waving enthusiastically at his supporters who had come in their numbers to welcome him back home.*

Yet, the quasi medics were not persuaded. Rather, they called attention to a supposed machine allegedly fixed on one of his pockets as an authentic proof that their ‘patient’s ailment was yet to be healed. Before you could say Jack Robinson, pictures of the purported machine had gone virile.

“Yes, we said so. He is a sick man. We don’t want another Yar’Adua”, the disciples of the phoney doctors chorused.

*Since his inauguration, rather than die as they had predicted, the President has continued to exhibit traits of a man whose faculties are intact. He has made decisions that have been considered sound and apt from far and near. Even his worst critics have agreed that the man has begun his presidency on a sound footing.*

*In his first official overseas trip to France (what is it with the President and France?) where he attended the maiden Summit on New Global Financing Pact in Paris, he looked quite energetic, holding several meetings with notable world monetary bodies and individuals.*

Perhaps, the highlight of his outing in France was the manner he galloped, like an Under-17 footballer, to hug French President Emmanuel Macron on the last day of the Paris Summit. He was so lively and full of energy that one would think he was the younger of the two.

*Curiously, of late, the quasi doctors and their disciples seem unconcerned about the President’s health. They seem to have been disappointed that their skewed diagnosis has failed. Probably, they are now convinced that they are wrong after all.*

*How can a sick President be almost everywhere bubbling with life. After he left Paris, the President flew to London where he reportedly paid his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, a private visit.*

*He left London for Lagos and was engaged in a flurry of activities that were certainly not appropriate for a sick man. In one day, he was in Ijebu-Ode and Abeokuta, both in Ogun State, on a private visit to the monarchs of the respective ancient Yoruba towns. Same day, in the evening, he was back in Lagos as a guest of the State government, which held a colourful reception in his honour.*

*The following day, he attended to a visiting African Head of State, while also making several private visits to notable individuals such as the Oba of Lagos, Hajia Abba Folawiyo, Haji Binta Tinubu and a host of others.*

Since the pseudo doctors and their adherents seem to have mellowed about his health concern, the question they need to urgently answer now is: Who healed the President?

– TAYO OGUNBIYII

Ogunbiyi is Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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Fuel Subsidy: A Play On Nigerian Citizens By Oke Umurhohwo

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The recent abrupt and poorly executed increase in fuel prices in Nigeria has left many citizens devastated. The government has justified this hike by linking it to the removal of fuel subsidies. While I have previously supported the idea of removing subsidies, I find it hard to believe that the recent price increase is genuinely related to subsidy removal, as some have claimed.

President Buhari’s administration employed a similar tactic during his tenure, increasing fuel prices in 2016 under the pretext of subsidy removal. However, it was later revealed that the government had actually spent over N11 trillion on fuel subsidies during those eight years. This history raises concerns about the recent development and its resemblance to previous fuel price increases.

True subsidy removal would entail full deregulation of the downstream sector, according to widely accepted definitions. Yet, the recent price hike does not align with the principles of market forces. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as the sole importer of fuel, sets the pricing template that affects all filling stations nationwide. This centralized control contradicts the notion of market-driven fuel prices.

Therefore, it is crucial for the new administration to provide clarity on the subsidy issue. Nigerian citizens should not be subjected to the pains caused by the recent price hike, only to later discover that subsidies are still being paid, as was the case under the previous administration. If the current government is genuinely committed to subsidy removal, it must take the necessary steps to open up the sector, promote competition, and allow market forces to determine fuel prices, rather than relying on a single importer like the NNPC.

Additionally, the government must outline its plans for investing the funds that will be saved from the subsidy regime. This should include implementing measures to mitigate the impact on the people, similar to what the Goodluck Jonathan administration did in 2012 when subsidy removal was considered. Furthermore, it is essential for the government to be transparent about where the funds that were supposed to go into fuel subsidies will be allocated. It would be unacceptable for Nigerian citizens to endure the hardships of subsidy removal only to have the saved funds end up in private pockets.

Over the years, subsidies have consumed more than N20 trillion, a staggering amount that could have been used to improve healthcare, education, infrastructure, and other critical areas. While it is clear that subsidies have outlived their usefulness, they should not be used as a tool to deceive Nigerian citizens, as has happened in the past.

In conclusion, the government needs to act transparently and responsibly regarding fuel subsidies. The removal of subsidies should be accompanied by true deregulation, promoting market forces and competition. The saved funds must be invested wisely and not fall into the wrong hands. Nigerian citizens deserve a fair and accountable approach that brings tangible benefits to their lives, rather than continuing the mistakes of the past.

***Oke Umurhohwo writes from Ughelli, Delta State

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