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Wednesday, March 1, 2017



By Musa Toyyib Olaniyi

Nigerians are spectacular lots. They could grovel before their tormentors (read political office holders) and they could make life miserable for those they chose to among them even if, among the infamous political class, such are a distinct class with a flair for selfless service and purposeful leadership.

Not only this, our compatriots sometimes are adept at making mountains out of mole hills. The recent debate about the perceived performance of the Acting President and Vice President of the country, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo falls into this  category of needless kerfufle that seems to eviscerate our national conversation, when in reality, there are more pressing problems of national importance that should arrest our attention. Some even subtly wished the death of the President so that the Acting President can assume full authority. This is a needless mischief.

The fact that Messrs  Buhari and Osinbajo are two different people  presents the possibility of different personality characteristics, the reality of which will undoubtedly reflect in differences in virtually everything about them, from the way they think, act to the way they feel, all of which will rub off on their leadership styles.

Both Mr. Buhari and Mr. Osinbajo represent the finest of the two of the nation's institutions; the academia and the military. Just as there are similarities between them are also clear differences. The main similarity between them will revolve around their shared values  for honesty and purposeful leadership.

In fairness to this administration, President Buhari has performed relatively well in relation to the three promises he made during his electioneering viz : restoring security, fighting corruption and growing the economy.

Now the sore point in his score card is the worsening economy under his watch and this happen to be what majority of the people use as indicator of performance for any government. Of course, this is understandable because, food security and its allied dimensions feature prominently as physiological needs which are actually lower order needs according to Abraham Maslow, which if not satisfied, other needs hardly motivates man. So, obviously, the hunger in town will ordinarily becloud the vision and thinking of the people. And the hunger out there is really biting and menacing. That's the fact.

But it will take only the unbiased and discerning to see the correlation between the drastic slide in the international price of crude oil, the insane looting of the treasury in billions and millions of dollars and pounds, the reduction in daily oil production as a result of mindless vandalization of pipelines in the Niger Delta and the anaemic economy we are stuck with as a nation.

If the Acting President is performing, it means we are getting value for what we bought. Here is an accomplished Professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. If things deteriorate under his watch as it did under another man that laid claim to scholarship through his PhD degree, then we must lament the death of education as an institution in our country.

Look at it this way, before wishing for the obituary of President Muhammadu Buhari, have you paused to ask yourself when did  Governors begin to formally transfer authority when leaving their domains. What Mr . Buhari exhibited is called responsible leadership. Not too long ago, a President threw the country into needless crisis because of his unfounded fears that power will slip from him by obeying the dictates of the constitution. Mr. Buhari doesn't honestly deserve our death wishes because he chose to obey the nation's grundnorm.

Ordinarily, the presidency should be a unified and cohesive unit of governance directing the affairs of the country. This means, policy making should be a product of agreeable minds running the affairs of the country. Therefore, whatever the Vice President does should be a reflection of the thinking in the Presidency. This can only be different if, the administration is polarised or badly fissured and such a situation will not augur well for the country as it will derail real governance.

Policies sometimes take time to mature. Nigerians need to know this. So, if some policies are bearing fruits during this time when the President is on leave, it is a coincidence and a fortuitous one for that matter. At any rate, the acting President will, when necessary consult his boss on critical decisions.

The appreciation in the value of Naira has nothing to do with who is on vacation or not. The improvement is the  result of the accretion of the foreign reserve which makes more dollars available to the CBN. And the engagement with the Niger Delta started when President Buhari was still around. Were the President to still be in Aso rock, the footwork of that engagement will still likely be carried out by the Vice President because of his agility and the trust the President has in him.

Creating what psychologists call illusory correlation between maturing policies, coincidences and performance will do no good to our democracy , as by the narratives we are weaving around the Acting President perceived performance, and the ascension to real power such connotes, we are indiscreetly feeding the fears of Chief Executives (President and Governors) about the real dangers in transferring power to their deputies while on leave or indisposed. And this is real.

The rumours that some aides are also indirectly polarising the administration is a sad tale if it bears element of truth. Going to President Buhari to crosscheck  lawful instructions of the Acting President is subversive and inimical to the goals of the administration just as it is antithetical to the unity of purpose expected within an administration. Such aides should desist from such misconduct in the interest of the nation.

The foregoing analysis is not in anyway meant to take the shine off Professor Osinbajo. Far from that. The Acting President has shown mastery of the game, competence and brilliance and that should be applauded.

The lessons inherent in President  Buhari's vacation and health challenges revolves largely around the need for us to continue to improve our leadership recruitment strategy. Leaders should be chosen because of the possession of constellation of attributes needed for the time, not just because of a single reason or factor. Neither should we continue to overlook the health status of candidates for public offices. Governance is no doubt much more complex than such straitjacketed thinking. And deputies should not be spare tyres but Presidents or Governors-in-waiting. These are the hard lessons in this vacation episode and not wishing to read the President's obituary.

May the Almighty God visit the President, heal him, grant him sound health, protection, guidance, wisdom and the temperament to successfully complete his tenure and may Nigeria be healed, great and  prosperous, ameen.

God bless Nigeria.

Toyyib Musa Olaniyi is a Psychologist, lecturer, public analyst and writer based in Ondo State, Nigeria.

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