The Buhari, Osinbajo team
THE historic matching of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who took the mantle of leadership in Nigeria on Friday, May 29, 2015, may be divinely arranged.
For me, the two men seem to see life from the same prism and sharing common traits and character as it were.
It is historic imperative that the two men, who live a simple lifestyle different from what obtains among Nigerian elite and leaders, were thrown up at this time to reinvent Nigeria. Calling the duo of Buhari and Osinbajo a squad might be appropriate given the heist and urgency of the task before them.
Like a squad in a football pitch, whose focus is on nothing else but winning a crucial match, the duo of Buhari and Osinbajo are in a crucial moment in the history of Nigeria and facing a daring task. They are set for the action and spectators, as in a football match, are eagerly waiting to see how the squad performs.
Let me state categorically that all the problems plaguing Nigeria are manmade. They are not natural like earthquake, hurricane or typhoon as you have in other climes. All that is needed to redress Nigeria’s fortunes is a cool-headed, selfless and committed leadership.
What, for instance, is there in putting electricity if not that those who had responsibility to fix it in the past 16 years were never sincerely committed to solving the problem? Also, what is there in building refineries and stop the corruption-ridden importation? These and the other seemingly intractable problems could be tackled with sincerity of purpose. I think the Buhari, Osinbajo team are equal to the task going by their unsoiled past records in public office.
The greatest problem militating against good governance in Nigeria is inordinate quest for material wealth by those entrusted with leadership. Public office in Nigeria is perceived as a lifetime opportunity to amass wealth rather than render service to the people.
Money meant for projects that would benefit the masses is stolen. It is not uncommon to see someone who has been living like every other Nigerian suddenly transformed into a billionaire once in leadership position.
After just two years in office as councilor, local government chairman, governor, minister, president and so on, could transform overnight into a Sheik from an oil rich country, dwelling in a multi-million naira palatial mansion with impregnable security. And the assortment of exotic vehicles that line up in his escort raises questions as to how government has become the most lucrative business, and the cycle continues from one administration to the other.
There are few people who have passed through the corridors of power and came out untainted with this mad rush for wealth. The simple lifestyle of Buhari and Osinbajo betrayed the hedonistic lifestyle of Nigerian elite, especially, those who have passed through the corridors of power.
Beginning with Buhari, we have a man who is a retired Major General of the Nigerian Army, who started being in the corridors of power as far back as 1975, when he was appointed military governor of the defunct Northeastern State but who never used the office to amass wealth or became swollen headed. Northeastern State was large enough and comprised six states, namely Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Taraba.
Also, Buhari was Head of State of Nigeria from December 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985, which was more than enough for him to amass wealth if he wanted.
Instead, he launched the unprecedented War Against Indiscipline (WAI), to tackle the attitudinal and behavioural decay in Nigeria following the rapacious culture bequeathed by the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) that he overthrew.
Though, short lived, his administration left a legacy of people taking full responsibility for their actions.
In 1976, Buhari was appointed Federal Commissioner (Minister) of Petroleum and Natural Resources. It was under his watch that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was created and he was made its first Chairman. There was allegation of missing N2.8 billion during his tenure, which was discharged in 1983 after the Ayo Irikefe investigative panel found no truth in the allegation.
It is unthinkable that someone who presided over the cash cow called NNPC, the honey pot of corruption in Nigeria, has not been seen erecting mansions and owning others in different world capitals and living a flamboyant lifestyle that is typical of his peers.
Buhari also held the post of Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) that again has to do with oil money. The PTF, the precursor of today’s Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), was created to utilize the revenue generated by the increase in the price of petroleum products to execute developmental projects across the country. A New African report in 1988 praised the PTF under Buhari as transparent and a “success story”.
Buhari’s government could be summed up as an attempt to instill public discipline, curb corruption, lower inflation, enhance work force and increase productivity. Buhari was and still remains a no nonsense man, which was why some people had crush with his administration in one way or the other.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s career profile could be summed up as a technocrat with humble, modest and unassuming candour. His core assignments in public office both locally and abroad had to do with good conduct and discipline, which is in tune with Buhari’s values. Despite being the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice from 1999 to 2007, a period of eight years, Osinbajo’s residence, as published in the media, is a simple duplex. He shunned self-aggrandizement and returned to the lecture room to teach law at the University of Lagos. That is unusual in Nigeria.
It is obvious that both Buhari and Osinbajo reached the peak of their respective careers. While Buhari retired as Major General, Yemi Osinbajo attained professorship in law, a SAN and United Nations expert. The two men complement each other.
While not overlooking the fact that they are humans and prone to error, I am not in doubt that they would perform. They should guard against hiring greedy and money minded elements into their cabinet to avoid a mess up of good intentions, which would tarnish their reputation. We need people of good character to lead this CHANGE movement.