Whether it is President Muhammadu Buhari or Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, governing Nigeria is not moin-moin, as they say.
Sycophancy is easily the greatest adversary of any executive in the country because of the enormous power that the presidency wields in Nigeria. This is amplified when you take note of our pseudo-federalist structure and the concentration of power in Abuja, sycophancy is easily the greatest adversary of any executive in the country.
Very few people ever tell truth to power in Nigeria. Sometimes people are too timid to be upfront while most of the time, they are motivated by the urge to keep their privileged position or office.
Very few in public office are loyal to anything but their stomachs.
Out of government office or business, most Nigerian politicians are as close to penury as the man on the streets and no one fears poverty like one who has once experienced the affluence that accompanies power and so people would do anything, lie, flip-flop or tell on their mothers, to remain in the good books of the leader. That is the way we roll in Nigeria.
Even when it is clear that loyalty to the leader is to retain our means of livelihood it is still difficult to blame anyone here.
That is why I was not surprised by the joke that Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matter, Etta Inang made of the budget issue this week.
Apparently, none of them was prepared for the question when it was posed and so a dilemma ensured when it confronted them.
Although PMB is out of town at the moment, these guys realise that the President’s people are keeping a record of the deed and sayings of all his aides. And on his return, the Book of Records will be opened and everyone will account for his action or inaction.
No one wants to be caught on the wrong side in such situations, especially as you are very likely not going to have the opportunity to put up a defence. Evidence will be presented in the kitchen and the kitchen cabinet will pass judgment on you without, any form of hearing not to speak of a fair one.
So caught off guard, the gentlemen gave differing opinions suggesting that the signing of the budget may not be for Osinbajo. And then, something clicked and they realised that no matter what it is, this man is in power today, no one knows when the President will return and playing safe would be expedient.
That, in my opinion, generated the series of recanting that you saw towards the end of last week.
This is why the Acting President needs all the prayer and help he can get. I understand the need to be wary so as not to be seen as disloyal to the President especially as so many of the recuperating helmsman’s devotees are planted all around like mines in a war zone.
Osinbajo will still need to take steps to save Nigeria from its current parlous state.
Many Nigerians see the economic situation as urgent and frightening and I agree. We need to creatively bring the country and its people out of this economic gloom.
But equally urgent is the reversal of the increasing loss of confidence in the ability of Nigerian leaders to assure every section of the country of not just its relevance, but its security and future.
It does not seem to me that we do have a country in the real sense of the word as we speak. Giving Nigerians a sense of justice, equity and fairness no matter where they come from or what faith they hold is as important to nation building as all those smart economic policies. Without a country, there will be no economy!
Courage, with a mind set on posterity and wisdom to circumvent all the scorpions and serpents planted around the seat of power, are two attributes that the Acting President needs at this period.
May God help him find the balance between loyalty to state and loyalty to President Buhari and may Nigeria be better for it.
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