I planned to hail President Muhammadu Buhari for the meeting he held with leaders of his All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on Friday but his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Graba Shehu’s explanation that the meeting was at the instance of the parties kind of put a dampner on the otherwise brilliant move.
The President hosted leaders of the two parties on Friday where he thanked them and Nigerians for their prayers.
He also spoke about the importance of a responsible opposition in a democracy.
Left out of the meeting, the Labour Party(LP) and the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance(APDA) kicked against their exclusion from the meeting and in explaining what happened Garba had told Saturday Punch that the APC and the PDP had requested to see the President.
“The President in his wisdom decided to meet them together. You may want to ask the political parties that are complaining if they wrote to meet the President,” Garba told the newspaper.
Perhaps he has a point but I think this should have been a presidential initiative but since they did not think of it, the request by the two leading parties should have prompted the presidency into inviting all parties and seeking their understanding and cooperation in the very important task of moving Nigeria forward.
As I suggested last week, I do not see any more urgent task for this government than the need to quickly become a rallying point for national integration and cohesion.
So I think the President should call a meeting of all political parties in Nigeria at which the national questions will be raised and where he would listen to these parties I stead of talking to them.
Aside from the fact that Nigeria is currently at a juncture where all hands have to be on deck, political parties are the essential oil that lubricate the practice of democracy and it would be impossible for this administration to make real progress without having the understanding of those who are leaders of political parties.
I also think that President Buhari should put a seal of authority on efforts made by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to reach out to different segments of the country while the former was away on his medical vacation. Osinbajo did well in the absence of the President but he does not have the final seal of that office, so the President should reach out to segments of the country and get them behind him.
In addition to ethnic nationalities, it would be helpful for the administration to seek the understanding of the two other arms of government.
It may be near impossible for the government to make much of what is left of its tenure without putting an end to the suspicion that the past two years have revealed between it, the judiciary and especially, the legislature.
Time is running out fast on this administration but there is a chance for it to make a lasting impact on the country.
However, that can only be achieved through sustained consensus building.