President Muhammadu Buhari’s last word at his maiden media chat sounded like dropping off a hint that journalists in Nigeria could run into trouble with his administration. Maybe it is not but two things gave me this idea.
One, I do not recall any significant media scoop in the lifetime of this administration that could have inspired that counsel. Secondly, just a few minutes before he offered this wisdom, the president indicated that he would go to any length to dislodge anything that stands in the way of his having the kind of government that he desires, not necessarily what Nigerians want or what the tenets of democracy dictate.
In explaining the incessant disregard for court orders in the case of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, (a Sokoto prince and retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army) and Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, Buhari repeated with discernible irritation: “which kind of government do you want to run?” Consequently, I am imagining that too much liberty for men of the fourth estate of the realm may also jeopardise PMB’s utopian governance model. But then, I may be totally wrong as I hope I am.
One thing I am certain of, however, is that the President was rather unprepared for the two hour session that he had with the nation that evening. Unfortunately, this would be a minority view. Majority of our people seem totally sold on PMB’s personality such that the man would get away with anything and everything. I wonder whether we do this in favour of the president or a country that needs the undivided and hands on attention of its leader.
I noticed that the President mostly demonstrated scant understanding of any of the questions put to him but for the one that concerned Dasuki and Kanu. President Buhari was largely tentative in his answers and unapologetic in his several buck-passing episodes.
Take the issue of the missing Chibok gilrs for instance; the President did not even know the number of the girls! Someone may query the significance of knowing the number but what about his confession of an absolute lack of intelligence on the girls?
Like Information Minister Lai Mohammed, President Buhari espoused the idea of the army’s supposed decapitation of Boko Haram and degradation of their ability to carry out massive attacks and that is fine. A lot of Nigerians get carried away with what they see as the candor of the President but I am saying that candor does not do it all. In any case, don’t candor and integrity include giving credit to the immediate past administration for the significant strides it made in degrading the capacity of the insurgents?
Then PMB should try and get his facts and figures right. It turns out that total sum for the vehicles which the senate plans to purchase is less than N5b and not the N50b he indicated in the media chat. That isn’t exactly complimentary. So are repeated references to Nigeria having 42 ministries prior to the advent of his administration?
By far the most unacceptable of PMB’s disposition on that night was the handling of the question on the bail of Dasuki and Kanu. In justifying the refusal of government to allow these people benefit from the bail granted them by courts of law, Buhari said: “Technically, if you see the type of atrocities those people committed against the country, if they jump bail…”
This could pass for enviable patriotism but does the President remember that in spite of any weight of evidence that might be available to him, these people are not guilty of that offence until a court of law affirms so? That is what the constitution of this country, which PMB swore to uphold, says and Nigerians must hold him to that promise in spite of what crime we are dealing with.
One understands the urgency with which PMB desires to see those who looted Nigeria’s fund behind bars but none of that justifies the abuse of the fundamental human rights of citizens and disrespecting the constitution of the country. This, we must always remind ourselves, is no military regime.