BUHARI: NOW THAT WE FOUND CHANGE….

Today is the fifth day since the swearing in ceremony of President Muhammadu Buhari and already the tell-tale signs are evident that his honeymoon period is destined to be the shortest in the history of our nation. Nigerians who have been baying for blood since the APC swept the polls last March cannot understand why the heads of their perceived traducers in the last administration are yet to roll.

Many cannot understand the seeming slow pace of appointments announced so far. Their definition of change obviously also meant it must be done with military dispatch.  They seem to believe in the precedence already established by the PDP.

When Olusegun Obasanjo assumed the mantle of leadership in 1999, the first thing he did was to retire all the service chiefs and a generation of top military brass conveniently put out of circulation on the excuse of being politically exposed people. The late President Umar Yar’Adua also did the same, just like the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan. The dismissal of the service chiefs they met in office was done almost as soon as they were sworn into office.

But here we are in the era of Buhari’s second coming albeit as a democratically elected President. Five days into his presidency, the service chiefs appointed by his predecessor are still sitting pretty and seemingly under no threat of immediate dismissal.

Not only that, apart from the appointment of his two media aides, most of the other key appointments such as those of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other critical appointments in the presidency are yet to be announced as I write this. What could possibly be responsible for the delays? Is the delay part of the change promised Nigerians? Knowing Buhari’s well-known antecedents, are the delays caused by his insistence on picking only the most fit and proper persons for the affected offices?

Whatever may be the reasons it is now obvious that managing the change the new administration has promised is going to be even more herculean than sacking the PDP from office. The scenario reminds me of the racy musical hit released by the Jamaican reggae group “Third World” more than two decades ago titled “Now that we found love, what are we going to do with it?”

The more I contemplate the current situation, the more I am tempted to also ask: now that the APC has found the change it sought, what does it intend to do with it? It is not only in the delayed announcement of appointments that the APC appears to have got Nigerians worried. If care is not taken, they risk doing serious damage to themselves in the manner the principal officers and leadership of the National Assembly are going to emerge.

It may be far too early to predict anything, but already the signs are obvious that managing the change it promised Nigerians will have to be handled with greater tact and urgency. Nigerians voted for change on the overwhelming belief that the PDP administration was inherently corrupt and inept. In President Buhari they saw a beacon of hope, integrity and above all efficiency and incorruptibility.

Nigerians want answers to all the missing billions of dollars in the oil and power sectors that defied seemed to defy belief. They want those who arranged the sham recruitment exercise in the Department of Immigration in which scores of Nigerian youth perished after being scammed to pay for their crimes. They want answers to the mystery surrounding the ten million dollars seized by the South African government to the embarrassment of Nigerians at home and abroad. They demand quick answers to these and other scandals that are too numerous to recount here for lack of space.

But to be fair to the President, it is obvious that he is trying his best to prove to the world that he is the converted democrat he promised. It is also possible that even the delays can be explained as part of the change his party promised Nigerians in the first place.

I have never believed that sacking of our military chiefs each time there is a change of leadership in the country is the best thing to do except for reasons of corruption and incompetence. Even so, the current service chiefs will be hard-pressed to explain the colossal military budgets in the past six years and the corresponding poor results in the fight against Boko Haram. At a point foreign mercenaries even had to be brought in to our eternal shame. They owe the nation a lot of explanation without a doubt.

That said, the President’s seeming slow pace, so far, will also be justified if it is to avoid the damning arbitrariness of the past by enthroning the rule of law. We cannot forget that at a time Nigerians will not mind if some members of the immediate past government are given the Mussolini treatment, he has erred on the part of caution. It is highly commendable that he directed airport officials and security agents not to molest or prevent members of the previous administration from travelling abroad if they so desired.

It is equally commendable that he reminded them all Nigerians remained innocent from their alleged crimes unless otherwise proven by our courts. That is obviously change in motion and it must be recognized and applauded. In any case, the world is now a global village. Treasury looters can run but they can no longer hide. Information technology has made it extremely difficult to hide illicit funds.

I can hardly end this discourse without this broadside to the many uninformed bigots that sarcastically wrote to congratulate me because “My brother” is now in Aso Rock! It gives me maximum pleasure to remind them that I did not endorse his presidency on the basis of ethnicity, religion or creed because it would be primitive to do so. I voted for him because he seemed the most serious and competent candidate to get Nigeria out of its present quagmire. And if after four years the president and his party fail to perform I will not hesitate to show them the red card.

That is the essence of change and indeed democracy.

MUHAMMAD AL-GHAZALI

ghazalism@gmail.com

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