If President Muhammadu Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Party, APC were to be the captain of a football team battling to score the winning goal before the final whistle, he would be shouting and screaming at his team mates to close ranks now, make the nimble-footed moves and dribble, Maradona style, past the tight defence of the opponents. He desperately needs to get in the goal, or more goals, that will give his team the ultimate prize – the cup.
And now, especially now that the match has entered the injury time, it is time to review the pattern of play, to change tactics, to change from being tentative to being decisive and strategic. If the team had been playing to entertain, it is time to play to win. A time, therefore, to be more furious, more purposeful, playing with motive and determination, with grit and nimbleness of feet like that of Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, a time to shoot to shatter the net.
Political contest, euphemistically dubbed a game, like football, is war by another name. And in war, nothing is taken for granted. But curiously, Buhari, the team captain who doubles as the couch and team manager, in his October 1st broadcast, the last before the next crucial match, did not sound like the leader of the team that was desperate to win the coming match.
He did not quite sound like he intended to rouse the team to a crucial victory. He still appeared tentative, cautious and, maybe, calculating. By repeating his advice to team players, giving the self-same assurance to the audience including the zealous fans and the army of supporters club made up of his cult-like followers, some critics have mistaken his confidence for lack of inspiration, for not inspiring hope for a better performance.
But it looks like this captain sure knows what he is doing. And the result of his self-assuredness and overflowing confidence exhibited on Monday will become manifest in February next year.
Undoubtedly buoyed by recent victories, there is a tendency by the Buhari team to sit back and relax. The warm-up matches in Ekiti and Osun states, not to count the re-play matches in Kogi, Katsina and Bauchi states, despite some obvious lapses – like the ignored red cards in Kogi State with gunshots and even deaths – have already been taken by strategists as a sure indication of the victory that awaits the Buhari team in the mother of all battles in February.
Those who think that Buhari does not quite measure up to it or that he is not sure of what he is doing, have latched on to his speech two days ago as their only evidence. They accuse him of making uninspired, non-epochal speeches, not making efforts to rouse his team to success. But my take is fairly different. By repeatedly telling us the same thing over and over again, the president, I guess, must have gotten on top of the problems, at least as far as the diagnosis is concerned. It used to be said that once the problem is identified, it is half solved. Let’s hope it holds true even today.
But a problem, once identified, must be solved and should be seen to be solved. Strategic thinkers would be quick to tell you that to do nothing to solve the problem, would be to surrender to procrastination which breeds lethargy; which in turn encourages impunity because those who create the problems are emboldened by the certain knowledge that there would be no consequence.
Those who took it upon themselves to find answers to the herdsmen- farmer’s conundrum and why it appears to have defied fire-proof solution, located the problem in the procrastination on the part of government which initially adopted a wait-and-see attitude hoping that the crisis would on its own peter out.
It did not. Instead it developed a life of its own and spread fast like the wild fire with bloody consequences. By the time government woke up to it, the killings had morphed into all shapes and sizes leaving room for wild and dangerous analysis that points wrongly to ethnic cleansing and religious persecution.
For the umpteenth time, President Buhari and his officials have sought to give a lie to the claim that it had an ethnic and religious connotation. On the contrary, they were always quick to admit that they knew who was behind the massacres – politicians who want to wrest power from APC or those who ran away from Libya with Gaddaffi’s weapons or the armed bandits driven down south by desertification in the Sahelian region.
In all cases, it would appear, the Muhammadu Buhari government, try as much as it can, has so far proved unable to deal ruthlessly with these murderous intruders. But the welcome news is that it has not given up trying. The only problem confronting the regime – and it is by no means a minor one – is that of credibility.
If the sponsors of these attacks are local problem merchants, instigating crisis for purely political purpose, the question to answer is simple, in my view: is the Buhari government admitting that it is incapable of returning fire for fire? Rule of law and human rights, no doubt, are inevitable features of democratic dispensation. But there is no democracy in the world, where criminals are allowed to roam freely and widely, massacring innocent people in such a bestial and unrestrained manner and a responsible government would throw up his hands proclaiming the rule of law and respect for human rights.
If kidnappers are being rounded up, as they do especially in the South East Zone with impressive efficiency, with their known mansions razed to the ground to serve as deterrents and the government is also promulgating laws to seize the identified properties of corrupt people, why is the same government utterly incapable of dealing ruthlessly with sponsors of violence and other assorted mass murderers to secure the lives and properties of defenceless citizens – most of them, apparently, fans of Team Buhari?
In this injury time, only a few months to the day of reckoning, the Buhari government has a lot to do to turn the tide. Without running afoul of rule of law and human rights, it can, without much ado, commence the arrest and prosecution of all violent and murderous herdsmen and their known sponsors. Without any shred of doubt, this measure will boost President Buhari’s credibility and restore confidence of the people in their government.
A team that is desirous of victory must go for goals – leaving no stone unturned and sparing no legitimate tactics especially in the injury time.
Governor Wike and his PDP
Last week I saw the fiery but impassioned Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State spitting fire almost literally on the national television.
His anger this time was not directed at the Buhari government in Abuja. He was railing and threatening his own party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His grouse was the move by some of the party’s presidential aspirants to have their national convention held in Enugu or any other place but Port Harcourt, the favoured Garden City.
Whatever the motive of those who wanted a change of venue, the matter was being handled cautiously by the National Working Committee of the party and its Board of Trustees hoping to come to an amicable settlement with or without the fire and fury of Governor Wike.
At the end of it all, the party caved in. No change in venue. No dire consequence for Wike’s anti-party activity. In this party of the people and for the people, like in all other Nigerian parties, all men are not equal. Those who pay the piper not only dictate the tune, they, in fact, own the piper and the tune. And, unlike the lesser mortals, they are clearly immune to party discipline.