Buhari’s New Year broadcast and matters arising by Carl Umegboro

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year broadcast on 1st January, 2018 catalogued a new dawn and high hopes to Nigerians unlike the previous year the government squarely battled with economic recession which led to hardship with negative effects on virtually all sectors of the economy alongside the citizenry especially the low class. The presidential broadcast irrefutably echoed statesmanship, responsiveness and commitment especially as the blueprints touched visibly on all segments and regions with litanies of capital projects and articulated action-plans for dividends of democracy, equitably distributed across the country.
Indeed, if the blueprints eventually succeed as presented, President Buhari will retire politically in the hearts of Nigerians up to the future generations. Thus, this is not time for pessimism, cynicism or drifting attacks but, to supportively, give the benefit of the doubt. In a nutshell, the message signposts that the country is now out of recession. During recession, Buhari as the pilot did communicate and emphatically pleaded for sacrifices. As the position changed, citizens should cheerfully embrace the change.
Arguably, President Buhari, perhaps unknown to many, is the most tolerant leader in the history of the country since 1999 democracy was permanently restored. To buttress this, a minister in his government and statutorily under his absolute discretion, Hajia Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs, plainly signaled a political interest in Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition against her boss re-election, and yet remained in office. Statutorily, the President requires no approval from anyone or rigorous laid down procedures to disengage her from his government, and not even in advanced democracy like the United States of America or Britain has such political tolerance or leniency been witnessed. Obviously, this is a salient feature of focused leadership superior to partisan politics. No wonder, the president referred his political party, All Progressives Congress (APC) which he’s actually the overall leader as “your party” to the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in reaction to recent defection of Atiku Abubakar to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP. The point is clear; Buhari is splendidly, much more of the nation’s leader with craving to make a remarkable difference than a mere political leader. Emphatically, Buhari’s New Year broadcast rekindled hopes to the citizenry and substantially synchronized his maiden remarkable pledge during inauguration on May 29, 2015, that “I am for everybody. I am for nobody”.
For all intents and purposes, the broadcast touched on all fundamental issues particularly hate and discriminatory utterances along religious and ethnic lines as often witnessed in the polity especially from the opposition. Some in their defenses claimed that PDP is on tit for tat; replaying and paying back to APC what it received during its then administrations. Then, assuming the claims are affirmative, where then are the acumen, maturity and experiences PDP garnered in the 16 years in power, how much less added values to our political system if the party adopts alleged dispositions and strategies of its then major opposition now in power, forgetting easily the “clueless” status it branded the ruling APC? In my opinion, this amounts to gross paradox and indicates gyratory system and unproductive political development. As a hitherto ruling party for nearly two decades, PDP ought to capably provide a sound and policy-based opposition distinct from the grotesque parodies.
Be that as it may, whilst it is inarguable that democracy encourages and triumphs with opposition in place, it must inevitably be played according to rules rather than the current nihilism and unfriendliness. As political activities would certainly gather momentum ahead of general elections in 2019, it is imperative the polity is not heated out of proportion. Opposition in democracy is usually relative and essentially distinctive from ad hominem and pull-down syndromes, and must essentially reflect constructivism and not for opposing sake. A desirable opposition must be characterized by idealism with a common goal; service-delivery rather than hostility, resisting opportunities for values, tranquility, and resourcefully, must be capable of providing solutions in critical circumstances. The position in a democracy is vital and critically goes beyond inconsequentialities, trivialities or superficialities but superior viewpoints and perspectives. To stand powerfully and adeptly in the gap of opposition requires orientation, resourcefulness and know-hows. If not, it metamorphoses to nuisances.
To supplement to matters of national importance for urgent presidential intervention in the new year, the lingering superiority battle between two agencies of the executive arm; National Universities Commission (NUC) and Council of Legal Education (CLE) since 2013 which has caused colossal hardship to some innocent citizens that graduated from the nation’s only Open and Distance Learning institution; National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) needs to be addressed speedily. The federal government needs to, perhaps set up a harmonization panel towards resolving the quagmire to enable, in particular existing affected students and graduates proceed to the Nigerian Law School for vocational training in line with conventional norms without further delays. Though the crisis was inherited from previous governments, President Buhari should administratively intervene towards resolving the squabbles putting into consideration that generally, the grass suffers where two elephants fight. The continued travails of the innocent students of the federal institution are condemnable and requires urgent remedies.  Happy New Year fellow Nigerians!
Umegboro, a public affairs analyst wrote from Lagos and could be reached via: umegborocarl@gmail.com or 07057101974 (SMS only).

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