TRACKING>>n I heard news of the Senate confirmation of the reappointment of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, by President Muhammadu Buhari, it dawned on me that Nigerians know the President is prepared for his #NextLevel mission in Nigeria with all seriousness. Its clear to all and sundry that delaying the #Nextlevel train could be dangerous, as stumbling blocks could be brutally crushed. Buhari’s mania now is “Nigeria first.”
So, it pleasures immeasurably that the Senate has confirmed Emefiele as CBN boss without the ceremonial grandstanding peculiar to the Red Chamber against Buhari. It appears to be the fastest approval, the nation’s national parliament has ever granted to President Buhari’s nominees under the outgoing Senate President, Sen. Bukola Saraki. It is devoid of the usual foot-dragging, haggling, ephemeral fantasies of fake patriotism and procrastinations as experienced in the past.
It is pertinent for progressive Nigerians to recall President Buhari’s focus when he ascended the throne as Nigeria’s democratic leader in 2015. This President met a nation that was on the brink of total collapse. And this foresighted and experienced leader singled out three key areas of intense concentration to resuscitate a vanishing country. These were security, the economy and fighting pervasive corruption in the polity against looters and plunderers of public commonwealth.
Absolutely, President Buhari’s performances in these triple sectors have impressed even his most zealous and fanatical critics. And generally, majority of Nigerians have also confirmed this splendid performance with the revalidation or endorsement of his second term in office at the 2019 presidential elections. Congratulations, Mr. President for this extraordinary dedication to the prosperity of Nigeria.
And there are verifiable proofs of Nigerians enjoying the solace Buhari’s plausible reworking of these sectors. And because every Nigerian has known the enormity and suffocating extent of these problems in these sectors, which are strategic to the nation’s progress and prosperity, the consolation is celebrated by Nigerians with the impact so far. So, the import of the retention of Mr. President has not escaped him. With custody of another mandate, President Buhari has again re-emphasized his concentration on these sectors to finally liberate Nigerians.
As expected, the President knows, he cannot bear the brunt of uplifting Nigeria alone. He knows his agenda of transforming Nigeria is only realizable with a competent, trusted, patriotic, reliable and committed team of experienced Nigerian professionals and technocrats to superintend on these sectors.
But when he makes his appointments, after a careful scrutiny of nominees, those who assume Nigerian leadership is a play game or it is what can be dispensed on the altar of partisanship, brainlessly oppose him. But Buhari has clearly defined his agenda and direction; he knows the right persons to recruit for the herculean task.
It explains why his critical appointments are done without the consultation of politicians. When he identified and brought Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) to head the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) as Comptroller-General, some licentious Nigerians petitioned him and kicked against it. They claimed, he breached the law establishing the NCS by appointing an outsider to lead this para-military organization.
But President Buhari was not deterred by the criticisms. He was looking at the economy and how he could recoup every kobo of revenue into the coffers of government, with the reality of dwindling oil revenues to solve Nigeria’s teething problems. Buhari saw the NCS as a major revenue earner for the government, which needed to be headed by an incorruptible, forthright and committed personality like Col. Hameed Ali (rtd). Of course, Nigeria has experienced a superfluous remittance of revenue from NCS in the last three years to justify his choice by President Buhari.
Many never saw the wisdom of President Buhari’s appointment of Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman as the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). It was for the same reasons, like in the instance of the NCS-CG to block leakages in national revenue. In spite of the organized oppositions from Southwest, South-South and Southeast to her appointment, Buhari never nudged and the President is getting the expected results from NPA’s revenue returns.
In all the permutations, revamping Nigeria’s economy was his utmost priority. And many do not know why he brought Dr. Ibe Kachikwu as the Group Managing Director of the NNPC and later elevated him to the position of Minister of State for Petroleum, next to him, combining its ministerial portfolio with his Presidency. The stability in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry today is attestable to Buhari’s flawless choices of appointments.
And the most sensational of such appointments by President Buhari on his anti-corruption crusade was the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Almost four years later, Magu has remained in Acting capacity because the Senate has refused to confirm his appointment as prescribed by law. Nigerian Senate under Saraki hated Magu, much like they hated President Buhari.
But President Buhari has stuck to his guns and Magu, in spite of the Senate malicious rejection of his confirmation. Three times, Saraki’s Senate rejected confirmation of Magu and Nigerians are aware of the sustained brawls between the Presidency and the legislature over Magu. The matter even dragged to the court for interpretation.
It’s not controvertible that anyone can discolour his conscience to dispute Magu’s amazing performances on the anti-corruption front like the President has wished. In the last three years, EFCC under Magu has made astonishing recoveries of looted public fund in cash and properties acquired by Nigerians with illicit wealth to a quantum, no preceding EFCC chairman has ever recovered since the establishment of the agency in 2002.
Not that President Buhari is impressed alone, but its obvious, poor and raped Nigerians are impressed, an indication that Magu will continue with this journey to the #NextLevel.
On the security plane, it was not a mistake, but a conscious action to stately suffuse security, with a difference when he appointed these current and dependable Security Chiefs to resolve Nigeria’s endless security breaches with military might. He had his eyes fixated on attacking the assorted and multi-layered insecurity challenges in the country. And he never looked back to patronize political jesters, who clap when there is nothing amusing or advise where it is needless.
So, when President Buhari gunned for an outstanding war strategist, veteran and patriotic soldier, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai to lead the Nigerian Army as COAS, with an added responsibility as leader of the counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria, he was on the right path. He fetched Gen. Buratai from the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), as Field Commander, after the Army General taught Niger Delta militants, pirates and crude oil thieves some bitter lessons in the South-South.
The attempt to resurrect militancy in this region has also failed. And quite impressively, Gen. Buratai also laces his boots and hops into the jungle to fight terrorists alongside his troops. Its rare leadership outing. And President Buhari could not have made a mistake in appointing him to lead these operations.
The opposition in Nigeria is free to bubble in criticisms. But the retention of these Service Chiefs by President Buhari was because he has established, certified and doffed his cap for their satisfactory performance on confronting insurgencies and insurrections. Even the international community has recognized it.
Buhari knows his team, what he wants from the team in the #NextLevel, the destination and who to is competent to deliver on this mandate. Nigerians must concede to President Buhari that governance is about the right team and dedicated public service. That’s where “Sai Baba,” as his millions of admirers refer to him in the country has been absolutely appreciated by Nigerians with clear conscience.
– Ibekwe is a public affairs commentator based in Abuja.