•Nigerians react to President’s surprise swift action •Between a man of God and a man of silence!
By CHIOMA GABRIEL, EDITOR SPECIAL FEATURES
To many, Buhari’s government has been a slow and steady race. Critical issues demanding urgent national attention are oftentimes, slept on. It was like silence became the buzzword of the administration.
The government seemed to practically keep mum over several issues in the country that affects the citizenry. Even when a matter needed immediate attention, the government was perceived to have deliberately taken its time.
From the situation in Niger delta, to problems of Fulani herdsmen and farmers, rejigging of cabinet, the need for brilliant economic team etc, the president had basically kept silent or delayed in taking decisions. When certain individuals erred, the weight of their punishment was seen to depend on where they were coming from.
In some quarters, it was believed the president protects his loyalists.
Since he came aboard on May 29, 2015, delay in taking decisions on crucial national issues appeared to have been the hallmark of the Buhari regime. It took months to constitute his cabinet. He kept silent in many cases where the citizens were awaiting his comments on critical issues.
Like they did to former president Yar’Adua who was slowed down by illness, Buhari became nicknamed ‘Baba-Go-Slow’.
But events had shown that the President could respond swiftly to situations if he so desired. For instance, when the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye recently ‘coughed’ , Buhari caught ‘cold.’
The resignation of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the General Overseer of RCCG was greeted with an outrage by both the Christendom and the political circles and with 2019 apparently staring at him, Buhari jumped-started and quickly took a decision in the fastest time limit ever in his regime. He sacked the man perceived to have caused Adeboye’s resignation and suspended the obnoxious law that influenced Adeboye’s decision to step aside in Nigeria.
But that was just the beginning.
Will Adeboye’s resignation affect Buhari’s victory at the polls in 2019?
The answer is blowing in the wind.
But the fact remains that if the president could take decisions as fast as this, then he shouldn’t be silent on critical national issues he was supposed to act on?
Since he assumed office, the president had been slow in taking crucial decisions and one cannot say for sure if his delays were strategic.
The change mantra of the APC-led Fedefal Government has been perceived and interpreted by Nigerians in ways that it suited them, making change the buzzword in the Nigerian social media arena.
For over six months in office as president, Buhari did not constitute his cabinet or make any categorical statement regarding the direction his government would take. Even when the repercussion was hitting hard on the economy, and despite criticisms from foreign investors and Nigerian economists who were swayed by non-installation of ministers, or laying out a fiscal policy to guide Africa’s top oil producer through an economic crisis, President Buhari delayed in the face of obvious suffering of the citizens.
In the heat of the criticisms, the president told Nigerians through a televised speech on Nigeria’s independence day that “impatience is not a virtue”, reiterating the vow in his inaugural speech in May to carefully manage the country as he implemented reforms. “Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results,” he had said.
It was at some point believed that part of the reasons he delayed in appointing his cabinet was to find individuals who met his high ethical standards and shared his reputation for being “clean”— a byword for not having stolen in public or private office. Eventually, when he appointed the ministers , many Nigerians were disappointed as they could not vouch for the people in his cabinet.
Why then the long wait?
The prosperity of a nation’s economy is measured by its ability to create jobs. But that has not been the case in Nigeria. Nigeria is on the verge of economic suicide. The recession that gripped the nation shortly after the take-over of the APC regime caught Nigerians unaware .
President Buhari had urged his economic team to think out of the box in developing the most effective strategies for pulling the nation out of its current economic recession. So far, President Buahri’s economic team headed by the Vice president has failed to leverage on this. Again, Nigerians began to ask the President to change his economic team . But he looked the other way.
Since the killings in southern Kaduna by herdsmen who even adopted the president as their patron started , nothing serious so far was said about it. In fact, Buhari’s silence was so loud that it generated an outrage necessitating presidential aides to make efforts to explain this silence to Nigerians. While the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the Jama’atu. Nasril Islam, JNI, are throwing stones at each other, Mr President still believes that the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai is on top of the situation.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, had told Nigerians that it was needless for the president to speak on the bloodletting in the restive part of the North-western state since the governor assured that he was in full control of the violent crisis and had been briefing his boss regularly.
Even while Buhari was always quick to issue a statement when killings happened abroad, he had been quiet when such killings took place in Nigeria.
In his defence of the President, Adesina had said Nigeria was a federal state, explaining that there was no need for Buhari to speak since El-Rufai said he was on top of the matter. The President adopted the same approach in many killings and destruction of houses and farms from Benue to Enugu and Delta states among others.
Niger Delta peace talks: Delay is dangerous
The issue of peace talks between the presidency and the Niger Delta leaders seemed to be deadlocked as the president is still on the voyage of seeking out genuine Niger-Delta leaders even as the avengers are threatening resumed pipeline bombing.
The perception in many quarters is that President Buhari is not seriously looking for solution to militancy in the region but rather, preferred the allocation of a colossal N29 billion for military warfare in the region, a sign the people perceived as being hypocritical on his call for dialogue.
The Niger Deltans think there is no sincerity on the part of the president in addressing the Niger Delta issues, despite the preparedness of Niger Delta leaders and stakeholders to commence the negotiation process.
The delay, according to calculation in some quarters, is already creating tension.
However, Special Adviser to the President on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina, had dismissed insinuations of a disconnect between the President and the Niger Delta, expressing concern that repeated efforts by the Presidency to engage leaders of the region were yet to bear fruit.
A case against the military
The allegation that the military might have mismanaged funds meant for the purchase of military vehicles had sparked outrage among soldiers and officers, especially those from the northeast part of the country.
In a petition, the aggrieved soldiers and officers, under the umbrella of Concerned Soldiers and Officers From the North East, had accused their top shots of executing the contract through a proxy .
. This allegation published by an online medium generated national outrage and discourse.
While the allegation became rife and demands were made on Mr President to do something, he looked the other way.
SGF under investigation
Similarly, when allegation of corruption was levelled against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, for allegedly soiling his hands in corrupt practices, the call for his sack lingered without president Buhari saying anything. The call for his sack was anchored on alleged contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations on the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on North-East. The SGF dismissed the allegation as utter rubbish, necessitating the Senate’s insistence that Lawal be sacked by President Buhari .
Then, the president reluctantly ordered investigation into the allegations.
Nigerians are still awaiting the outcome of it.
But the resignation of Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, appeared to be a matter President Buhari could not delay over. Despite his continuous silence on several issues afflicting the polity, Mr president sure knows when silence is not golden. Definitely, not with 2019 staring him in the face. Pastor Adeboye had resigned over the corporate governance code issued by the country’s Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, FRC.
Adeboye, arguably one of Nigeria’s most influential Christian clerics, had complained about the government’s interest in Church activities and told his congregation that the reason he handed over the mantle of leadership to another was because of the new legal requirement, guiding all registered churches.
The governance code among others, provided that founders or leaders of not-for-profit organizations would not head governance of their organisations for more than 20 years, and could not also pass baton to their family members.
While the code received positive reactions by people who consider it necessary to ensure accountability, it also suffered knocks by those expressing concerns it was targeting faith organisations, especially the Church.
But the outrage across Nigeria and overseas caused the president to take a swift decision and had the controversial law suspended, and also sacking the FRC’s henchman, Jim Obazee.
Below are some of the reactions of politicians.
What Adeboye said
While announcing his decision to step aside as the overseer in Nigeria last Saturday, Adeboye said the following: “The government has been showing increasing interest in church affairs and unfortunately, for us in RCCG, it might not be very helpful. For example, when I decided on what will be the pension of our pastors, what I decided is not done anywhere in the world that somebody will retire and continue to earn full salaries all his lifetime.
This, I started, but government stepped in and made a law that we should be contributing to pension fund. We have to obey and we started doing that. The result is that pastors don’t get as much as they were getting under our own previous arrangement. But, what can we do? We have to obey the law”.
Adeboye further disclosed other fresh laws which had been enacted by the government to ruffle the feathers of the church in the country, and which were particularly targeted at the RCCG.
According to him, “Now there are fresh laws. In the new law that has been announced, they said that nobody can be overseer for more than certain number of years. And according to that law, people like me, Bishop David Oyedepo, Pastor W. F. Kumuyi, Bishop Mike Okonkwo were already gone.”
Charging all the members of the church to be fully involved in partisan politics henceforth, Pastor Adeboye said, “some people believe that RCCG is becoming too influential and we’re going to be more influential. When you get home, tell all the members to join a political party. Join a party and become a card-carrying member of any party. Just join any party. We shall decide issues right from the ward level. If you are not active at ward level, you’ll do what they plan and say at the top.
Enroll in any party of your choice and have a card. When holding meetings at ward level to choose delegates, be there. One Muslim in Ibadan said years ago that he didn’t know what’s wrong with Christians; that we helped them to occupy political positions but refused to capitalise on our population. That’s going to change from now,” Adeboye stated.
Adeboye, thereafter presented Pastor Joseph O. Obayemi, as the National Overseer of RCCG (Nigeria); Pastor Johnson Odesola as Secretary and Pastor Adeyokunnu as Treasurer of the mission. Pastor Obayemi and Odesola were former Special Assistant to the General Overseer on Finance and Special Assistant on Administration and Personnel respectively.
After announcing the new offices, Adeboye said he has no problem performing his God-given role.
“About me, no problem. RCCG is in 192 nations of the world and the Overseer in Nigeria will not drive me out of the camp. He won’t stop me from doing the Holy Ghost Services, and he won’t stop me from visiting you,” he said