[Opinion]: Of cabals, rubber stamp and governance


By Matthew Ozah

Two subjects will continue to hit the headlines throughout President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. This is because politics in Nigeria is full of mystifying paradoxes and unending conundrums. No day passes without one political act of foolishness from our leaders that could well equate a beer parlour wisdom, also certain issues about government and its officials that have been long in denial before the public court could suddenly be proclaimed as not only true but a sincere act irrespective of the damaging consequences.

Well, for those who are still wondering if really there is a cabal in President Buhari’s government, perhaps your anxiety should die naturally from the recent declaration by the presidential spokesman on media and publicity, Garba Shehu that, “There is no government in this country that we have had that some people were not accused of being a cabal in that government…every president must have people who advise him. It is not a sin, it is not an offence to have people that you take into confidence”.

This revelation has made the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari to stand out as a woman of substance. Over time, she has repeatedly maintained that a cabal has hijacked her husband’s government for their own selfish interest and many a Nigerian thought she was crying wolf whereas a dog only wags its tail at her. It is now commonplace to observe that a cabal has slowly, but steadily penetrated the Buhari’s government and the public perception that such is casting a dark shadow over the government’s good intensions is absolutely worrisome. Why should this be so, or rather is it true? Well, Shehu Garba seems to have all the answers being a great friend of Google. He said, “What is the meaning of cabal? I just Googled the Thesaurus and among other definitions, what they are saying is that a cabal means to conspire, intrigues, mystique, occult, secret”. Garba concluded in his defense by accusing the elite of being behind the ignorable attacks on the Buhari government, he retorted, “In fact, to some of our elite, the president is a bad man because you cannot go to him and say give me oil well and he will sign the paper and give you. So we understand the game that is playing out and there is always a price…” If the cabals are this honest and patriotic by depriving the greedy elite of becoming oil mongers, knowing that what is creating a problem in the country is this ungodly desire for acquisition of wealth and lack of justice because when there is no justice, there will be no peace. Indeed, if one may ask, is there justice in the way Nigeria’s youth are treated? What then is their sin that they are not given attention as millions of them are jobless?

Think of a situation where fresh graduates’ are sometimes requested to have five years of working experience before being employed. It is likened to asking a baby to walk without crawling first. In earnest, the youth have had their ‘painful share’ as many have suffered a long period of anguish in the wilderness of joblessness. Successive governments in Nigeria and across Africa have succeeded in turning the clock back against the youth and that is exactly why governments fail to be successful in Africa. Research has shown that the more government neglects the youth the more society is likely to live unhappy lives as several young people are drawn into crime and criminality. The ruling party has not only presented Buhari as a genius in his winter age through the whirlwind of change that not only caught Nigerians attention through its promises to wipe away all corrupt practices as well as Buhari’s unmatched credibility. However, Buhari’s first tenure has long symbolised broken promises much as it has quenched the burning desire for ‘real’ change among the people.

History they say repeats itself, however, in most cases, it does not repeat but sometimes rhymes. From the way things are going, it is a bit foggy whether the quality of leadership will ever improve in Nigeria. This is because there are no obvious headways on the way forward reading from the handwriting of our leaders. If conditions allowed, many Nigerians would consider changing nationality because politics has plunged many into briar path. The other day, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly will rather be a rubber stamp for the progress of the country than fight the executive arm of government. Let’s hear him, “People, critics and members of other parties have said the 9th Assembly is a rubber stamp of the executives…. You know what? It is better to be a rubber stamp and bring progress, than fight the executive without progress…” He was however quick to reframe from such an ugly statement by saying that, “The National Assembly is not a rubber stamp.

This is a National Assembly that represents the interests of the people…” By and large, politicians ought to be careful with the use of words because words matter a lot. The Speaker should be informed that being a rubber stamp for whatever reason destroys trust, not only on the individual but the party he or she represents and government. It was George Washington who said, “Do not suffer your good nature to say yes when you ought to say no…” Politicians should endeavour to show concern about trust in everything they do. By every standard, the Speaker’s ‘rubber stamp’ position was oddly muted. He disappointed those who had hoped he would reveal himself as an unapologetic person. As it were, perhaps Nigerians should take a cue from the National assembly members not to criticise Buhari’s government for its broken promises or the harsh economic situation. Did I hear you say why? Well, is it not better to be a rubber stamp followers’ than bite the fingers that fools, sorry feeds you?


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