By Samuel Akpobome Orovwuje
May 29th 2015 marked a defining moment in Nigeria’s democratic process and the life of President Muhammadu Buhari as he took the oath of office as the fourth elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria after the return to civil rule on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). It is indeed a defining moment for many reasons. First, a peaceful transition of a civilian – to – civilian governance regime from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) after 16 years of unbroken control by the PDP at the centre. Second, the emergence of a former dictator after Olusegun Obasanjo in a country that was characterised by long reign of terror under the military of which Buhari is also a conniver and third, the unprecedented personal resolve and conviction of Buhari to offer himself for the service of our great country after several failed attempts.
Indeed the unrelenting political campaigns anchored and amplified by the APC sloganeering for a change and the inherent promise to fight against the predatory and contagious disease of corruption amongst others, the strategic drive and the unique selling proposition for a magical turnaround in governance template and the rule of law in a country where impunity is second to none. It is hoped that the next 100 days of the APC in office counting from June 2015 will meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. The missing link over the years in Nigeria governance structure is the inability of the political leadership to strike a nexus between campaign promises and the people’s welfare. It is against this backdrop that the expectations are high and the results sheet against actual performance and promises of the APC government to Nigerian people will be measured and appraised in an urgency of time.
Crucially, the parameters and milestones as envisioned in the APC manifesto are equally obvious for tracking its result sheets particularly from the standpoint of the unprecedented campaign and social engineering promises and deliverable benchmarks that the party has set in mobilising Nigerians for support in the last elections. Therefore, President Buhari and his incorruptible team have remarkably a date with history in evolving democratic values and ethos which in my view are the real agent of change in any society. Buhari’s emergence as President after three failed attempts at the office is an emblematic tapestry reminiscent of the legend of Daura – the historical forerunner of the Hausa civilisation and indeed Buhari ancestral home – Daura. Indeed if charity begins at home, the historical trajectory of the legend of Daura signposts the enormous responsibility that the presidential oath places on him particularly in the defence of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his uncommon date with destiny especially in the pursuit of salvaging the country from the shackle of political and financial mismanagement occasioned by some of his current political associates at different levels in the political journey of Nigeria.
Furthermore, the political misconduct and leadership recklessness that pervades the country since 1960 and the inherent contradictions in the structure of the state and indeed the political elite’s stinking disregard for true federalism and the devolution of power which are the cornerstones for social change. One of the major road blocks and impediments for the realisation of the Nigerian dream and the cure for this unhealthy political malpractices that has disabled Nigeria in the last 54 years is the collective responsibility framework and a paradigm shift that would help Mr. President to task key and strategic national institutions leaders in setting new operational templates and development benchmarks for their ministries, agencies and departments by exposing political and governance malpractices and, of paramount importance, in my view, offer a new vehicle for citizens participation and discussions for change and driving a new hope for the sustenance of our collective aspiration and national identity.
Interestingly, the legend of Daura gives historical relevance and insight to the Buhari phenomenon in the new leadership fundamentals of Nigeria and the quest for revolutionary change in governance in a country in dire need of rebuilding broken minds and institutions that were demonised by the military high command and their collaborators.
Abuyazidu (Bayajida), legendary snake killer and the ancestor of the Hausa race and that of Daura – the birth of place of Buhari, offers some momentous signpost to charting a new agenda for the President Buhari stewardship in evolving an enduring social contract with the people. Indeed, three lessons or inspirations are ingrained in the narratives that would remind and guide our President and his team of wise men in the restoration of hope for Nigeria. First, is the unmasking of the metaphor and symbolism of the Sarki (snake) that prevented the people of Daura from getting water from the only well in that community. Second, the arrival of Bayajida in the Daura legend symbolizes hope, promise, courage, empathy, relationship in the face of difficulty and the display of statesmanship. Third, Bayajida is a great hero to whom the people of Daura surrendered their collective rights and privileges. These are in my view are the challenges for the Buhari stewardship and the great promises that Nigerians have not seen in its recent political – people engagement.
The imagery of the narratives is that the snake represents evil in society and water signifies the basic need of the people and their uncommon desire for a rebirth, newness and indeed a change for a new order. Consequently, the most distinctive mark of leadership from the legend of Daura narrative is personal conviction which changed the course of history. Buhari has shown deep conviction over the years on his desire to return the country from the trench and now he has the opportunity to do just that and he must sustain it wholeheartedly by being fervent about what policies and programmes he wants to achieve in order to inspire Nigerians to follow him.
Also, the emergence of Buhari as president has made mountains of scepticism and indeed indifference and more importantly Nigerians have become more fearful, apathetic, and cynical. Many are stuck in the rut of the existing status quo of the old order of mistrust that has characterised governance. Drawing inspiration from modern political leadership domain, the President must distance himself from the internal politics of his party to enable him challenge and change things by experimenting and being adventurous in some of contentious state issues emanating from the audit and forensic reports (especially the NNPC, the Steve Orosanye and Uwais) respectively.
*Orovwuje is founder, Humanitarian Care for Displaced Persons, Lagos. He can be reached via Orovwuje@yahoo.com. 08034745325.