By SKC Ogbonnia
President Muhammadu Buhari would have been recorded as the worst Nigerian leader—
The common saying, “all politics is local” came from the book, Man Of The House, and has become a commandment among politicians. But the book features other essential lessons that deserve more audience, especially in developing democracies. In that book, Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., a former US Speaker of the House, analyzed leadership in relation to the American presidents who served during the 34 years he was in the Congress.
On his fellow Democrat, James “Jimmy” Carter; Speaker O’Neill wrote: Once he gained the presidency on a mantra of change, after eight years of Republican rule, the Carter people—most of who came from his native Georgia—besieged Washington DC with every sense of arrogance. Jimmy Carter failed to realize that the skills used in winning the presidency
Tip O’Neill explained that Carter’s failure had nothing to do with lack of hard work, intelligence or integrity. “When it came to understanding the issues of the day, Jimmy Carter was the smartest public official I’ve ever known. The range and extent of his knowledge
Muhammadu Buhari moved into Aso Rock with good intentions, as well as a groundswell of public
The Buhari’s style is a leadership miasma, offensive enough to turn his friends into foes. In short, the president made the exact same leadership mistakes Speaker Tip O’Neill warned against. Like Jimmy Carter, despite the protean character of
Such posture is a microcosm of Buhari’s style throughout his first term. Examples abound, but the most alarming, of course, is his attitude towards the systemic injustice in
The Buhari presidency would recognize that something was amiss. It quickly budgeted billions to shore up his image around the globe. The official messengers were the Ministers of Information and External Affairs, Lai Mohammed, and Geoffrey Onyeama, respectively. Convinced that the duo was not producing the desired results, Buhari was deceived to create a redundant but bogus entity, named Nigerians Diaspora Commission, headed by Abike Dabiri-Erewa. But their whole effort translated to mere ‘talk and go’—akin to attempting to fetch water with an Ugbo basket.
The imprudent approach to Nigeria’s global image is mind-numbing. The Buhari envoys even chose to defy the logic of the common knowledge that “all politics is local”. It never dawned on them that the days are gone when
Nothing exposed the degree of ignorance within the Buhari presidency than its approach with the Biafran activists on the international scene. Instead of exploring dialogue, as was the case with Boko Haram, the Buhari regime not only used brute force on the Biafran activists but also shamelessly embarked on an aggressive global campaign to brand the secessionists as terrorists. It is not mystifying, therefore, that the Nigerian group, besides Boko Haram, that came to be recognized outside the country as terrorists are the Fulani herdsmen, the very outfit the president serially refused to acknowledge as a threat to civil order.
Today, though Buhari might have recorded some improvement on the war against terrorism and corruption, Nigeria’s global ranking on both categories has worsened since he took office in 2015. Today, the threats of secession have become the loudest since the civil war. Today, the country’s global image is most gloomy since returning to democratic rule in 1999. The general toll on the national economy is staggering, and the masses are the victims.
The solution is simple: a presidential leadership style that embodies equity, justice, prudence, and tolerance for opposing views. The fear, however, is that President Buhari may care less. Since being re-elected, the polity has been inundated with symphonies of praises by pandemic sycophants, most of who are goading him to stay the status quo—just to prove a point. But Buhari should consider the posterity and demonstrate true leadership. Even as it is vitally important for leaders to be unwavering in their convictions, any worthwhile conviction ought to advance the greater good. Moreover, political rigidity is another name for dogmatism, which typically leads to destructive power. SKC Ogbonnia is the author of the Effective Leadership Formula.
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