By Jerome-Mario Utomi
“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. It’s not winning battles that makes you happy, but it’s how many times you turned away and chose to look into a better direction. Life is too short to spend it on warring. Fight only the most, most, most important ones let the rest go.” — C. JoyBell C.
The recent call by the All Progressive Congress (APC) chapter in Mashi Local Government, Katsina State, on the member representing Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Mansur Mashi, to resign over his ‘abusive comments that Buhari had to leave the scene the way the late (late ex-president) Yar’Adua did,’ so that his vice, Yemi Osinbajo, would take over, as such is the only way Nigeria could make progress before 2023, has again explained why as a nation we are not matching forward but groping and stumbling; and why the nation’s democracy is dividend deficit.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday 17th July 2020, the chairman of the APC chapter, Armaya’u Doka, according to media reports said the comment ”belittled the APC and members of his constituency in Katsina, and Nigeria.” While calling on the National Assembly to also suspend the member”for his unguided utterances” and prepare for his possible recall, Armaya’u Doka, added that they are particularly unhappy with Mansur’s description of their party, the APC as a football team that had lost steam, “and may not be able to win majority votes in the next general election.
Indeed, it was a striking statement. Yet, there is nothing out-of-ordinary about Mansur Mashi’s use of analytical method to advise President Muhammadu Buhari, on the current state of the nation. Rather, it was Armaya’u Doka’s call for his resignation that portrays a false argument that holds no water when faced with serious facts.
The facts speak for it.
Mansur Mashi, as a member of the Federal House of Representatives as well as All Progressive Congress (APC), apart from enjoying the constitutional backing as enshrined in the nations’ 1999 constitution (as amended), to express his opinion, the so called criticism remains the most dynamic and cohesive action expected of a leader of his class to earn a higher height of respect.
Constructive criticism in my understanding is not only a strategic way to assist a leader gain significant ground and tackle the job of leadership, but a conventional approach aimed at making the leader recognize that it takes a prolonged effort to administer a country well and change the backward habits of the people.
Or is APC leadership in Mashi LG, saying that they are unaware that constructive criticism is an essential ingredient of democracy? Are they saying that they are unmindful of the fact that for someone to criticize means that the person cares? Is it not universally agreed that people will not criticize you if they didn’t see you worth criticizing? Are they not conscious that criticism lets you see things in a different light? Is Armaya’u Doka, led group not conversant with the fact that criticism helps one improve? That criticism helps you learn about others? And has the capacity to jolt one into action?
Gladly also, Mansur Mashi’s action is not without precedent as he is not alone in this season of concern about the present administration’s leadership style.
To refresh our memories, just recently, Ango Abdullahi led Northern Elders Forum (NEF), declared that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors in the region have lost the capacity to end insecurity. Noting that provision of security and pursuit of economic welfare of citizens is the only two constitutional responsibilities of the state which all leaders must achieve of which the current circumstances in the North clearly demonstrates that President Buhari’s administration has woefully failed to achieve either. While submitting that the development is unacceptable, the group demanded an immediate and comprehensive improvement.
Also, a while ago, the catholic churches in Nigeria held a protest where the church among other things explained that ‘’the procession or the peaceful protest was necessitated by the inability of the government to act on the several verbal and written complaints by the church; with regards to insecurity and bad governance, with the likes of His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie asserting that the president’s silence towards the killings showed that a cow in the estimation of the president has become more valuable than human lives.
Reputable News Media in the country are also not left out of this concern.
Specifically, one account that probably did more than anything else to support this position is the Punch Newspaper’s front page editorial publication titled, “Buhari Lawlessness: Our Stand, published on Wednesday 11th December, 2019, where the News organization in furtherance of the responsibility which instrumentality of participatory democracy conferred on it chronicled the failings, failures and violations of human rights of Nigerians by the present administration.
And as a symbolic demonstration of its protest against autocracy and military-style repression, declared that the PUNCH (all our print newspapers, The PUNCH, Saturday PUNCH, Sunday PUNCH, PUNCH Sports Extra, and digital platforms, most especially (Punchng.com), will henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s, Major General, and refer to his administration as a regime, until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.
Also, the Guardian Newspaper while noting in its editorial comment entitled; why can’t Buhari stop borrowing, published 15th July, 2020, asserts that the current fiscal positioning of the Buhari administration will lead the country on the path of certain economic perdition. The newspaper argued that the reasons given by government for more borrowing, namely the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy as well as the drop in oil price flies in the face of cogent facts. The basic question is whether the resort to more borrowing is the only way out in addressing these challenges.
While the Guardian wrote from Lagos, the Nigerian Pilot Newspapers on that same day in Abuja, on its editorial comment expressed sadness that the Buhari presidency has fallen into the same, probably worse trap, the vicious circle in bad governance that the history of this country has ever known. From Magu, NDDC, Ngige and NSITF sagas, as well as several others, the corruption enterprise under the government of President Buhari has been fully deregulated. One of the tripartite pillars (national security, economic reengineering and anti corruption campaign) of the so-called Change Agenda has fallen off. With the two others already cracked and shaking, this government has written its own fate.
Just before we forget, the Sun Newspapers editorial of 6th May 2020, in similar style argued that for the cost of governance to be meaningful, the presidency and state governors must also set example by slashing their security votes and other avoidable expenditures. The 2020 financial estimate, it noted, shows that the President and Vice President will spend N4.2 billion. Out of this amount, travel will gulp N3.3 billion, while catering will cost N149.1 billion.
Why this is a sad development is that, at a time the country’s economy is showing inability to sustain any kind of meaningful growth that promotes the social welfare of the people, corruption has become even more entrenched as scandal upon scandal has completely laid bare the anti-corruption stance of this administration and those who were initially deceived by the present government’s alleged fight against corruption has come to the conclusion that nothing has changed
Like the Rotary International Club Four-Way Test, I hold the opinion that instead of calling for Mansur Mashi’s resignation, what should be their preoccupation in my views is to introspectively find out if; it contained the truth? Fair to all concerned, and has the capacity to build goodwill and better friendship?
While this is ongoing, I believed and still believe that Mansur Mashi’s criticism from its tone, one can situate that its target was to remind the president that public order, personal and national security, economic and social programmes, and prosperity is not the natural order of things but depends on the ceaseless efforts and attentions from an honest and effective government that the people elect. In view of the above, the call for his resignation and suspension from the House may not be fair to his personality.
Finally, ‘without wood, the Christian holy book, the Bible, noted that fire goes out, charcoal keeps the ember glowing as wood keeps the fire burning’. Like the present discourse. Studying the content and drawing, useful lessons from it should be a solution that will fit the circumstance.
Utomi Jerome-Mario is a Lagos-based media consultant.