OSINBAJO AND THE PERIL OF PRAISE!
So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants. Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: "Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands." Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?" –1 Samuel 18: 4-7
It is just as well that the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who is currently acting for his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, is a Pastor. So he must be very familiar with the foregoing Biblical story and the danger of praise singers. While David earned his stripes under King Saul as a faithful servant, he also knew that the surest path to his blessing was not to undercut his boss or listen to the mischievous praise singers who were not there when he was just a shepherd boy tending his father's sheep in the wilderness.
Without any doubt, Prof. Osinbajo has been handling a most delicate assignment with the utmost sense of responsibility and a refreshing style. But he can do all that because President Buhari provided the enabling environment for him to operate and has trusted him enough as to hand him significant powers. Under the environment we operate and given the bit that I know about presidential politics in Nigeria, it is to the credit of both Buhari and Osinbajo that the administration has been able to function rather seamlessly in the past six weeks. It is in our collective interest as a nation that things continue that way. This is therefore not a time to spread dangerous rumours.
The presidency is one and Buhari remains the man with the mandate with Osinbajo there to fill in the gap for him in moments like this. And he has been doing that creditably well. That is why I will caution those who are ascribing imaginary accomplishments to Osinbajo in the bid to put down Buhari to desist; if their interest is really to help the man rather than bring him down. But the administration's media managers must also be aware that messaging is very important at a moment like this so it is better to keep quiet when they have nothing to say. They should also spare Nigerians all the tales about the number of phone calls or text messages they exchange with their principal every minute. It is ridiculous. And pointless!
•Originally appeared in "The Verdict" column of Segun Adeniyi in today's edition of ThisDay. Adeniyi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear All:Before we get too carried away by a new-fangled adulation of VP Osinbanjo - and a subtle attempt to knock his head with his Presidential boss Muhammadu Buhari, Moses Ochonu's now-too-familiar "Whipping Man" - let us reflect that this Administration was established with three major policy thrusts:(1) stamping out of corruption(2) re-establishment of security (particularly in the North-East and Niger-Delta)(3) re-vamping of the economyWith PMB being a former military man - and a fighting one, not just an armchair one with pot-belly - one could imagine that he would bring his mark to bear on Item #2. Quite a number of people must have voted for him for that sole reason. Of course, re-establishing security is not only about "hard power" (sending in the boots and raining on the bullets; the sticks) - probably the natural penchant of PMB - but understanding the basis of the initial insecurity and administering "soft power" (dialoguing with the aggrieved, and preventing new strifes) - and which is where a civilian like Vice-President Osinbanjo comes in - and should have been asserting himself from Day One. Maybe he has - maybe he has not - but unless we have information that PMB had re-strained him up until now, we must be cautious about apportioning kudos and blames.Re-establishing security has been resounding in some aspects, spotty in others, and new ones that have sprung up could have been prevented. Nigeria is a sociologically complex place, where sometimes dialogue is seen as a sign of weakness - but that is what we have to contend with.Corruption has been the bane of Nigeria almost since its inception as a country, and PMB's greatest reputation - and a long-earned one - is incorruptibility, even BEFORE he became military head of state in 1983 (after all, he had been Military Governor of North-East State before), but particularly during his short (and Idiagbon-assisted) head-of-state stint, and afterwards, including his service at the PTF. Perhaps more people voted for him over his anti-corruption reputation than for any other reason. But even corruption has a "hard" approach ("catch 'em, kill 'em, jail 'em" approach) - a penchant that PMB might have, and which he showed in his first outing - and a "soft" approach ("arrest 'em, prosecute 'em, jail 'em - but inquire how they were able to become 'em") - and that again is where a Lawyer-Pastor-Intellectual like VC Osinbanjo comes in - and should have been asserting himself from Day One. Maybe he has - maybe he has not - but unless we have information that PMB had re-strained him up until now, we must be cautious about apportioning kudos and blames.I do not believe that the anti-corruption battle is being fought holistically. A cancer is not fought with dabbing a wound with a warm towel, but with surgery, or chemotherapy or radiation therapy or laser therapy. Arresting a few allegedly-corrupt judges and bringing them before their fellow judges (with wounded collegial pride) is not fighting corruption. Arresting a former NSA - saddled with seemingly slam-dunk allegations - and then delaying trial interminably over wishes of a "secret" trial - is unfathomable: who is being protected? What national secret is being protected? Asking for confirmation of an anti-corruption chief from the very group of allegedly compromised legislators - some of who had tried to weaken the anti-corruption laws a la Romania, but saved by public opprobrium - is politically unfathomable. And so on.The third and final issue has to do with the Economy. I for one have never considered PMB an (economy) genius, and he has NEVER claimed to be one. Einstein was a genius, but he could hardly rule himself, not to talk of his household. All PMB has always been is an economic nationalist - one who believes that Nigeria should be a proud and self-reliant country to the greatest extent possible in the comity of nations, not dictated to by the Bretton-Woods institutions, even if we do episodically hear them out. However, constitutionally, the National Economic Council is headed by the Vice-President - and that again is where VP Osinbanjo comes in. In a Presidential system, the Presidency is the President - and I must state that that includes his Vice too, if he is worth his salt. Maybe VP Osinbanjo has been asserting himself in the economy arena in Nigeria since May 2015 - maybe he has not - but unless we have information that PMB had re-strained him up until now, we must be cautious about apportioning kudos and blames.I have stated elsewhere that our current economic crisis is a result of legacy structural problems, international commodity and non-investment pressures, and certain flawed/delayed/indecisive/
absent policies of this present Administration in the economy arena - including wrong personnel deployments, leading, for example, to an almost run-away foreign exchange rates - as well as active economic sabotage by those with too much money (both in Naira and/or in Dollars) making a nonsense of both our fiscal and monetary policies. VP Osinbanjo's impact in the arena remains to be ascertained.My whole point is that rather than encourage some head-butting within the Presidency - between the President and the Vice-President - we should re-emphasize a collective responsibility in the Presidency, and hold them jointly accountable. It is possible that in the presence of the President Buhari at Aso Rock, the Chief of Staff and the SGF (for example) - or any other persons for that matter, Aisha inclusive - are somehow holding the Vice-President back from unlimited access to the President, a hold which he broke out of when he (Osinbanjo) assumed the Acting Presidency, to the delight of Moses and his ilk. If that is the case, let him break that mould upon the President's return - or absent that, resign.Finally, I have this theory that US Vice-President Pence threatened President Trump that if General Flynn (the erstwhile NSA) was not sacked for his dishonest trickery over his Russia contacts, he - Pence - would resign. Trump, knowing that his fledgling and chaotic Presidency would crumble if that happened, reluctantly caved in. This may be Osinbanjo's turn.And there you have it.Bolaji AlukoOn Sat, Feb 18, 2017 at 1:13 AM, 'Nebukadineze Adiele' via naijaintellects <naijaintellects@googlegroups. com> wrote:
- Osinbajo's three weeks in charge has shown how Buhari missed several opportunities to bring the country together in the wake of the 2015 election and instead deepened our fissures with his clannish, arrogant, self-righteous anger and sense of infallibility. Osinbajo has shown that, sometimes, no matter how ferocious the agitation may be, a leader cannot and should not take it personal, and that in some cases what the agitators are looking for is simply to be heard, to be shown empathy. (Moses Ochonu)The above is an excellent summation of an excellent article by an excellent writer. Moses Ochonu, like yours truly, was a bold Buharite. Being brilliant, articulate, and fearless, he has wasted no time in identifying all the areas that president Buhari has disappointed millions of his supporters and through so doing proved his chronic critics correct.Like yours truly, Mazi Ochonu wants the president to get better at being the leader of all Nigerians, not a petty parochial dictator who is stuck in 1984 Nigeria and is ideologically discombobulated by Fulani supremacy as was Sarduana Ahmadu Bello. Ochonu is pointing out his failings just to make him a better leader for a better Nigeria. Unfortunately, the avalanche of political jobbers of limited intellects with whom the president has surrounded himself, are hero-worshipping him into political self immolation. Should the shit hit the ceiling, as was the case in 1985, these shameless scallywags would be the first to bear false witnesses against him and call for his merciless crucifixion.Acting president Osibanjo has demonstrated everything expected of a leader of a multi-ethnic/multi-religious nation like ours. Frankly, if president Buhari resigned today, most Nigerians would affirm that the country would be in a great hand with Osibanjo's succeeding of him. Had I known that Muhammadu Buhari was as intellectually, socially, and enlightenment shortchanged as he has demonstrated in the last one and half year of his presidency, I would have preferred that he did not become president again, so that I would continue to cherish him in my limited perception of him from his first outing as president. His only redemption now is that he two more years to turn things around, else history would record him as the most callous, incorrigible, inept, and parochial leader that Nigeria ever produced.By the way, even though his last name sounds Igbo and is also borne by Igbos, Moses Ochonu is actually a Munchi (Igala, Idoma, or Tiv) of Northern Nigeria. That information should straighten out the minimal thinkers who assert that any criticism of president Buhari is out of ethnic/regional hatred.Nebukadineze Adiele
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Symbolism matters in leadership. Many members of the Nigerian ruling class do not realize this. In three weeks of being acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has not done anything substantively different from what President Buhari has been doing for almost two years. He has not healed a broken economy, tamed inflation, stemmed the collapse of the naira, improved power, or engineered a miraculous infrastructural renaissance. Nor has he dealt a final, decisive blow on Boko Haram. In other words, he has not changed the governing paradigm of the APC/Buhari administration and has thus not fundamentally altered how the administration is perceived and evaluated. It is still a calamitous administration on several fronts.
What the Acting President has done however is to introduce a new temperament into governance, a new civility, a new ability to clearly articulate the trajectory and anticipated outcomes of governing decisions. Whether you agree or disagree with the decisions, the new clarity is refreshing. As is the new decisiveness, a marked contrast to the indecision and delay that reigned prior. More importantly, Professor Osinbajo has brought a tone of empathy and humility into presidential pronouncements. He has brought a culture of outreach, conciliation, and deliberation to the management of the familiar tensions and fault lines of the country; a new sensitivity and a willingness to listen rather than lecture.
When Buhari granted interviews to local journalists, he sounded irritated at being asked questions bordering on his obligatory accountability to the Nigerian people. He would get angry, bark answers, adopt a self-righteous, preachy tone. Everything was always somebody else's fault; he never took responsibility for anything. When he was not delivering a sermon to N igerians on what they were doing wrong and what they should be doing, he would rant about the previous administration, his favorite scapegoat for all that ails Nigeria, and about those who "destroyed Nigeria." He acted, talked, and carried himself as though he was doing Nigerians a favor by being their president. There was always an arrogant, insensitive aloofness when he spoke about the mess his administration has created. He seemed to be trafficking in alternative facts and inhabiting a different universe. On the unprecedented level of suffering in the country, Buhari came across as blaming Nigerians, their consumption choices, and their impatience. He would snarl at any suggestion that he has anything to do with the suffering or that it is his job to alleviate it.
Osinbajo in the other hand has been humble, sensitive, paternal, empathetic, and lucid. Buhari adopted an attitude of insult, infantilization, and blame toward the Niger Delta. Osinbajo' s words toward the same region has been marked by sympathetic understanding. What's more, instead of dismissing and antagonizing nationally controversial but locally beloved regional flamethrowers like Wike as Buhari has done, Osinbajo has reached out to them.
Whereas Buhari was in the habit of dismissively infantilizing Biafra agitators and angrily scolding the Igbo with outbursts such as the infamous "what do the Igbo want?," Osinbajo has adopted a more respectful tone in dealing with the Southeast. When the #IstandwithNigeria protests occurred recently, Osinbajo tweeted and granted interviews in which he expressed sympathy with the marchers and with Nigerians who are suffering and groaning in this recessed economy. Unlike Buhari, he acknowledged that Nigerians deserve better, that the government takes responsibility for the situation, and that it is its job to bring relief and recovery. Buhari would have responded to the protests with his us ual angry, grumpy dismissal of the marchers. He would have called them impatient and compromised by corruption. His minions, knowing how their principal would have reacted, organized a counter protest in Abuja and took to multiple media platforms to insult and smear Nigerians who protested or expressed solidarity with the protesters.
We wish President Buhari a total and speedy recovery. He will get well soon and return to the country and it would be a relief to the country, a happy occasion to douse the current tension surrounding his absence. However, when he returns, he needs to take a cue or two from his Vice President, who has shown that, no matter how bad things are, symbolic gestures can go a long way, that no matter how divided the country may be, empathy and sensitivity can heal some of the divide. Osinbajo's three weeks in charge has shown how Buhari missed several opportunities to bring the country together in the wake of the 2015 election and instead deepened our fissures with his clannish, arrogant, self-righteous anger and sense of infallibility. Osinbajo has shown that, sometimes, no matter how ferocious the agitation may be, a leader cannot and should not take it personal, and that in some cases what the agitators are looking for is simply to be heard, to be shown empathy.
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Posted by: Joe Attueyi <email@example.com>
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