Animal Farm: President Buhari and his new ministers

Animal Farm: President Buhari and his new ministers

By Mayowa Tijani

A lot of good news has been beaming out of the corridors of power in Nigeria over the past week. For me, the top on the list is the awesome state of health of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was too many times rumoured dead, due to his prolonged absence from the country.

Buhari is back!

It is a good time to be back in full throttle. Nigeria, for the first time in the 15-year history of the World Bank’s ease of doing business report, was part of the top 10 most-improved countries. To add icing to Jumoke Oduwole’s well-baked cake, the country outclassed Rwanda in its improvement, ranking as one of the top three most improved in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before this, Babachir Lawal, erstwhile secretary to the government of the federation, was told to go and chill at home. Before this Baba-chill drama, we saw the swift response of the president to Mainagate — a story still in the telling. Is the president part of the plan as the head of service’s memo suggests? Time will tell.

BUHARI FOR SECOND TERM

As the president got back on his feet, and began walking briskly to the end of his first term, he is stragtegically giving us the body language of a man that seems to be all set to run for a second term.

Understanding the relationship between President Buhari and Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, I began to get the signals of Buhari’s thirst for a second term, when the governor came out to say the president has told him to run for a second term in Kaduna.

El-Rufai said Buhari gave him the nod to recontest as state governor in 2019, undoing all the 2019 presidency fireworks between the governor and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, who seemed to have entered the bout earlier.

“It was after I finished briefing him that he (the president) gave me the nod to seek re-election together with my deputy,” el-Rufai said early october, rather confirming he was out of the 2019 presidency picture.

If Buhari runs and win in 2019, he would break a record as the first octogenerian to have led Nigeria, by the end of his second term.

THE BUHARI-LED ANIMAL FARM

In 2015, while at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, I was told to review George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm. At the time, I thought George Orwell wrote about Nigeria, 75 years too soon. This opinion has not changed.

In Orwell’s classic, animals had revolted against the rulership of man, and decided they were set to rule and lead by their own guiding principles. Just like the All Progressives Congress (APC) “revolted” against the rulership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Buhari and APC promised heaven on earth; they promised to run a lean government, be frugal, bolster the economy, reduce unemployment, battle inflation, fight corruption, among other things.

Upon assumption of office, APC began to blame PDP and former president Goodluck Jonathan for milking the country dry, for leaving a lean reserve, and “literally emptying the coffers”. They said Jonathan had oil above $100 and has nothing to show for it.

But latest languages from the President Muhammadu Buhari shows that we have not learnt much from the errors of the past.

Speaking to the APC national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday, the president said: “By the Grace of God these (new) appointments will be announced soon. Especially now that the economy is improving, we will have the resources to cater for the appointees”.

“By the same token the compressed Federal Executive Council will be expanded to bring in more supporters at Federal Level, with fresh ideas to be injected into the government.”

This shows that the president thinks its alright to loosen our economic belt and have new public offices to channel our resources into, and score political points in the process. By every passing day, the standards are being edited to suit political purposes, just as the pigs did in Animal Farm.

The animals who saw the luxury of Mr Jones’ life, said “no animal shall wear clothes, no animal shall sleep in a bed, no animal shall drink alcohol, all animals are equal”.  They believed animals must be just and not be given to “undue comfort”.

With oil at $60 per barrel, and economic growth of less than one percent, I strongly suggest that our national lifestyle remain frugal. We cannot be funding new portfolios on record debts.

Mr President, the economy has not improved to the state of appointing new ministers to bring in more supporters, under the guise of fresh ideas. And to say you will attempt “to get the balance right” suggests that we are looking at a minimum of one minister from each geopolitical zone — that is a minimum of six new ministers in all!

Orwell ends animal farm with these lines: “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which”.

This is my message to President Buhari and the preferred animals — or supporters in this case — in this animal farm: Soon, the life of this administration will come to an end, and if care is not taken, after four or eight years in office, we would look from man (PDP) to pig (APC), pig (APC) to man (PDP) and not know which is which.

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