By Bola Bolawole
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A video is trending online; in it, a man mimicking lawyers with his funny wig and gown was heard reporting a case of theft, ostensibly to a judge: ”My Lord, they have stolen our mandate – but e be like say the thief na better thief!” He then reeled out the good deeds of the “thief” so far! He mentioned the student loan act and the sacking of the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, among others. He then concluded: “E be like say I go leave am; the thief na better thief!” Something like that! Without conceding, I am sure you know the “mandate” he was referring to and who the “thief” is! And my mind went straight to the Anambra state governorship election debacle of April 19, 2003 involving the Uba brothers, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige and Okija shrine. Remember? How the Ubas reportedly rigged the governorship election in favour of Ngige on the understanding that Ngige, once he became the governor, would hold the state’s cash cow down for the Ubas to milk remorselessly but how Ngige reneged on his own side of the “gentleman’s agreement” after the Ubas had delivered on theirs! Despite being taken to the dreaded Okija shrine to swear an oath of allegiance, Ngige still found the heart to renege and dare the Ubas to do their worst. Of course, the Ubas did! They tried to sack Ngige as governor but failed; the court, however, eventually removed Ngige as governor of Anambra state on 14 March, 2006.
The meat of the story is not the sack but the fact that people far and near regretted the sack! Can you imagine! Ngige had performed so well as the governor of Anambra state that many felt he should be allowed to continue, stolen mandate or no stolen mandate!Between someone who won an election to the people’s acclamation, like Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, but went on to record a miserable performance in office, and someone like Ngige who won his own election in controversial circumstances but went on to put in a five-star performance in office, which is to be preferred?
Again, this is not conceding that the last presidential election was stolen! Far from it! And my mind again went straight to Nicollo Machiavelli, best known for his political treatise, The Prince. Many who know next-to-nothing about Machiavelli are familiar with his statement – “the end justifies the means!” And what is the end of government? According to James Madison (Federalist No 51), “Justice is the end (or goal) of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been, and ever will be pursued, until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit” Jeremy Bentham says it is the pursuit “of the greatest happiness of the greatest number” Both philosophers are right and on both scores (of delivering justice and the dividends of democracy to the vast majority of Nigerians) will President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ultimately be judged, not by the cleanness or otherwise of his election, desirable as the former may be.
For the umpteenth time, bear me witness that I concede nothing about the Saturday, 25 February 2023 presidential election. The antagonists are still in court!Tinubu has hit the ground running; compare that to Buhari eight years ago who spent six months before he could form a government and who, when he eventually did, was a disappointment in his choice of men and women to work with. Even when he had a golden opportunity to make amends with his re-election in 2019, he failed to seize it.
Fuel subsidy removal, liberalization of electric power generation, harmonization of the retirement age of senior judges, school loan, the sacking of Emefiele and the EFFC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, the collapsing of the parallel foreign exchange markets are some of the important decisions that Tinubu has wasted no time rolling out. His appointments so far have been more inclusive than Buhari’s; in that way he must have heard the cries of marginalization of some areas of the country and the crass nepotism of Buhari in favour of his tribe, region and religion. I dare to say, then, that, so far, so good! It remains to be seen, however, how well the Tinubu appointees will perform in office. Are they square pegs in square holes? Time, as they say, will tell.
The president and his appointees must realise, however, that they do not have all the time in the world to turn things around. The deleterious effects of Tinubu’s twin economic policies of fuel subsidy removal and devaluation of the Naira via the merger of the foreign exchange markets, both of which have led to a whopping increase in the cost of goods and services without a corresponding rise in wages or the economic empowerment of the long-suffering Nigerian people, have, so far, been borne by the people with philosophical calmness and equanimity – but for how long?It is time for the president to begin to roll out policies that will quickly revive the economy. Factories and industries must be revived to provide jobs. It is important to attract direct foreign investment; we must also attract industries that ran away to begin to return.
Before the “Japa syndrome” of youths and intellectuals was the “japa” of the industries. Policies to reverse both must be rolled out fast because time is of the essence. Tell Tinubu, the honeymoon he is enjoying now will not last forever. It will soon be over. That will not be that anyone hates him ot that witches and wizards, unleashed by his enemies and or opponents are at work but is the nature of things everywhere. Nothing lasts for ever! If in doubt, ask Buhari and his cabals!
The situation must begin to look up and look good very soon; so that the same mouth that says Adegun (the crown sits pretty on the President’s head) today will not turn round tomorrow to say (Adeogun) the crown does not sit pretty!
Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.