Muhammadu Buhari, the swearing-in of a new President of Nigeria

Buhari’s Political Pace: Slow, Slow, Fast!

Buhari’s Political Pace: Slow, Slow, Fast!

President Muhammadu Buhari taking the oath of office

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has not yet made any particular major political appointments, most notably, those of ministerial office. This strategy of not rushing to make political appointment has put Muhammadu Buhari firmly in the driver’s seat of governing the nation and left the visible and invisible political patrons (kingmakers and godfathers) thoroughly perplexed. Is there any wisdom behind Buhari’s strategy?

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Professor Calestous Juma during the World Cup Finals suggested that excellence in football could be translated into excellence in societal organisation. The legendary coach of Tottenham Hotspurs in the 1970s described the towering superiority of the Brazilian style of playing football to be based on a strategy he called “slow, slow, fast”, that is, casual action or no-action for a while then when the time is ripe one finishes with decisive effective action using incredible speed or clarity. Such a strategy always takes opponents unawares and is often the difference between success and failure in many undertakings. However, we are talking Buhari’s politics here.

Nigerian ministers and other top political jobs have been traditionally appointed in a manner that is haphazard, self-interested, ethnocentric or even highly corrupt. Ministerial office is where most of Nigeria’s income is misappropriated or appropriated and therefore is much very sort after. Appointing ministers is the core of rent-seeking in Nigerian politics.

Kenny Martins during 2003 general elections campaign described on national television how in 1999 the spoils of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) election were ‘shared’ among politicians by haphazardly “pushing” unlikely fellows into the rooms of Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. Can you imagine such political disorganisation?

Buhari’s Political Pace: Slow, Slow, Fast! by Grimot Nane

Top political office maybe reserved for those who “worked” for the party, with ‘work’ usually having the singular criterion of being a gopher or a sycophant to a patron. Prebendalism based on an ethnic rather than meritorious quota system decided by the Owners of Nigeria Technostructure (ONT) is also used to select ministers for office. Furthermore, since 1999 ministerial office has been available for sale for N25 – 50 million with other considerations included.

However, it is the patrons (kingmakers or godfathers) who normally have the biggest or majority say in these matters. They are usually the ‘moneybags’ who ever enrich themselves by funding political parties “generously” and ensuring the “successful” election or appointment of a politician (their client) with large funds then uses them to milk state coffers at a vast and unearned profit. Patrons call the shots and use it to rob Nigeria blind!

It is these same patrons who are responsible for the tragic perennial syndrome in Nigeria of “Good elected leaders surrounded by bad people”, a major cause of misgovernance. It does not take too great an imagination to fathom that Buhari’s ‘slow, slow, fast’ strategy is making the patrons to be frothing at the mouth with indignation and disappointment at the moment and rightfully so.

An Xclusive Magazine source, who is a current candidate for a ministerial position, stated that he is being personally vetted by the president himself. Such is not business as usual. Appointing ministers and other officials is no longer haphazard, prebendal, corrupt or a chance thing under Buhari’s watch. There has been some dedication (thought and action) put into finding the best candidates available to serve Nigeria at the highest levels in the best ways they can. Without the results observed and reviewed, to the initiated it already looks like a governance masterstroke in the making.

We must not forget that when patrons (kingmakers and godfathers) are stifled, frustrated or ignored by politicians they helped get elected they ‘will’ seek to remove him or her from office. Buhari has already survived a bloodless coup d’état in 1985 as military head of state. Buhari was partly overthrown because he refused to offer rents to the ONT and his successor, Ibrahim Babangida, famous for introducing the ”settlement culture” through which people who mattered got generous rents from state largesse.

I guess Buhari knows how to protect himself from the patrons who perpetually seek to ruin Nigeria by irresponsibly and shamelessly lining their pockets. The patrons would decidedly attempt to ruin anyone who comes between them and state coffers. Buhari has to oversee what he has started for the next four years without truncation.

‘Slow, slow, fast’ is discipline and perhaps Buhari’s newer democratic approach to the “War against Indiscipline” without human rights queries. Buhari is in control and let us hope it translates in better governance for Nigeria.

Change is nigh. ‘Slow, slow, fast’ shall it come!

  • Dr. Nane is an errant scholar and economist. Follow him on twitter: @Grimot

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