The introduction, at the weekend, of official portraits and titles for the president-elect and vice president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo, by the All Progressives Congress signifies the advent of the “CHANGE” era. Olawale Olaleye writes
Although reservations still abound, it is evident that the “CHANGE” being offered by the All Progressives Congress (APC) may have truly begun to dawn on the system and indeed, in all spheres of her body polity. Just many weeks back, the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari was said to have flared up with some people for inadvertently omitting the title, “General” from his name.
And in doing this, he was said to have emphasised that the title meant to him what SAN is to lawyers or Professor to PhD holders. His reasons, of course, made sense to a lot of people because the military remains his primary constituency, whether or not he is now a democratic convert.
But his handlers have scored another goal in the management of this rather innately rigid fellow. For starters, this says a lot about the psychology of the minders of the president-elect as against the predisposition of those on the other side.
It speaks even more to their philosophy and school of thoughts. Importantly, it shows that a larger chunk of those on this side (although there are a few terrible ones) are more organised, methodical, good planners and often times, scientific in their approaches. They are good thinkers with effective strategy.
Preparatory to assuming office next week, the Buhari team has unveiled official portraits of the president-elect and his deputy, Osinbajo replacing whatever has been in existence before now. The initiative, the team reckons unfurls the kind of presidential aura that is to come with the Buhari presidency.
In addition, the Buhari presidency has requested to be referenced differently from the General title. This, unfortunately, may have signaled the sudden death of the initials – GMB – as the man now wants to be addressed simply as Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Outside his official portrait, nothing significant has changed with the vice president-elect. He shall be known and addressed thus: Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This is, however, understandable. Although like Buhari, who admires his title as a General, the SAN title means “everything” to Osinbajo who became a professor at law in his 20s. But Buhari had to sacrifice his title to signify change – the kind of change that an average person can relate with.
“From May 29, 2015 the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are to be respectively known and addressed as Muhammadu Buhari, President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Federal Republic of Nigeria and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria,” a statement by Garba Shehu, Directorate of Media and Publicity of the President-elect Muhammadu Buhari Media Team has said.
Interestingly, in giving kudos to the Buhari team, the transformation effort didn’t start with the dropping of his General title or the unveiling of the duo’s official portraits. It started immediately after Buhari won the presidential primaries late last year. His outward and inward transformation through conscious communication management as well as his wardrobe has been both dramatic and stupefying.
There is no doubting the fact that the Buhari that contested this year’s election was not the one that slugged it out with outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 or the one that battled either former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 or the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007.
The Buhari of 2015 is a brand new one. And since he set out on this presidential journey, the Team Buhari has been more than extra-ordinary, whether in thinking, utterances or even attitudinal disposition. The transmutation has been wowing, the same way the choice of his deputy – a cerebral professor at law has remained an incalculable asset to the combo. Osinbajo is unarguably a huge asset to the incoming administration, an indication that change is not impossible in spite of the stifling political and economic environment.
However, the change in name, title or portrait is merely significant; it has no bearing with the real change that the Nigerian people seek. Although it could point in some positive direction, it is not on its own sufficient. Thus, the Buhari Team must not forget that it rode on the strength of a tripod of palpable national malady – corruption, insecurity and the economy – to becoming president-elect.
If the change must transform to what the average man can relate with, at least, in the first year in office, addressing the scourge of corruption with a degree of political will and leadership is not negotiable. Buhari and his team must not only set example, they must lead by example, that way showing that they are ready to deliver on their promises to the people.
Buhari’s image of an incorruptible is not enough. In fact, a majority of those who voted for him cannot relate with that track record of tackling corruption. But they believed the story and tagged along with the crowd. For this reason and more, Buhari must let them have a real life practical experience of what it looks and feels like to genuinely fight corruption.
Insecurity has become such a menace that even the lives of those in power are no longer safe. Terrorism has only stolen the show; the branches of insecurity, especially the one that seems to threaten the coexistence of the Nigerian people are a legion. Again, Buhari rode through this on the strength of his antecedents as a military ruler, who warded off external aggressions at different times. The time and chance are different, no doubt, leadership must not be found wanting here either.
The third of the tripod which is the economy is now a thorn in the flesh of the federating units. States can no longer pay salaries much less fund capital projects. It is so bad that the federal government is seeking a loan from the World Bank to fund its local budget, while the governors want a bailout.
Power as a content in the economy is yet another huge challenge for the Buhari administration. Three preceding administrations have “tried” to fix power but ended up frittering away the fortunes of the country and inadvertently encouraging corruption as a budding industry with escalating poverty index. Power, therefore, for Buhari is not negotiable. What has made it impossible must be unraveled and addressed accordingly if the change can begin to sound and look real.
Clearly, it a desperate situation and the nation, is evidently in dire strait. Leadership – uncompromising leadership is the way out here. Yes, Buhari can offer it only if not hounded on the grounds of extraneous political considerations.
Change is an everyday familiar word. Ironically, it is not actionable in the day-to-day living of the people. But constructive and developmental change can be compelled through democratic means for the collective good of all.
This is why the duo of Buhari and Osinbajo must neither be carried away by the glamour of office nor distracted by its illusion; the task of delivering is not negotiable and the contract is subject to renewal within a fleeting four years. Only performance – stellar performance – can guarantee them another chance to consolidate.
However, as the world now knows and recognises them by their new look and title being evidence of change – the real change, the tangible change – will ultimately stand them out as a manifestation of the expectations of the people.