Once Upon a Time before Buhari

By Angula Jessica *
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari

“When it comes to value, no one talks a better game than those in communications. It’s our business, after all. But when it comes to measuring leadership competencies and effectiveness, nothing speaks louder than the bottom line.” Anonymous

The above analogy perfectly fits the Nigerian state under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. Quote me anywhere. I recall in 2015 at the eagle square when he took the oath of office, the famous take away from his speech was “I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody.”
It is only natural that the country went to town with that phrase forgetting the salient points of his speech. That paragraph in his speech is the basis of the article. Please permit me to reproduce it here.
“At home, we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head-on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.”
Read between the lines in the above paragraph. Take a break; recline on your chair, and think of Nigeria pre-2015. Think deeply and reflect on the happenings in the new Nigeria concerning the fight against Boko Haram insurgents and also the fight against corruption. Has there been a renewed hope for Nigeria? Has there been competencies and effectiveness? And is Nigeria moving forward? All of these questions have answers. But who will provide the answers? I will attempt with examples.
Once upon a time, Abuja was always under attack by Boko Haram insurgents. The United Nations House was bombed. The headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force was attacked. Two bombs exploded at a crowded bus station in Nyanya. Thisday newspaper office in Abuja was raided. And much more. Residents of the Nation’s capital lived in fear. Some relocated, and some took extra caution. During that period, Nigeria itched towards anarchy. Nobody knew when the next bomb would detonate. We lived in constant fear of the unknown.
These are undeniable facts. Now fast forward to 2017. Do residents of Abuja now sleep with their eyes closed? Since assumption of leadership of the country, has any bomb been detonated in Abuja? Let us learn to call a spade a spade if we are desirous of moving forward as a nation. You might not like President Muhammadu Buhari’s face. But you cannot deny that he has shown how nothing speaks louder than the bottom line. And what is the bottom line in this instance? Your guess is as good as mine in the sense that no meaningful development could be achieved without adequate security. That was the thrust of the Buhari administration. All of these are evident in the release of 106 Chibok girls, as well as over 16,000 persons in Boko Haram captivity, tackling insurgency, the decimation of Boko Haram in the North East, and rebuilding lives of citizens there. It is instructive to state that about one million displaced persons in the northeast have returned to their communities within two years of this administration.
For some of us that have visited Borno state, it was such an emotional site that if not careful you could slip into emotional distress. I won’t mention the human tragedies because of its sensitivity. But I will say that even live stocks were not spared in some of these towns.  You can put one and two to this statement. At some point, close to 13 local government areas in three states (Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa) were under the control of Boko Haram Insurgents.  In a report by Daily Trust news on 5 January 2015, captioned “41 DAYS TO ELECTIONS: 13 Local Govts under Boko Haram” it stated that “Nine of the affected local governments are in Borno State, and they are: Gwoza, Bama, Mafa, Dikwa, Kala-Balge, Ngala, Marte, Abadam, and Mobber. The other four are Michika and Madagali in Adamawa State, as well as Gujba and Gulani in Yobe State.
The insurgents have also established partial control in parts of some local government areas in Borno, comprising Mungono, Kukawa, Guzamala, Gubio, Magumeri, Damboa, konduga, Chibok, Askira Uba, and Jere. Before the outright takeover of many communities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, the Boko Haram had earlier caused collateral damage in various places where they destroyed entire villages, markets, military barracks, police stations, governmental buildings, prisons, farmlands and other symbols of authority and worship places, including churches and mosques.”
I want you reading to create a mental picture of the above statement. That is the only way you would get to appreciate the giant strides of our military in reclaiming these territories. This didn’t happen by magic or voodoo. It happened because of leadership competence and effectiveness. Let me take us back to that portion of his speech again. He said “We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.”
This was the mood before President Buhari came onboard. But this isn’t the norm anymore. Our hopelessness has turned to optimism. The defeatist spirit has been replaced with the resilience spirit that we are known for as Nigerians. And guess what? Under President Muhammadu Buhari we have shown that “we can fix our problems” And you also do not have to like his face. But don’t feign ignorance.
Once upon a time, Ambassador James Entwistle, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, says his government will not sell arms to the country due to human rights abuses committed by its soldiers in the north-east. Our soldiers were in the habit of” maneuvering technically” into neighboring countries and some into rivers just in a bid to run for their dear lives. Monies meant for weapons and welfare of soldiers ended up in private pockets. There was so much impunity, and Boko Haram Insurgents gained more ground. But not anymore.
The US state department approved the sale of a $593 million A-29 Super Tucano attack planes with associated parts, training, facilities, and weapons, to Nigeria. Some cheering news I guess. But it didn’t happen by magic too. Something must have been done right by the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the chief of Army staff. The appointment of Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai as chief of army staff is one of the best decisions of the President Muhammdu Buhari because he has also demonstrated capacity by leading an army whose morale was at its lowest ebb. He not only revived their confidence, but he also placed it on a very high pedestal. That is the spirit in the Nigerian army today.
Once upon a time on the night of April 2014, 276 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State. You remember the” BringBackOurGirls” hashtag that went viral worldwide? If you don’t then you should remember that between 2016 and now, 106 of the kidnapped schoolgirls have been rescued. And need I mention that efforts are ongoing toward ensuring that the remaining girls in captivity are rescued and reunited with their families.
The commitment of the Nigerian government towards the rescue of the kidnap girls has received commendations from wide and far. It is on record the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump encouraged President Buhari to keep up the excellent work he is doing, and also commended him for the efforts made in rescuing the Chibok girls and the strides being taken by the Nigerian military. While this might seem infinitesimal in the eyes of those opposed to the progress of Nigeria, it is indeed a worthy milestone. One thing is clear; President Muhammadu Buhari has demonstrated capacity. You could question his methodology, but nothing speaks louder than the bottom line.  And the bottom line is that Nigeria is on the path to greatness again.
Pause! You remember Sambisa forest? Once upon a time, it sounded like a shrine when one pronounces it slowly (Sam…Bi…Sa.)  Sambisa was home to the infamous Ground Zero, the operational headquarters of Boko Haram insurgents. Guess what? Ground Zero is now a military training ground. The Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship (NASAC) 2017 was held at Sambisa forest. This is no small feat. Even the Peoples Democratic Party congratulated President Muhammdu Buhari for the achievement.
Life has returned to the local government areas that were hitherto under the capture of Boko Haram insurgents. Roads that were closed for years have been reopened. Economic activities have all resumed. At least one can thump his chest and say there is a time we got something right in our history. And that was when we voted Muhammadu Buhari as President to lead our country.
Good leadership is essential to government and to the numerous groups and organizations that shape the way we live, work and play. President Muhammdu Buhari’s strong will and incorruptibility cannot be questioned, and he has demonstrated that leadership is not about titles, but about one’s life influencing another.  I repeat. Nothing speaks louder than the bottom line.
Angula, a public affairs commentator wrote  from the United Kingdom.

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