A former Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Dr. Paul Unongo has revealed that he has been left frustrated on several occasions by recent actions of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The elder statesman lamented that there seems to be a difference between the Buhari he used to know and voted for in 2015 and the Buhari that he knows now.
Unongo made the assertions in a recent interview with Olaleye Aluko where he spoke about the security challenges in Nigeria, issues of restructuring as well as many other national concerns.
He narrated that he was part of the team that convinced many people including other countries of the world to support the presidential ambition of Buhari, but he said after the President’s return from his London medical trip, he suspects Buhari’s capacity for independent thoughts and decision-making has diminished.
See excerpts from the interview:
“I had a discussion with a young man recently, when we were reviewing these things. He was frustrated and I was frustrated. I said I have two relationships with President Muhammadu Buhari. One, I knew him personally during the first time he came to power with (Tunde) Idiagbon as military head of state in 1983. I used to advise (him) also.”
“I think that it was difficult for him to return to power but God decided (and I believe I am right in saying ‘God’ because he had opposition from even outside Nigeria). Some of us were called to quell the fire and I had an opportunity to be part of the process. I had so much faith that I stuck out my neck and ensured that many powerful countries that were not happy with his coming back to power in 2015 were interacted with. We spent over three to four weeks in foreign countries. If I was not convinced about something, I would not do such a stupid thing because I was not very healthy. But I was so confident and I told people that there was so much hope, so we should not miss the opportunity of bringing President Buhari to power. The man was not looking for aggrandisement; he just wanted to correct certain things.”
“I don’t understand what is happening now, from my knowledge of this man, except this gentleman really was very ill (when he was taken abroad for medical attention). You know he left this country for almost seven months and people kept on postulating that he died and that another president should be chosen. But his supporters were firm and the government was firm. The Vice President was firm too.”
“I think since the time he was ill, the capacity of the President for independent thoughts and decision-making and the capacity of the President I love and sacrificed my life for, diminished somewhat. And may God help me if I am wrong.”
He lamented that the Buhari he used to know used to be precise but recent decisions coming from his administration seem to appear confusing.
Unongo stated that this is part of what in his view has been negatively affecting the country’s fight against insecurity as Nigeria’s security outfits seem to be reacting to security challenges rather than take actions.
“In the beginning, some of us who were close to him then even told him not to try and micromanage Nigeria. We told him that he must learn to trust people because Nigeria is too big and complex for that: ‘If you try to micromanage Nigeria, you will die. So, please, make appointments.’
You know, there was some delay before he made appointments. So, the decisions that come out now are not as precise as the decisions the Buhari I know to be very precise would make. Two, the decisions that come out now appear a bit confusing. It is as if three to four persons are deciding and, sometimes, they decide against one another.
There appears to be confusion in the Buhari administration and this also has to do with delay in acting on intelligence. Someone was quarrelling with me that we were always apologetic regarding Buhari and I said, no. I speak as I see it and this is what I see.”
“The signals coming out now indicate that the illness had a very destructive side effect on his concentration and somebody who is helping him is not doing a very good job. If that is not true, then we will tell him that he is confusing us with some of the things that are happening. They don’t make sense. There ought to be clear decisions and they should come on time. The security situation is serious and the challenging aspect of security comes with intelligence gathering and I know that the intelligence gathering of this country is good. I know that the men and the women who work in this system work very hard.”
“When you bring intelligence to your principal, all you can do is say, ‘If you don’t work on it and act on this, this is going to happen.’ The leader doesn’t have to delay their action, but when they do, it becomes a reaction. I can’t understand how a precise military commander like Buhari who came to power with Idiagbon and whose actions we saw the first time he was in power (is the same one now). You cannot compare that with what is happening today; it is not normal.”
On the way out of the outlined predicament, Unongo urged President Buhari to delegate more to trusted hands within his administration that can make sound decisions in moving the country forward.
“We have to rejig. This is because the decisions this man used to make lacked emotions; they were not about ‘this or that is my friend.’ If it was for the public good, he would act immediately. But that precise action is missing – that precise action that endeared him to some of us is missing.”
“The solution is for him to delegate more to trusted and patriotic Nigerians that work with him. And if the people working with him are not acting on intelligence reports, he should immediately replace them. That will help us survive the remaining years.”
“If we were the ones who put this government into power, we must tell it that it takes too long to react. When a situation is developing, it waits for it to fester and later drafts troops to go and suppress the communities. By the time you draft troops there to suppress the combatants and so on, it is too late.”
Dr. Paul Unongo is an elder statesman, former Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum and Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council.
Source: Naija News