Nigeria: Battle between old and new political forces
Nigerian leader, Muhammadu Buhari is not liked by elites and entrenched economic players in Nigeria.With his shortcomings in many areas,the Nigerian leader has fiercely turned against established political and economic forces who originally propelled his ascendance to presidency.
No doubt, the Nigerian economy is not in good shape.Buhari has received much bashing for the lacklustre state of the economy.His administration is also facing mounting criticisms over treatment of political activists.The administration has so far not shy away from applying strong arm tactics especially when her authority and legitimacy is challenged.The Buhari government has equally not denied that the country is passing through complicated tumoil manifesting in insecurity and festering insurgency and armed banditry across the country.
The narrative that is drown within the cacophony of Buhari bashing is the underlying basic reasons for the national convulsions.Several analysts have identified the core issues as alleged incompetence,nepotism and lack of inclusion in governance.But few have actually pinpointed the core issue-the attempt by the current president to change how Nigeria has been governed for the past five decades.
The bitter reality is that Nigeria has been badly governed in the past due to a system of cabalism led by few ex-military leaders who decidely cornered national assets through cronies and allies.The system launched since 1976 subsisted until the emergence of Buhari.Interestingly ,those who operate the Nigerian system actually accounted for his emergence as President.
Many Nigerians in the know pointed out that the old cabal had calculated that Buhari being a product of the system will not attempt a system dismantling despite his radical bent known since his days within the military.They were probably wrong.The Katsina General appears to be a rebel in the house who has not hidden his disdain for the system that threw him up.
His Presidency started on rocky notes due to illness and a fierce fight back by system operators who fingered a deviation from established norms. The rebel that Buhari was appears hell bent to dismantle the system led by the likes of Olusegun Obasanjo,General Danjuma,Ibrahim Babangida,Abdul-sallam Abubakar and their civilian and economic allies.
A political coup occured within the Nigeria old cabal,leading to convulsion of serious magnitude.Buhari was indeed badly shaken in his first term ,accounting for many hiccups that manifested in multiple national challenges.His overcoming opposition to emerge again as President was not a fight determined by the electorate ;it was rather a battle between the new and the old forces.
The Obasanjo led cabal deployed all means to stop the incumbent but he prevailed because of one main reason-he knew the old tricks and the tactics the old cabal employed to enforce its will.The second coming of Buhari is thus the height of war of will between the old and the new alliances.
Buhari had forged a new team which even in the face of tough challenges is pursuing a new governance path.That path has the potency to permanently silence the old caucus,both in the political and economic sectors. While Buhari and his people are not claiming sainthood despite their pronouncements,they act in ways that distinguished them from the old school.
Some of those departure points can be listed as follows :
-Projects budgeted for are executed with vigours namely roads,railways,energy and others;
-Projects fund are no longer diverted as was the practice in the past;
-Inflation of contract amount has reduced to the barest minimum ;
-Nationalist fervour is openly manifested in governmental decisions;
-Enforcement of TSA and BVN among others raises level of transparency;
-Direct attacks on diversion of local government fund is a welcome relief;
-Documentation of anti-graft cases against both ruling and opposition politicians and others.
Many analysts agreed that many abandoned projects are recieving due attention.Contractors now know jobs awarded must be completed. A measure of sanity has returned to procurement process.The present attempts to differ from the past by showing that national projects can be executed without undue delay.The past awarded contract,paid contractors and the jobs mostly remain unexecuted.The past was deeply corrupt beyond the point of 10 percent collection on contracts.What is different now is that project paid for are executed and commissioned.
Buhari may not have succeeded fully in his bid to institute this new style.The dilution of old forces in his new team is a draw back.The entrenched corrupt system is also toughly difficult to quickly exterminate.More pointedly,the onslaught from political enemies complicate reform efforts.
What Buhari government did was a two pronged approach. First is a bit of political manipulation to retain power.A player told this reporter : “you cannot reform any system if you are out of power;so do anything to retain power”
The second is a deployment of that state power to enforce reform which entails winning old corrupt elements over,punishing those who remain unapologetic and instituting genuine reforms through integration of reform minded officials.
These two approaches imply an expected rupture within the system when several nights of long knives may surface,when even members of the new team may fall victims as sacrificial lambs.
Above is what Nigeria is passing through. Now the turbulence may take turn for the worst as the administration moves to finally decapitate the old cabal.The regime has commenced two major projects namely the probe of the power sector contract and the AMCON debt retrieval.In the power sector probe is a political earthquake in the oven-the mighty and the powerful may take the bullet.For the AMCON thing,the dragnet will pick the billionaire debtors who are proxy agents of the old cabal.
Two outcomes are likely.First is that the probe and general restructuring of levers of influence and patronage may succeed in caging and silencing the old caucus,thereby marking the demise of the 1976 group and the ascendance of a new caucus peopled by Buhari loyalists.Second is a possible resistance by the old cabal ,banking on dissatisfaction of the public.
For now,giants are battling for the soul of Nigeria.Multiple proxy wars are ongoing.Sad reality is that ordinary Nigerians are feeling the punch of this elite war.