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Ike's Column Opinion Uncategorized

Between Malawi and Mali Options


Colin Powell

Everybody in Nigeria including the government in power today is dog-tired and helpless about the deteriorating situation in our country. The nation is just standing on the hope that it could be good one day but even that optimism is dimming faster than expected. The General, the yesterday strongman, Muhammadu Buhari elected twice in 2015 and 2019 to solve the problem is not doing it and from all indications he cannot do it as witnessed in the last five years. From the hapless propaganda of change in 2015 to next level in 2019, everything is apparent that this regime cannot lift this country out of the wood. Everything we excepted a Buhari Presidency will achieve is no longer achievable. In truth our journey has become like the fried fish that missed the way from the frying pan and fell into the fire. What a jinx.

The two vital problems facing the country when it decided to change the baton of leadership in 2015, corruption and insecurity, for which General Buhari was chosen have all been growing instead of going away. After five years in the saddle nothing is getting better, instead things are progressing negatively in all ramifications and the General himself in apparent show of bewilderment and incomprehension is asking his Generals ‘how do the enemies get their weapons?’

What other evidence or sign do we need to come to the conclusion that even him the President is perplexed and hysterical about the challenges and is just waiting and wishing for his exit date to arrive quickly since we are in a clime where you rather die in office than resign no matter the circumstance.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the system is not working and has failed dolefully, some persons in their narrow understanding of issues are still holding on to the useless dogma that status quo should remain.

You call for restructuring, they say no, you call for secession they say over their dead body, you move for good governance they block it using ethnic and religious sentiments, so what do we do? Just keep failing and recycling failures and squandering our resources? This system is not working simple, the evidence to this is glittering for all to see. Our youths are turning men and expiring hopelessly, children are turning youths purposeless and directionless, yet nobody is worried about the growing generational waste. People just want power but do nothing meaningful with it in terms of touching lives.

For those who are afraid of restructuring of this country in their erroneous thinking that it is tantamount to division of the country or that it will place one region in a precarious position over the other, what they are saying in plain language is that they are bereft of ideas of what to do in the circumstance. Hanging on ethnic, religious and regional sentiments to hold the country down is just crass and obtuse display of arrogance because there are many ways that this country can be turned around for good if only some people allow ideas to flourish.

I stumbled on this vital message in social media from Malawi, a landlocked South Eastern African country of less than 20 million people and felt in addition to sharing it in that platform, that there is the need to bring it closer to our leaders to read and appreciate how restructuring can take place under purposeful leadership.
“The President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, has a weekly radio address in which he updates the citizens on progress made and sets down the tone and direction of his leadership. Last Saturday’s address was perhaps the most interesting yet.

This, in part, is what he said;
Fellow Malawians, I have noted with delight that there is much interest in my plans to trim the powers of the President. Because of that interest, I am confident that when this project is well underway, it will have your full support.

Reducing Presidential powers is something that is often promised but never delivered, but I think you know by now that I do not say something unless I mean to do it. But to get this done, I need your support.

But it is important that we all understand what these powers are.

The first category of powers a President has is positional. In our jurisdiction, there are certain positions and offices that are reserved for the President alone, such as the positions of Head of State, Head of Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

It is time we reviewed the merits of having the President also occupy an office like the Chancellor of the public University. This is a relic from a bygone era. I know of no free country in which the State President is at helm of an institution that exists to produce free thinkers.

Second category has to do with certain decisions that are reserved for a President to make. It’s my view that there are too many decisions made by a President, so I mean to reduce that. Having a President make too many decisions has created problems for our country for a long time
There must be decisions that when made by Parliament are final, and even where the President has the power to veto such decisions, he should no longer be allowed to sabotage the governance framework by sitting on the decision.

The third category of powers a President has is that of appointments. From the Judiciary, to the Legislature, to the Executive, all the way to constitutionally mandated institutions designed to operate independently, the boards of statutory corporations, Foreign Embassies…
we have the anomaly of having all of them look to the President as the appointing authority. This is unwise.

No person is good or humble enough to be entrusted with that much appointing power.

The fourth category of Presidential powers which need trimming is cultural. We need to review our behaviors towards a President, because how we behave around a President is what creates a National perception of how much power he or she has…

This includes how we address a President, how many times a President is mentioned in salutations at a single event, how many cars and firepower a President’s convoy has, and so forth…

During the campaign for Presidential elections, I noted that many political campaigns conducted by state officials were using state resources like state vehicles & state security. We need to think about the limits and parameters of this culture because it is now regularly abused
Even if it may not be possible to fully separate state resources from the activities of political parties, we need rules that clearly spell out when the overlap between party and state is acceptable and when it is abusive.

When I propose laws to address these inconsistencies, I ask you to support me by demanding that your MPs vote for these changes. Malawi needs a more empowered citizenry. The way to achieve that is to increase the powers of governance institutions & decrease powers of the President.”

Imagine a sitting President being at the forefront of reducing his own power and lobbying the people to pressure their legislators to vote along the line. When President Buhari came to office wearing the toga of an austere leader who will abolish wastages and who will not take nonsense for an answer, not few hoped and waited for the big reform of our land, for an end to the colossal wastes of public fund, but here we are today worse than ever. The problem is not about Buhari alone but about a failed and unworkable system.

No wonder American prominent politician, John Sharp Williams once noted “that most bad government has grown out of too much government.”

Just as I was concluding this write up another message came from Mali showing that the people’s protest against bad leadership, corruption and insecurity has finally led to military intervention in that country. Between Mali and Malawi comes these two options, restructure or military insurrection which one do we take?, personally I go for Malawi option, it’s more enduring and civilized.

Until Nigeria goes for leaders that will lead the fight for a restructured country, we may just be buying time waiting for the Armageddon who already is on the way.

We have leaders who can do it. They are in all tribes and in all religions but their access to power is blocked by crooks and brigands. If Peter Obi for instance can after eight years as Governor of non-oil state instead of leaving debts left investments and savings in local and foreign currencies with all the achievements and not owing anybody, workers, pensioners and contractors, a Chakwera can be found in Nigeria but we just have to brace the odds and find him.

God help us.

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