I borrowed “agony of indecision” from a piece I read on the website of Broot Consulting. The piece is titled “Siddon-Look Strategy and the Agony of Indecision”. It talks about how taking some critical decisions can be unsettling for many leaders. While some leaders may confront troubling issues directly and with despatch; other leaders may adopt a “siddon look” strategy popularised by the late Bola Ige, former governor of Oyo State; who later became Nigeria’s attorney general and mister of Justice in the Obasanjo government.
In Nigeria’s politics, “siddon look” means to wait, or watch and see, or to be aloof. But as the piece explains, it can also mean indecision and inaction. In write-up, the story is told of the 40th president of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan; whose aunt took him to a cobbler for a pair of shoes. Reagan did not know whether he wanted a round-toe or square-toe pair of shoes. He prevaricated and the cobbler, in the end, made him a pair of shoes; one leg with square toe and the other leg with round toe.
President Reagan was to later confess that he learnt an unforgettable lesson from that episode. “If you don’t make your own decisions, somebody else will make them for you.”
This seems to me to be the state of things with President Muhammadu Buhari, who has; for the past five years, been an enigma to Nigerians, a sometimes present and most times, absent leader. In the past few weeks, a few things have happened in our political landscape that have cemented this view of President Buhari as an indecisive leader; who even in the early days of his first term, spent nearly six months appointing his cabinet ministers. He thought it was some sort of sobriquet when Nigerians called him “baba go-slow”. In reality, it is pejorative.
When the All Progressives Congress was formed in 2013, not a few pundits thought of it as a powder keg. One that would explode quickly because of the disparate groups that made up the party. There were no real political principles underpinning its formation; except wrestling power from the ruling party at the time. The view then was that the juggernaut known as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would crush the new party.
But as political luck would have it for APC, the party held together. It was able to chase PDP out of power nationally. The Change mantra was seductive and Nigerians in their droves voted in the APC.
Conventional wisdom would have dictated that President Buhari, as the national leader of the party; would work hard to build a truly great party. One that would be able to stand the test of time; particularly after he departs the Presidential Villa in 2023. That has not been the case.
In fact, the party has been convulsing through the years. And it now seems the party was in fact put together solely to fulfil the political ambition of Buhari. The ambition to become president. Whatever happens to the party after he leaves power appears not to be his concern.
The same internal crises, stoked by a lack of internal democracy, that heralded the mass exodus from the PDP; pre-2015 elections, have been rocking the APC too. The situation is so bad that though it comprehensively won local, state and federal elections in Zamfara in 2019; it lost all the seats, including the gubernatorial seat, to the PDP via a Supreme Court judgement. This was because of internal wrangling which the party’s leadership was unable to resolve.
Political sagacity should have pushed the president and the de facto leader of the party to knock some heads together; bringing some order to the chaos and rascality that has become the order of the day in the party. But the president’s minders have continued to tell us that the president is a democrat who likes to let events play out. Also, they claim he is not interested in ramming things down the throats of his party officials.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the president has been absent while his party’s branches in Ondo and Edo States; which are slated to have their elections soon, have slowly unravelled. The president has been unable or unwilling to strongly intervene in the crisis between the national chairman of APC; former governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and the successor he helped bring to power in Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
Well, the chickens have now come home to roost. The lack of clear national leadership over the political conflict in the state has led to the departure of Governor Obaseki from APC. He has joined the PDP under whose umbrella he is now seeking to run for a second term.
The situation is much the same in Ondo State. Here, a sizeable and strong group in the party has been at loggerheads with the governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu. The crisis led to a split between Akeredolu and his deputy Ali Olanusi; who earlier this week decamped from the APC and joined the PDP.
These crises and convulsions in the APC attest to the impotence of President Buhari as the leader of his party. He waited until the bird had flown the coop before meeting with key stakeholders to resolve the issues. But no one is listening to him now.
This impotence continues to reverberate in all affairs of the state. Just last week, the president met with his security officials on the back of a deadly resurgence of insecurity; particularly in some northern states, including the President’s Katsina State. Hundreds have lost their lives whilst government’s propaganda repeatedly tells us the situation is under control.
The meeting is the president’s recourse each time Nigerians berate him on the inability of his government to protect them. This time though, as widely reported, the president was angry with his service chiefs. He accused them of not doing enough to tackle insecurity. He expressed his anger by telling the security chiefs “your best is not good enough.” It was as if the president was just waking up to what Nigerians have been saying for some years.
National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno told the media; ‘‘Mr President expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening. He feels that even though the security agencies are doing their best; their best is not good enough for him and he wants an immediate reversal of the current trend and immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all their dimensions.”
For at least two years, Nigerians have been complaining about the ineffectiveness of those saddled with ridding the country of terrorism; as well as banditry, blood-thirsty Fulani herdsmen and other forms of lawlessness. The preponderance of opinion has been to encourage the president to rejig the security apparatus; specifically, by bringing in new people to front the battle to make Nigeria safe.
But this president in his usual “go-slow” manner seems aloof and even powerless to sack his underperforming security officials. It is a measure of how little faith he has in the current crop of senior military officers to produce new, capable, and tested chiefs for the armed services. In the event and with tired security officials leading a prolonged insecurity war; ordinary Nigerians are the ones paying the price with their lives, as the body count keeps rising.
Why the president continues to present himself as a leader lacking the capacity to take decisive actions on national issues is confounding. As a retired general with varied experience; you will think President Buhari would be the last leader to be accused of this kind of performance deficit. However, it is unlikely that this political ailment that afflicts our president would heal anytime soon.
And what this means is that anarchy would continue to rule the roost for the next three years. What a price to pay for indecision and inaction!