The Other Room Remains Empty
Aisha Buhari

… The Other Room Remains Empty

By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

One may disagree with the method she deployed, but it is difficult not to deny the truth in her statements. Sometimes, it requires a sacrifice so big to change such trends especially when it is known that the leader is not truly in charge. Aisha chose to make that sacrifice and it has already started yielding dividends. The party must be smiling.

Barely two weeks after taking her complaints to the public, the President has started meeting with party officials and its governors on the matter, asking them to help correct the situation and ensure that party members are brought on board. Aisha has won. But it took her ‘stupidity’ to dislodge or at least curb the influence of those making the appointments on behalf of her husband and at the expense of the party. A Jaaraama!

An ambassadorial list of over forty people was released but it again exposed the inadequacies she cried against. In states like Taraba, people vehemently opposed to the APC were nominated in disregard for party members. If such non-APC nominees had possessed a pedigree of unique competence, their selection would have been hailed as a testimony to the commitment of our President to excellence. But they are not special in any way. These are just pedestrian politicians and AGIPs from the opposition PDP. Such people can be found even among the present ministers. I would not like to mention here how some of them got there.

The cry of Aisha and the APC was justified. I am happy that the President has realized this and took the right step to correct the anomaly. 2019 may not need the President. But the President needs 2019. For the fulfillment of that desire he needs take his party along. That was the simple message of the First Lady. In fact, if he had taken the pain of making significant inputs into the lists of nominees, the crisis would not have happened.

The Other Room Remains Empty
President Buhari & His Wife

It was his delegation of the job to some few people that led to the mess in the first place. If, as a President, you shy away from nominations, the people you delegate the duty to will fill your government with their cronies and friends who may not necessarily share your philosophy. So participate actively in conjunction with the party but with a clear understanding that only credible people will make it to the office.

One other thing still needs to be corrected. The new practice of nominating people without consulting them is not a good idea. Supporters of the President may spin this anomaly as an attestation to his commitment to merit but I see it differently. If you are tasking someone with a public appointment, courtesy demands that you consult him. Not all people would be happy with jobs thrown at them as if they were labourers praying to be hired or some hungry dogs anxiously waiting for crumbs to be thrown at them at a dinner table. If some are happy to be shortlisted that way, some may not be.

We have not forgotten the length that my sister Hajiya Naja’atu Mohammed went to turn down her appointment as a board member of a federal university in a paid advert on a national daily last year. Though it was easy for some to dismiss her and some supporters of the President to call her names, a repeat should have been avoided. However, the government was again to be greeted with an equal, if not greater embarrassments in the last three days. It is the price of failure to learn from one’s mistake.

usman-bugajey The Other Room Remains Empty
Dr. Usman Bugaje

Though my sister Mrs Pauline Talen could hide behind the sickness of her husband, my mentor Usman Bugaje had no cover to take. He was ready to express his decline in a press conference yesterday, reported the Blueprint, if it were not for the intervention of Malam Adamu Adamu and Col. Hamid Ali who rushed to the venue pleading with him to put off the conference. Yet, Bugaje was not done. Typically, he put a call to the Chief of Staff to decline the nomination and register his displeasure in strong terms over the manner in which it was made. A simple act of consultation would have saved the government such embarrassment.

So consultation, consultation, consultation, all the way. It is a principle that never fails a leader.

I personally respect my Governor in this regard. He called me and asked for an appointment. When we met, he offered me to choose any position in his government. I pleaded with him that I cannot be available at this point of my life for a job in government but I am ready to advise him whenever I feel the advice will be useful. He backed off, though I later heard that he expressed his grudge to a common friend, saying, “Wai shi Tilde ya dauka mu wawaye ne? Mu ba ayyukanmu muka bari ba muke wannan din don jama’a?” I said, “Oho dai. Na tsira.”

The Governor carried this understanding and let me be. When my name came up again during the constitution of Bauchi State University, it took the assurance of my friend, the Deputy Governor, that I will not decline the part-time appointment, before the Governor became comfortable enough to include me in the prospective list. Still the Deputy Governor called me at mid-night for an affirmation before the appointments went public the following day. I told him it was okay, so long as it is part time – a once or twice a year board meeting or so. Taron shan shayi ne sau uku a shekara. Ba komai.

Mrs. Buhari, wife of Nigeria’s President

I therefore plead with the Presidency to learn from its recent experience and consult people before going public with their nominations. And as it heeded to the bitter remarks of our First Lady and the complaints from the ruling party, let it also lend its ears to our criticisms and take them in good faith.

If the First Lady has abandoned the Villa for London in protest until the President starts to listen to her and the party, I plead with my sister to return given the weight he condescended before the party. Muna biko. A warta, useni.

Aisha, you have won. Please return. The other room is empty.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde