Power devolution: How powerful is President Muhammadu Buhari?

Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

The need to critically ascertain how powerful President Muhammadu Buhari is became necessary after governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demanded for devolution of power.

To start with, devolution of power is the delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to the state government. It is a form of administrative decentralization. This was what the PDP demanded from the Buhari-led Federal Government, in a way to restructure the country.

Buhari, being the executive, has the duty the day-to-day management of the country, and ensuring that laws are put into actions. Primarily, he is to ensure the protection of lives and properties. This piece therefore focuses on how powerful the President is, in carrying out his duty of the protection of lives, in relation with the reality in the Nigeria of today.

PDP Governors had met at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, where a six-point resolution was reached, including a demand for power devolution to states and ban on open grazing.

The meeting by the PDP was prompted by the high level of insecurity in the country and they demanded the decentralization of power from the centre, having realized that the symbol of power at the top was no longer “powerful” to put an end to senseless killings and kidnapping in the country.

A pointer was given by wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, who hinted that her husband was not in charge and his government has been hijacked by cabals.

Barely one year into office, Aisha Buhari, in an interview with BBC in 2016, said the present administration has been hijacked by cabals. According to her, the president “does not know” most of the top officials he has appointed, hinting that they do not answer to him but the cabals, hence, he was powerless to have them do his bidding for the growth and development of the country. A

Asked to name those who had hijacked the government, she refused, saying: “You will know them if you watch television.” She therefore, threatened not to vote for him for a second term, if the situation does not change.

It first seemed like a claim coming from “the other room” until other events began to unfold, which proved that President Buhari might not be as he has been served to the Nigerian people by the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Buhari enjoyed an overwhelming victory in the election that brought him to power in 2015. He was famous, as propagated by the media to be a powerful man to crush corruption and insecurity (Boko Haram) – Nigeria’s major challenges as at that time.

The office of the president, therefore, has exclusive power and responsibility to protect the lives and properties of the citizens but that has not happened with the level of insecurity in the country.

Also, it started to dawn on Nigerians that the “powerful” president could not even handle those he appointed, and beyond. Herdsmen went untamed, kidnapping everywhere and Nigeria became one of the most insecure countries in the world, under Buhari.

Those appointed by the office of the President, having been approved by the lawmakers are expected to answer to him, especially in sensitive issues but that was not the case in the instance of 2016, when the president ordered the then IGP Ibrahim Idris to relocate to Benue State in the wake of the killings but he refused. It was not enough that he did not honour the President’s words, he went away with it without any apology and sanction.

“It is only now that I am hearing this. But I know that I sent him here,” Buhari had stated, exposing how not powerful he was to have his words carried out.

Reacting to the growing insecurity in the country, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in an interview, stressed that Buhari is not in charge. He said “I have said it again and again. I don’t believe Buhari is in charge because it is not possible in my view for a head of state, a commander-in-chief of the armed forces to say he is presiding over a nation and things get to this level.

“Something is critically wrong within the leadership of this nation and that is where we civilians must come in, we must pick up the slack for our own situation, for our own salvation.”

Now, going by the demands of the PDP, it is necessary to note that the President has to be powerful enough before the devolution of power can be effective, hence, state government will continue to be at the mercy of criminals and killers should they rely on the support from the center.


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