The much-awaited one-hour documentary meant to depict the lighter side of President Muhammadu Buhari was aired yesterday on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), with the president admitting that the goodwill of the masses has sustained him in politics.
The documentary titled, “The Human Side of President Buhari,” also featured a conglomeration of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, governors and chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), ministers in the cabinet and the president’s aides who praised the president to the high heavens.
Chiefly, those that featured praised him for being a democrat and a stickler for the rule of law and due process, a man of integrity, one with humour, one who has confidence in his appointees and is not a micromanager of people and resources.
Making only a brief cameo appearance in the documentary, Buhari said he had so far been sustained in politics by the goodwill of the masses as well as his central goal to always provide accountable and transparent leadership.
The president said he prayed five times a day and thanks God whom he said had enabled people to understand and believe in him.
“I pray five times a day thanking God that (He has) allowed people to understand and believe me. This goodwill that I enjoy from the masses is what is keeping me in politics, and of course, my central objective is to provide transparency and accountable in government,” he said.
In his own comment about the president, Babangida described him as a man with a good sense of humour and was approachable.
“He has a good sense of humour. I believe he is approachable. When talking to him, you know he has a good sense of humour,” Babangida who led the coup d’etat that overthrew Buhari as military head of state in 1985, said.
His aides, who also spoke glowingly about the president, also described him as a leader who has a deep sense of respect for the rule of law and due process.
For instance, Osinbajo said the moment an issue was discussed with him, the first question he would ask is, “what does the law say?”
According to him, he had to remind him one day that it was himself (Osinbajo) as a lawyer who ought to be more bothered about the law than the president.
Osinbajo described his boss as very democratic, stressing that the president was also fixated on the constitutional process.
“I can tell you that he really has turned 360 degrees from his military days. Often times when he insists that we must follow the law and ask what the law says about certain matters, I remind him that I am a lawyer. Once you convince him and he is confident with that situation he accepts it,” he said.
He said the president gives his aides a free hand to do their job, adding that Buhari strongly believes in the ability of the people he appointed to carry out their duty.
“Personally speaking, I have enjoyed so much favour from him. He believes that I am capable and he has allowed me to perform duties that are not constitutionally assigned to me. He does not second-guess me.
“What he generally would do is expect that you carry out what you are asked to do within a certain period. He is someone who engages and is willing to hear others out. I have never found him to be completely rigid except in matters of principles.
“He is someone who is very passionate about the country. He will always tell you he is someone who has always earned a monthly salary and as such knows how it feels when people are not paid at the end of the month,” Osinbajo explained.
Osinbajo also described him as a fair minded person who always seeks to know the emerging argument at every stage, adding that he had never found him to be rigid except over a matter of integrity.
Also featuring on the documentary, Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai who said he had pitched his tent with the president forever, spoke on Buhari’s “fantastic sense of humour”, recalling that before the 2015 elections, he would make roll on the floor with laugher, a development he said time and exigencies do not permit them to replicate any longer.
He added that Buhari represented Nigeria’s best hope for a stable country that would transit to the 21st century.
“I have complained in private several times to the president that partly because he was head of a military regime, he has become excessively democratic such that at times we have to force him to do things and he will tell you, ‘If I do this they will say I am dictatorial. When I was military head of state I was young brash and it was a military regime’,” the governor said.
The Kaduna governor stressed that Buhari was so conscious of the need to be seen to be fair and democratic in everything he does, to the extent that people sometimes took advantage of him or took it as a sign of weakness, which was not the case.
“I believe that Buhari is more than qualified to lead Nigeria at this point in time, I think he represents our best hope for a stable country that will transit to face the 21st century. This is why I stuck with him for years, I will remain with him till the end and I have no regret,” he said.
Speaking on the president’s strengths, el-Rufai stated that Buhari was the most honest man he ever knew especially in public service.
“His second strength is his sense of social justice, he always tries to be fair to everyone and never rushes to judge anyone. When you report the activity of an official, he doesn’t rush to suspend or fire him, he asks for proof and he has to see this once or twice before he acts.
“He is so worried about being unjust to anyone that sometime he takes his time before he takes a decision.
“The other one is his sense of vision where he wants to take the country. As someone who was orphaned and how Nigeria has been kind to him, he is so worried about the sense of injustice in the country and he wants to correct that,” el-Rufai said.
In his remarks, Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun said the president was a team leader and has a preference for listening to contributions of participants at every meeting, including the meeting of the National Council of State.
Like others, the Ogun governor said the president was a democrat who was open and transparent in his dealings with the governors.
“If you want to see somebody that loves Nigeria and would love to see that things are done the way it should be done, appropriately and follow it the way it should be followed, it is President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
“I wish I had his patience. He would listen to everybody and then take a decision. He is a reformed democrat,” the governor said.
In the same vein, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said whereas Buhari as an ex-military ruler was perceived to be very dictatorial, he is today very democratic but did not deem his military background as a negative attribute.
According to her, the president’s military background has its advantages in terms of discipline and keeping to time, but added that he was now a stickler for the rule of law and a man of integrity “who will never steal money”.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, also described him as a man who could “tolerate few mistakes” and doesn’t require his ministers to take permission from him before doing their jobs. “In the course of your normal duty, he doesn’t interfere,” Ogbeh added.
On his part, Chief Audu Ogbeh said the president was very democratic in governing the country.
“Have you seen any governor in this country write to his deputy to take over when he wants to travel? President Buhari wrote to the National Assembly that he was travelling. How much more democratic can a leader be? Some governors who travel would rather hand over to their special assistants rather than to their deputies,” he said.
Ogbeh said Buhari believed in the rule of law and had also imbibed democratic principles.
The minister urged Nigerians to give the president a chance, adding that the days were coming when Nigeria’s prosperity would reach every Nigerian.
Also speaking, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelama said for Buhari to contest the presidential election four times was indicative that he is a democrat.
Enelama said the president was not a micromanager but a visionary leader, who detests corruption and provides good leadership.
He said in the war against corruption, Buhari had shown respect for the rule of law by working with the National Assembly and the judiciary.
In his contributions, the national chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun said he found it strange that some people have described the president as not being democratic.
According to him, the president was a democrat who respects the constitution of APC and that of the country.
In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola described Buhari as a listening president who would not sign any document unless he understood it.
He disclosed that Buhari gave him the Mokwa-Jebba Road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and Second Niger Bridge as priority projects when he took over as the works minister.
“He is open to divergent views and he will be the first to tell you that he is not going to do anything unless he understands it,” Fashola said.
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David-West also said Buhari was the cleanest and most incorruptible president he had come across, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama said the president’s strength was his personal discipline.
“When we go for meetings, most of the leaders would leave after speaking without waiting to listen to others. But President Buhari will speak and sit down to listen to others. Others leave once they have spoken,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama debunked also claims that the president was an ethnic and religious jingoist, revealing that Buhari was worried when he was falsely accused of dragging Nigeria into an Islamic alliance and had directed him (Onyeama) to clarify the issue.
Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi described Buhari as a funny man, who could even laugh at himself.
Fayemi said Buhari believes in the people who work for him and does not micromanage them.
“There is nothing bad in delegating, you don’t want to see someone micromanaging everything or put an eye on what they do. The president is not a micromanager, he is not a breath-down-your-neck president, he lets you act.
“He is someone who believes in the people who work for him. He also has a vice-president who is known to be very detailed in everything; it is a very complimentary relationship that they have managed to forge, “he said.
According to him, the president has immensely a jovial personality.
Also appearing in the documentary, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina called on Nigerians to stand by the president, despite the current tough climate in the country.
According to him, there will be a dramatic change before the end of the president’s four years mandate.
He said the president believes in loyalty, adding that the president stands by persons when they have proven to be loyal.
Similarly his colleague, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu described Buhari as a complete democrat who abides by the rule of law.
“The three arms of government have enjoyed the healthiest relationship since Buhari assumed office. I remember at the beginning of the crisis at the National Assembly, the president refused to interfere in the election of the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is not dictatorial or imposes his views on others,” he said.
Meanwhile, Adesina, yesterday responded to the scathing criticism of the decision by him and his colleagues to air a documentary on the president yesterday and today in the midst of the crippling fuel crisis in the country.
The presidential spokesman, in a statement emailed to the electronic media, said fault finding had become the trade mark of certain persons, adding that such individuals would even dare to “murmur against God” should they erroneously make it to heaven.
He said whereas the main criticism of the move arose from perceived insensitivity on their part following the lingering fuel scarcity plaguing the country, the problem was not enough to put off such a plan, arguing that life must not necessarily be about doom and gloom or wearing of sackcloth and sitting in ashes.
Adesina described the current fuel scarcity as a product of deliberate mischief and sabotage by some oil marketers whom he said only want to frustrate the government and leave it with no option than to hike the pump price of fuel.
He said the by-product of the fuel crisis has been hoarding and panic buying, adding, nonetheless, that the government was working assiduously to end the scarcity.
He reasoned that Nigerians must not be consigned to the world of fuel scarcity and therefore close their minds against other important things.
He also argued that the current circumstances, notwithstanding, Buhari was loved by millions of Nigerians whom he said were eager to watch the documentary.
Adesina stressed that this moment of fuel scarcity was a passing phase, which cannot be an end in itself.
“I have read a lot of reactions, particularly online, on the timing of the airing of the documentary on President Muhammadu Buhari, slated for December 24 and 25, 2017, respectively, by 8 p.m. on NTA and Channels Television.
“Some of the comments are borne out of genuine concern, which we appreciate, while others are virulent, coming from inveterate complainers. Fault finding is the stock-in-trade of such people, and if they mistakenly find themselves in Heaven, they would even complain against God. They have no other pastime.
“The reactions mainly dwell on the fact that a documentary showing the human side of the president (as against the well known iron and steel) is coming at a time there is severe fuel scarcity in the country.
“And I say, why not? Is life all about doom and gloom? Must we sit in ashes and wear sackcloth perpetually, and ignore the brighter side of life? God forbid.