“The Buck Stops Here”. That was the sign on Harry Truman’s desk in his White House office. The former American president was famously quoted to have said the buck stops on the president’s table. This best describes the way and manner President Muhammadu Buhari and his team have handled the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic so far.
At a time the so-called advanced societies were in disarray on how best to tackle the pandemic, President Buhari demonstrated his leadership capacity, which has resulted in low mortality, infections and high number of Nigerians treated and discharged from the various treatment centres in the country.
This performance has further boosted Nigeria’s profile among the comity of nations. In appreciation of this feat, President Donald Trump of the United States recently put a personal call across to his Nigerian counterpart to commend him on the good work. Given Nigeria’s example in containing the pandemic, both leaders used the opportunity to discuss issues regarding the global health challenge.
One of the hallmarks of leadership is the ability of a leader to assemble competent team with which to deliver good governance. President Buhari has shown he is a master in this regard. The success of the lockdown cannot be divorced from the calibre of team appointed by the president, which comprises Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo; National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mungonu (rtd) and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
The security agencies also deserve commendation for maintaining law and order in a well-coordinated manner during the pandemic lockdown. Contrary to dooms predictions of cynics, the Buhari led Government has been able to surmount the challenges, including insecurity ranging from armed robbery, kidnapping to petty thieves in the neighbourhood.
All thanks to the proactive NSA, who had been advising the president on the danger ahead and the need for contingency plans as they body on the country’s security architecture. The NSA Monguno input has put political propagandists to shame.
X-raying the way President Buhari handled the outbreak of the pandemic would show that it is akin to how most developed nations such as Germany, Russia, France and Italy have been coordinating containment of COVID-19 and their economic plan. President Buhari still has an edge, which proved he is a worthy and visionary leader.
In retrospect, as a government that abhors haphazard system of administration, the Buhari-led government promptly established presidential taskforce centre to brief and manage COVID-19 from wide spread. The presidential task force (PTF), which is headed by SGF Mustapha, has worked assiduously to allay the fears of Nigerians.
Central to the fight against coronavirus is the easy accessibility of testing kits and treatment centres. In order to ensure rapid response, the Buhari-led government has established centres for testing COVID-19 in all state of the federation. The step is seen by many as the most proactive in the history of the fight against epidemics anywhere in the world.
Another critical medical instrument vital to the management and treatment of the COVID-19 is ventilators. In a bold move to demonstrate the government’s commitment to chase the virus out of Nigeria, President Buhari has ordered immediate distribution of ventilators to all the states of the federation.
As a testament to the meticulous work the president is doing, the Italian, who was the first index case has been treated and discharged, even when people in his country are dying in their thousands. Who knows, if the Italian had remained in his country, perhaps he would have died. But the Buhari magic wand saved him. Beyond the Italian, others have been treated and discharged as well, while some are at various stages of recovery.
The lockdown was the hard way to go, but not without the president rolling out palliative measures to cushion the effects of the action. This is proof that President Buhari’s government is sensitive to the plight of the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria. The president had in a broadcast ordered relevant authorities to commence the implementation of palliative measures to serve as relief on the effect of the lockdown.
In line with the pro ‘Talakawa’ that President Buhari is known for, federal government didn’t hesitate to commence disbursement of N20, 000 conditional cash transfer to the most poorest Nigerians. The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk, whose ministry is central to the Buhari people-focused government, was everywhere in the country to do the disbursement.
Apart from the conditional cash transfer, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East and other parts of Nigeria are not left out in the President Buhari relief package, as relief materials were also supplied to them.
It is no longer news that the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the global economy. As a proactive government, the president setup economic standards to serve as protection for the country to avoid sliding into another economic recession like South Africa.
It was the late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela who said, “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership”. President Buhari has indeed demonstrated this particular kind of leadership to the chagrin of opposition elements who have been waiting in the wings for every given opportunity to badmouth the current administration.
– Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC)