Buhari, Osinbajo Cannot Afford To Fail – John Baiyeshea, SAN

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John Olusola Bayesan (SAN)
John Olusola Bayesan (SAN)

John Olusola Bayesan (SAN) is an erudite scholar and legal luminary of 33 years standing in the Bar. In this interview with VICTOR SEYI, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria bares his mind on the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo, focusing on their chances of turning things around in Nigeria, among other topical issues

As President Muhammadu Buhari takes office, Nigerians have very high expectations of the new administration. What are your views?

The expectations of the people are legitimate because the people have invested so much in the hope that the “Change” mantra of the APC would not be a mere slogan. The Nigerian People are really yearning for a change. Too many things have gone wrong in the country; it is as if Nigeria has been damaged beyond repairs and here comes Gen. Buhari, who had been Head of State at a time. Though the dynamics are now very different, personally, I am just praying for him so that he would not lose the goodwill he enjoys nationally and all over the world.

If you are a member of an agenda setting committee for the President, where would you want him to start from?

I would put the eradication of corruption on the front burner; I would want a situation where he would personally lead by example, because once the ideals of the society are defined and embodied in the character and integrity of the head, being the President it will trickle down the ladder to the people. That is why the former Prime Minister of Singapore and founding father of that country, Lee Kuan Yew, who died recently, was able to excel. He started by outlawing corruption, a case of zero tolerance for corruption and with that he had funds through which he turned Singapore from a tiny British outpost, a small port city to a wealthy global hub. The people stood by him not creating any obstacle to his plans.
So Buhari would need to partner with the Judiciary and the Legislature because come to think of it, the people had gone deep into corruption and taking benefit of it and these are people in high places. I know that he cannot do it all alone because the damage is too much but he has to set the tone.
Then he would have to find a way to deal with youth unemployment because youths are the engine room of any economy or nation. So the youths must be well placed in the scheme of things. Then he has to deal with infrastructure like the electricity system, bad roads, the railway, all of these must be seen
to be working. Even our so-called international airports are not international in the real sense of it. If you have travelled widely, you will know. The first way to know how serious a nation is starts from their airport. Visitors should be able to determine what your nation is up to from your point of entry. That is
why the economy must not be left in the hands of dubious people; he must not allow himself to be led to run a black market economy. You will not believe that our foreign exchange system as it were now lies in the hands of black marketers. No serious nation does that.
Security of lives and properties is another matter that must be tackled seriously. His military experience should be an advantage to guide him in making the military to work and achieve results.

There are insinuations that corrupt people surround President Buhari, how will he be able to cope with them while embarking on these reforms?

I quite agree with you. We all have this concern about people around
him who we can say had destroyed this nation one way or the other. However, I think God can use anybody. By the time he starts work, if the steps are false we will know but I pray he doesn’t. All he need let people know is that there is no special treatment for anybody and that he would follow the real tenets of the rule of law.

But in partnering with the Legislators and Judiciary will the separation of powers not be jeopardized?

It will not, in fact this will make the separation of power work better. Because once they have a meeting on the fundamental objectives on how to move the nation forward, the heads of each of the units will carry the message down to their constituency and this will foster cooperation. Separation of power does not banish cooperation. The fact is, there must be cooperation for the separation of power to work effectively because none of the arms of government can work as an island on its own.
Now in this era, would you say Nigeria has arrived at a government of the people, by the people for the people, Democracy?

Well, we have not arrived yet but we are on the way to true democracy. Definitely, we are not where we were yesterday. With what happened in the just concluded election, though not the best, not the most perfect but it is a step forward.
At the helms of affairs now in the country is a Muslim President, man of indisputable integrity and a Vice President, a devout Christian, man of integrity and sound legal background. Can we safely say that we now have a balanced capable leadership in Nigeria?

Ordinarily speaking, we have a combination that should generate integrity, probity and accountability. With their style of living, we should have good progress and this will make the greater number of Nigerians happy in the government, though they cannot please everybody. We hope for the best, God forbid that they would get it wrong, it will be very bad. They have so much at stake, their integrity and the promises they made. As a stakeholder on issues of Nigeria, I believe they would not fail and they cannot afford to fail. And as a man of God, I am saying as a matter of prayer that they will not fail. I wish them well.

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