What Temerity!

BY SHAKA MOMODU

Fellow Nigerians, it is no longer in the realm of speculation that our reticent general would seek a second term in office. His infamous body language is speaking volumes about his intention. His supporters under the umbrella of the Buhari Support Organisation have already launched Buhari’s 2019 bid. His foot soldiers have commenced nocturnal meetings to sell to the public what they know in their heart of hearts is a bad product. Although this has provoked incredulity and anger among many Nigerians, it is not enough however. Our discomfiture must be backed by unwavering action.

This is therefore a clarion call to all those who truly wish Nigeria’s progress, to rise up and oppose any attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election in 2019. Although he has the constitutional right to do so, the surprising thing really is that he has the audacity to even nurse the idea of a second term after failing so spectacularly to deliver on any of his campaign promises. Instead, he has created more problems in the country than he met. He is constantly giving excuses for the glaring incompetence of his government while blaming others for his poor leadership; and he is quick to claim credit for the work of others.

Fellow Nigerians, such a bid will not be in the national interest. It is not just a patriotic duty to oppose his re-election in 2019, it is in the overriding national public interest to deny him the opportunity to continue in office beyond 2019. Failure cannot be rewarded with a fresh mandate. 

Frivolous solidarity visits have already begun, to urge him to contest and remain in office till 2023 “to enable him finish the good work he has started”.  Some useful idiots are already telling him that “he is the only one who can save Nigeria”. All I have for those peddling this narrative is utter contempt. If you recall, that was the same thing they told the late General Sani Abacha. The former governor of old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo even went to the extremes when he threatened to commit suicide if Abacha did not succeed himself. After the death of Abacha, he was reminded severally by the media to carry out his threat, but he would have none of it. Chief Nwobodo is still around, defecting from one Church denomination to another, and from one political party to another in search of bread and butter. I wouldn’t be surprised if another lunatic  threatens to commit suicide if Buhari fails to contest in 2019. Man repeats history and turn around to blame history for repeating itself.

All patriotic Nigerians who genuinely mean well for this country must come together to stop Buhari. A second term of Buhari in power will cause a grave and near irreparable harm to our nation’s unity in diversity and whatever will be left of it by the time he finishes his first term. Nigeria is already dancing on the tip of a pin. It is unthinkable to imagine a continuation of the foreboding nightmare much longer.

For some of us who had warned that Buhari lacked the capacity, competence and wherewithal to govern a modern and diverse society like ours, his performance so far is damning evidence of a visionless leadership foretold. It is a cold vindication of an unbiased assessment of the then-candidate Buhari. It was never about personal hatred or party affiliation. It was a vigorous interrogation of the evidence of his previous record in public office, viz. the narrow prism of his worldview, his impunity and contempt for due process and sensitive policies designed to promote national unity, his palpable nepotism and legendary ethnic disposition, his poor leadership style, and above all, his lack of vision predicated on a broad national renaissance of Nigeria. All these to me, made him unsuited for the office of president. His request to the World Bank president to concentrate the bank’s development assistance to the country in the north is quite telling here.

The man who rode on that powerful, all-encompassing magic word of CHANGE to power unfortunately had no vision that crystalises change and national rebirth that he and his party promised a desperate people yearning for a new direction. It has turned out that the people blindly and foolishly placed their hopes and expectations on a man totally ineffectual, and totally bereft of fresh ideas to move the nation forward.

Come to think of it, is it not ironic that a man who has failed so abysmally to achieve anything other than exacerbate the nation’s fault lines like never before wants another term? Does he want to finally bring down the roof on everybody? The mistake of 2015 MUST not be repeated. Buhari has so far failed all those who took a big leap of fate and trusted him with their vote and support to berth a new nation.

We must take our country back. We must collectively decide whether Nigeria lives or dies. We are starkly aware of the risks of re-electing Buhari. It is a choice between going back in time and moving forward in progress, a choice between the illusion of reality and actual reality. There is no sitting on the fence anymore. We all must choose; either you are with Nigeria or you are with Buhari. There is no sugar-coating the dire situation in which we’re in anymore, or pretending that what is clearly obvious to all is not.

Let everyone within the voting age register so that on election day, we can decide the future of our country. Let us deliver a message to him and his supporters. Even if INEC would like to put its thumb on the scale to favour Buhari, let’s tie its hands by overwhelmingly voting out Buhari. We cannot continue to pretend that whatever happens to Nigeria is not our business. It is as much my business as it is yours. We have a duty to rise up and save this country from our leaders.

If the campaign to re-elect Buhari elicits no vigorous response and challenge now, it may be too late before we realise and try to fight back for the soul of our country. We cannot approach this with indifference any longer because indifference is always the friend of the enemy. Not to respond to the current attempt to foist Buhari on Nigerians again in 2019 will amount to accepting that we are powerless to change Nigeria’s hopeless drift into perdition under him. We must have the courage to tell the enemies of this country that we have already paid a huge price for electing Buhari and that another term of him in office is not an acceptable preposition. For those who feel a sense of loyalty to support Buhari because of party or ethnic affinity, there is a higher loyalty and duty to country which is a nobler cause to live and die for.

Now, let us even review Buhari’s term in office so far: What has he really achieved to be worthy of another term?  He rose to power on the tripod of fighting insecurity, corruption and restoring the economy. On these three key issues, he has failed spectacularly. Apart from the partial containment of Boko Haram which Buhari prematurely announced as a “technical” defeat in December 2015 and an “effective” defeat in 2016, insecurity in the country has grown worse. While he has repeatedly claimed that no part of the country’s territory is under the control of the evil terrorists, the recent United Nations report definitively gives the lie to that claim when it stated that three local government areas were still fully under Boko Haram’s control while so many areas liberated were still unsafe owing to the fear of attacks.

Under Buhari, Fulani herdsmen have simply gone berserk – killing and maiming thousands and burning down villages unchallenged. Nigerians have never witnessed such terrifying ferocity of violence that has been unleashed by these once-upon-a-time peaceful herdsmen who since Buhari won power have transformed into mindless killers and kidnappers. What has the government done? Nothing! It is now a fact of our new reality that if someone is not killed by the killer herdsmen encroaching on their farmland or just marauding in towns, then the herdsmen might as well kidnap them. They torture male victims, rape women and girls in communities and villages, and extort hugeransoms before their victims regain freedom. Our security agencies have simply failed the country. Buhari has looked on without a care in the world and without doing much or even as much as empathise with the people who have faced unprovoked violence. He has been distant and aloof to their pain.

Under Buhari the Nigerian state has failed to demonstrate its essence and relevance. Security of lives and properties is near zero. On a general note, Nigeria has become a huge den of kidnappers, as the people are left to their fate. Even security agents are being kidnapped on a daily basis and ransoms paid by their families or government agencies to secure their release. This is the state of Nigeria under Buhari, the man who purportedly came to make things better. Any leader who is unable to guarantee the security of the lives and properties of his people is unfit to lead. Buhari has demonstrably failed on this all-important front except for those who pretend that facts should be called something else. I cannot do that.

More than anything else, Buhari’s perceived reputation of being incorruptible and his pledge to launch a crackdown on corruption was the most significant selling element that won him the presidency. After two and a half years in office, anyone who still doubts that this government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Buhari is not fighting corruption, but fighting his real and peceived enemies, who still believes in the much-touted transparency and due process, who still wonders whether the change that berthed in Nigeria in March 2015 was not a fluke, then Dr Ibe Kachukwu’s damning letter to the president about Malkanti Baru, the GMD of NNPC’s “bravado management style” is your answer.

Now the joke is all on those who believed that Buhari represented change and would build the country of our dreams, some of whom trooped out of their homes on March 28 to elect him to power. The joke is on all those who alongside Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Professor Wole Soyinka, Professor Pat Utomi, Professor Charles Soludo, Professor Tam David West, prominent human rights lawyers, etc. strangely deluded themselves that Buhari had changed and therefore was the best person to move Nigeria forward. Collectively, they put a knife on the fragile things that hold us together and Nigeria is falling apart. It was the greed for power by Tinubu that has put Nigeria in this mess. All the red flags of his past record of ethno/religious bigotry were branded as “contrived handicaps” to make him look bad. Well we know better now what was “contrived” and what was not.

A government that sold itself on anti-corruption, strict adherence to due process and transparency has been caught red-handed in a whopping $25 billion contract award that breached all laid down legal and   due processes. Particularly worrisome is that some of those contracts were awarded when the president was away in London on sick leave after he had transferred presidential power to the vice president. The question is, how could he have signed those contracts after he had divested himself of executive powers? Was it a case of one nation, two presidents? Shame on Buhari’s supporters who have pretended in the past two years that Buhari was cleaning the mess left behind by the last government.

It was heart-warming that the Senate quickly set up a committee headed by Senator Aliyu  Wammako to probe NNPC contracts award after Kachikwu’s letter was made public. The committee was scheduled to commence sitting, but our beleaguered president immediately invited Wammako to Aso Rock as reported in the media. Since then, nothing has been heard about the committee meant to probe the $25 billion contracts awarded by Baru with the approval of the president but without due process. The question is, why did Buhari with unusual speed and alacrity intervene to obviously stop the probe? Was he afraid of being embarrassed by the evidence of corruption and breach of due process that would have been unearthed by the Senate? Where is the transparency? The holier-than-thou posture of this government has been shattered beyond redemption.

If that is not enough to put your doubts to rest, the reinstatement in the Civil Service of Abdulrasheed Maina, the former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Task Team, his subsequent promotion and even the government’s immediate payment of his arrears of entitlements of N22million should rile your senses. How many pensioners have been this lucky? Clearly only someone that has a privileged relationship with the real power brokers gets such special treatment. Following public criticism of Maina’s reinstatement, the Buhari administration took the art of finger-pointing to a ridiculous level by accusing officials of the immediate-past administration of reinstating Maina.  In case you have forgotten, Maina was declared wanted for alleged N2billion fraud of pension funds during the Goodluck Jonathan presidency.

For those who claimed that Buhari was not in the know, the revelation by Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, the Head of Service, that she warned Buhari about the grave implications of reinstating Maina shows beyond an iota of a doubt that the president knew quite well about the surreptitious reinstatement of Maina and did nothing to stop it. His razzmatazz after the scandal blew open was only meant to save face.

On the economy, Buhari’s performance so far has been a disaster. He inherited an economy growing at 2.35 per cent in May 2015 and under a year, he plunged it into the worst recession in 25 years with the attendant mass poverty and hunger in the land. The misery index is at an all-time high. His policies (if any) have triggered a wave of massive retrenchment of workers across all sectors of the economy, while hundreds of companies have been forced to shut down on account of the economic downturn.

Even as some diehard Buhari supporters continue to deny and exonerate him of articulable suspicion  and outright complicity in the many own goals the administration has scored, some candid insider assessments were delivered recently by no less a person than Hammeed Ali, the Comptroller-General of Customs, who is a staunch Buhari ally. He declared emphatically that the government has derailed. He lamented further: “It is my belief that those of us who have been in the trenches all these years to get good governance will surely be sleeping with bellyache every day; especially in the recent past. Everyday, when you wake up, there is a story that makes you shiver.”  Need one say more?