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OPINION…2023: Whose agenda?



OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

NIGERIA will not cease to amaze and to amuse. It would have been unending fun and thrills but for the pains, privations and sufferings inflicted on citizens. But we will not stop trudging on in the spirit of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s eternal and chart-busting song, Suferin and Smiling.

Somehow some strange things will never stop to happen to our polity and to other related areas of our national life as we move towards general elections every four years. Many of the happenings do not have explanations and they often defy logic and reason. Nigerians know, however, that there is a drummer beating the drum for the fowl dancing on the dirt road to the village square.

The strange things that happen ahead of our general elections were not pronounced that much since the return to democracy between 1999 and 2015. But since the advent of the All Progressives Congress [APC] political party of this President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, there has been a marked deterioration in unsettling happenings ahead of every general elections.

For instance, weeks before the reelection of Buhari in 2019, a sitting chief justice of Nigeria, Walter Onoghen was arrested and arraigned before a Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged failure to properly declare his assets. The Code of Conduct Tribunal is under the Executive branch of government and it is headed by a barely literate man of northern extraction. The same man was later associated with beating up a security guard at the parking lot of a plaza in Abuja.

Walter Onoghen was dethroned just before the 2019 elections. There was no evidence but it was said, not in whispers, that the President’s minders were pretty convinced that the 2019 presidential election would be contested in the Supreme Court. And they were not sure that Walter Onoghen as head of the Judicial branch of government would be sympathetic to their case. True to their prognosis, the main opposition People’s Democratic Party [PDP] took their grievances to the apex court. They lost. Predictably. The election was awarded to the ruling APC, and the incumbent President, Gen. Buhari.

Onoghen from the so-called minority South South region of the country was replaced by one Ibrahim Muhammad Tanko, a northerner. Seniority in the bench counts for something in accession to the office of chief justice of Nigeria. So, there was nothing wrong in Tanko occupying that office at that time. But it was curious that a Muslim President who wears his sectarian bonafides on his sleeves was so desperate to replace a Christian chief justice with a rabid Muslim. Tanko contrived to embarrass himself, those who were promoting him to an office he was obviously unfit to occupy, and the country. In response to a question during his confirmation hearing in the Senate on what would be his attitude to deciding cases on legal technicalities, Tanko likened it to someone ‘driving’ an aircraft, one of the many other displays of stark illiteracy.

The cabal pushing Tanko was working from the answer. Everything else was irrelevant. He was confirmed by a compliant and rubber stamp Senate. Discerning members of the society held their breath. But to what end. Soon after, the new chief justice said at a public lecture in Kaduna that Muslims in the Executive and the Legislature and ostensibly the Judiciary should change the laws of Nigeria to make them Sharia-compliant. He said that after all they had the numbers. Some Nigerians expressed alarm. Tanko’s Supreme Court issued a tame and half-hearted disclaimer.
Now we are on the eve of another general elections and some strange moves are beginning to manifest. First was our supposed central bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, buying the nomination and expression of interest forms to contest for the presidential ticket of the ruling party. He even went to court to stake his right to fight for the office while he was still the apex bank governor. He saw nothing wrong with his brandishing his APC membership card. He failed in his gamble. And yet he was allowed to keep the office.

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No surprise then that everything Emefiele had done since has been seen from partisan political prism. His Naira redesign, ‘recolouring’ really, and other monetary policy posturing have been regarded as an attempt to get back at politicians who dealt with him during the APC primary election. And the politicians, on their own part, are bent on further humiliating him. To start with they have forced him to virtually scrap his ill-conceived weekly cash withdrawal limit.

For the politicians, getting Emefiele to eat the humble pie is not enough. They have forced him to go into hiding. They set the secret police to hunt him down on accusation of his sponsoring terrorism. A central bank governor sponsoring terrorism? Absurdity has no better description. The angry political elite are now waiting for Emefiele in the national assembly where he had repeatedly scorned lawmakers’ summons to defend his new monetary policy. This time he is accused of recklessly and illegally printing Naira and advancing same as loans to the federal government. As we write the whereabouts of Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, are said to be unknown.

With barely six weeks to the presidential election, the attention of the cabal is now laser focused on the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC], Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. There had been attempts to force him from office. Those appeared to have been rebuffed. There’s ongoing determination to compel the Commission not to use the Bimodal Voter Verification System [BVAS] and electronic transmission of election results. The transactional political class of the ruling APC and their collaborators elsewhere appear not to be succeeding. The latest trick is to use the Onoghen card of non-declaration assets to oust the INEC chairman. For the avoidance of doubt, the same INEC helmsman who superintended the flawed and rigged 2019 presidential election may not be above board really.
Gen. Buhari has repeatedly vowed about his commitment to deliver free, fair and credible elections this year. But words are not enough. The uncertainty and instability in many areas of our national life do not conduce for a free election which results will approximate the expression of the will of the Nigerian voters. Buhari has been a military head of state and now a two-term President. But somehow he has managed not to rise to the level of a statesman. Will 2023 confirm that he is a sectional leader with a questionable competence?

AUTHOR: Ugo Onuoha

Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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