ON the issue of the Indigenous People of Nigeria [IPOB] and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Nigeria’s President, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari deserves pity or sympathy or a combination of the two. If you want to irritate the man who has led Nigeria backwards by more than 30 years in just seven years of his presidency, ask him a question on IPOB and Kanu, sit back and watch the contortions in his face and the twitching signifying the messages emitting from his legendary body language.
Just in case you have forgotten, Buhari’s hailers at the inception of his presidency in 2015 told us that the man is taciturn and does not talk much but that we should quickly learn the fine art of reading the body language of the then ”new sheriff in town”. Trust Nigerians. We trust easily. And unquestioningly. And we obey whole heartedly. How could we have not? Prior to the elections of 2015, Nigerians were yearning and yawning for a messiah to spring them from the feeble and enfeebled hands of a ‘’clueless’’ President Goodluck ‘Ebele’ Jonathan, an associate Igbo man and the band of bandits in the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP].
At that time if public electricity supply endured in your neighbourhood for ten uninterrupted hours, it was not due to the diligence of the electricity workers or even good fortune, but it was the body language of the newly minted President, Gen. Buhari that was at work. If a whistleblower blew the lid on corruption, it was not because of the incentive accruable to the squealer but the body language of the ”no-nonsense’ Army General that compelled and propelled the whistleblower to speak up. In like manner, credit goes to the ubiquitous and magical president’s body language for a tick down in the rate of inflation and an infinitesimal upswing in the Gross Domestic Product [GDP].
It was the same for whenever the armed forces scored any victory in the war against sectarian insurgents in the besieged north east of the country where the Islamist Boko Haram and Ansaru and ISWAP had laid siege for years. Our ears were assailed by, and with, the ceaseless songs of a new sheriff in town and how he was decimating the insurgents, fighting corruption, returning internally displaced persons [IDPs] to their ancestral homes and imbuing hopes in beleaguered Nigerians about a better tomorrow, without his lifting a finger.
Finally, a Daniel had come to judgement. No. Our long awaited messiah has arrived. Some Nigerians, during the mirage, behaved like ‘drunken sailors’. By the way, you couldn’t have forgotten that it was Buhari and his All Progressives Congress [APC] marauders and insurgents who coined this appellation and successfully hung same on the neck of the then President Jonathan and his ruling PDP in 2014, prior to the elections in 2015. It must be said, however, that a few discerning citizens saw through the charade and kept their heads. Some also spoke up and warned about the consequences of the overwhelming creeping herd mentality. But theirs was the case of a voice in the wilderness. As we say in Nigeria – How market?
But for the danger with dealing with a person who does not or who seldom talks, Nigerians, certainly the Igbo, would have been better off with a dumb president. Whenever Gen. Buhari talks, he spews hate, dislike, division and tension. When he acts he exacerbates the country’s fault lines through nepotistic appointments and sundry actions. The highpoint of Buhari’s first, and I verily believe only, live Media Chat in December of 2015 was the question he posed to Nigerians – What do the Igbo want? The question was not borne out of the altruistic desire to heal and reconcile the various nations in Nigeria. Rather it was to spite the Igbo and to remind them that they are powerless.
At every opportunity Buhari continued to speak out of the abundance of his heart. In the United States of America in 2015, he talked about denying Ndigbo their due in his vow to deal with those who voted five percent for him in that year’s presidential election. In his recent interactions with American news outlet Bloomberg and the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Buhari once again made IPOB and Kanu an issue. He busied himself canvassing for the international community to designate IPOB as a terrorist organisation and Kanu a terrorist. His obsession with Kanu now bothers on pettiness. For instance, he argues, and rightly so, that there won’t be a reprieve for Kanu except as determined by the court. But Gen. Buhari knows that his regime is not interested in prosecuting Kanu. Or how do you explain the whimsical amendments of charges preferred against the suspect since his apparent extraordinary rendition reportedly from Kenya.
It is expected that Gen. Buhari should have known by now that the global community is not interested in Nigeria’s ill-conceived and ill-digested labelling of IPOB. Agitations for self determination are not crimes by themselves. Violence begets violence and IPOB started off as a nonviolent body until the security agencies became overzealous and trigger-happy with reports of shooting and killing unarmed protesters. Reports are replete of such instances as documented by Amnesty International and other local organisations.
Nothing that we have written should be construed as an endorsement of the later ill-advised action by IPOB on the issue of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the publicly stated motives for setting up the militia notwithstanding. No government allows such brazen challenge to its authority. It is worse when the affront was coming from a section that suffers favour deficits.
It does not matter that that same regime took almost forever to designate blood- thirsty bandits as terrorists and has refused or neglected up till today to tag the rampaging and murderous herdsmen as terrorists. This may be the case of different strokes for different folks.
When Gen. Buhari became president of Nigeria at the fourth try, he committed to fighting insecurity, corruption and improving the economy. We will cite three instances on these key promises of the regime and allow you be the judge. The average growth of the economy under Buhari in seven years has been one percent. And within that period the economy had twice slipped into recession with the prospect of another before he leaves office on May 29, 2023. Nigeria with a population of about one sixth of India’s, struggles with the Asian country for the world’s capital of poverty.
On brick and mortar issues, here’s where Buharinomics has landed us. In May 2015, one US dollar exchanged for N190. Now it is N420 in the stage managed official market and N610 in the free market. Petrol per litre was N87 in 2015, now it is N165 in Lagos and Abuja but between N180-N200 in other parts of the country. During the same period of seven years, a litre of kerosene jumped from N150 to N800; diesel N150 to N800; VAT 5percent to 7.5 percent; electricity/kwh N24.50-N60; 12.5kg cooking gas from N3,500-N10,000; 50kg bag of rice N8,000-N30,000; 50kg bag of beans from N20,000 in 2015 to N45,000; inflation from 9.1percent to 17.71percent and unemployment from 7.3percent to 11.3percent.
On Buhari’s performance on security, we will quote excerpts from a statement issued on Sunday by the Commissioner for Information in Zamfara state, Ibrahim Dosara. He said: (Zamfara state)”Government has henceforth, directed individuals to prepare and obtain guns to defend themselves against the bandits, as the government has directed the state commissioner of police to issue a licence to all those who qualify and are wishing to obtain such guns to defend themselves”. He added that indigenes and residents should apply to the commissioner of police for ”licence to own guns and such other basic weapons to be used in defending themselves”. What further evidence do you need to be convinced that the regime has failed on this core mandate. Zamfara is not the first nor the only state government to pass a vote of no confidence on the central government.
On the war on corruption this regime removed any veneer of seriousness or fidelity to the project when about two months ago it suddenly pardoned two former governors who were jailed for stealing.
The highlighted issues are the areas you would expect a serious leader to be obsessed with and to have passion for. But not Gen. Buhari, a man who has devalued Nigeria’s Presidency by treating it as a prize to be won, not a call to a sacred duty.
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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