Buhari Fiddles While Nigeria is on Fire


By Roland Terkula

Nero Claudius Drasus Germaniscus was the 5th Emperor of the Roman Empire between 54- 68AD. His ascension to the throne in 54AD was received with immense vortex of joy and jubilation within the ranks of both the plebeians and the patricians. Shortly after, it was discovered that among other ailments, that Nero had an ear problem. This led Nero into rampant paranoia and melancholy of suspicion of not only the Roman senators but even his mother, brothers, and his subalterns.

Further research on Nero revealed that he was so callous, self indulgent and unforgiving that he thrived mostly on cold revenge. He was so self indulgent that he was said to have “fiddled while Rome was on fire”. This among others, prompted Petronius to refer to Nero as “the incendiary of the Roman expire”. Nero’s high-handedness, tyranny and cold-bloodedness would come full cycle when he descended on the Roman Senators with charges of conspiracy.

According to the literatures, “his accusations of conspiracy against him became a self-fulfilling prophecy, when enough senators finally realized that they would be accused of conspiracy by Nero, whether they conspired against him or not, so they might as well conspire against him”. In desperation, Nero killed his mother, Agrippa and his step brother, Britannicus and when his guards deserted him, he went on for self-murder.

Nigeria gave their mandate to President Muhammadu Buhari in March, 2015 on several campaign promises that included but not limited to- an unbiased fight on corruption, stable power supply, Naira-Dollar equality, reduction of pump price of petroleum products, accessible loan to small and medium scale industries, mass employment, wealth creation and new wealth base, food sufficiency, five thousand naira monthly stipend to the unemployed, elimination of Boko Haram, etc. Such were the expectations of the new administration by Nigerians. It was an administration that promised a new beginning. In fact, all sensible Nigerians decided to lend support to the president with an emerald capacity to turn events in the Africa’s largest democracy.

In a very strange development, the very party everybody looked up to for good governance became laggard and inept. The falcon could no longer hear the falconer and things fell apart. Even the leadership of the ruling party, the All Peoples Congress (APC), from day one was sidelined in the process of selecting the cabinet members such that it took months to constitute the federal executive council which turned out to be uninspiring.

One year scorecard of the Buhari administration suffers a well- defined philosophical framework and reads like a parchment on the scroll of mindless iniquities. In the first place, there is no discernible economic team to drive the economy; the much touted Naira-Dollar equality has become a ruse with the Naira posting an all-time low against the dollar and; our naira devalued. Buhari’s war on corruption is not just selective but also vindictive. This fact is known both at home and abroad such that a former chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, in his treatise titled Buhari is the problem, not the solution rightly explained that the Buhari fight on corruption is selective.

The power outages are now very abysmal and the gen-sets cannot be activated on account of high pump price of petroleum products. Unemployment has so worsened that banks had to sack their workers. The health-care system including the State House clinic is so dilapidated that the president and his acolytes have to seek the least of medical treatment abroad. The cost of food items such as rice, beans, tomato, garri etc are sky high. Over eighty percent of the working population treks to and fro work on a daily basis for wages with no purchasing power.

Above all, the major Nigerian fault lines have never been as noticeable as it is under President Buhari. His policy on government patronage according to the voting pattern during the 2015 general election has kept the South South and the South East of Nigeria gapping for breath. Such un-presidential and un-statesmanly patronage-voting policy has rather exacerbated the ethnic tensions and identity crises in Nigeria. As the victory over Boko Haram insurgency is yet to be accomplished, the raging Fulani herdsmen feel emboldened with the Buhari administration. The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the Biafran resurgence, excruciating hardship, etc and more, are the various problems that should strike the heart of a passionate president.

On June 20, 2016 almost all the Nigerian newspapers carried a front page report on the frosty relationship between the National Assembly (especially the Senate) and the Federal Executive. The kernel of all these screaming headlines was that the executive is intent on forcing a leadership change in the Senate without recourse to the principles of separation of power. The gravamen is that Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the President and Deputy President of the Senate respectively were not the anointed persons by the President for the leadership positions. Since June 9, 2015, President Buhari has not hidden his intention to have both officers removed not minding the fact that the 8th Senate has on several occasions passed vote of confidence on the senate leadership.

In response to such abuse of powers, the spokesman of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi has alerted the good people of Nigeria and the international community, that our democracy is in danger and that the attempt by the executive arm of the Federal Government to muzzle the legislature and criminalize legislative processes in order to cause leadership change in the National Assembly is a return to the era of impunity and lack of respect for due process which we all fought to abolish.

According to Abdullahi, the Senate of the Federal Republic voted freely to elect its leadership into office and continuing attempts to change that leadership through the wanton abuse of judicial processes cannot stand in the eyes of the world” The senate spokesman added that “Nigerian people have enough economic hardship at this time requiring the full attention and cooperation of the three arms of government, instead of these attempts to distract and politicize governance. The senate cautioned that the maturity and hand of co-operation being extended to the presidency by the legislature is not a sign of weakness. And that they had “bent backwards  to accommodate various infractions and inefficiencies in pursuit of inter-arms co-operation and national interest and bigger issues which the government has to attend to in order to ensure that every Nigerian has food on his table and live comfortably in a secure environment”.

Accordingly, “we are in a state of economic emergency such that what the National Assembly needs at this time are executive bills and proposals aimed at resolving the crises of unemployment, currency depreciation, inflation, crime and insecurity”

In a well worded motion titled: The imminent threat to our democracy by Senator Dino Melaye which was duly seconded and unanimously adopted by the senate on Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the senate regrets that the executive arm of the government as presently constituted is still to come to terms with the constitutional tenets of separation of powers and the independence of the legislative arm of the government. He further noted that current attempt to arraign the leadership of the senate over an internal matter of the senate and claim spuriously a forgery that does not exist is a smoke screen for an impending attempt to overthrow the legislative arm of the government. Based on the above backdrop, the senate resolved to summon the Attorney General of the Federation to the Senate. The House of Representatives of the National Assembly in it’s motion also frowned at the executive recklessness.” Adopting a motion by Rep Tajuddeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi), the House said that the planned arraignment of Saraki and Ekweremadu was “a deliberate and concerted attack on the National Assembly to render it useless in the eyes of the general public.”

It said a Federal High Court in Abuja had in July and August 2015, ruled that the allegation of forgery was an internal affair of the National Assembly, which should not be pried into by the Inspector General of Police, the Attorney-General or the Judiciary. The House further urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on members of the executive to desist from taking steps that would cripple the legislature”

For the president to remain fixated on selecting the leadership of the National Assembly against the known tenets of democracy is to say the least most dictatorial. President Buhari, instead of confronting the plethora of problems facing the country, has chosen to act the Nero of the Roman Empire who fiddled while Rome was on fire.

–Terkula lives in Makurdi