Fellow Nigerians, where do I start from? How do I even begin to quilt together the unfolding events and drama in this APC-led government for posterity? Things are happening at such dizzying speed that I can hardly keep pace. The fierce battle between the truth and falsehood appears to be coming to a decided end. For a while, the massive web of lies and half-truths seemed to prevail but as it’s usually the case, anything built on a lie never really lasts long.
As it now appears all too obvious to some of the ardent supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari, the final chapter of lies is about to be written about a government whose tenure began on a magical note but is ending in tragedy: poverty, inflation and unemployment levels have all reached all-time highs. Poverty and disease have become a never-ending cycle.
I am amused to say the least, at how events have turned full circle in such a short span of time; Nigerians are witnessing grim echoes of the 1980s with 21st century lenses. Though a few pretenders are still holding out on lies, while others are living in the delusional spasm of hope that this directionless government will get its acts together, it is striking that the support base of the president has been eroded so badly in less than two years in office that you would think he has done a decade steering the ship of state.
Despite the fact that they continue to peddle alternative facts that are as useless as Monopoly money, the truth remains the government cannot give what it doesn’t have. Some of us saw through the elaborate charade called “change” by mindless scammers masquerading as reformers, and warned Nigerians to look beneath the veil that carefully masked the danger to the Nigerian project that Buhari represents, but many wouldn’t listen.
From the very first intervention I made to challenge the attempt to wish away Buhari’s unsuitability for president, titled, ‘Buhari: When Facts Become Contrived’ published December 20, 2014 till date, I have maintained my position that Buhari is part of Nigeria’s problems and that what the country needed was a complete break from people like him to usher in a new beginning for Project Nigeria to move forward.
Anyone reading various analyses of Nigeria’s situation in the foreign media in the last couple of weeks would be amazed at how fast the honeymoon the foreign media had with Buhari has come full circle. Remember he rode to power on the back of powerful endorsements and support from great institutions like The Economist, Financial Times (FT), etc. Well, they have all now turned against him.
Here is an excerpt from a recent article in FT titled, Nigeria’s President is Missing in Action: “There is an irony that Mr Buhari, a retired major-general, is missing in action. He ran the country as a military ruler in the mid-1980s after seizing power in a coup. In civilian guise, his leadership style has verged on the invisible. After winning power in 2015 on the fourth attempt at the ballot box, he set out at a pace that has marked his presidency: it took him six months to name a cabinet. Hopes that he had surrounded himself with a lean team of capable technocrats empowered to get policy cranking have come to naught. Policy making — such that it is — has been crafted instead by a tiny cabal of loyal, less qualified, stalwarts. Mr Buhari has failed to articulate anything approaching a vision.”
When Buhari was still in London, The Economist on its part wrote an editorial titled, ‘Who’s running Nigeria?’ Here are excerpts: “It is the troubled economy, though, that looms largest now in Africa’s most populous country. Mr Buhari was inaugurated soon after the collapse of global oil prices. But instead of accepting reality (exports and government revenues are dominated by the black stuff), he reverted to policies he implemented when last in power in the 1980s, namely propping up the currency. This has led to shortages of foreign exchange, squeezing imports. ….. If Mr Buhari remains in London much longer, his absence could provide a window for Nigeria’s technocratic vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo to push through a proper devaluation. Mr Osinbajo, currently in charge, has proved an energetic antidote to his ponderous boss, visiting the Delta for peace talks and announcing measures intended to boost Nigeria’s position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, in which it currently ranks a lowly 169 out of 190.”
Suddenly, Buhari’s absence provided a window for proper policy implementation? In other words, the foreign media was now acknowledging that Buhari is part of the problem of the Nigerian economy? When you juxtapose all that with the hyperbolic accolades showered on him in endorsements and the magical powers ascribed to him in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election, then you would realise how much this government’s support base has been eroded.
I am however unimpressed with these great institutions for choosing to substitute historical facts and actualities with alternative facts packaged by brand experts – just to “sell” a candidate in the run-up to the elections.
Similarly, many supporters who saw Buhari as a messiah whom the gods had said would come, are now saying he should have stayed back in London for the remainder of his term so that the country can make progress. They point to the sudden drop in tension across the country during his absence, the inclusive approach of the then acting president as evidence that Buhari’s governance model was largely the problem. His infamous 97 per cent and 5 per cent division of the country, his attitude of “us” versus “them”, using the apparatus of state in his war of attrition against perceived opponents and his flawed sense of equity and justice – that of one nation, two moralities – exemplified by his exculpation of the SGF Babachir Lawal – have helped fuel needless divisions all over the country and created unnecessary tensions in the land.
Recently, I have been having a good laugh at the supporters of Buhari’s change; people who invested time, money and energy. Surprisingly, a few are still clinging on to a tiny strand of hope that things would change for the better under him. The fervour of their support was so powerful that they were ready to burn down the country and lynch anyone who cautioned their optimism about their most improbable candidate of “change”.
It is also tempting to laugh at the many intellectuals who staked their prodigious reputations earned in a lifetime to endorse and bring back to power, one of the least qualified persons to rule modern Nigeria, 30 years after he was first kicked out of office. I mean a constellation of men of timber and calibre, with a rich repository of history, renowned worldwide for their intellectual abilities. How could they not have seen the red flags that were so visible? Perhaps, they saw them but chose to be willfully blinded.
Sentimental considerations and fake news, amplified by a conniving media, rather than the rigour of interrogation and objective appraisal of the evidence – suddenly became the gospel truth. They are complicit in Nigeria’s Hobbesian situation today where life is brutish, nasty and short. A once thriving country has been reduced to a tragic wasteland for businesses and the security of lives and properties is now a tall preposition.
As regards Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, one cannot help but laugh like a drain at him. The Jagaban is the architect and godfather of Buhari’s change; we hear he is tired of being a kingmaker or more appropriately, he is tired of being left out in the cold and now wants to be the king. He was reported to be preparing to contest to become the president of Nigeria less than two years after foisting the present disaster on the country. He has denied the report quite alright, but there is no smoke without fire. Mark my word, Tinubu will contest. It is usually the ways of politicians, to first deny their plans, and then come out later to say they were pressured by friends and political constituents to make the pitch.
But what could be so forcefully definitive that Tinubu knows that we don’t know as to even give the hint he could run when some ridiculous clowns and regime apologists like Rochas Okorocha and the grass-cutting Babachir Lawal are already campaigning for Buhari in 2019?
This same man who hypnotised Nigerians with sweet nothings and led them to commit collective suicide in the name of change is at his cunning best once again. It is a shame that he wants to now turn round to ask for our votes to become the president. What lies would he campaign on this time? His experiment has landed Nigeria in recession and massive economic “compression”, first in 25 years. It would be interesting to hear him campaign. Wait a moment – will he continue to blame the last administration in his soon-to-be-launched presidential campaign for the country’s misery, or will he have the nerve to blame Buhari for making a bad situation worse several times more like Charles Soludo has pointed out? Time will tell.
First, in March 2016, Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu of Borgu, the aggrieved self-acclaimed National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) wrote a long and strongly-worded epistle, tearing into Dr Ibe Kachukwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and then Group Managing Director of the NNPC for saying he was not a magician who could end fuel scarcity overnight. Tinubu latched on that innocuous statement to launch an all-out assault on the minister who was just a convenient punching bag for Jagaban to vent his frustrations. Of course only the undiscerning would not have known that Tinubu’s missiles were intended for the big, taciturn and aloof masquerade. Poor Kachukwu! He had to lick his wounds in silence.
Despite his best efforts to rebuild his political reach, Tinubu was outsmarted in Ondo. Sensing that the leadership of the party was not ready to yield to his demand for a repeat of the primary, he sent an explosive love letter to his party chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, accusing him of egregious crimes such as corruption – that he insisted the party chair must resign his position. He was peeved about the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primary which his preferred candidate lost. Tinubu’s call was not so much about what Oyegun did or did not do but perhaps much more about a sense of entitlement of what he is getting or not getting in the party he helped to midwife. That sense of personal loss and the pain of his loss of influence to direct or dictate the direction of governance were at the root Tinubu’s angst.
Again, some of us saw through his attempt to distance himself from this failing government when speaking recently at the National Defence College in Abuja with the theme, ‘Strategic Leadership: My Political Experience.’ Tinubu took a swipe at the president’s monetary policy, arguing that as a strategic partner in the formation of the government, it is incumbent on the leaders to “speak truth to power”. Speak truth to power? Interesting! What do I see here? Well, I see a man creating an alibi when tomorrow comes.
Not done, he warned that a lack of true fiscal federalism poses great danger to the country, adding that “unjust allocation of resources makes a fertile ground for extremism”.
It should be remembered that this was a major campaign plank by the APC only to jettison it after winning power. Is it going to form a campaign plank for Jagaban when he finally makes a pitch for the office of the president? Hmm, the political situation is very fluid. However, there is a saying in the land of my fathers: “A man who treads the shadows of his ancestors, learns to walk like them.” Stay tuned.