By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
A former Editor of Daily Champion Newspaper and former General Manager of Plateau Publishing Company (PPC), Chief Jonathan Ishaku, has observed that President Muhammadu Buhari started his regime on a very wrong footing with his â€˜97% versus 5% ratioâ€™.
Ishaku was speaking when he presented a paper at a colloquium organised by the Plateau State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to review the state of the nation.
He said: â€œIn Nigeria, the leadership styles of post-military administration like that of President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, President Goodluck Jonathan, and now, President Muhammadu Buhari, differ remarkably in their management of Nigeriaâ€™s cultural diversity.
â€œA regime that makes parochialism, such as ethno-religious, geo-political and kinship ties, the basis for the distribution of governmentâ€™s patronage in terms of goods and service allocation (i.e. employment, empowerment programmes, human and infrastructural development, social services, security, etc) is bound to accentuate the deep divisions in the political community.
â€œIn this regard, I think, President Buhari started on a very wrong footing with his â€˜97% versus 5% ratioâ€™.Â In 2016 when asked by a reporter while on a visit to Washington DC to react to allegation that he was engaged in nepotism and discrimination against a part of Nigeria, he said that he was voted overwhelmingly (97%) by a part of the country while he merely garnered a meagerly 5% by another.
â€œBy implication, or interpretation, it meant that his government would favour the northern part of the country, which had always rooted for him over others, especially the South-east, which did not support him. Since then, the president has been questioned about whether he would rule in the overall interest of all Nigerians, or just a part of it.â€
On the manner the president is handling the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen insurgency war, Ishaku argued that â€œBoko Haram, made up majorly of Kanuri, was seen as a threat to the continuing influence of the Fulani caliphate in Sokoto, so President Buhari, a Fulani, is equally eager to defeat it, but not to wage war on fellow Fulanis. Thus, the killer Fulani herdsmen are all left well alone. Like all conspiracy theories, this is tendentious, unfounded and of no academic value.
â€œThe truth is that governmentâ€™s handling of the herdsmen terrorism is fuelling the notion that politics is largely at play in security management as the following examples suggest: ‘President Buhari, appeared in person, and, in military uniform too, following incessant report of bandit activities in the North West geopolitical zone, in Zamfara State to launch a military campaign against the criminal activities. The president is yet to visit any scene of Fulani attacks or launch military operation against them elsewhere.
â€œRather, as we witnessed earlier this year, it is victim communities that were still obligated to visit the president in Aso Villa to brief him on on-going atrocities of the herdsmen.Â They say the president is the embodiment of â€˜body languageâ€™; this can also be garnered from the quick visitation of ranking ministers and superior government officials Â when victims are Fulani as was witnessed in Mambilla in Taraba State and Numan in Adamawa State.
â€œApart from body language, another difference is also reflected in the counterterrorism approach of the federal government. Following an attack on some communities in Zamfara State in November 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a military crackdown against the bandits and, as a long-term measure, approved the immediate establishment of a ‘full battalion of Special Forces’ under the 8 Division of the Nigerian Army in Zamfara State.Â However, following similar renewed hostilities by well-armed herdsmen in Benue State at the beginning of the 2018, in which 73 people were killed, the president only gave the police Inspector General marching orders to contain the menace.â€
Ishaku said that Nigeria appears to be failing principally because leaders are powerless against the pull of primordial sentiments.
â€œRather than build the nation they are helpless hostage to the diktat of a rapacious clique of old vestiges of power-hungry undemocratic elements with ill-concealed imperial ambition to supplant our secular constitutionalism. Unless we defeat this enemy of our democracy, the threat to our national survival will continue to hang as the sword of Damocles over us.
â€œNext time, it may take less than the killings of a few villagers or the murder of priests by the Fulani herdsmen to set the ultimate fire that will totally consume this nation,” he said.