Buhari and the Reality of 2019



As the days and months tick away, we are getting nearer and nearer the great date of 2019 general election. Already, many are scared stiff of what will become of Nigeria thereafter.

At the centre of the worry is the ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari, who wants to seek re-election for second term in office. Some Nigerians do not think he should bother seeking re-election. That class of Nigerians believe he has not served impressively, just as he is an old man.

As for whether he has performed creditably or not, will ever remain controversial. His avid supporters will say Buhari is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria, pointing at the feat achieved in curbing corruption. Some don’t even believe corruption has been really curbed. They believe the resident crooks in the system have simply devised smarter ways of circumventing the trouble routes. Yet, his critics will swear he has further underdeveloped Nigeria, bringing hardship and fear upon Nigerians.

However, there is no argument about his age. At 75, Buhari is reasonably, an old man.Next year, he will be 76. If he wins, he’d be stepping down in 2023, at age 80. Many argue that apart from ill health which slowed him down in the first two years of his administration, there is a strong argument that at age 75, the man has naturally grown weak. His cells and abilities have waxed stiff. That Nigeria, with all its complexities cannot afford to be led by an old man who has been weakened by age and poor self adaptation.

There is no doubt, those who opposed Buhari in 2015, would have re-inforced their opposition from all that has happened in the country these past three years. I have heard many such persons torment Buhari’s supporters with such hackneyed phrases like “didn’t we tell you this man is no good?” But because it is politics, while some will describe it as half empty, others will describe it as half full. They are probably saying the same thing.

Question is: Is Nigeria better or worse off with Buhari’s three year performance?

The pill is bitter in the mouths of many.

Many of those who were vehemently against former President Goodluck Jonathan were keen on ABJ—Anybody But Jonathan.

They saw in Buhari a social redeemer, one who will come and correct all, or at least, most of the ills of the society. He was a no-nonsense soldier. One who broods no evil. One whose hands are verily clean. An ascetic former Head of State. Simple and poor.  That was the running narrative. That was the reputation that designed the back of the glossy book. Nigerians, it appears, judged too quickly, the book by its cover. The inner content was not as giddy as the attractive back presented itself. The inner pages are proving to be a mix of the good, the bad and the despicable.

Mr President has declared his intention to run again. He does not seem to be bothered on how he will win. He is practically not courting the people from whom he will get his mandate. He is rather indifferent to the Nigerian issues. He seems unmoved by the many problems besetting us. He says the wrong things about his electorate at international fora.

He is neither expressive nor articulate. But they say he cracks lots of jokes. The larger electorate do not hear or know such jokes or moments. He is not a good salesman. He is not a good marketer. Before him, the Nigerian brand is almost a piece of thrash. If and when he strips the Nigerian product at the international market square, how does he expect his audience/hosts (potential investors) to give him clothing to cover the nakedness of his nationals?

In his own submission, he noted that 60 per cent of the Nigerian population are youths. That is a critical segment of electorate for a politician to court and cultivate. But our president choses to say awful and uncomplimentary things about them. How does he expect to be embraced by those he despises and denigrate rather frequently? Already, the youths feel maligned and angry that they are being misrepresented by him who should project them most. And the emotional disconnect is growing. But it does not appear that Mr President understands the dynamics involved.

Perhaps more than any other issue, is the troubling question of the mindless and continued killings in the land. Although it has been a nationwide malaise, the Middle Belt zone, led by Benue and Nasarawa States have been the chief victims. It has, no doubt, caused huge disaffection among the people.

Yes, the so-called Fulani herdsmen crisis with local farmers predates the Buhari administration, the fact that it not only escalated during Buhari’s regime, but also that government seems to be lethargic and indifferent to the carnage and pogrom visited on the people by these herdsmen, further disconnects the people from the government. President Buhari seems to have condoned the killings for too long. He has taken no concrete action or made a remarkable statement that unequivocally condemns the killing of innocent farmers in their ancestral lands. The soundbites from him (if any) are weak and ineffectual.

The oppressive lord-over of the Fulanis is sickening. But even more despicable is the acquiescence of the federal government. With the annoying remark of the Defence minister and the president himself on the subject, there is no evidence that they share in the pain of the people of Benue or such other victims of the killings orchestrated by Fulani herdsmen.

The rounds of murderous attacks in Benue may have ruined the political career of the state governor, Samuel Ortom whom his people have seen as a weakling and unable to protect them. I do not thus see how enthusiastic the people of Benue or Nasarawa or even Plateau, southern Kaduna, Taraba etc., will be in supporting a government that cares little about their safety and security.

Yet, it doesn’t seem the President understands the implications of all of these as it relates to 2019 and his candidature.

Mr President has not gone out of his way to do anything for the sake of political expediency. He appears to be such a straight driver. Not even in his many federal appointments has he made effort to carry everybody along.Many of the appointments  are highly skewed in favour of his kinsmen. He yet operates as if nothing is at stake. 2019 is real and will be determined by practical factors.

And that is why the campaign for the possession of the PVC (Permanent Voter’s Card) has been intensified among the Nigerian electorate, since it is the only weapon the masses has.

Perhaps, the Buhari-led government is somewhat indifferent because the political horizon is hazy with no clearly identified co-contender for the stool yet.

But needless  to say that in the months ahead, the picture will be clearer and the colour of the game will become more complex. The president is at the edge of his political threshold with the Nigerian voters. The awareness is now more. Voters have become more and more critical, asking valid questions and demanding measurable indices of governance.The era of mass hysteria and blind support,I dare say, is gone.

 No good student hopes to pass an examination by doing extremely well on only one subject and fails the rest ten, for instance.

Somebody must tell the president that indeed, there is disenchantment in the land.

 Evangelist  Amos Omoru (1925—2017)

Growing up under the environment some of us did, the church, as an institution, was almost everything, beside school and other basics of life. And for us, it was the Anglican Communion all the way. It represented propriety and progress. And in our own rather narrow prism at the time, those who did not belong, were either errant or renegades. The church was regarded with some awe and mystique. But even more metaphysical were the priests and the “ordained” of God, whom in our then estimation, were a mix of God and man.

That was how many of us, including even my parents, regarded Evangelist Amos Anibieu Omoru, who just as a Lay Reader in the Anglican Ecclesiastical Order, approximated the oracle of God, before whom we trembled and marveled. It was not for nothing. He exuded the spirit and and aura of an extra-ordinary being. We literally feared him. What with his no-nonsense candour, almost all the time.

His firmness and addiction to the ways of God was legendary.

And that explains the pride I had to be the god-son of such an awe-inspiring  Christian leader. He became my god-father (referred to in modern language as a mentor) at age nine, when I was baptized.
Ever since then, I literally got adopted by him, showing me and my ilk, the way, the truth and the gospel.

As the years wore, we gradually began to loosen up, especially after we, from so much schooling and reading, began to interrogate the prim-and-proper doctrines and moral jacket they dressed us with. With time, some ideological paradigm shift began to take place. But nothing affected the fatherly love he showed.

With age and its little troubles, Pa Omoru began to weaken. Only physically. His brain was as apt as his tongue was fiery. In the last few years, I had always marveled at his retentive memory, whenever he had to pray with me when I visited. His prayers were usually preceded with the singing of hymns. Pa Omoru would sing all verses of his favourite hymns, as the preamble to his prayer sessions.  He was a man of unblemished character.  His expressive capacity, the evangelical voice, the Christian candour never dimmed till he breathed last on December 2, 2017.

Remarkably, despite the many health issues that he had to contend with, his faith in his creator never waned. He believed till the last. And we believe he is happy back home, where neither moth nor termites dwell.

Next Thursday, the final rites in his committal process will begin in Igbuku-Orogun, Ugheli North LGA of Delta State, so he can re-connect with his creator.

The consolation is that his offsprings, led by Chris Omoru, a lawyer and Executive Director Services, in Midwestern Oil and Gas, have been sufficiently planted in the way of the Lord and should be sure to carry on with the mantle of his faith.

Sleep on Papa. 

Imam Imam: How do we say Goodnight in the Afternoon?

Not a few were shocked to hear of the sudden passage of Mr Imam Imam penultimate Friday. Nothing whatsoever prepared us for the sad news. There was never a hint of his ill health. He was such a silent operator that his voice was never a means of measuring his presence.

And so, hearing of his sudden passage took us by a storm.

Since he passed, I have read so many great things written and said about him. Yes, he deserved all the accolades and more. I attest to it that he was a gentleman. A journalist who was evidently proud of the career. He was diligent, thorough, and informed about his calling, especially about northern politics.

“Mallam”, I’d hail him, those days in the newsroom, and he will release a measured smile while clasping his two raised hands in the ranka dede mode. He was friendly and humble. We began to bond even more when he told me stories of his upbringing in Gboko, where I served during my NYSC days.

I recall sometime in 2014, Imam had flown with his principal, then the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Tambuwal to Bricks House,  Port Harcourt, where they met me and Wale Olaleye (who succeeded Imam as Political Editor). Imam, in his usual humble way went to whisper to Tambuwal that we were his colleague, pointing out that I was his boss while still in THISDAY. They communicated briefly in Hausa, and after a while, Imam emerged from a corner with a cash gift.  Such was his nature. Bereft of any guile or airs. Even as a committed Muslim, he mingled very freely with believers of other faith. Fanaticism was far from his ways.

We rarely spoke after he joined his principal at the Government House Sokoto, but we kept in touch, albeit in spirit.

Thus to hear that such a fine fellow, suddenly took ill and fell to the cold hands of death at 41, yes, 41; I wonder how truly we can bid him goodnight in this hot afternoon.

Imam Imam, sleep on, sleep well and peaceably too. Goodnight.