Buhari’s Day of Reckoning

THIS REPUBLIC By Shaka Momodu, Email: shaka.momodu@thisdaylive.com, SMS Only: 0811 266 1654

Liberty is rarely lost overnight. The wall of tyranny often begins with benign building blocks of safety — each one lying on top of a predecessor — eventually collectively constituting an impediment to the exercise of free choices by free people, often not even recognised until it is too late

Andrew Napolitano

Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, he has been building the walls of tyranny with his supporters applauding his woeful performance every step of the way. He laid it all out in his first and only presidential media chat when he effectively overruled the court on Nnamdi Kanu’s bail. For those of us who saw the dangers then and raised the alarm, nothing he has done afterwards has surprised us.

That Nigeria is in decline on all fronts under Buhari is no longer news. The economy is comatose, education is in crisis, the healthcare system is obsolete, poverty and premeditated killings are ravaging the land. In the last four years, we have seen the resurgence of tyranny and incompetence massaged by falsehoods and propaganda on a scale never seen before. We have witnessed unprecedented clannishness, nepotism, and feudal mentality on the part of those who promised us CHANGE. Yes, they promised us change not so long ago. But unfortunately have exhibited the worst forms of impunities in our country’s history since they came to power.

Nigerians gave them the benefit of the doubt and the chance to bring the ‘change we need’. But no sooner had they assumed power than they started to treat us as their feudal tenants or conquered vassals who had sworn loyalty to them.

Buhari divided the country into 97percent and 5percent on the basis of which he has governed us thus far. From the pattern of appointments, Buhari has “put a knife on the things that hold us together and things are falling apart”. He clearly does not trust people from other parts of the country other than his own to be appointed to sensitive security and other strategic positions, but wants them to vote for him to continue on the same path of discrimination against them. Why should they vote for him? He doesn’t trust them for appointment but wants them to trust him with their destiny. Why should they?

His economic policies (if any) have left Nigeria in ruins. Under Buhari, Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world. His almost four-year reign has dulled the economic environment, drained our politics and poisoned our unity. Another four years of this man would spell final doom for our country. Nothing is safe and no one is insulated from the overbearing reach of their abuse. The institutions of state are being destroyed by a government that leaves no one in any doubt about its provincial mission. The rule of law, the core ingredient and oxygen of democracy is being gradually replaced by the rule of the strongman and his cabal. In short, the government and its agents had once canvassed the subjugation of the rule of law to national interest subject to their whims and caprices. Some nutty professors of law had with erotic glee, openly defended the government proposal. Others had even gone further to call for the outright suspension of some sections of the constitution to enable Buhari fight corruption more forcefully.

Under this government, arrest warrants are no longer based on any “probable cause of crime or individual articulable suspicion”, their issuance is driven by political motivation to punish or embarrass those who disagree with the powers that be. In what is clearly the most violent assault on the rule of law so far, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen was suspended without adhering to the constitutional provisions – a move with clear partisan motivation.

For those clamouring for Buhari’s re-election, is it that they can’t see the damage he is doing to Nigeria or they just don’t care? How can any sane human being continue to bother us with Buhari’s re-election? How can any reasonable, educated person clamour for another four years of mind-boggling incompetence and the lack of capacity we have all seen so far? How can anyone with a discerning mind not see the danger lurking on the horizon? How can anyone not be outraged by Buhari’s clannishness and ethnic bigotry and even crave for it to continue? How can these people not be incensed by Buhari’s northernisation of all national security positions in the country? How can his supporters tell us Buhari is the best to lead Nigeria in the 21st century when he has failed so abysmally in the last four years?

A man who cannot even manage his party? A man whose first term as president has caused so much injury to our country? That the ruling APC is fractionalised is an understatement. The party is in turmoil. It is imploding. And Buhari is to blame. He lacks the strength of character to arrest the crises besetting his APC. He is aloof to the infighting just the same way he is aloof to governance. In all the crises, the only thing Buhari wants is the preservation of his own interest. It was a clear case of leadership failure and selfishness when he told the supporters of APC in Imo and Ogun states to vote for him but for other positions, they can vote for any candidates of their choice. Buhari only acts with speed when his personal interest is threatened. Anyone clamouring for Buhari to come back must have his mental state examined.

The man is a disaster, an embarrassment to our country. Not even under military rule did we witness this level and scale of impunity. State institutions are being manipulated and used to circumvent due process with reckless disregard for the law. This is a rogue government desperate to muscle its way back to power. It disdains due process, procures fake black market court orders to advance its partisan, criminal and corrupt machinations. It should be stopped with PVCs.

In 2011, the language of Buhari’s campaign in that election was blamed for the violence that trailed his loss which unfortunately claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent people, including several corps members.

An unrepentant Buhari in May 2012 again threatened violence if 2015 elections were rigged. He said: “God willing, by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.’’ Well, he won and there was peace.

Buhari went to Zamfara for his campaign rally a few days ago. He did not condemn the endless killings in the state; he showed neither empathy nor compassion to the people. He did not promise to bring relief to the people by way of providing adequate security, instead he told them to stock up food, feed well in case there was trouble. His exact words in Hausa translated in English were: “May God give us bountiful harvest. I want everyone to eat to his fill. Even if there is trouble, let’s go and do it.” Despite being the president and now advanced in age, Buhari still threatened violence in a state reeling under the yoke of unending bloodletting. Does that sound like a man of peace? Why would you vote for such a person?

For us, Nigeria needs to be rescued and now is the time. For those who have once again bought into the lies and propaganda of Buhari and his team, take a moment to reflect on the past four years that have been more of excuses and propaganda than they have been of substantive achievements. Ponder the following questions: are things better than they were four years ago? If Buhari wins (God forbid), is there any inkling that he will change for the better or that things will get better? Will things not still be happening in his government and he will abdicate responsibility to a cabal, claiming he was not aware and that they were done by “people around him?”

That is even more annoying. To me, Nigerians need a president that will be in charge of his government; one that understands their pain and is sensitive to their suffering and is determined to do everything to ameliorate their situation; a leader with a heart and milk of human kindness; a leader that will govern with empathy and charity to all and malice to none. Nigeria needs a selfless president who would tell us that even though we may have lost so much, that we have not lost everything because he is standing with us in our greatest moment of need. We need a leader who will heal this fractured nation, a leader with big dreams and a broad vision, not an ethnic champion who threatens violence, and thinks of his clan alone when it comes to distribution of national resources/key appointments and only remembers you when he wants your vote. We want a leader that will be futuristic in his policies and actions, which will in turn engender a feeling of hope and renewal. Someone who inspires not a boring, clannish, monotonous recluse.

Buhari doesn’t come close to the president we need. His main opposition challenger may not have all the stated qualities, but he will certainly be a more hands-on president than Buhari. As a matter of fact, all the candidates running for the office of president are better than Buhari. The mistake of 2015 MUST be corrected tomorrow. Our country cannot afford to continue on this path of destruction that the APC has brought on our country. Buhari represents pain, deprivation, cluelessness, vindictiveness, intolerance, double standard, clannishness, retrogression, repression, tyranny, primitiveness, hypocrisy, and contempt for national unity. A vote for Buhari is a vote for these attributes.

Buhari committed the original sin when he reneged on his voluntary pledge to declare his assets publicly. This immediately raised a red flag about his moral character. After much public pressure, a summary of broad outline of his assets was released to the public, not the specifics. That was the first breach of trust. But many were contented and celebrated it anyway, that half a loaf is better than none. For me it confirmed my suspicion that Nigerians had been scammed by a man who had presented himself to them as a poor man. Except he had something to hide would have been the only reason he did not declare his assets publicly. Using propaganda and misinformation, he has somehow managed to sustain that myth about his austere and ascetic lifestyle for so long.

On security, have Nigerians forgotten so soon how Buhari failed to stop Fulani herdsmen’s mass murder of thousands of innocent people and the attendant burning down of communities? Have they forgotten so soon how Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body of herdsmen, was encouraging violence and even justified the killings? Have we forgotten so fast how Miyetti Allah was threatening state governments? Buhari’s Defence Minister, Dan-Ali rose had even risen to the defence of the herdsmen’s heinous crimes against humanity by saying “if you block the grazing routes, what do you expect them to do”. He is still on his job presiding over Nigeria’s security. As the violence and mass murder carried out by herdsmen and other actors flourished across the country, where was the president? What did he do to protect Nigerians? He was busy making excuses, deflecting attention and blaming foreign herdsmen from Mali, Libya and Senegal for the violence that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people. No one has been held to account for this genocide. How do people supporting this kind of person even sleep at night?

Buhari takes no responsibility for unpopular actions taken by his government but is quick to take credit for the achievements of others. This has been his modus operandi since taking office. His blind supporters create excuses for him each time his lieutenants assail us with “oh he was not aware” of important and divisive actions taken by his government.

You see, thirty years after he was booted out of office as a military head of state, he had assured Nigerians he was now a reformed democrat. He was given a second chance to prove himself in 2015. We can all see the result. It’s obvious that he came to office to enjoy the perks; not to work for the good of all but for the good of his ethnic people. He came back to take revenge on all those whom he felt had wronged him in the past. Is this the kind of leader we want?

Now is the time to apply the brakes on this national calamity that this virus called the APC has afflicted Nigeria with. It is time to send Buhari back to Daura. A man who did not change in the 30 years he was out of power, did not change in the last four years in power would only continue on the same path that has brought ruin, hunger, deprivation, poverty and divisions, on a bigger scale and with greater ferocity if given another opportunity when he won’t be beholden to the electorate. But the man is not even ready for a free, fair and transparent election. Mr “Integrity” is determined to ‘win’ the ballot at all cost. We should all watch Kano and Lagos carefully. Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje aka Gandollar had promised to deliver 5 million votes in favour of Buhari’s re-election. We cannot allow him to rig the election to achieve his desire.

We must be vigilant. I can bet my bottom kobo that Buhari cannot win a semblance of free, fair and credible election.

Thankfully, our destiny is still in our hands. We must change the narrative on Saturday February 16, about 38 hours from now or we are doomed.