By ABBA MAHMOOD —
There is confusion everywhere. The government lacks direction. There is no clear policy on anything, be it economy, security, foreign, aviation, environment or any other issue of importance. Everyone is virtually doing what he or she likes with nobody to call anyone to order.
President Buhari is not in touch with the party that gave him a platform to contest and come to power, even though last week he suddenly realized that he needed the party, which necessitated his caucus and NEC meeting almost belatedly. He appears not to be in charge of anything, even admitting that he gave directive for boards to be reconstituted since October 2015 but that directive is yet to be carried out! He appears to not only over-delegate his presidential powers but apparently abdicates his responsibility too. Obviously, this is not the Buhari we knew.
Soon after he was sworn in as president, General Olusegun Obasanjo released his first appointments on the same day of May 29, 1999. And no one could fault Obasanjo’s choice of key aides: General Mohammed as chief of staff; General Gusau as NSA; Chief Ekaette as SGF; Col. Areh as DG, SSS, among others.
Buhari took three months to appoint his own aides and ended up appointing some of the worst officials in Nigeria’s history. It took 166 days for Buhari to form his cabinet. Does it mean that, for more than ten years that he was contesting to be president, he did not have a plan let alone a team to help him carry out his plan? Clearly, this is not the Buhari we knew.
General Buhari was voted for basically to do two things: fight insecurity and fight corruption. There is an appreciable progress with regard to fighting the Boko Haram insurgency, no doubt, but the level of kidnappings and killings going on across Nigeria is simply scandalous. It is not restricted to the highways anymore. Two weeks ago, a brother of the chief of staff to the governor of Kaduna State was kidnapped right inside Zaria city. And no one has yet been held responsible to account for this high level of insecurity. Indeed, this is not the Buhari we knew.
With regard to the fight against corruption, it is simply funny that the only place that was investigated in the last two and a half years is the Office of the NSA. The Ministry of Petroleum, where Buhari is the minister and where most of the past corruption cases were perpetrated, has been shielded from investigation by those around Buhari. The CBN, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the SGF are yet to be held accountable for their past misdeeds. All the billionaires created by the last regime are still keeping their loot, or even making laws for us as legislators, thanks to those shielding them in this dispensation. In fact, this is not the Buhari we knew.
Since he joined partisan politics, Buhari’s main political base has been Kano – the state has been consistently voting for him. In 2015, Kano was delivered 100% to the APC, thanks to the consistency and commitment of Senator, then Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and his associates. Buhari has not found it necessary to visit Kano since he became president. Kano is the oldest and second-largest commercial centre in Nigeria. The city’s market got burnt but no one commiserated with them, let alone gave them any support from the Buhari-led federal government. Truly, this is not the Buhari we knew.
Almost three years into this administration’s tenure, many — indeed most parastatal agencies — are still being run by those appointed by the last administration. No less a person than Col. Hameed Ali, the CG of customs, had to say recently that 50% of Buhari’s government is PDP. Boards are yet to be constituted for almost all the federal agencies. Is it that the president doesn’t know or doesn’t care? For over two years, even ambassadors to various countries are just reporting. What does it take to make appointments in Nigeria, a country that is full of talents across virtually every local government area in the country? Really, this is not the Buhari we knew.
President Buhari swore to an oath of office, holding the Qur’an, “to do good to all manner of people, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”. Two years on, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway is the best road in Africa while the Abuja-Kano expressway built by President Babangida 30 years ago is still a death-trap, even though one minister collected N1.8 billion to “repair” the Abuja-Kaduna segment when the Abuja Airport runway was being repaired. Buhari has identified those he appears to favour and he has chosen those he cannot sack, apparently because he fears them, all contrary to his oath of office. This is not the Buhari we knew.
As a general who served in one of the most national of institutions, the Nigerian Army, Buhari was expected to create a national platform where every section of Nigeria would feel a sense of belonging. Instead, this is one of the most exclusive governments in the history of Nigeria. From Jigawa State, for instance, virtually every appointee is from Kazaure – INEC national commissioner; DG, NYSC; SCOP; ambassador; and minister are all from that single town. Is the president not aware of this? This is not the Buhari we knew.
President Buhari appointed the worst chief of staff, COS, in Nigeria’s history, Mallam Abba Kyari, and subordinated his entire cabinet to this obviously incompetent and unpopular “red cap” COS. Kyari is so powerful that he appears to be running a government parallel to Buhari’s, and virtually every scandal and mistake of this government is traceable to this COS. In fact, last week, in the council chamber, in the presence of the vice president, Kyari was shamelessly exchanging words with the head of service, a professional civil servant, on leaks of government secrets. With the leaking of El-Rufai memo, Kachikwu memo and now the Mainagate memo all to the president, there is a disturbing trend but no one has been held responsible. This is not the Buhari we knew.
Buhari came with a pan-Nigeria mandate, enjoying enormous goodwill across Nigeria and indeed around the world. From that national — in fact international — pedestal, Buhari’s constituency is now the two to five people who appear to exclusively have his ears. The party is aggrieved; chieftains like Tinubu are alienated; the National Assembly is feeling side-lined; in fact everyone is feeling marginalized. His government is a disappointment to Nigerians, a disgrace to those who insisted on him, particularly northerners; and indeed a disaster to the Africans who saw in him a hope which has now been dashed. This is not the Buhari we knew.
The wife of the president had reason to complain in public about the cabal that caged her husband; many well-meaning individuals, both high and low, have been complaining too. The verdict is that President Buhari is surrounded by very bad people who are destroying him, his government and even the country he loves so much. Is it that the President does not know or is not listening?
We really love Buhari and we want him to succeed. That is why we have to complain loudly, before it is too late so that he can take necessary actions immediately. The verdict of history awaits him and he should know that. After all, history is on the side of the oppressed.