By ABBA MAHMOOD –
Nigeria is at a crossroads. Everything is wrong with the country. No one is safe and nothing is sacrosanct. The ruling party is confused and the opposition parties are in disarray.
Every terrible word that starts with the letter “d” is an appropriate adjective that can describe what is happening: disappointing, disgraceful, disastrous, dangerous, devilish, and deadly. By every definition it has been a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, it is a disaster foretold – and there is no one to blame for all these except President Muhammadu Buhari at whose desk everything stops.
Buhari came in 2015 with the greatest goodwill any Nigerian leader, dead or alive, had ever had. His election was the first presidential election that was not challenged in court. The defeated president, Goodluck Jonathan, was the first to congratulate him and accept the verdict. There were over two months between the election and the handover date – enough time for Buhari to study the country he was taking over and its problems, and align these with his vision and the manifesto of his party, even if he didn’t do that before the election. He would have also consulted widely to form a formidable team to help him actualize these plans.
It turned out that, for over a decade since he started contesting for the presidency, he had no idea of what he wanted to achieve; he had no clue on the team to help him and he had no philosophical or ideological anchor around which the vision would evolve and revolve. He was indifferent to the party that gave him the platform: he did not care who emerged as leaders of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, and when the worst criminals among them hijacked that important institution, he practically became impotent as a “change” president.
For over 100 days he did not appoint even his key aides. The past administration’s appointees who were still in charge had a field day and enough time to cover their tracks and sabotage the change mantra. For over six months the nation waited for his first and only cabinet to be in place. After wasting so much precious time, he ended up appointing some of the most sadistic human beings among his innermost circle. And it is now common knowledge that there is hardly any of them – those who were hungry and emaciated before the Buhari era – who is not a billionaire now.
The criminals in the other arms of government reached out to the corrupt, inept and incompetent officials around the executive arm, forming a strong symbiotic alliance of vicious parasitism. What happened last Tuesday — the illegal siege to the National Assembly by hooded security personnel looking every inch like armed robbers — was a very good example of the misuse and abuse of power by these criminal elements in government. It is the cumulative effect of Buhari’s indifference to the danger he has been consistently reminded of.
Nature abhors a vacuum. While the president appears to be abdicating his core responsibilities, layers upon layers of influence peddlers are taking control of different aspects of the presidential powers freely given to Buhari by the Nigerian electorate in 2015. There are sets and subsets of these groups all claiming to be acting for and in the interest of the president. But as everyone knows, they are representing no one and nobody except their personal interests which are detrimental to our collective national interests.
Naturally there are webs of conspiracies and conspiracy theories around all these. It became governance by speculations with agencies and officials working at cross purposes. It is only when Vice President Osinbajo is acting that there is a semblance of someone in effective charge like the way he saved the country when he sacked Lawal Daura, the DG of DSS, that same Tuesday when his men stopped the legislators from having access to their offices.
President Buhari must know that the support freely given to him by oppressed Nigerians is neither unconditional nor eternal. He is only lucky that most of those parading themselves as aspirants do not appear to anyone as serious contenders because of their past records. As one of our most respected leaders once said, Buhari should thank Jonathan for making him president. This is because, if Jonathan had allowed his party to present a credible northerner as the party’s rotation principle demands or if Jonathan had performed very well as president, there would not have been a Buhari presidency. Now it appears Buhari got back to power just to demystify himself by destroying all that he was known for and what he stood for.
Nigeria is the anchor nation of the black race. It is both simple and difficult to manage it. It is very simple when you know what you are doing as a leader and you have an effective team to help you run affairs. It has happened before. It is a difficult country when you do not know what you are doing as a leader and you refuse to assemble the right team of patriotic people who are ready to work for the progress and prosperity of the country. It is a pity that despite serving in the most national of institutions (the army), despite getting a pan-Nigeria mandate in 2015, Buhari has not been able to create a pan-Nigeria platform. His government consists of people from the southwest, Borno, Katsina and Kazaure. We did not vote for that, but by design or default this is the reality, which is a pity.
Nigeria has the capacity to always pull back from the brink. This is because there are national icons who can always rise above parochial and primordial sentiments and act in the interest of the nation at the right time. But I doubt if this will continue to happen forever, since these icons may be tired of always playing that role and saving us from our recklessness and inertia.
Like many, I feel shamed about what is happening, I also feel disappointed with the lopsided appointments of mainly incompetent people by this government as well as the concentration of development projects in only a section of the country, as if the rest of the country can wait forever.
Anyway, history is always on the side of the oppressed.