By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, finally, hopefully, the appointed time has come for the most anticipated Presidential election in Nigeria. It is not that the other elections are not important but the stakes are much higher because the President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful man on earth. He can do and virtually get away with any atrocity. A regular and normal human being instantly transfigures into a god or spirit on attainment of such monstrosity. And everyone including those you thought were already made in life and need no government patronage suddenly turn into jelly-fish genuflecting in the presence of the new deity. Such is the tragedy of our situation.
About this time in 2015, we were all excited about the new possibilities offered by our new President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Though I had many personal reservations about his inglorious and ignoble antecedents as a coup plotter and bloody dictator, many Nigerians like me were ready to give him another chance. Despite the regrets I harbour today, I’m glad I did with all my heart. Had we not, we would have been feeling extremely guilty that we wasted a good leader who could have turned our long-suffering country into Paradise on earth, like we wasted Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Moshood Abiola, both of blessed memory. Awolowo would have been the best Manager of people and resources while Abiola would have been the best unifier ever who would have spared us the total breakdown of law and order and the menace of nepotism and terrorism that we have all over the places today.
On a personal note, my expectation of Buhari was hinged on the possible fact that having spent three decades outside power, after being sacked ignominiously, he would have improved his human relations and public image as a caveman whose obstinacy is just irredeemable. I was doubly assured that whatever was still lacking in the man could still be polished and garnished by the brilliant minds around him and beyond. But we were very wrong. Today I’m one of the leading wailing wailers, as the Buharideens call us, but I have no apologies to offer. God knows that I love my country above any soul and will passionately defend its interest without any shade of doubt. There is no unprintable name in the lexicon that I have not been called since I committed the supposed heresy of jilting Buhari, the last saint standing in the world. But I’m also as stubborn as President Buhari, if not worse. The more they attack and insult me, the more hardened and resolute I become. In my growing up years, I paid my dues for democracy in my own little way and corner and no one can bully me today for exercising the rights we won on the platter of pain and anguish.
I’m happy for a day such as this. Those who designed democracy were cognisant of the fact that leaders must go through periodic examinations called elections. Examinations are meant to test abilities in varying and various subjects. These days, course works have become integral parts of the final examination. If you did well ahead of the final examination, you may not have to labour much eventually. This has been the case in the matter of President Buhari who wasted the better part of four years with no remarkable marks but suddenly woke up when the main examination was knocking. A man who did not do his homework well, who was absent from seminars and tutorials, and acted rudely to his examiners is now asking to be promoted to the next class by all means, fair or crooked. He is being goaded on by his co-travellers in indulgent rascality who fail to realise that the world has since moved beyond their celebration of mediocrity which they see as achievement. A lot of stupendous investments have gone into preparing the head boy for this epic journey. To whom much is given, much is usually expected. The most nauseating excuse for the failure is the endless blame game. All the promises of performance and good behaviour have since gone up in smoke and what is left are the ashes of disappointments and gnashing of teeth.
A powerful and resounding message must be established from now onwards. No man or woman shall be promoted to the next class if they perform below average. Buhari was expected to deliver spectacularly in three key areas. The first was general insecurity in the country. At the time he ascended the throne, Boko Haram had become a major menade marauding in some parts of Northern Nigeria. A lot of faith was placed in Buhari to win the war against the recalcitrant fellows being a retired Major General. He succeeded in containing their expansionist ambition to some extent but not to acceptable standards. The unfortunate side to it is the breakout of other types of menacing hoodlums like the rampaging herdsmen who audaciously forayed into several states southwards and wreaked despicable havoc on farmlands and their hapless owners. What was worse, our head boy carried on as if nothing happened. There is no country where hordes of people would be killed like cows in abattoirs and life would continue as normal, the way it has been under this government. Nothing seems to move Buhari to show the human side of him except when it touches those very close to him. The case of Benue State would remain indelible forever as the bereaved were left to bury their dead with little or no empathy from the leader who is seeking re-election today.
The last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was accused of uncommon profligacy in the disbursement of security votes allocated to the fight against Boko Haram. The then National Security Adviser, Retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, a blue-blood from the Sokoto Sultanate, has remained in detention ever since Buhari arrived on the scene, on the allegations of gross malfeasance. He has neither been properly tried nor convicted by any law court. Bails have been generously offered by the Judiciary but not granted or obeyed by President Buhari. Strangely, President Buhari’s government has also bullied his way into getting approval for its own one billion dollar security votes despite large scale protest from the people of Nigeria. What is sad and saddening is the fact that not much has changed. Our usually gallant soldiers have become miserably exposed to danger at every turn. Many have lost their lives at such tender age leaving their loved ones to morn prematurely. Our fighters have been grumbling aloud about their poor welfare and wellbeing. How can a retired army General find himself in this embarrassing situation?
The next subject Buhari flunked is the war against corruption. Despite the commendable efforts of the anti-corruption agencies, it seems not much has happened due to the subliminal body language of the Buhari government in the open protection of friendly criminals. Unashamedly, the only point Buhari and the Buharideens are using to campaign is their phantom war against corruption. The bold face with which they label and attack members of the opposition is so brazen and daring. Wale Olaleye of Thisday newspapers and I had to plead with a mutual friend recently to stop calling PDP a party of looters when he had been one of its most prominent members and beneficiaries ever. “We won’t be able to defend you if you continue to say this in public…” I told our controversial friend.
The brand of Saint Buhari has deteriorated to the extent that he no longer discriminates in who joins him in campaigning or funding his party. It is so bad that even the President has become the Defender-in-Chief for some of his supporters caught red-handed on hot tapes. He has been speaking in staccato fashion in defence of his inner circle of friends. As the National Chairman of APC recently boasted, “once you join APC, all yours sins are forgiven.” It is apparently true.
The Buharideens have since unleashed a blistering campaign of calumny against the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He has been labelled as the worst demon and biggest looter in Nigeria. First, they conveniently forgot that he was a major benefactor of their idol of worship, Buhari, pre-2015 election, pumping billions of naira into his campaign and releasing his private jet. He was not a devil at that time. If you remind them that he was only the Vice President, they will tell you he used his position to sell government companies to himself and cronies. Ok, let’s agree that wasn’t good enough. What became of those companies that others did not sell to themselves? Failure, perhaps. Atiku has established himself as a consummate entrepreneur in a country in dire need of jobs and opportunities. And if you ask them to pinpoint what Atiku stole, you will draw a deafening blank from them.
Let’s move to what binds all humans together, the economy. Even if Buhari could not improve on what was bequeathed to him by President Jonathan, the least expected of him was to stabilise the economy. But Buhari came with his usual braggadocio of big talk and little action. If truth must be told, his traditional negativity led to the manner Nigeria went straight into coma and recession. It was the same ill-informed decisions that led him and his acolytes to Golgotha between 1983 to 1985, when Nigeria from hero to zero. A new President was expected to offer hopes and confidence to his citizens and foreign partners but Saint Buhari had to first of all flex some muscles and pontificate on why he is the Messiah. Nothing else is impotant to him than the deification of his person and persona by his brainwashed supporters.
For Buhari and his ardent followers, there is always a ready answer for every act of commission or omission on the part of his government: what did PDP do in 16 years? PDP did so much in those years but it is not my job to defend them. If nothing else, PDP produced more quality leaders, and formidable teams than what we have today. Yet we dismissed them for non-performance. The reason we sacked them was because we believed they did not meet current standards in the world. But Buhari and his goons have now limited our search to finding a Pope to lead us as if we live in the Vatican. No. Who Nigeria needs and desires urgently is a performer who has enough experience and exposure in the corporate world and not a man fixated in the Stone Age acting as an avuncular leader.
By far the biggest problem caused by the Buhari government is the gory manner he has divided Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines. If a man who would come to seek votes from every part of Nigeria could act as recklessly as he did in the first term when he reduced Nigeria to a miniature Fulani nation, what won’t Buhari attempt to do when he no longer needs the rest of Nigeria. This should be the serious food for thought. I have no doubts that Nigeria cannot afford to waste another four years in endless strife and senseless ethnic and religious cleansing. I need not say more. God save Nigeria.