Hi, folks, a new status symbol has hit town and it is aimed at being listened to or reckoned with in very hot political discussions, all aimed at directing or misdirecting outcome of 2019. Quite unusually, the 2015 election results, specifically, the presidential, produced a clear-cut pattern beyond any doubt on the voting preference of each zone of the country. If, therefore, anybody (now) claims to have supported or indeed voted for candidate Muhammadu Buhari in that memorable election, it is easy from the accent of the claimant to know the truth. Any fraud thereby perpetrated could only be aimed at burnishing criticism of Buhari.
While, to any extent, criticisms might be genuine or government performance might be irredeemably disappointing to genuine critics, there can’t be anything new as such is the feature of democracies all over the world. Otherwise, government would not have governed or led. Even then, those disappointed show with their votes next time instead of moaning. From the volume of phone-ins to live television or radio programmes, almost every critical comment of each contributor is preceded with the monotonous and, of course, false claims of “I supported, campaigned and voted for Buhari in 2015 but I have been so disappointed,” etc. The calls are so much the same that from their accents and their parts of the country when related to the spread of the 2015 elections, the complainants can be easily identified as the same who did not vote for Buhari, their right under the Constitution, which is not questionable. They should be sincere enough to confess that, “I did not vote for Buhari last time and he has done nothing to make me vote for him next time.” Instead, from the audience participation programmes on radio and television and the claims to have voted for Buhari, the man should have attracted more than 80 per cent of the total votes in the presidential election of 2015.
On the other hand, those who massively voted for Buhari in 2015, even if upset or disappointed today, are not even taking part in such phone-ins. Elite or progressives? No. These are masses and rural dwellers who don’t patronise radio and television stations for phone-in programmes. That is an aspect. Another major aspect is that, as many as those claiming to have supported Buhari last time (even if true) and may not vote for him next time may be, such is not peculiar to Nigeria or Buhari. A peep at other democracies like Britain and the United States reveals the same standard. In Britain, governance alternates between Labour and Conservatives every 10 or 15 years. When a new government takes over, dramatic changes are made in economic and political systems. Inevitably, any change will affect both the fat cats and even the rats. Sooner or later, more like mid-term for the new government, it would be time for local government elections, at which voters vent their spleen as a warning for the ruling party.
Usually, on such occasions, the government will lose substantial council seats or control of councils to the opposition party. It is the same pattern in the United States between the Democrats and the Republicans, where there are changes in policies, whichever is the new ruling party. In fact, a minor issue like immigration, abortion or gay rights may affect the fortunes of any party in a subsequent election or harm the public ratings of a member of Congress, equivalent of Nigeria’s National Assembly. Hardly does the performance of the presidential mansion in the United States escape a setback in mid-term elections. Evidence of such protest votes against Buhari should, ideally, have been recorded in local government elections or re-run National Assembly/state assembly elections in parts of the country under the control of (Buhari’s) All Progressives Congress. Instead, the party has been, since 2015, more electorally entrenched.
The only electoral advance (if it can be so assessed) is the questionable and dishonorable crossing of carpet of many People’s Democratic Party (PDP) members at national and state assemblies to the APC.
Yet, the situation cannot be said to be entirely satisfactory in the past three years, the major stain being the security situation, not the least, the intractable bloodletting, the scope of which is even more alarming and confusing. The sad episode started with Boko Haram against northern Christians and gradually against fellow northern Muslims.
With Boko Haram’s surprise spread to Abuja, there was the convenient allegation the insurgency was sponsored to destabilise the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Snatching of the first set of schoolgirls appeared to be the ultimate. Buhari defeated Jonathan in the 2015 elections and gave the army three months to neutralise Boko Haram. Neutralised? Boko Haram resurrected alarmingly with indoctrination of suicide bombing. Worrying? Young boys and girls forced or volunteering to die to kill. Are we aware of the danger on our hands? So, we have accepted the situation? Meanwhile, almost half of kidnapped schoolgirls are into their fifth year in captivity. And we show our face in the comity of nations?
Which is now a child’s play, Boko Haram’s sustained teenage, more precisely, child, suicide bombing or the now virtual routine rivers of blood (plagiarised from British politician Enoch Powell) flowing uncontrollably in different parts of Nigeria?
There is the growing confusion we seem to be overlooking. What is the grudge of the cattle rearers against fellow Nigerians in Benue State? The more any slight peace seems to be returning to that place, the more bloodletting resurges.
Are Benue State residents all alone in resisting destruction of their farms by Fulani cattle rearers? We must, of course, mention the unexplained withdrawal of security forces from Benue State. Whatever the reason(s), that withdrawal opened up the state as a slaughter theatre for the blood-thirsty criminals.
Otherwise, who, apart from soldiers and armed police, could have saved the congregation and two priests lately massacred in a church in the same Benue State? Even if the government and people of Benue demanded the withdrawal of the security forces (and there is no such evidence), it would still be wrong of the government to have acceded to such demands.
As much as this argument sounds tenable, especially with the risk of giving the latest Benue church massacre a religious coloration, we must all unconsciously be underestimating the on-going human disaster in our country.
The blooletting currently in Zamfara State is not less, if not higher, than in Benue, all the victims are usually fellow Fulanis killed by Fulani cattle rearers or Fulani robbers. This is despite the very strong contigent of security forces in that state.
With Zamfara under such siege, how less vulnerable could Sokoto State be? When, therefore, Presidemt Muhammadu Buhari cited a possible foreign connection, specifically, Libya, he (Buhari) was not properly tackled by critics. The Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, at the height of vainglory, went on record that Nigeria should break up, with the northern part very close to his heart. Gaddafi was variously reported in his lifetime in Nigerian and foreign media to be training Nigerian Muslim fundamentalists, who later emerged as offspring of Boko Haram.
Buhari’s mention of the Libyan connection, expectedly, generated criticism on the cheap ground that Gaddafi died a long time ago and couldn’t influencing today’s bloodshed in Nigeria. Osama Bin Laden was killed long before Gaddafi, yet, till today his products, Al Queda terrorist, threaten security all over the Western world. Specifically, the United States hunts Osama Bin Laden’s disciples. It was in pursuit of such disciples that current American President Donald Trump banned a category of visitors from some Muslim nations.
Does that completely exonerate Buhari? He is in a tight corner and cannot escape. Since the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan, it was claimed that the Fulani herdsmen were foreigners. When this fact is linked to Buhari’s claim of the Libyan connection, should Nigeriia not face the reality that Nigeria is under foreign invasion? And up till now, Nigerians don’t know why the Police Inspector-General abandon his posting to Makurdi.
Secondly, how do we reconcile Buhari’s observation of possible Libyan connection to the claim of some of his lieutenats that the bloodletting in Benue state is due to communal clash?
As part of solutions to the bloodletting in Benue State, the Senate has just called for declaration of emergency. The tragedy in Benue State was not caused by the state government. The overall responsibility for security in Nigeria is that of the Federal Government. States do not control, order or post the police or the army. How then could the Benue State governor be suspended for an offence he did not commit?
Do these senators understand the meaning and circumstances leading to the declaration of emergency? Since security forces failed to stop the anarchy in Benue, they must face the consequences rather than the governor and people of Benue State. As the security forces failed in Benue State, they will fail in any state. Will state of emergency be declared in all such states?