Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has written an epitaph on President Muhammadu Buhari. He has summarised Buhari as a President who came and was blinded by nepotism and clannishness and, therefore, incapable of leading a multi-ethnic entity such as Nigeria.
His last line was that Buhari should consider a well deserved rest at this point in time and at this age and forget his 2019 return bid. Obasanjo may not have said anything new. Millions of Nigerians already know Buhari as an ethnic bigot who has not batted an eyelid in his malicious drive to make Nigeria a Fulani fiefdom. What may be new here is that a declaration that reads more like a riot act than a normal observation about the Nigerian President has finally come from the highest quarters. Many of us have said it time and time again that Buhari has become an affliction to Nigeria and, therefore, needs to be exorcised from the country’s body politic. But we were thought to be partisan. Now, the riot act has finally come from the oracle.
The Buhari story, if we must remind ourselves, is that of disappointment and failure. The man came into office with a lot of goodwill. Many believed in him. They thought that he possessed a magic wand. They thought that his presidency would catapult Nigeria to enviable heights. But all the expectations have tumbled down the hill. They have crashed like a house of cards. Nigeria under Buhari has sunk into an abysmal chasm. His kinsmen have declared war on Nigeria. They have taken up arms against defenceless citizens of Nigeria. They do it in the open and with reckless abandon. They boast about it.
They warn you of an imminent holocaust. They tell you to your face that they will invade your territory and kill and maim. Then you report your fears and worries to Buhari and his Fulani-filled security apparatus. They grin at you. They jibe at your folly. They laugh sardonically at your naivety; at the fact that you do not know who owns Nigeria. Reign of terror by Fulani jihadists. That has been been the hallmark of the Buhari presidency. Buhari and his security apparatus protect the murderers. They want the rest of Nigeria to be afraid of the gun-wielding few.
The nepotism and clannishness that is the Buhari administration started from the outset. The man came into office believing that he had conned the rest of the country into voting him into power. It was his last opportunity to deal with Nigeria and Nigerians. Even those who thought they knew him, as Obasanjo has admitted, did not really know the man. They did not know that he is the worst enemy of a united and peaceful Nigeria. It is because he does not believe in a united, just and peaceful Nigeria that he excluded the Igbo from the commanding heights of his administration. He is not bothered about the possible repercussions. That is how insensitive he is to issues of national unity and cohesion. No Nigerian leader, even in times of crisis, has been as nepotistic and clannish as Buhari. The man acts and lives as if he is not part of the Nigerian society. His level of conceit is sickening.
But the disaster that is Buhari did not just happen. It was foretold. But many turned a blind eye to the looming calamity for the simple reason that they wanted Goodluck Jonathan out of the way. Many of the Jonathan critics were uncritical. They submitted to mob hysteria. The result is the calamity we are reaping under the Buhari presidency.
The way things stand, it can be safely said that the cookie has finally crumbled. Nigerians can no longer speak in muffled tones. Even those who were once the President’s diehard supporters are crying foul. They are filled with nausea. That is why strident voices of dissent are wafting out from unexpected quarters. During the build-up to the Buhari presidency, we witnessed a rash of endorsements even from those who, in the past, would not dine with Buhari with a long spoon. Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, was one of them. A man who had severally dismissed Buhari as a dictator and an anti-democratic element who should not be trusted with power suddenly began to sing a new song. He said Buhari had changed for good. He endorsed him for the presidency. Two years down the road, the scales fell off Soyinka’s eyes. He is beginning to see clearly now. That is why he is able to notice that Buhari’s kinsmen, wilfully goaded on by him, have declared war on Nigeria. That is why he is able to recognise that a brand new jihad is being unleashed on Nigeria under the guise of Fulani herdsmen. Soyinka is a good representative of the chorus singers, the cheer leaders for whom the music has changed. He has a huge army of lieutenants who have eaten their words.
But even as Buhari is failing or has failed in virtually every index of governance, his co-conspirators are trudging on. They are being heady and unrepentant about the disaster that Buhari has wrought on Nigeria. The co-conspirators on the frontline of the evil project are Governors Nasir el-Rufai and Kashim Shettima of Kaduna and Borno states, respectively. They are the most unrepentant defenders and promoters of the evil that has befallen Nigeria. And they have their able recruit in Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State. They are the diehard trio for whom Buhari does no wrong. That was why they met at the time Benue State was bleeding from Buhari’s maladministration and endorsed him for a second term in office. They said they were satisfied with the way he has been piloting the affairs of Nigeria. That was why they looked the other way while the world was pouring into Benue to sympathise with the government and people of the state over the genocide visited on them by Fulani jihadists. They did not show solidarity with their fellow governor. Then, when a group of southern and Middle Belt leaders went to Benue to reiterate their call for the restructuring of the country, the Buhari governors suddenly remembered Benue. They rushed off to Makurdi. But they did not go there to sympathise with one of their own (it was actually too late in the day to do so). They were there to counter and reject the call for the restructuring of Nigeria. That is what matters to them. All the talk about loss of life and property in Benue can wait. They are the harbingers and purveyors of Buhari’s evil presidency. They believe in the agenda they are propagating. And they have their reasons.
There is also an army of sycophants who are parroting what el-Rufai and his group are championing. At the last count there were leaders of the All Progressives Congress from the South East. They met and reviewed Buhari’s presidency. Their verdict was that he has done well. They said they were happy with the way he is governing the country. Consequently, they endorsed him for a second term in office. This is sycophancy at its most banal. A group whose people have been rendered irrelevant by an administration cannot, in good conscience, make a case for the prolongation of the life of that administration. A group whose people have been inflicted with psychological pain by rampaging jihadists cannot, in truth, claim to be happy with the administration that has made their subjugation possible. The shame in the pronouncement of the APC leaders from the South East is too serious to be ignored. Why didn’t these leaders just keep quiet if they didn’t have anything to say?
Unfortunately for them, sycophancy of any sort will no longer work. The Buhari presidency is, inexorably, headed for a dead end.