The call on President Muhammadu Buhari by some Nigerians not to seek reelection in 2019 has been described as a major indication of the increasing anger by Nigerians against the president who was believed to have won the 2015 presidential election on the strength of the goodwill he enjoyed from Nigerians.
Although the president is yet to make an official pronouncement as far as the 2019 presidential election is concerned, analysts believe that some events in the last few months, particularly the re-appointment of the Minister of Transport and former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi as director of his 2019 presidential election campaign, is the strongest indication of the president’s second term ambition.
With the picture of the president coming out to seek a reelection in 2019 becoming clearer, some Nigerians in the last few weeks have openly called on the president to perish the idea, claiming that the massive goodwill, which ensured his victory in 2015 had waned drastically and replaced with resentments from Nigerians.
A legal practitioner, Ugwumadu Malachy, though contended that the claim of growing resentment against the president was subjective, he attributed the dwindling popularity of the President to the inability of his government to speedily address the challenges inherited from the previous administration.
“It is subjective to say there is a growing resentment against the president. You will recall that in 2015 there was high expectation arising from the abysmal failure of PDP-led government in the hand of Dr Goodluck Jonathan. That created a vacuum that needed to be filled and it was expected that Buhari would speedily address those challenges. That alone meant that the expectation was not just high, Nigerians were desperate to see it fulfilled instantaneously. The general disposition is that he has goodwill. That goodwill needed to be matched with actions and quickly. But he started dissipating the goodwill when he didn’t respond as speedily as the Nigerian people needed.
“The question is: do you begin to chastise a government that is taking its time particularly when they said they didn’t know that the looting of the treasury and the desecration of the system was that high? In a sense that is an indictment on them for making all the promises they made when they had not ascertained the detailed fact. A government that took six months to deal with just composition of government functionaries should have known that in the desperation of Nigerians that they didn’t have the luxury of time.”
Ugwuamadu, while noting that the economy determines the presence and functionality of a government in any society, said the failure of the government to fulfill its promises in the areas of job creation and security of lives and property of the people might have contributed to the anger in the country. “The economy is what determines whether a government is first in place and secondly, whether it is functional. Now from those two perspectives, you will recall the very serious promise about job creation and so on. All of those constitute the welfare of the Nigerian people.
“The second important element is security. The welfare of the people and security of lives are primary purpose of the government. The jobs are not trickling in as they claimed. Security wise, as they are plugging the holes in the North-east, the bubble are bursting almost simultaneously in other parts of the country. People are getting killed daily, allegedly by herdsmen and we are all romanticizing, without putting in actions in terms of deterrent and punishment for those perceived to have done that,” he said.
“And what is more? You just woke up one day and said there is no need for the restructuring of the country. That kind of statement is not sensitive. You might not personally believe in it just as some of us are convinced that some of the protagonists of restructuring don’t even mean what they are saying. But in actual sense of it, you need to listen to the reality of the Nigerian state,” Ugwumadu also pointed out.
He, however, expressed the view that the situation was not entirely hopeless and urged the President to sit up and assert himself. “People voted for Buhari because they saw integrity, they saw a strength of character, they saw determination to at least fix the collapsed structure and saw raw determination drawn from his antecedent to right the wrongs.
But when all these are not happening; jobs are lost in droves, lives are becoming short, brutish and nasty, which precisely is what cost Jonathan his presidency arising from the incidence of Boko Haram, apart from his very weak position on corruption, people will begin to reconsider their options,” he said.
Also speaking on the development, a former presidential candidate, Dr Chekwas Okorie described the dwindling popularity of the president among Nigerians as a reflection of the suffering in the country. Okorie also identified the growing insecurity arising from killings in parts of the country as another reason for Nigerians’ resentment against the president.
“The anger on display is a reflection of the situation in the country. Buhari came with a profile of integrity and uprightness. And during his inauguration, he gave everybody the hope that he was for everybody and was for nobody. But his administration, as you can see, has carried on with the highest degree of nepotism promoted by him.
“It is not a question of the most things going to the North; it is about the most things going to the Fulani of the North. Aside that, the average Nigerian is suffering more than he had suffered before. There is so much anguish in the land and he doesn’t seem to bother about it. There have been suggestion everywhere on how things can get better but he doesn’t seem to care. Killings in Nigeria now can only be likened to what is happening in Rwanda. It is insulting and provocative to hear that he is going for a second term,” Okorie said.
In his own submission, Ibrahim Abubakar Jagaba, National Youth Leader, Arewa United Consultative Forum blamed the inability of the president to sustain the goodwill he enjoyed in 2015 on three factors. The factors, according to him, are his age, his health and those he identified as the cabal around the president.
“I worked for Buhari in 2015 because I believed he was going to solve Nigeria’s problems but if I tell you that I am not disappointed, I will not be saying the truth. Then I know Buhari had good intentions from the beginning. That was why most of us supported him. But today, that hope and expectation are gradually waning.
“Look for example, before he came on board we had the problem of fuel scarcity and subsidy palaver but look at what is playing out now. When this problem started last December, I expected that it would be fixed quickly but look at how long it has lasted.
“To me I believe Buhari has good intentions but the problem is that he has not been able to match his good intentions with actions and policies that will ameliorate the sufferings of the Nigerian masses. Secondly, I look at him and I believe age is catching up on him. You may have the desire to work but if the problems of health and age pose serious challenge there will be little that can be done.
“Again, I have the belief that there is a cabal and conspiracy against his government and if you are not good at politicking, like Buhari, it will be very difficult to succeed in this terrain. Ordinary Nigerians are hungry and so are angry. Buhari had goodwill but that goodwill is waning because the confidence Nigerians reposed in him has been betrayed in less than three years,” he opined.
Dr Jude Asenime, a lecturer in the Department of History, Delta State University, in his own submission identified ethnic sentiment, which, according to him, is a major feature of Nigerian politics and party influence, as the two major factors responsible for the seeming inability of the president to perform up to the expectations of the Nigerian masses.
Asenime who noted that the resentment being expressed against the president was not unusual said lack of cohesion in the activities of the APC-led government also contributes immensely to the problem.
“Since independence we have not had any president Nigerians would be happy with. Most times it is after they would have gone that people would begin to sing their praises. So, what Buhari is experiencing is not new to the Nigerian history.
“What we should also put in mind is that the ethnicity in Nigerian politics is playing a serious role. Things are not done on merit and I don’t believe Buhari is working with his own team. Rather he is working with his party’s team.
So, Buhari as a person, is quite different from the team he is working with. I strongly believe that that is where the problem lies. And everybody is having different opinion on what his happening.
“And talking about the economic situation, people are highly frustrated and have lost their patience. Many were expecting miracle to happen and they believed he was the messiah so they voted for him especially with his anti-corruption crusade. But when you are championing such crusade, you have to really check your followers too to ensure they don’t have contrary objectives so that you don’t end up fighting alone as we see it now. So people are beginning to judge him.
“Then we should not forget that corruption itself is fighting back, that has to do with the role of his party in the entire process. It is not you that rule but the party. So when we judge Buhari we should also judge APC because they are not actually working along with him. Some of the nominees for certain positions are the ones disappointing in the crusade,” Asenime said.
Asenime also made reference to the disposition of the president to the alleged killings by herdsmen in the country and his reaction to the security challenge in the South-east and the Niger Delta region, which he opined belies his assurance to be president for everybody.
“We have this Nigerian culture that wherever you are from you must always go back home. Buhari too has to report back home. That is why you see his loyalty tilting towards the North. I think this is beginning to expose him to criticisms. That is why people are on his neck now. We also should not forget the type of advisers he has. Most of them are hiding within the kitchen and dishing very wrong menu to the nation. Imagine the appointment of eight dead people,” he submitted.
Not all Nigerians, however, believe that the perceived fury against the president is a function of his non performance. Rather, impatience on the part of Nigerians, is believed to be the root cause of growing resentment against the president. Akintunde Alao, lawyer and United Nations Ambassador for Peace is one of such Nigerians who hold this view.
Akintunde is of the opinion that Nigerians need to be more patient with the president whom, he said, had fared relatively well especially with the crusade against corruption.
“Mr President has performed beyond every reasonable doubt. It will take some time to correct the many wrongs that have been done to this country by previous administrations. So, I so much believe that it will take some time to heal the wounds completely. Look at some of the measures put in place by this administration in fighting corruption. They are paying off. You can attest to the fact that corruption has really declined in the country.
The president is doing creditably. Rather, I will say those criticizing him are not patient enough with him. But if we all would be fair to him, you will know that Buhari is one of the greatest performers of our time. I strongly believe Buhari will take Nigeria to the promise land,” he said.