OPINION:WHY THE WORLD IS LAUGHING AT NIGERIA – A CASE AGAINST MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Ever since Nigeria became a sovereign nation, the choices we have made as a State betrays our dream of nationhood.
I never thought I would be hard-pressed at any point in time to share a thought like this, until I saw an embarrassing erection of the failed symbol of the ruling Party – APC, at the city gate of our nation’s capital. That broom represents everything that is wrong with this country at the moment, since it has failed in its promised quest to sweep Nigeria clean of maladies.
Amid other malfeasance, this is coming weeks after the President – Mohammadu Buhari – suspended the legitimate Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) for reasons best known to him, and swore-in a SAN I would describe as a stooge – for accepting such a responsibility without due process. That singular action by the President is tantamount to suspending the constitution.
The question as to whether the CJN committed all that is alleged, is as important as following dues process in the bid to oust him from the office, and thus – the right thing must be done. Observing the executive branch maneuver with so many narratives placed the world on notice. There is no short-cut to justice. All these keeps the world laughing at us.
Over the years, we have made less than average and poor choices on matters concerning leadership, and with all due respect, President Muhammadu Buhari is one of such poor choices, and right now the international community is having a laugh at our expense. Without being a wrong assumption, it could be alleged that we have chosen our regions, ethnicities and faiths on alter of politics, as against the overall interest of Nigeria.
In most cases, all we have had over the years in Nigeria is dictatorship and pseudo democracy. The military has over the years been polarized and politicized to permit certain regions firm grip on power not to ‘lead’, but to unfairly rule over other regions of the country. History has it that we have experienced ethnic or faith motivated military coups in this country, to the detriment of the people.
Count down from the very first military coup in Nigeria, and the subsequent regimes after the civil war – till this current dispensation and what you would find are names who had no requisite experience, expertise or qualification to run a ministry, let alone lead a country, but found their ways to power.
One of such names is the current President or ‘ruler’ of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. His first foray into Nigerian politics was through a coup in December 1983, where he went on to hold the legitimate president, late Alhaji Shehu Shagari hostage under a ‘comfortable’ house arrest in Ikoyi. Meanwhile, the then deputy president – late Dr Alex Ekweme remained locked-up in Kiri-kiri Prison until Muhammadu Buhari was overthrown by yet another dictator, General Ibrahim Babangida.
Over the course of his dictatorship from 1983 to 1985, what Muhammadu Buhari implemented in this country was anarchy. There was a blatant disregard for the rule of law, and human rights abuses were the order of the day. This is a man who murdered his fellow citizens – abused their rights in the guise of ‘war against discipline’, and executed counterproductive economic policies which resulted in untold hardship on the citizenry – a known nepotist. Going by this antecedent, Wole Soyinka described his 2007 presidential ambition as “a far graver, looming danger”.
During the run-up to the 2007 general elections, Wole Soyinka was in pain to advise against the emergence of General Buhari as the President. He went further to sum up the hostilities which defined Muhammadu Buhari’s military era. The following are the extracts from his assertion:
The grounds on which General Buhari is being promoted as the alternative choice are not only shaky, but pitifully naive. History matters. Records are not kept simply to assist the weakness of memory, but to operate as guides to the future. Of course, we know that human beings change. What the claims of personality change or transformation impose on us is a rigorous inspection of the evidence, not wishful speculation or behind-the-scenes assurances. Public offence, crimes against a polity, must be answered in the public space, not in caucuses of bargaining. In Buhari, we have been offered no evidence of the sheerest prospect of change. On the contrary, all evident suggests that this is one individual who remains convinced that this is one ex-ruler that the nation cannot call to order.
Buhari – need one remind anyone – was one of the generals who treated a Commission of Enquiry, the Oputa Panel, with unconcealed disdain. Like Babangida and Abdusalami, he refused to put in appearance even though complaints that were tabled against him involved a career of gross abuses of power and blatant assault on the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian citizenry.
Prominent against these charges was an act that amounted to nothing less than judicial murder, the execution of a citizen under a retroactive decree. Does Decree 20 ring a bell? If not, then, perhaps the names of three youths – Lawal Ojuolape (30), Bernard Ogedengbe (29) and Bartholomew Owoh (26) do. To put it quite plainly, one of those three – Ogedengbe – was executed for a crime that did not carry a capital forfeit at the time it was committed. This was an unconscionable crime, carried out in defiance of the pleas and protests of nearly every sector of the Nigerian and international community – religious, civil rights, political, trade unions etc. Buhari and his sidekick and his partner-in-crime, Tunde Idiagbon persisted in this inhuman act for one reason and one reason only: to place Nigerians on notice that they were now under an iron, inflexible rule, under governance by fear.
The execution of that youthful innocent – for so he was, since the punishment did not exist at the time of commission – was nothing short of premeditated murder, for which the perpetrators should normally stand trial upon their loss of immunity. Are we truly expected to forget this violation of our entitlement to security as provided under existing laws? And even if our sensibilities have become blunted by succeeding seasons of cruelty and brutality, if power itself had so coarsened the sensibilities also of rulers and corrupted their judgment, what should one rightly expect after they have been rescued from the snare of power” At the very least, a revaluation, leading hopefully to remorse, and its expression to a wronged society. At the very least, such a revaluation should engender reticence, silence. In the case of Buhari, it was the opposite. Since leaving office he has declared in the most categorical terms that he had no regrets over this murder and would do so again.
The above citation – I repeat, was from Professor Wole Soyinka in 2007. With these well documented atrocities against his people and crimes against humanity, it baffles one to understand why he kept seeking the office of the presidency – time after time. Nonetheless, it is often said; ‘time will tell’. His reasons are now unraveling day after day for our verdict – that is if you are following this his shameful ‘Northernization’ policy even in present day Nigeria.
But it still beats my imagination as to why the professor would allow himself to be tricked into believing that the man from Daura – Buhari, could ever repent, when he, in his February 2015 lengthy article titled; “the Challenge of Change – A Burden of Choice”, as was published by Sahara Reporters, urging “the clock of Change” to tick faster – endorsed this tyrant, that is making us an object of mockery in the eyes of the world today.
Professor Wole Soyinka was not alone in failing to decipher the deceit in inherent in the propaganda of ‘Team Buhari, which had in its fold the ‘ruler of Lagos’ – Bola Tinubu and his entourage, the media – social and mainstream (both foreign and domestic), the legendary ‘liar’ Lai Muhammed, and with the aid of a certain imperfect ex-president whose love for letter writing knows no bound – just to list a few. Unfortunately, amongst them, only the letter writer has realized his gaffe.
But the professor wasn’t alone in his illusion about Buhari’s “born again phenomenon” – perhaps his ‘crocodile tears’ after he lost 2011 presidential elections fooled them all. But the killing of innocent Nigerians, including Youth Corp members in the process due to his utterances during and after the elections the 2011, should have acted as a reminder. They heeded not those signs – which was clear due to his mannerism and antecedent – that the then incumbent was better suitable for the job, in the absence of a better alternative. By the way, Buhari’s stooge – Governor Nasir El-rufai, is again up in arms with threats – as exemplified by his recent ‘body bags’ narrative.
A lot of personalities and institutions – home and abroad, who should have known better, fell for Team Buhari’s propaganda of ‘repentance’ and ‘change mantra’, and one of such individuals is none other than the former US President – Barrack Obama – who did everything to ensure the frustration and failure of the then incumbent. The result of that ignorance from multiple fronts is what we are bearing witness today. Again, the question is; where has Buhari led us as a country? Nowhere!
It is often said that ‘those who fail to learn from history, repeat the mistakes of the past’. This is one aspect in which we have failed woefully as a people. Our failure to teach the younger generation about the ‘dark age of military rule in Nigeria, and Buhari in particular’, with the wicked and selfish connivance of the corrupt elites has brought to Nigerians nothing, but this disastrous regime. When are we going to ever get it right? The world is indeed laughing at us!
Notwithstanding his nonchalant attitude, lets just assume the younger Buhari – a dictator, just like other humans, made some mistakes due to youthful exuberance during his undemocratic incursion into governance, which resulted in the atrocities he committed. He was misguidedly given another trial by those who bought into his purported ‘repentance’, the result of that has been a repeat of the farce he is known for.
Those with a fair knowledge of history can feel this sense of ‘déjà vu’ from all facades of his policies. The economy has collapsed under his stewardship. The security situation in the country has worsened, poverty is now endemic and nepotism – his trademark. Today in Nigeria, corruption is pervasive – at the scale never seen before, and human rights of the citizenry are arbitrarily abused by the agents of the government etc, but the President is still very much aloof – with the symbol of his failures erected at the city gate of Nigeria’s capital. What a shame!
A country with so much potential and resources – human and natural, yet millions of her citizens are living as refugees in their country. Meanwhile, some are sprinting in droves from her territory to escape violence, poverty and in search of greener pastures – even to the extent of doing so illegally irrespective of the dangers, all, due to the harsh reality at home.
It would have been shocking to the world that the leader of a failed government such as this, is seeking re-election – if it wasn’t happening in Nigeria. But mediocrity is what they have come to expect from Nigeria over the years – thus, their amusement.
The funniest part, or I should say the saddest part of this is; as ailing and incoherent as this president is, to tackle these myriad problems – with a government performing abysmally in all fronts, it is quite appalling that we have sycophants – including those at the highest echelon of the society and education as professors – who should know better, endorsing him. This is irrespective of his disastrous policies on education. Who would save us from this jeopardy?
The world has been mocking Nigeria for her failures over the years, and we can’t fault that, as they are well founded. The actions and rhetoric of world leaders and institutions bears testimonies to our underachievement as country if we can’t recognize it. In recent years, the former US President – Barrack Obama, Former British PM – Davide Cameron and their successors respectively, have had embarrassing words for Nigeria (just to name a few). Meanwhile, in 2018, some students in Harvard University – out of all the countries on earth – where given an assignment based on the failures in Nigeria since independence, titled; ‘Nigeria-Fates in Balance’. This came just months after Cable News Network (CNN) mocked Nigeria on the long absence of her President.
Again, the recent declaration of Nigeria as the capital of world’s poverty by Brookings Institution, is a mockery to our collective intellects as a people, and our vast wealth as a nation. Our collective failures to learn from our unfortunate history as people and the current performance of this government in all ramification deserves not only mockery by the international community, but condemnation. Something has to be done fast and now!
Anyone, people or region(s), canvassing for or endorsing Buhari today – notwithstanding the present situation of the country, is doing so due to insensitivity, ignorance – personal, group or regional interest, to the detriment of the country at large.
Where we are as a country today is worse than where we began as at 2015. I beg to differ this day, and I urge you to condemn what is bad – reject it in its entirety and be at the right-side of history. We can’t afford to continue in self-deceit.
We must rise above ethnic, regional and religious divide and recognize the truth, which is that; collectively – without these divides, we are the victims any failed regime. Thus, we must right the wrongs of 2015. Arise and save Nigeria!
Patrick S. Jr
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