On March 12, 2016, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed caused a stir while trying to justify President Muhammadu Buhari’s many foreign trips. He had declared that the economic situation in the country was completely out of the control of the government, as the crash in oil prices was having a negative spiral effect on it. He was later to deny the import of his statement saying, it was taken out of context by mischief-makers, even though the statement was a true reflection of the state of the economy – largely driven by the president’s outright mismanagement.
A few weeks after Mohammed spoke the truth about the economy, whether taken out of context or not, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released figures that buttressed his remark, showing that Buhari had indeed lost control. Nigeria recorded its first negative growth, -0.36 per cent, in many years in the first quarter of 2016 and thereafter, slipped into recession in the second quarter, with a -2.06 per cent growth, the first in 25 years and sank deeper into recession, contracting by 2.26 per cent in the third quarter.
One full year after, it is not only the economy that has reeled completely out of Buhari’s control: From the economy to the national security to the internal politics within the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the day to day running of his government, everything has reeled out of Buhari’s control.
I can report to the Nigerian people that under Buhari, the state of the union has become extremely fragile; danger has become a constant companion, daily existence and life and death have become frighteningly unpredictable. I can report to Nigerians that in the place of Boko Haram, a new – the more loosely dispersed terror group by the name, Fulani herdsmen has emerged across the country. And there seems to be no stopping them. The government is either unwilling or incapable of dealing decisively with this major security challenge, or is deviously colluding with the group in its mindless reign of terror in nearly every community on a scale never seen before in the country. And what was Buhari’s initial response? Cold and unfeeling silence.
He managed to speak after various groups began to express concerns about his deafening silence on the issue. It is befuddling why this was so. Even his reaction that Nigeria has a large border through which many foreigners come in to commit these crimes in the name of Fulani herdsmen and then run away left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Nigerians. But Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State and Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State were enamoured with it. Shettima who is the Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), picked the baton and toed the very same line of Buhari’s theory of foreign herdsmen, disclosing at the end of the forum’s recent meeting in Kaduna that the Fulani herdsmen wreaking havoc on lives and properties are from Senegal and Mali.
Then you wonder why if they are foreigners killing Nigerians, the government that swore an oath to protect them seems so helpless in this mindless slaughter of kinsmen across the land. It is a strange, simplistic theory that belittles a grave national dereliction of duty to protect lives and properties; a heinous violation of the oath of office. This is a national security crisis being treated with casual levity. The question is, how many more people need to die to quench the thirst for blood of the marauding Fulani herdsmen? Why are government officials not outraged by these senseless killings of Nigerians by “foreigners”? And why are they so eager to make excuses despite the evidence?
Now, when you match that with the audacity of kidnappers and armed robbers across the country, then you would realise we have complete anarchy in our hands. That audacity has become even more brazen since there are hardly any meaningful deterrent measures in place to deal decisively with this reign of lawlessness. To put it simply, Buhari’s government has failed to protect thousands of countrymen, and their means of livelihood. Life has become so cheap that it is now worth less than a cow.
But some of the ordinary supporters of Buhari who are the worst victims of his poor handling of everything, naively continue to defend the clearly indefensible mismanagement of the country. Any discerning observer would know that we are in perilous times, and things are falling apart like never before in our dear fatherland. Except, of course, you are living in an alternate universe as some Buharists, where they say everything is working nicely and perfectly.
They bury their heads in the sand, and even help to constantly re-echo the lie of the government that things are better. To justify their stand, they point to his purported war against corruption, recovered monies as evidence of things changing for the better. But these very same Buhari’s willing captives/supporters’ reaction to the massive corruption going on right now by the actors in this government is a pathetic rationalisation of the evidence. They are not outraged at all by the evidence of barefaced stealing, and Buhari’s cover-up.
Well, for these obstinately gullible people who appear impervious to the truth, let me refer them to an excerpt from the “accidental public servant”, Nasir el-Rufai’s not-so-accidental memo to Buhari. Here it is: “In very blunt terms, Mr. President, our APC administration has not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight change but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance.” Did you get that? El-Rufai said Buhari has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance? The same Buhari whose body language allegedly fixed electricity, forced contractors back to site, fixed the rail lines, tarred countless roads all over the country, made the stock market to rebound, stabilised oil prices, fixed the economy and stabilised the naira/dollar exchange rate in his early days in power?
El-Rufai for the record was one of those who constantly tweeted nonsense and misleading information to make Buhari look good and others look bad. What a turnaround! The truth is that el-Rufai knew right from the outset that Buhari wouldn’t change his ways. It’s a small wonder he once said that Buhari was perpetually unelectable. But el-Rufai and others were later to deceive gullible Nigerians with the change mantra that ultimately foisted Buhari on the country because of what they stood to gain. Yes, he rode on Buhari’s coattails to become the governor of Kaduna State.
Until his “memo of truth to power”, irrespective of the hidden motive behind it, el-Rufai was one of the most influential persons in this APC-led government. If such a cheerleader and an insider in this government could admit to the failure of Buhari to deliver on their so-called strategic vision, why can’t some of the ridiculous willing captives/supporters of this government acknowledge the damage their improbable candidate of change has done to this country? Even the Bible tells us that there comes a time the willing captive slaves to their leaders will agree to be freed. When will these willing captives/defenders of Buhari open their eyes and agree to be liberated? What manner of spell lasts for two years even in the face of failure to deliver “mundane matters of governance”?
Why people behave this way, I was told, has mystified behavioural scientists for years. The APC has even become a magnet for all sorts of shady characters who are defecting to it in droves. For the reason that once there, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) ceases to be interested in their alleged crimes. You see the purported party of change and saints has become one big shelter for crooks.
Now let’s pretend that the above is not true and is the mere outpouring of wailers. Can we honestly say the same about the drama playing out in the public arena between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Ibrahim Magu, with the forces in the presidency and the National Assembly aligning on either side? What more illustrates a loss of control than this disorganised orchestra that is playing out?
Weeks after Magu was first rejected by the Senate based on the DSS report that indicted him, the president in his wisdom asked the Attorney and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to investigate the allegations. He supposedly investigated and cleared Magu. Based on that clearance by the AGF, the president re-forwarded Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation. Yet again, the DSS in an unprecedented move sent another report directly to the Senate, doubling down on its earlier report that Magu failed the integrity test to qualify for confirmation to the position the president had nominated him for. Wow!! What is going on? Who is in charge here?
If this is not evidence of a total dysfunctional government, then someone will have to tell me what is. And why the president wants Magu by all means even when his integrity has twice been called to question by a major state institution remains a mystery to me. EFCC was not created because of Magu, neither was Magu born to head it. And I ask: Is he the only capable one for the job, or is it that he fits perfectly for executing the president’s agenda of fighting corruption – paraphrasing Senator Shehu Sani’s criticism – with insecticide when others are involved but turns to a deodorant when people in the presidency and his friends are caught in the act?
On the Paris Club refund, who would have believed that right under Buhari’s nose, state governors would continue their looting spree like they did under former President Goodluck Jonathan? The then president yielded to pressure from the governors to share the money in the Excess Crude Account. What did they do with it? They looted the money.
Of course that became Jonathan’s cardinal sin. Now, under Buhari, 27 states got N338 billion as bailout between August and September, 2015 to offset arrears of workers’ salaries. What did they do with it? Many of them failed to use the money for what it was meant for. Instead, they looted the billions of naira again. Then the first tranche of N522 billion Paris Club refund was shared. What did they also do with it? Many of the governors once again pocketed a large chunk of it, while others appropriated it to advance their political ambitions in 2019. And these governors from hell are already salivating and waiting for the second tranche.
This is all happening under Buhari, the world-renowned, no-nonsense anti-corruption czar and the face of change. When will the willing captives agree to be freed and see that the more these people shout change, the more things stay the same, or even get worse?
What further evidence does anyone need that Nigerians are not included within the pale of their glorious progressive dividends of change? Their conduct in office so far only reveals the pretentious posturing of the campaign of change. These desperate power-seekers have amassed from the public treasury, a rich inheritance for their children, grandchildren and have condemned our own children to hewers of wood and fetchers of water. Their only motivation for seeking public office is personal benefit. They told us the PDP was bad and that the APC would bring about the change Nigerians need. But in just two years of the party of change in power, expectations have turned into ashes as hope of a new dawn fades into a distant horizon.