Time to Take Nigeria Back! THIS REPUBLIC. By Shaka Momodu.

December 22, 2017

Fellow Nigerians, it is no longer in the realm of speculation that our reticent general would seek a second term in office. It is not just his infamous body language speaking volumes about his intention, his actions and utterances lately give us a clear picture of his desire for a second term. His supporters under the umbrella of the Buhari Support Organisation have already launched Buhari’s 2019 bid. His foot soldiers have commenced nocturnal meetings to sell to the public what they know in their heart of hearts is a bad product. Although this has provoked incredulity and anger among many Nigerians, it is not enough however. Our discomfiture must be backed by unwavering action.

This is therefore a clarion call to all those who truly wish Nigeria’s progress, especially the youth who refused to learn from history and threw their weight behind a man they share nothing in common with, to rise up and oppose any attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election in 2019. Although he has the constitutional right to do so, the surprising thing really is that he has the audacity to even nurse the idea of a second term after failing so spectacularly to deliver on any of his campaign promises. Instead, he has created more problems in the country than he met. He is constantly giving excuses for the glaring incompetence of his government while blaming others for his poor leadership; but quick to claim credit for the work of others.

Fellow Nigerians, such a bid will not be in the national interest. It is not just a patriotic duty to oppose his re-election in 2019, it is in the overriding national public interest to deny him the opportunity to continue in office beyond 2019 should he ultimately decide to test our resolve. Failure cannot be rewarded with a fresh mandate.

Frivolous solidarity visits have already begun, to urge him to contest and remain in office till 2023 “to enable him finish the good work he has started”. Some useful idiots are already telling him that “he is the only one who can save Nigeria”. Those fanatics and heretics of faith must be living in another world where delusion is accepted as reality. Well, the truth is that, reality is somewhat less exciting.

All I have for those peddling this narrative is utter contempt. Some of his supporters in Kano are even threatening to drag him to court should he refuse to seek a second term. How ridiculous! We have seen this madness before. Every era has its deranged fellows, just as they have their heroes. We must tell these pretenders that the future of our nation is more important than the election of one man.

If you recall, that was the same thing they told the late General Sani Abacha. The former governor of old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo even went to the extremes when he threatened to commit suicide if Abacha did not succeed himself. After the death of Abacha, he was reminded severally by the media to carry out his threat, but he would have none of it. Chief Nwobodo is still around, jumping from one church denomination to another, and from one political party to another in search of bread and butter.

All patriotic Nigerians who genuinely mean well for this country must come together to stop Buhari. A second term of Buhari in power will cause a grave and near irreparable harm to our nation’s unity in diversity and whatever will be left of it by the time he finishes his first term. Nigeria is already dancing on the tip of a pin. It is unthinkable to imagine a continuation of the foreboding nightmare much longer.

My opposition to Buhari is principally because he lacks the capacity, competence and wherewithal to govern a modern and diverse society like ours. His performance so far is damning evidence of a visionless leadership foretold. It is a cold vindication of an unbiased assessment of the then-candidate Buhari. It was never about personal hatred or party affiliation. It was a vigorous interrogation of the evidence of his previous record in public office, viz. the narrow prism of his worldview, his impunity and contempt for due process and sensitive policies designed to promote national unity, his palpable nepotism and legendary ethnic disposition, his poor leadership style, and above all, his lack of vision predicated on a broad national renaissance of Nigeria. All these to me, made him unsuited for the office of president. His two and a half years in office so far have reinforced his unsuitability and glaring lack of capacity to govern. Buhari belongs to the past; he cannot pursue policies and programmes that will safeguard the people’s futures.

The man who rode on that powerful, all-encompassing magic word of CHANGE to power unfortunately had no vision that crystalises change and national rebirth that he and his party promised a desperate people yearning for a new direction. It has turned out that the people blindly and foolishly placed their hopes and expectations on a man totally unable, and totally bereft of ideas to move the nation forward.

Come to think of it, is it not ironic that a man who has failed so abysmally to achieve anything other than exacerbate the nation’s fault lines like never before wants another term? Does he want to finally bring down the roof on everybody? The mistake of 2015 MUST not be repeated. Buhari has so far failed all those who took a big leap of fate and trusted him with their vote and support to berth a new nation.

We must take our country back from this set of politicians. We must collectively decide whether Nigeria lives or dies. We are starkly aware of the risks of re-electing Buhari. It is a choice between going back in time and moving forward in progress, a choice between the illusion of reality and actual reality. There is no sitting on the fence anymore. We all must choose; either you are with Nigeria or you are with Buhari. There is no sugar-coating the dire situation in which we’re in anymore, or pretending that what is clearly obvious to all is not.

Let everyone within the voting age register so that on election day, we can decide the future of our country. Let us deliver a message to him and his supporters. Even if INEC would like to put its thumb on the scale to favour Buhari, let’s tie their hands by overwhelmingly voting out Buhari. We cannot continue to pretend that whatever happens to Nigeria is not our business. It is as much my business as it is yours. We have a duty to rise up and save this country from the current leaders and their party.

If the campaign to re-elect Buhari elicits no vigorous response and challenge now, it may be too late before we realise and try to fight back for the soul of our country. We cannot approach this with indifference any longer because indifference is always the friend of the enemy. Not to respond to the current attempt to foist Buhari on Nigerians again in 2019 will amount to accepting that we are powerless to change Nigeria’s hopeless drift into perdition under him. We must have the courage to tell the enemies of this country that we have already paid a huge price for electing Buhari and that another term of him in office is not an acceptable preposition. As a matter of fact, we should use our power to change the story of Nigeria for good. For those who feel a sense of loyalty to support Buhari because of party or ethnic affinity, there is a higher loyalty and duty to country which is a nobler cause to live and die for.

Now, let us even review Buhari’s term in office so far: What has he really achieved to be worthy of another term? He rose to power on the tripod of fighting insecurity, corruption and restoring the economy. On these three key issues, he has failed spectacularly. Apart from the partial containment of Boko Haram which Buhari prematurely announced as a “technical” defeat in December 2015 and an “effective” defeat in 2016, insecurity in the country has grown worse. While he has repeatedly claimed that no part of the country’s territory is under the control of the evil terrorists, the recent United Nations report definitively gives the lie to that claim when it stated that three local government areas were still fully under Boko Haram’s control while so many areas liberated were still unsafe owing to the fear of attacks.

Is it not curious that Buhari wants to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to fight the “technically” and “effectively” defeated Boko Haram? We have been told by several officials of this government, that all that was left was a small mopping-up operation to clear out the remnants of the Boko Haram. The war was long ago declared won by Buhari and his supporters. And it was touted as evidence of the winning approach of this government to the Boko Haram menace. So what does he need $1 billion for?

Under Buhari, Fulani herdsmen have simply gone berserk – killing and maiming thousands and burning down villages unchallenged. Nigerians have never witnessed such terrifying ferocity of violence that has been unleashed by these once-upon-a-time peaceful herdsmen who since Buhari won power have transformed into mindless killers and kidnappers. What has the government done? Nothing! It is now a fact of our new reality that if someone is not killed by the killer herdsmen encroaching on their farmland or just marauding in towns, then the herdsmen might as well kidnap them. They torture male victims, rape women and girls in communities and villages, and extort huge ransoms before their victims regain freedom. Our security agencies have simply failed the country. Buhari has looked on without a care in the world and without doing much or even as much as empathise with the people who have faced unprovoked violence. He has been distant and aloof to their pain.

Under Buhari the Nigerian state has failed to demonstrate its essence and relevance. Security of lives and properties is near zero. On a general note, Nigeria has become a huge den of kidnappers, as the people are left to their fate. Even security agents are being kidnapped on a daily basis and ransoms paid by their families or government agencies to secure their release. This is the state of Nigeria under Buhari, the man who purportedly came to make things better. Any leader who is unable to guarantee the security of the lives and properties of his people is unfit to lead. Buhari has demonstrably failed on this all-important front except for those who pretend that facts should be called something else. For these people, there is a certain attractiveness to untruth and a draw to violence.

More than anything else, Buhari’s perceived reputation of being incorruptible and his pledge to launch a crackdown on corruption was the most significant selling element that won him the presidency. This has since taken a big hit with his “insecticide” and “deodorant” approach to corruption when it concerns his enemies and allies respectively. He has thoroughly abused the trust of the people. The recent $25 billion NNPC contracts award is a case in point.

However, It was heart-warming that the Senate quickly set up a committee headed by Senator Aliyu Wammako to probe the NNPC contracts award after Kachikwu’s letter was made public. The committee was scheduled to commence sitting, but our beleaguered president immediately invited Wammako to Aso Rock as reported in the media. Since then, nothing has been heard about the committee meant to probe the $25 billion contracts awarded by Baru with the approval of the president but without due process. The question is, why did Buhari with unusual speed and alacrity intervene to obviously stop the probe? Was he afraid of being embarrassed by the evidence of corruption and breach of due process that would have been unearthed by the Senate?

On the economy, Buhari’s performance so far has been a disaster. He inherited an economy growing at 2.35 per cent in May 2015 and under a year, he plunged it into the worst recession in 25 years with the attendant mass poverty and hunger in the land. The misery index is at an all-time high. His policies (if any) have triggered a wave of massive retrenchment of workers across all sectors of the economy, while hundreds of companies have been forced to shut down on account of the economic downturn.

Even as some diehard Buhari supporters continue to deny and exonerate him of culpability in the many own goals the administration has scored, some candid insider assessments were delivered recently by no less a person than Hammeed Ali, the Comptroller-General of Customs, who is a staunch Buhari ally. This is what he had to say: “Let me say here without fear of being contradicted, that I think half way through the journey, we are losing our core values. We are losing our vision and mission and I think that the idea of our being here today is to look critically at what we need to do to get back on track. There is no doubt that we have derailed because we are not doing what we say we want to do. ….

“It is my belief that those of us who have been in the trenches all these years to get good governance will surely be sleeping with bellyache every day; especially in the recent past. Everyday, when you wake up, there is a story that makes you shiver.” Need I say more other than say it’s time to take our country back?

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