The despondency in Nigeria is unsettling and palpable. But trust Nigerians to put up a bold face. For years under the regime of the All Progressives Congress (APC) political party, the country has remained largely ungoverned and the situation has expectedly gotten worse this lame duck year of the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari. Some frustrated and disappointed Nigerians claim that the lame duck years of Buhari actually started from the beginning, May 29, 2015. For such Nigerians, we have been in this mode for seven years and we will have to endure for the remaining one year. Their argument is that, in spite of his serial pursuit of the office of President of Nigeria for 12 years, Buhari was unprepared when he won the prize in 2015. He had no blueprint, he had no road map and he had no idea what he wanted to do with the office. For him the office was a trophy. On this last issue I disagreed with their position. Buhari was clear-headed what he wanted to do or achieve with the office. The problem is that his agenda has little or nothing to do with growing and uniting the country and its citizens. And he has gone far in implementing his agenda and ruffling feathers. Any semblance of progress, in the circumstance, could only be incidental.
The fact that Buhari has failed was predictable. And it was predicted. Even before he was elected, we had said in this column in 2015 that electing Buhari as President would be a mistake and a danger to the health and wellbeing of Nigeria and Nigerians. We said there was nothing in his days as military head of state that recommended him for another stint in high office. We were convinced that he became worse in the odd years between 1983/85, when he held sway as a military dictator, and 2014/2015 when he stomped in the fourth election cycle to be elected President. In the intervening 30 years or so, there was no record of personal improvement for Buhari, no known speaking engagements and no known commentaries on national affairs. But this may not be entirely correct because Buhari once, I believe in 2000, led a band of Fulani irredentists to warn a sitting governor of Oyo State, the late Lam Adesina, about the alleged killing of Fulani herdsmen in the Oke Ogun area of the state. But when Buhari and his angry band were confronted with the facts of the matter by the heads of federal security agencies in the state, they fled as it turned out that the Fulani herders were the aggressors. And the villains. Another intervention of Buhari’s was his headship of the late General Sani Abacha’s Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) intervention agency. The only memorable achievement of the PTF for much of the country outside the North, particularly the North-West, was that it put to rest the doubts about the nepotistic bonafides of Buhari.
The legacy of the Nigerian President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, is already in bold relief, about one year from the end of the regime. It has always been anyway. It is that of broken promises, nepotism, corruption, aloofness, ineptitude, mindless borrowing and debt burden, insecure country and unsafe citizens, killer herdsmen, terrorists and terrorism, poverty on a scale never witnessed before, receding economy with two full-blown economic recessions in as many years within a two-term tenure, a country routinely and regularly in darkness with national grid frequently collapsing more often than any one can keep track of, a failed public-cum-civil service, ballooning number of out-of-school children, kidnapping of pupils and students for ransom, terrorists attacking aircraft and airport and disrupting flights, blowing up rail tracks, train-jacking and killing its passengers, injuring some and taking the rest hostage for either ransom or demanding exchange of the hostages for terrorists’ leaders, ranking security officers helping to deliver ransom monies to terrorists and sundry bandits, and despondent and hopeless citizenry.
Buhari’s nemesis, and this is by the Federal Government’s categorization, who is the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, as usual, captured the state of Nigeria in his Easter homily on Sunday. He said: “The challenge of fixing this broken nation is enormous and, as I have said, requires joint efforts. With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. churches, mosques, infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our roads and rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well.”
Except for dyed-in-the-wool Buharideens, Kukah’s assessment, though damning, is a fair and accurate report card of the seven painful years of Buhari’s presidency. The regime has been rudderless. It is bereft of ideas. But the greater tragedy is that it suffers from what a Christian cleric once described as arrogance of failure. It does not know the rudiments of governance and it has been unwilling to listen to wise counsel. It came to power through subterfuge, lies, propaganda, violence and it has been governing using the same tools. The APC is a damaged ‘brand’ and it is already telling. The party’s crowd of presidential aspirants are mortally scared of campaigning on the record of their party. Not the Vice-President, Oluyemi Osinbajo, nor its so-called national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Indeed, the latest but not surprising development is that Alhaji Tinubu appears no longer able to live the lie of the fabled sterling performance of their APC government. When early this year Tinubu declared his “lifelong ambition” to be President of Nigeria, he had spoken glowingly about the leadership of Buhari. But by Sunday night the tune had begun to change. Tinubu reportedly addressed a rally of South-West youths in Lagos, where he told them that nobody should label them ‘lazy youths’ in an environment of lack of public power supply. By the way, it was Buhari who is President of Nigeria on the platform of the APC that labelled young Nigerians lazy youths who have a sense of entitlement. So, Tinubu is already attempting to pivot away from his failed party. How far can he go?
When the time comes, those who aspire to succeed Buhari as President on the APC platform will have to run on the record of their President and their party, which, in addition to what we listed in the foregoing paragraphs, would also include turning Nigeria into a killing field, cuddling terrorists and bandits, turning the country into a huge crime scene, making millions of Nigerians refugees in their own country at peace time and sucking energy out of the benefits of our diversity. The latest fad of the anti-corruption regime is the pardoning of convicted looters. They must find a way to convince Nigerians that they, Nigerians, are better off today or would be in 2023 than they were in 2015.