MUHAMMADU BUHARI: ANOTHER HOPE BETRAYED?
By Moses Oludele Idowu
“… All great world – historical facts and personages occur, as it were twice… the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”
– Karl Marx
“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”.
– Karl Marx
Several persons suffered untold hardships across Nigeria in a bid to install Muhammadu Buhari in power. At least, based on newspaper reports, fifty people died to enthrone this ” floundering government”. That is not my phrase, it belonged to Goodluck Jonathan, the archetypal underachieving waster and national bungler whose incompetence and cluelessness paved the way for this ignorant, arrogant and floundering government. It is a measure of the failure of Buhari administration that Jonathan has not only found his voice, he is talking back. You know there is a problem when the poor people call you poor.
It is a measure of the tragedy that this government represents within the sociopolitical landscape of Nigeria that none of the independent and non – partisan backers of APC, the columnists and writers – including this author – who spoke and wrote so effusively to railroad this monstrous entity of a government on Nigeria is still solidly behind this government or canvassing for it today: Wole Soyinka, Segun Adeniyi, Solana, Sobowale, etc.
Some, like Sonala and Sobowale, seeing the monumental hypocrisy and double standard of this government have now turned against it deploying the power if their pen with the same virulence and acidity with which they once used it against Jonathan, now against Buhari and his floundering government.
How does it come to this? How does a great shining light become a long distant glimmer in the dark? How does a beautiful promise of national redemption in the morning turned to an ugly nightmare of despair and trepidations just within 3 years? Nigeria is now the global capital of poverty, the destination of choice for human misery and squalor. More children are out of schools now than anytime and human life has never been unsafe than it now is. Neither have we been so divided as a nation either by tribe or religion as it is today under this government.
Even in war Nigerians were courageous and optimistic people but today that hope is ebbing away by the day. Suicides are now common. Child abandonment due to parental poverty is now the order of the day. Sure, this government did not cause the economic crisis nor the multidimensional troubles of this nation, a common narrative by the apologists of this government. But that is only half the truth. And a half truth does more damage than an untruth. Yes, the Buhari government did not cause the problem but the bitter truth is this and let no one miss this point: this government by its planlessness, maladministration, manifest double standards, monumental hypocrisy, lack of intellectual rigour and mental exertions, rigid and stubborn insistence on its own ways, locked- in thinking, imperviousness to changes and superior intellection, HAS COMPOUNDED THE NATIONAL MISERY.
At the head of this pyramid of error is Muhammadu Buhari, a retired major general and one – time military ruler.
To understand what is going on it is important to do a brief historical survey of the personality of the head of this government.
I remember it today just as if it was yesterday. It was 1984. Not the celebrated novel by George Orwell with that same title. A new government had stole in through the barrel of a gun in the last day of 1983 to usher Nigeria in to the new year.
There was so much rejoicing in Ilorin where I was based and witnessed this change of government. Everywhere people heaved a sigh of relief that the corrupt politicians have been swept away.
By the same day the news was released that our new head of state was no other person than Muhammadu Buhari.
For those of us who read papers even more than the Bible in those days we immediately put two and two together and we began to worry. When the list of the other two most important offices in the military dispensation were released: Chief of Army Staff, Supreme Headquarters and Chief of Army Staff – all Muslims and northerners; then we began to seriously worry.
The causes of our worry should make anyone worry. Here was the cause.
Muhammadu Buhari was the GOC ( general officer commanding) of 3rd Mechanized Army Division in Jo’s. Nigeria and a neighbouring country ( either Chad or Cameroon) had had some disputes along the borders leading to mobilization of troops. The honour of this assignment was to Buhari who mobilized to teach the intruders some lessons. But after interventions at higher levels the matter was to be resolved amicably. Order was issued to Buhari for cessation of hostilities by the civilian government authority. But Buhari would have none of it. He disregarded the order until he has executed the assignment to his satisfaction. That was Buhari.
Few months later the papers carried the news again and it was Buhari, sometimes in 1982. Visiting one section under his military command he told the soldiers to begin to read the Nigerian Constitution because ” soldiers may have a call to duty” someday – or something like that. The nation was alarmed.
The Tribune newspaper carried an editorial the next day titled MUHAMMADU BUHARI in which it warned Nigerians that a soldier telling another soldier to study the Constitution must probably be planning a coup. It turned out to be prophetic. For that editorial, Ebenezer Babatope ( Ebino Topsy, to his admirers) would spend several months in Buhari’ s incarceration after coming to power.
This was why some of us were worried.
Asked why all the three senior most offices in government should be occupied by people from the same region and Muslims reminding him that under Obasanjo and Danjuma when all the three could have been Christians they refused for the sake of national balance, it was Idiagbon who answered: “Nigeria is a secular state with no bias for religion “.
It was not long before we knew that it was a government of ” do as I say not as I do” just as it is now. The government that claimed not to have bias for religion imported rams for Muslims that year for sallah festivals. Until Christians protested.
One notable characteristic of Buhari military administration was double standards and double- speak. While politicians of the opposition were being tried front, right and centre, those of the defunct NPN the party in power were treated with kid gloves. Except for Adamu Attah of Kwara State and Clement Isong of Cross River no other politicians of NPN, the controlling government was touched. While the government had nothing incriminating against Jakande and Ajasin of the opposition it kept them in jails nonetheless while Ekwueme and Shagari under whose nose Nigeria was run aground were kept in comfortable house arrest. While politicians in the North were still meeting under different guises those in the South were forbidden under military ban. It was so bad that Soyinka described the Buhari coup as a “coup against the opposition ” Tribune newspaper, ever a radical press called the regime ” status quo men” – ” the military wing of NPN”.
The acute suffering was not what irritated people as the double standard, hypocrisy of that government. It was the government that placed a ban on minors undergoing pilgrimage to Mecca, but when Idiagbon, his second in command was going he took his own teenage son along.
That was Buhari in his first coming. The prominent politicians of NPN escaped abroad and a government that was supposed to be fighting corruption did not make any request for their extradition. The British ambassador himself told a bewildered nation that much. Dikko was wanted because he refused to keep quiet, not because of corruption. This was the slipshod way, the hypocritical way Buhari fought corruption until everyone was fed up. Few months into the administration it had lost all the enormous goodwill of Nigerians. Like one IBO man said on the morning of the removal of Buhari ” Man don tire for Idiagbon “.
Thus when on the morning of August 27, 1985 we heard martial music then….” I Brigadier Joshua Dogonyaro…” people even trooped out in some places in jubilation. Nemesis has come.
What is baffling to me and seems to be doubly confounding is the similarities between the faltering footsteps of that disastrous first outing and this one. Buhari’ s first rule is now considered a tragedy for truncating the orderly succession of democracy and, most especially, the war on corruption, by its double standards and partiality. But even now his latest outing is proving to be a farce. Thus Karl Marx’s words at the epigraph: “History repeats itself first as a tragedy, then as a farce”.
This is why I am doubly surprised how Buhari knowing this history and what caused his failures the first time should again be treading on the path of the same.
Consider the following issues taken based on facts and figures:
All the promises made by APC and Buhari to Nigerians in 2015 now stand unfulfilled barely eight months to go into another election. Let us look at some of them.
I) This government promised to remove subsidy on petroleum and reform the oil sector. It promised to reduce petrol price to N40 per litre. None of these promises has being fulfilled to Nigerians. Instead it is reversals that we now see. Petrol has been increased to N145 per barrel. About N5 tn ( possibly more) has been paid on oil subsidy and we have seen a reforms in NNPC that has made that octopus even worse than it was in the day of Goodluck Jonathan. For three straight months this year NNPC could not pay a dime into the Federation Account for States to share. So much for reforms!
II) We were promised N1 to a $1. Today it is N 362 to $1, under the watch of this floundering government.
Iii) It was promised that jets in presidential fleet would be disposed to save money leavingj only one or two. But now, nothing of such has happened or will ever happen, seven months to go.
Iv) How about the promise of 1 refinery per year? Has anyone been built in your area? None here in the Southwest.
V) Buhari promised to abolished medical tourism. Just like before he was the first to violate his own promise. His wife, son and himself used hospitals abroad.
2. DOUBLE STANDARD, DISCRIMINATORY FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
The thing that really troubles me about this notorious government is its hypocrisy, self- righteous hypocrisy of fighting corruption and of been men of integrity and honour. Nothing could be further from the truth. It should even be a shame that this government should ever utter the word “honour”- with its shameless nepotism, double standard and discriminatory fight’s.
* AbdulRahman Dan Bazzau was fired as chief of army staff for corrupt practices in purchasing of arms. He has been appointed minister of interior by Buhari.
* Mohammed Bakindo was removed as MD, NNPC by the late Yar Adua,for stealing and receiving huge kickbacks from oil coys. He was appointed Nigeria’s Secretary General to OPEC by Buhari
* What about Abdul Rasheed Maina who was declared wanted by Jonathan and ran away for stealing N2b in 2014? So you see why Jonathan has found his voice and why he described this government as a ” floundering government”
A government claiming integrity brought this fat camel through the eye of needle back to Nigeria and reinstated him but for the outcry of the people. The so called probe of what is not missing is still with our president today, several months after. We now know that Buhari had foreknowledge ahead of bringing Maina to the country. Such a man!
* Ahmed Gambo Saleh, Registrar of Supreme Court was accused of stealing N2.2b belonging to Supreme Court. He was being prosecuted when suddenly the AGF, another Fulani Muslim ordered the discontinuation of the trial. I heard as at the last time that he has now been appointed
the Secretary of the Committee monitoring Corruption trials. Are you laughing? Well I am not joking.
* Timpre Sylva’s over 46 houses seized from him has been returned to him, it is alleged.
Just like that.
* Just last week Buhari gave his support to his kinsman, Usman Yusuf the embattled Sec. Gen. of National Health Insurance Scheme who has been twice indicted by panels set up by Minister of Health and Governing Council. He has been accused of malfeasance yet he refused to allow independent investigation. This last week boasting that no one could remove him he came to office in commando style with 50 police escorts and armed guards to force his way into office, with Fulani aristocratic arrogance. A man accused of misappropriation of N919 million is being supported by a government that is supposed to be fighting corruption and a head of government whose only qualification is Integrity. I pity the hallelujah chorus of this government, the ignorant mass of illiterates and unthinking mass who continue to swear by this government because they cannot think.
* Police is claiming to prosecute Adeleke, for examination malpractices or forgery while Buhari’s minister of finance for 3 years with forged NYSC certificate left our shores, our police, then unable to see.
Kemi Adeosun, Sylva, Obanikoro, Omisore etc are free, because they belonged to the ” cooperative mob” ( as the police used to say during the Second Republic). While Fayose, Adeleke, Metuh etc are enemies. This is how Buhari fights corruption.
In a society where corruption is fought this way you need not worry yourself about praying or expecting progress. There will be none. Because it not only ridicules the principles of justice it also mocks God. Like King Saul who destroyed the blemished sheep and goats but spared the goodly for himself, Buhari and his crowd in APC do not hate greed or corruption. They only hate the greed and corruption in others.
That is what makes the Buhari government a farce.