By Donu Kogbara
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has been gradually – and tragically – demystifying himself since he took over from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan nearly three years ago. I grew up sharing a widespread belief that he was an uncompromising disciplinarian who wasn’t willing to tolerate corruption in any shape or form.
Like millions of other Nigerians, I regarded him as a super-strict senior soldier who would save us from venal, unpatriotic saboteurs who were undermining our economy, poisoning our society and mortgaging our collective future. Looking back, I was warned that he wasn’t the Messiah I yearned for.
I particularly recall a friend who had worked with Buhari when he was in Opposition saying (after I’d enthusiastically explained why I was planning to vote for him in 2015) that “Buhari isn’t as tough as you think. I never once saw him put his foot down when some of his followers needed to be controlled.”
Meanwhile, other critics accused Buhari of other weaknesses, including nepotism and tribalism…and expressed the view that his no-nonsense, principled reputation was undeserved. It was said in certain quarters that Major-General Tunde Idiagbon, the de facto Vice President, had been the real strong man and driving force during Buhari’s famous first stint as Head of State (1983-1985).
I was told on numerous occasions that Buhari would disappoint me. But some of us have developed a bad habit of refusing to take alternative viewpoints that we don’t want to hear seriously; and I chose to ignore these prophets of doom.
I took the view that there was nothing wrong with giving a candidate the benefit of the doubt. For every anti-Buhari voice, there was a pro-Buhari voice. And as I’ve pointed out before on this page, I am not a fortune teller….and could not be sure how Buhari would conduct himself in the corridors of power.
But guess what?
Within weeks of Buhari’s return to the top office in the land, rumours about dodgy dealings within his administration were rife. And he didn’t help matters by bestowing too many major appointments on relatives and fellow Katsinans.
We have constantly been assured that Buhari and his team are sincerely and aggressively fighting the cancer that is corruption, but the “fight” seems to be as much about vindictive political score-settling as anything else; and Buhari has displayed an unfortunate penchant for overlooking the dubious practices of his favourites. The recent reinstatement of the NHIS boss being a classic example of his blind allegiance to people who should not be public servants.
Long story short: Hardly anyone thinks that this is an ethical government.
And now a really depressing bombshell has landed on us from a respected external source: According to the latest Corruption Perception Index, CPI, released by Transparency International, TI, on Wednesday, corruption has worsened since Buhari stood up in Eagle Square on May 29, 2015 and assured an intently listening world that he would “belong to everybody and nobody”!
We were ranked 136th (out of 180 countries surveyed) in 2016; and we’ve now dropped to 148. New Zealand came first and Denmark second; Finland, Norway and Switzerland shared the third position.
Other sub-Saharan African countries that are ranked higher than Nigeria are Botswana – whose joint 34 rank is the best in Africa – as well as Rwanda (joint 48th) and Nambia (joint 53rd).
If I were in Buhari’s shoes, I would hang my head in shame and not come up with any excuses and just say sorry to those he has let down!
A Vanguard reader has told me off for voting for Buhari as follows:
I disagree with you when you tried to excuse yourself from blame for supporting Buhari during the election on the grounds that you can’t predict someone’s behaviour. You like most fanatical Buhari supporters at the time of the election never showed any proper sense of history.
You allowed yourself to be carried away by APC acid propaganda against Jonathan without bothering to equally take a look at the negative historic facts which were being published almost daily about Buhari. His tribalism, nepotism, religious fanaticism, sectionality, corruption…
Is it too late for him to salvage his image and placate folks who are fed up with him before the next election? Well, nothing is impossible. But I’m not optimistic. He needs to urgently address concerns about the escalating Fulani herdsmen scandal. He needs to prove that he can be unbiased, untribalistic and flexible.
He needs to pay more attention to the anger and hunger of large chunks of the electorate. He needs to show Southern and Middle Belt Christians that he can empathise with them on a profound level. He needs – even in his Muslim Northern heartland – to deliver more hope and concrete progress.
He needs to sack, with immediate effect, some of the hated eminences who are lurking behind his throne and ruining his credibility (even his wife, our dear First Lady, Madame Aisha, can’t stand them!).
Buhari really needs to act!
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, a group known as the ……………. has put in place the necessary
BUT leopards, especially elderly ones who have had decades in which to become rigidly set in their ways, rarely change their spots! So I’m not holding my breath that positive new winds will suddenly start gusting from the presidential Villa.
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