By Ochereome Nnanna
OUR self-embattled President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been on the road of late. I call him self-embattled because there is no trouble he is in today that was not brought upon him by his own actions and utterances, including those of the people he hired to speak for him. Unlike his predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Buhari has generally been spared the type of vitriolic opposition and barefaced falsehood which were deployed to unseat the university teacher from Otuoke.
The organised Labour, civil society groups, a section of the media and foreign backers (like the Barack Obama regime in America) which worked with the APC to demonise, frustrate and frighten Jonathan out of power, are hazards that Buhari has been spared so far. There is no strong figure in the main opposition party now turning the heat on this administration. Indeed, whatever political heat that Buhari is facing is coming from within the ranks of a very poorly-managed APC.
Last week, we complained of how President Buhari went to expose himself and our country to ridicule by offering to “help” their President, Nana Akufo-Ado fight “endemic corruption” in Ghana. We wondered if he did not read the Transparency International’s report that ranked Nigeria 148th and Ghana 81st in global corruption perception. Pray, what sense does it make for a student who came 148th to offer to “help” another student who came 81st to overcome his “endemic” failure? Is that not laughable? Well, Ghanaians scorned us to their hearts’ content because there are no snakes and monkeys that swallow cash in Ghana.
Buhari’s ongoing internal road trips are taking him to at least six states where Nigerians have been massacred or schoolgirls abducted. On each of his stops, our president has left us with something sour to remember. Come to think of it, this has been a hallmark of this President. Remember how he went to America in June 2015 and failed to understand the meaning of “inclusive governance.” After it was carefully explained to him by the moderator of the media meet, he released the bomb which has been the most toxic policy of his administration so far: he said he would give 97 per cent of the goodies of his government to those who voted for him, and 5 per cent to those who did not.
One of the things for which his visit to Taraba State will remain memorable was his statement that more people had been killed in Taraba than Benue and Zamfara. The meaning of this is obvious if you contextualise it. It is generally believed (and many Fulani leaders such as the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II have voiced it openly) that the Fulani have been the main targets of the so-called Mambilla militias. Putting it the way he did, President Buhari created the impression that he was more touched by the alleged killing of Fulani people in Taraba than the massacre of Benue indigenous people by armed Fulani herdsmen or militias.
Why should comparison come into the picture? And why should it come from the President himself when he should concern himself with the task of securing all Nigerians irrespective of their primordial backgrounds or political choices? This is what they call “unpresidential” utterance. It also explains a mindset that blows hot when his favoured people are targeted but goes cold when those he does not consider his favourite Nigerians are attacked. Yet, all these people voted for him in 2015 and he still depends on their votes to return for a second term in 2019. He will not ask if more Fulani voted for him. Nobody asks such questions if they are normal.
Perhaps the worst faux pas Buhari has committed in his condolence road show took place when he went to Benue where herdsmen have been massacring people, burning farms and driving people into refugee camps everyday even after Buhari sent the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, and the Army to stop the bloodletting. You wonder exactly what those guys are doing there.
Remember, it was not until January 9th 2018 that Buhari finally caved in to pressure and ordered the IGP to relocate to Benue to lead efforts to bring peace back to the state after the New Year Day massacres that claimed 73 lives. And it was not until two months after the mass burial before Buhari went to “condole” Benue people. He did not set foot in any community where the tragedy took place nor did he visit the displaced persons’ camps in Logo and Guma local governments. He spent only a couple of hours in the Benue Government House in Makurdi where he met with the leadership of the state.
But the star attraction of that visit was what Buhari said to the shock of millions of Nigerians and millions more of the spectators of the Nigerian drama around the world. He said he did not know that IGP Idris disobeyed his order to relocate to Benue. It is on record that the Police Chief, just like the President, only visited the Government House where he had a verbal shootout with Benue leaders. He hopped to a few crisis points and a couple of hours later, he surfaced in neighbouring Nasarawa State from where he returned to Abuja.
Every iota of the IGP’s itinerary since then, including his unsavoury utterances suggesting that he was more for the herdsmen than the people they are killing, is in the public space. Buhari’s media manager, Femi Adesina, went on Channels TV and swore that the President receives his media briefings every morning. I also expect that since Buhari gave the IGP the order to relocate to Benue he must have received briefings from him as the Commander-in-Chief. How possible can it be that he would not know that his orders were flouted? How many more orders the President gives get flouted without his knowing? A CEO who gives orders and they are flouted and he does not know, what do you call him?
And when the CEO discovers that his order has been flouted, that his appointee has embarrassed and diminished him, and he does nothing about it, what do you call that? A hidden agenda appears to be playing out between the President and the IGP. This is a topic for another day.
When Buhari landed in Dapchi, Yobe State to meet with the families of the abducted girls, he made me laugh when he compared the way he reacted at the abduction under his watch and that of former President Jonathan after the Chibok schoolgirls’ abduction in April 2014. He praised himself, saying he reacted “faster” than Jonathan did. As if that was the issue!
Let me draw the President’s attention to the main issue. Following the Chibok abduction and Jonathan’s inability to recover them and defeat Boko Haram, majority of Nigerian voters turned to Buhari, a retired and supposed no-nonsense military officer. Nigerians believed Buhari would do better than Jonathan in handling Boko Haram and rescuing the Chibok schoolgirls. They never expected a repetition of Jonathan’s blunders under Buhari. Telling us he “reacted faster” amounts to turning the Presidency into a child’s play.
Perhaps the victims” families clapped for him when he told them that. After all, in Plateau State, indigenous people are being murdered everyday by herdsmen militias. Yet when Buhari visited, the indigenes still climbed billboards to welcome him. But discerning Nigerians know that this was not what we expected from Buhari and his “change” gang. We are fed up.