March 11, 2018

Nigeria and the curse of Sisyphus (7)

Nigeria and the curse of Sisyphus (7)

By Douglas Anele

Regardless of the encouraging modest achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan, his scorecard especially on insecurity and financial rascality by top officials of government leaves much to be desired. For instance, although I am persuaded that Boko Haram was a Frankenstein monster created by a faction of caliphate colonialists to embarrass and kick Jonathan out of office, the former President failed to demonstrate enough grit and determination to decapitate the group, even after admitting that there were Boko Haram elements in his government.

To most Nigerians, therefore, his response to Boko Haram was weak and ineffective. On the very difficult challenge of fighting corruption, although Nigeria’s rating in perception of corruption index improved marginally, relentless reports in the media about nauseating levels of stealing in the executive and legislature actually painted a depressing picture of Nigeria as a Mecca of corruption. Of course, there were, and still are, sensational reports about how some top officials in Jonathan’s government collectively frittered away billions of naira and assets belonging to the Nigerian people.

Even so, not all the reports are false, which suggests that, like previous leaders before him, President Jonathan was unable to bring down the ogre of corruption to a degree that would not hamper national development. Accordingly, and making allowances for the probability that the APC might have outrigged the PDP in the 2015 general elections, the former President lost to Buhari partly because of the increasing belief among Nigerians that his government was incapable of fighting corruption effectively. Besides, APC’s slogan of “change” was so tantalising in its simplicity and directness such that the bandwagon effect resonated with people nationwide. Interestingly, Nigerians clamouring for change did not reflect seriously on the credentials of the politicians promising to bring it about if the APC comes into power at the federal level.

Going by the widening concentric circles of existential problems facing ordinary Nigerians since May 29, 2015 when retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari led a coalition of desperate political turncoats who dominate APC to take over power, it is evident that the curse of Sisyphus has not finished with Nigeria yet. This is because the expectation by millions of gullible Nigerians, including some with very big academic titles, that the “second coming” of Buhari would bring about a new beginning, a disciplined, responsible and prudent leadership founded on integrity, fairness, patriotism, skillful management of available resources and zero tolerance for corruption and impunity has been shattered by Buhari’s mediocre and incompetent performance.

Indeed, after almost three years in office, Nigerians are steadily realising that the vuvuzela campaign pledges of the APC are remarkably similar to the promises a randy casanova makes to a beautiful girl when both are in bed. It would be recalled that in spite of the glaring failures of Muhammadu Buhari both as a military dictator and chairman Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, a group of expired and morally decadent politicians together with a handful of self-styled public intellectuals, senior journalists and social activists projected him as the messiah Nigerians had been yearning for all these years.

To understand the level of historical revisionism blended with self-indulgent negative triumphalism that propelled Buhari’s electoral victory after three previously failed attempts, one simply needs to go and read once again news reports and opinion articles in pro-Buhari newspapers like The Punch and The Nation from the time Buhari emerged as APC’s presidential candidate to the very last day before the election was held. In my opinion, the campaigns that helped Buhari win the presidential election are a textbook example of the incredible capacity of Nigerians to delude themselves as a result of historical amnesia and false hope.

It also proves beyond reasonable doubt that Nigerian politics is dominated by empty barrels, moral chameleons who would do anything to gain political power and influence so that they can collect, or continue collecting, their share of the “national cake.” That is why agbata ekee politicians who hitherto described Buhari in very uncomplimentary terms such as “serially unelectable,” “an expired leader,” and so on shamelessly began to portray him as the saviour, the only person that can save Nigeria from the ravages of corruption, insecurity and economic decline. The volte-face was not based on facts but on obsessive desire to wrest power from Jonathan and hand it over to someone they hope to manipulate for selfish reasons.

Now, it is really troubling that an aging former military dictator with little understanding of the complexities of modern economic management in an underdeveloped democratic setting, who had not improved himself intellectually since he  left office in 1985 (at least by reading a book or two on the principles and practice of effective democratic governance) was advertised by respected intellectuals, including Profs. Wole Soyinka and Pat Utomi, as a “converted democrat” with the requisite experience and will to govern effectively and responsibly at this time. Some of us who called for caution in the weird exaggeration of Buhari’s purported leadership qualities, especially his integrity and anti-corruption credentials, by reminding Nigerians that he is clannish, myopically conservative, with mediocre analytical powers, authoritarian mentality, and poor economic management skills etc., were subjected to obloquy by Buharimaniacs. As if the curse of Sisyphus was intent on ridiculing those who uncritically supported Buhari based on warped sentiments, on the illusory hope of a messiah, his performance rating up to this time is below average.

To begin with, President Buhari has won the unenviable prize of being the most nepotic and clannish leader in Nigerian history, perhaps in keeping with his promise of differential justice for those areas that voted for him and those that did not, which is against the federal character provision in the 1999 constitution. Dr. Junaid Mohammed, one of the caliphate’s foot soldiers, has lamented severally about how the President chose his incompetent family members and relatives for critical appointments, which is a deadly form of corruption in itself.

This, in addition to the domination of Nigeria’s security governance architecture by northern muslims, means that Buhari pays lip service to the concept of Nigerian unity – his outlook is decidedly pro-muslim north rather than pro-Nigeria. On the issue of fighting corruption, sentiments aside, this administration has failed woefully, bearing in mind that one of the main reasons why millions of Nigerians supported Buhari was their belief that he can tackle corruption headlong.

The federal government’s anti-corruption strategy is not only selective in a derogatory sense, the President himself seems pachydermatous to corruption allegations against his loyalists and cronies – he actually defends some of them without qualms and allows the “untouchables” to get away unpunished even in cases where such allegations are substantiated. The scandalous high profile cases of Lt. Gen. Mansur Buratai, Babachir Lawal, Abdulrasheed Maina and Prof. Usman Yusuf are some of the corruption miasma reminding Nigerians that Buhari’s anti-corruption credentials were deliberately exaggerated by his supporters for political purposes.

Meanwhile, in spite of Prof. Itse Sagay’s bizarre arguments to explain away Transparency International’s latest assessment which indicates that corruption is worsening under the APC administration, an increasing number of Nigerians are coming to the depressing conclusion that President Buhari is losing the battle to kill corruption before it damages the country irreparably. More tellingly, there are indications that he is not interested in bringing to justice alleged corrupt retired top military officers and wily politicians who made his presidency possible.

We now come to the issue of insecurity, where karma seems to have teamed up with the Sisyphean curse to mock and embarrass the President. To take just one example, the recent kidnap by Boko Haram terrorists of one hundred and ten girls from Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state, reminiscent of the manner Chibok girls were abducted four years ago, has blown to smithereens the hyperbolic claim that Buhari, as a retired major-general, will ensure better security for all law-abiding citizens and foreigners than the immediate past administration.

In a sane society, the minister of interior, the inspector-general of police and those heading anti-terrorism establishments in the country would have publicly apologised to Nigerians and resigned honourably. But Nigeria is a theatre of the absurd and, to be candid, this government is increasingly looking like the worst administration in Nigerian history. That is why people of goodwill must rise up without delay and work really hard to terminate the futile repetitive emergence and recycling of failed leaders. The curse of Sisyphus must be broken by this generation of Nigerians, or the country would sink into the black hole of failed states. Concluded.