By Douglas Anele
President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to the outcome of the 2015 presidential election that brought him to power contrasts sharply with late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s in 2007. Yar’Adua publicly acknowledged flaws in the presidential election he won and pledged to reform the electoral system, whereas Buhari carries on as if the 2015 election was perfect.
When he lost in 2011, Buhari tearfully told Nigerians that he would no longer contest in any election; three years later he succumbed to the messianic delusion orchestrated by vociferous self-serving persuaders and reneged on his word. Now, the President has indicated interest to run again next year, an ill-advised decision which suggests that his pledge not to vie for the presidency earlier was insincere and probably stemmed from the frustration of losing thrice to the same party.
Knowing full well that age is not on his side, that his health is fragile and that he has not fulfilled up to thirty percent of his campaign promises, would the President, if indeed he is a man of integrity, seek re-election in 2019? His supporters deliberately conflate the issues here by insisting that he has a right to change his mind at any time, that it is his constitutional right to seek re-election.
Of course, what is at stake transcends constitutional provisions and rights; it is about a so-called man of the highest integrity reneging on his pledge and taking a crucial political decision based purely on selfish interests.
President Buhari’s anti-corruption programme is failing. Remember, at the very beginning of this administration, Buhari stated that he would focus exclusively on the immediate past administration, meaning that for no valid reason he arbitrarily decided to ignore elephantine corruption that took place from the end of the Biafran war to 2011, a period of about thirty-seven years if we discount four years of Shagari’s government when Buhari implemented his garrison-style strategy for dealing with the problem.
It is instructive to note that the period the President precluded from investigation was the time when either his military colleagues mostly from the north were in power or when northerners were Presidents (Shagari and Yar’Adua). Should a leader genuinely imbued with integrity who promised real “change” be so detrimentally selective in fighting corruption? Surely, any serious attempt to combat corruption must begin from somewhere since it is impossible to deal with all cases simultaneously.
Yet, a sincere leader must ensure that the process is not too one-sided, sectional or targeted against a particular previous administration or political party. President Buhari committed a serious blunder by ruling out, ab initio, investigation of serious allegations of corruption during the Gowon, Obasanjo, Babangida, Abacha, and Abdulsalami administrations, which makes the anti-corruption measures of his administration a caricature of what any genuine effort to tame corruption ought to be. In fact, government’s release of the so-called lists of looters filled with the names of members of the main opposition party confirms the allegation that Buhari is using his haphazard deceitful war against corruption to harass and intimidate political opponents.
President Buhari’s tardy protectionist response to allegations of corruption against some of his loyalists such as Babachir Lawal and Lt. Gen. Mansur Buratai; the sordid controversial cases of Abdulrasheed Maina and executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman; report of Transparency International which establishes that Nigeria has regressed in corruption perception index from 136 to 148 – all this has destroyed the claim that Buhari can kill corruption.
Meanwhile, a 2017 Human Rights Report from the United States confirms that impunity, abuse of human rights and massive corruption are evident across all levels of this government. As a result, we must be bold to tell the President and other APC pigs in the animal farm called Nigeria that enough is enough, that most reasonable Nigerians no longer take seriously their anti-corruption shibboleths because corruption, executive recklessness and impunity have worsened since May 29, 2015.
There is a form of corruption that pachydermatous Buharimaniacs have tended to sweep under the carpet because of their irrational belief in the incorruptibility of the President. Here, I am referring to the unprecedented level of nepotism exhibited by Buhari in appointing his relatives and fellow Muslim Fulani in strategic positions. Dr. Junaid Mohammed has given details about how Buhari has turned certain key appointments into a family affair.
The President’s nepotic choice of closest aides and top members of the governing security architecture actually contravenes the spirit and letter of the 1999 constitution, section 12 subsection 3, which stipulates that “The composition of the government of the federation or of any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”
By the skewed way certain key positions in the current administration are distributed, President Buhari has continued the unwholesome practice of ignoring the federal character principle when it suits members of his own ethnic group or religion, but applies it in a self-serving manner when it would be disadvantageous to the south, especially the south-east. Conclusion: Buhari is not as patriotic as his supporters claim.
Prof. Wole Soyinka and others who proclaimed that Buhari is a “converted democrat” were too much in a hurry to whitewash his dictatorial antecedents considering the increasing number of unlawful detentions even in cases where the courts had pronounced the detentions illegal and ordered release of the detainees. What about the Gestapo-like raid on the residences and subsequent arrest of judges in the early hours of October 8, 2016 by a combined team of the police and Directorate of State Services (DSS)? Would a converted democrat condone such brazen disrespect of the judiciary and rule of law? Is such executive recklessness based on the philosophy of “might is right” not a corruption of democracy and presidential authority? Due to primitive survivalist instincts and deep-seated craving for a messiah figure, President Buhari’s hirelings will continue to parade the myth that he is a man of the highest integrity and incorruptibility.
Unfortunately for them, his errors of judgment, making campaign promises any reasonable person knew he cannot fulfil, Machiavellian nepotic approach to governance, pontificating against corruption while benefitting from it by patronising some of the most hideously corrupt elements in the country, and failure to always uphold the principles of fairness, transparency and accountability in critical matters of national concern have blown the myth to smithereens the faint echo of which are now being relentlessly recycled for the presidential election next year.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration to seek re-election is depressing. He is too old and intellectually unprepared to have a nuanced scientific understanding of the ever-deepening challenges confronting the country at this time, let alone confronting them with imagination and knowledge. In my calculus, a retired soldier involved in several coups; advocates the spread of sharia throughout the country; claims to be ready to die for Islam; recommends before he became President that Boko Haram members should be pampered and given VIP treatment; asks Muslims to vote for only those that will promote Islam; denies that the late Abacha was a looter; sees justice for different parts of the country in terms of votes; and says uncomplimentary things about his country publicly abroad etc., does not deserve to be elected President in the first place, let alone be re-elected for a second term.
President Buhari tends to overrate himself and simultaneously underestimates his vulnerabilities, a situation borne out of the messiah complex he has internalised over the years and hyperbolised by carpetbaggers whose political fortune and pecuniary interests depend on his remaining in power. Of course, Nelson Mandela would have been re-elected President of South Africa if he wanted a second term; but as a man of integrity he knew that age was not in his favour and decided, wisely, to give someone else the opportunity to lead. Unlike Mandela, Buhari has chosen to continue dancing surugede, the dance of roughnecks, despite warning signs that it is time for him to go home and rest. Those cheering him on know precisely what they are doing. But as my late mother used to warm me whenever I indulge in any activity she considers inappropriate or detrimental to my wellbeing, “If a rat plays in the rain with a lizard, when the lizard is dry, will the rat be dry also?” Concluded.