By Rotimi Fasan
IT has been 20 years since Nigeria returned to civilian as opposed to democratic governance. In the last two decades of our peculiar “democracy”, four Nigerians have served as president. Two of these, Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari, are former Generals of the Nigerian Army and heads of the Nigerian state.
The other two Nigerians to have served as president were more or less the handpicked favourites of one of the two former Generals. Which is to say that ours is a polity yet to shake off 35 years of its hangover under military rule.
We are gradually sliding back under the command structure of a military regime. Muhammadu Buhari is doing all he can to make sure this is the case. While sitting back in semi-retirement in Aso Villa, he watches as the country melts down into disorder and the crass disregard of the rule of law.
Certainly, he is a past master of disorder with the random and shameless manner he cherry-picks which of our court orders to obey while wasting no time to go after those who are not in the good books of his government. In all of this, Buhari and his handlers want us all to believe that it is corrupt Nigerians that are opposed to him. Each time they are criticised they respond by saying corruption is fighting back.
Corruption may well be fighting back indeed, but attributing every criticism to corruption fighting back is such a very simplistic and unthinking response that no longer washes in the face of Buhari’s many failures. While my perception of corruption under the Buhari administration does not yet come close to what I believe went on under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, it is in my view undeniable that Buhari is himself surrounded by corruption. Many around him are as corrupt as those he likes to call corrupt and he is doing nothing about it.
This is not the issue though: as long as those he is going after are found to be guilty of corruption Buhari is welcome to hound them to hell under the rule of law. Others being presently shielded by power could await their time under another Pharaoh that would not know Joseph.
After all, some of today’s corrupt men and women never showed on the corruption radar of past administrations. No, everyone would sooner or later have their time in the temple of justice.
But while one could overlook Buhari’s selective sense of justice, what no Nigerian should ignore is his attempt to push us all to the brink of anarchy by his refusal to rise to the responsibilities of governance.
It is rather ironic that his famed body language that many dreaded, because of his time as a military head of state, is what they now read as they go about their criminally murderous activities. Nigerians, especially those with dubious intentions, know Muhammadu Buhari now lives on past glory and his body language no longer sparks fire.
His reputation as a no-nonsense man of integrity has been sullied by his many acts of despicable nepotism, ethnic and religious bias.
He has not stopped at that, however, as he is determined to worsen his many shortcomings with the one act that Nigerians would not condone: executive incapacitation. In spite of his ill health, Nigerians did not accept it for Umar Yar’Adua. Buhari wants to remain as president while offering words and false claims of achievements in place of action. His refusal to be president is the reason why criminals of all shades and makes are on the loose. From terror herders to bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers and Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents, opportunistic criminals are on the increase precisely because the criminals know Nigeria is under the rulership of a man either too weak or incompetent to execute the demands of his office and so depends on surrogates who govern in his name.
We are saddled with a president who criminalises intentions and is mortally afraid of words like “revolution” that have but just one meaning in the severely limited vocabulary of his administration. It was Abuja’s fear of “revolution” that prompted its panicked arrest of Omoyele Sowore.
It is that same fear that is forcing the Buhari government down the ignoble path of Decree 2 by which opponents of the military were detained indefinitely under military rule.
Or how else should Nigerians interpret the plan to keep Sowore in detention for 45 renewable days in order to gather intelligence for the “revolution” he was not allowed to execute?
Aware that the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress Party’s claim to governance is a mere bluster, even the military and other security forces, long suspected of involvement in crime, are no longer hiding their hands in the rising wave of criminalities and insecurity around the country.
A couple of weeks ago, soldiers of the Nigerian Army at a checkpoint in Ondo State took turns raping an undergraduate of the Adekunle Ajasin University in Akungba Akoko.
Even after reports were lodged and the criminals in uniform had been positively identified (not a case of unknown soldiers this time, mind you) the Army would not release the culprits for prosecution. Not even the intervention of the wife of the Ondo State governor would move them.
This happened after another set of five soldiers had stolen more than half a billion naira, precisely N600 million, so-called operational funds meant for the Army’s activities (other reports had it that the stolen fund was loot belonging to top brass of the military), including, of course, the fight against insurgency, one would imagine.
When Nigerians and other observers say the reason the fight against Boko Haram and ISWAP is not showing any signs of ending soon is because the prosecutors of the war, namely elements in the military and their civilian cohort, have allegedly been profiting from it, it all looks improbable. With all these revelations about stolen funds and secret cemeteries, Nigerians are confirming their worst fears and suspicions.
And if anyone still doubts that the country is on the verge of governmental meltdown, a state of brutish existence, they only need to follow the latest report of the killing of four police officers by soldiers of the 93 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Takum.
The police officers, all members of the Intelligence Response Team of the Police Headquarters in Abuja, were on a special mission to arrest an alleged kidnapper, Hamisu Wadume, when they were ambushed and shot dead by the soldiers.
As usual the Army would not release its men for prosecution and all Buhari could do is to order a so-called Joint Investigative Panel to look into the matter. What else could a president in retirement do?