By Tony Eluemunor
Personal judgment is all a leaders’ legacy depends on. Why would he accept a particular suggestion, obey or spit on the National Constitution, appoint officials in a peculiar Federalism like Nigeria’s?
It is even a matter of personal judgment to fulfil or disregard campaign promises because of which the electorates voted him into office.
Every decision will elicit a fall out; a leader must remember this when decisions are being made, because the laws of the laws of unintended consequences.
President Mohammadu Buhari’s handlers now appear to live in denial. On January 10, 2020, THISDAY newspaper’s Shaka Momodu wrote a searing opinion piece; General Buhari; “The General is Divider-in-Chief.” He said, “Without mincing words, Major-General Buhari is arguably the greatest single threat to Nigeria’s unity. In case he doesn’t know, the misplaced optimism and hopes that brought him to power have since evaporated. His ways reveal a caricature of a messiah with a deeply clannish agenda, a tribal lord with nepotism flowing through his veins—a man with a medieval mindset who has destroyed the little progress recorded prior to his ascension to power. Many are wondering, how someone that is promoting divisions by his actions, inactions, appointments, utterances, etc., be preaching unity?”
Anyone could see that at the heart of Mr. Momoh’s rendition is nothing but terrible disappointment that a leader that was supposed to be the nation’s messiah has become a burden on the country. And when a country as perilously disunited as Nigeria is not being healed but its problems are being exacerbated, then that country is being murdered. The writer, situated his anger: “It is ironic that he is urging us not to allow Boko Haram divide us when he is doing same. No one is guiltier of dividing Nigerians than General Buhari, whether along ethnic or religious lines. It is this man Buhari, who has put a dagger on the things that hold us together by his policies and appointments. He declared from the outset of his regime that he would pursue a policy of 97 percent and 5 percent and proceeded to implement his regime’s policies and appointments on that basis. His high-profile appointments to strategic national parastatals are so lopsidedly in favour of his tribal/ethnic/religious stock almost to the total exclusion of other parts of the country such that even his most rabid supporters and defenders are now too embarrassed to defend him. The more he is criticised for his insensitivity to the principle of federal character as enshrined in the constitution, the more adamant and brazen he has become on his single-minded focus and obsession with his ethnic and nepotistic agenda to foist dominance on other parts of the country.”
President Buhari’s Spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina replied with: “A Columnist as Hater in Chief.” In that reply he provided a serious addendum to the greatest misstatement Buhari ever made, an addendum that would or should have redeemed that statement, if only it received equal attention. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
Adesina’s explanation:”The columnist was referring to what the President said in the early days of his administration, as he met with Nigerians In Washington, United States of America. He said in rewarding those who voted for you in any election, it stood to reason that those who gave 97 percent of votes should get more positions than those who gave 5 percent. But he ended by submitting:”The Constitution forbids me from such, and I won’t do so.”
Adesina did well to situate that unfortunate statement and to supply its full version that should have put the President in good light. He even recounted the indices of Buhari’s appointments, pointing out that Ogun state got 21 appointments, Imo and Kano came second with 15 each. Poor Katsina, the President’s own state tied with Edo with just 14 each. But has Buhari and Adesina asked themselves why some Nigerians have been accusing the President of lopsided appointments? And often, they have pointed at the deciders of Nigeria’s national security fate, those who sit at the Security Council. Does the make-up of that sector of the administration indicate that Federal Character was recognised?
From there, others have looked at the members of the top echelon of both the police and the military. The truth is that Buhari would never have been responsible for the fact that Northerners make up a large percentage of the present crop of commissioners of police, more than Southerners, because what caused it has been in force well before Buhari became president just five years ago. Unfortunately, the attacks by suspected herdsmen, all across the country, and the disappointments Nigerians have felt over the way that challenge is being handled, has exacerbated Nigeria’s age old ethnicity problem. Hey, there is an important point here; the ethnicity problem has increased instead of decreased —under Buhari’s watch. So, he bears the blame.
Yet, why should he be blamed? The answer is that he is Mr. President. Now, I return to a leader’s decision making and their effects—which kicked off this article. Nigeria spent Buhari’s first tenure in office in a rancorous give and take over Cattle Grazing lands, Cattle Colony and Cattle Routes, Grazing Reservations and RUGA. There was no healthy and unifying discussion to show a nationalistic answer to a national problem was on. None. Now, Buhari has, by presidential order, made it possible for Africans to come to Nigeria and receive visas on arrival. What informed such a momentous decision? What does Nigeria stand to gain from that order? Was it discussed with the beneficiary countries? Has even Femi Adesina himself understood what Nigeria stands to gain from such? And was Buhari that made the order not the same Buhari that has said again and again, that lack of water at the Lake Chad Basin has worsened the cattle-herders versus the farmers clash all across the country? Has that problem been solved? Would it not be worsened if Africa’s farmers amass in Nigeria? How many African countries will grant Nigerians visas at the Airports? One day officials would argue that ECOWAS protocol allows free movement within member countries, and the next moment we would shut our borders.
Now, has Nigeria been progressively united or fragmented since Buhiari’s Presidency incepted, and has the national insecurity, which Buhari promised to rein in been checked? What does the kidnapping and armed robbery indices say? What about Boko Haram attacks and brutality? We rightly blamed former President Goodluck Jonathan when the Chibok girls were kidnapped, but recently Catholic Seminarians were abducted in Kaduna. Should President Buhari not be equally blamed? And if not, why not?
Now, dear Femi Adesina, you must remember whose election promise included: “Consult and amend the Constitution to enable States and Local Governments to create City, Local government and State Policing systems, based on the resources available at each levels, to address the peculiar needs of each community. I will therefore work with the National Assembly to set and revise, when needed, boundaries of operations, for Federal, State, and Local government policing units, through new Criminal Justice legislation to replace the Criminal Code, the Penal Code and the Police Act.”
If Buhari or the APC promised that, why did the Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday, January 15, 2020 report this: “Uproar, as FG declares Operation Amotekun Illegal?” The question now should not be whether vigilante Amotekun formation of the South-West states is illegal or unconstitutional, but why for all of five years, such powers have not been devolved to the states, especially as reports like “Gunmen Kill 35, kidnap 58 in Kaduna,” in the Vanguard newspaper of same day keep coming.