By Tony Eluemunor
2015! President Mohammadu Buhari was a fresh-faced political outsider riding on the horse of hope and newly minted promises to come cleanse the Aegean Stable which his All Peoples Democratic Congress (APC), then the opposition party, had said was Nigeria.
He had been an outsider to the politics of the 4th Republic which began in 1999 and which he said was giving the ordinary Nigerian a raw deal.
It is exactly five years since his inauguration, and one year into his second and last tenure in office, so if he was not re-elected, he would have handed over to another President in 2019.
Yet, any presidency watcher would see that all around the President is nothing but chaos and rot. Some critics have pounced on the military Service Chiefs, blaming them for not doing enough to kill off the Boko Haram insurgency, others have censured the Police Force for failure to rein in the kidnappers and bandits that have made the highways a nightmare, the hellish sort the world may never have witnessed before.
If you think the last sentence is an exaggeration, please remember that even in the ancient times people somehow were able to travel from one remote place to another and return safely. Or didn’t Marco Polo get to China from Venice, Italy, and back, after traversing Asia, between 1271 and 1295?
Oh please, remember the Pax Romana, Latin for Roman Peace which flourished for 200 years from Caesar Agustus’s reign from 27 BC to the end of philosopher king Caesar Marcus Aurelius reign in 180 AD; a period of relative peace and stability across the Roman Empire. Remember also that the Apostles of Jesus Christ and the early Christians went everywhere in Europe, Asia and North Africa on foot.
Yet, in President Buhari’s Nigeria, insecurity is so rife that inter-city travel is an audacious adventure. Ordinary Nigerians have complained to no end. Then in the first week of this month, the 36 state governors decried the pall of insecurity over the nation, after the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, was attacked by suspected Boko Haramists.
Two members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and a police officer attached to the governor’s convoy were injured. The head of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Ekiti state’s Governor Kayode Fayemi, representing his governor colleagues, wrote to Zulum: “We are appalled by the worsening security situation in the country generally, in spite of all the efforts of the government to end it”.
Zulum explained that he was “surprised at the attack on him, saying he was told the area was secured by the military authorities before he embarked on the trip to Baga”. And there lies the whole sordid point; that one cannot travel without getting an all is clear from the military. The same complaint could be made about killer herdsmen or kidnappers.
Worse still; the solution to insecurity is not in sight. After the attack on Gov. Zulum, Mr. President warned the Service Chiefs to buckle up. He must have forgotten that he had issued the same marching orders to the same Service Chiefs many times before – without effect.
Now, we have to shift focus from the Service Chiefs to the President himself. What is going on around him? Does he know of the general malaise across the nation? Does he know that even his style of governance has exacerbated the problem of disunity that has for long been the bane of the nation?
The suspicion among the ethnic groups that make up Nigeria has widened now more than was the case before he became President. The Cattle Fulani, Cattle Routes, Cattle Settlement and Cattle Colonies policies have terribly severed the ties that bind the nation.
Even democracy itself is under attack as street protesters have come under unusual hammer from security agencies that routinely use strong arm tactics to break up street protests, making one to wonder if the man of the moment himself did not engage in street protests during Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency.
Or was the following Vanguard newspaper report of November 20, 2014: “Buhari, Amaechi, others in protest rally against FG” not about Nigeria? Did the Reporter, Levinus Nwabughiogu, lie in his copy that “The All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential aspirant and former Head of State, Gen.Muhammadu Buhari; APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, led thousands of party supporters in a protest rally in Abuja?
Now, who do we blame for the sorry state of security in Nigeria, if not Buhari himself? Even as the old problems have refused to die, new intractable ones have emerged.
What really is going on? The First Lady cried out a few times that a cabal had hijacked power from her husband. Perhaps, the issue could be worse than we ever imagined. If so, it could be that some powerful individuals are in constant struggle, not on points of national interest, but for personal turfs.
That could only explain why a particular ministry could have the audacity to claim to have spent untold millions in feeding school children during the Covid-19 lockdown when schools were not in session.
That is why the EFCC could be turned into a fiefdom and, oh the shame of it, different Covid-19 policies emerged by the day, the month preceding the partial reopening of schools to enable those in external examination classes take their examinations. The flip-flop was a national embarrassment.
2020! Now, the government itself has become a national embarrassment. The hope that things will ever get better appears dead. The Naira sheds value daily and nobody talks about strengthening it, electoral reforms are totally forgotten, insecurity is worsening, citizens have lost faith in government, democracy is sick and weeping, national unity is under attack by those who should be nursing it. Nigeria has become such a sorry story that hopelessness has stilled the voices of government critics. Ah, what damage five years could do!
Next week, we should look at how individual leaders have made a difference in several countries – in these modern times, not from the tomb of history.