By Nnanna Ochereome
Before I outline why President Muhammadu Buhari should “thank” Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu, the leader of the South West political mainstream in the All Progressives Congress, APC, amalgam which produced Buhari six years ago, let me start from the beginning.
Because it has a central bearing in our security situation today, I will reiterate what I saw which made the candidacy of Buhari repulsive to me in all the five times he contested for the presidency. There are also things I did not see which are happening today. At that time, they were considered too far-fetched to even be imagined.
Buhari got his popularity in the North by promising that he would promote Sharia “throughout the country” (Islamisation). After his indifference to the killing of youth corps members over the 2011 elections and his vow that the blood of dog and baboon would mix if he lost the 2015 election, I was further alarmed. Remember, he is the only former head of state to accept the grand patronship of an ethnic interest group, Miyetti Allah, the Fulani pastoral lobby.
Added to all this were his despotic rule, poor economic management ability and extreme nepotism; track records he set during his 20-month stint as a military head of state. Something told me that Buhari as president of Nigeria for possible eight years would, in a bid to grab land for his nomadic kinsmen, replay the Sudanese Omar Al Bashir and the Janjaweed scenario in Nigeria.
The disgraced Sudanese despot had supported the Arab pastoralist group, Janjaweed Islamists with state resources, military and security apparatuses to displace indigenous communities, thus precipitating the infamous Darfur refugee crises.
We warned against it. Now use your tongue to count your teeth, with the armed herders’ attacks and forceful occupation of indigenous people’s lands in six years of Buhari rule. Déjà vu?
We also saw nepotism which follows Buhari like a shadow, from head of state to PTF. But we did not see it as this alarming scale. Extreme nepotism has weakened the fabric of the nation beyond repair.
It is the primary reason that our armed forces and security have lost heart in their job of defending the country. They know it is no longer about Nigeria. It is now about an ethnic group’s expansionist agenda.
When you put almost all the nation’s economy, MDAs, military, police and security control in the hands of one ethnic group out of over 400 others, you create a massive sense of alienation. This could manifest in the withdrawal of loyalty or outright armed rebellion. This is exactly where we are today.
Boko Haram that was in remiss in 2015 has returned with their ugly flags in Borno, Yobe and now Niger states! The bandits have almost taken over the North West. The menace of the armed herdsmen in the Middle Belt and South has raised the spectre of armed insurgency by hitherto peaceful campaigners for freedom, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, in the old Eastern Region.
The only part of Nigeria that still appears “peaceful”; the only part where military action is virtually absent, is the defunct old Western Region, especially the Yoruba country. For the untrained observer, this is strange. The West is even more challenged by armed herdsmen incursions, killings, kidnappings and establishment of little Fulani “kingdoms” inside Yoruba kingdoms as in the case of Ibarapa which threw up Sunday Igboho. There is nothing like that in the East yet.
Also, herdsmen militia invasions in the Yewa area of Ogun State have led to refugees of Yoruba stock taking up abode in refugee camps in Benin Republic. This is the first time such is happening, at least to the best of my little knowledge.
There are no refugee camps (as yet) in the East, mainly because these expansionist vermin and their local and state agents are being gallantly confronted.
In the South West, there is Amotekun Corps, which after the initial euphoria, has been defanged, or so it seems. Some may say they are in the sleeper cell mode, for now. A time comes when a sleeper is woken up.
Buhari has Tinubu to thank a lot for the calm that still pervades in the South West. He should also thank the Afenifere for their continued commitment, like Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, to dialogue and the restructuring of Nigeria. Hope is lost, but not all hope.
Tinubu has made all the sacrifices needed to give power to Buhari and maintain him in power for six years so far. Tinubu is still in control of the political forces, especially the South West “streets”. He is a major stakeholder in the mainstream media that made or marred regimes in the past. Tinubu is still patiently hoping that Buhari will come through with their “after you na me” pact of 2014. He still holds strongly to the South West and North West pact (he recently said in Kano that Yoruba and Fulani are “one”).
But signals from Buhari’s camp are disquieting. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has renewed its interest in Tinubu. The Lagos State Government recently responded by creating its own “EFCC” with a mandate to takeover all anti-graft cases pertaining to the state’s resources. This is clearly an attempt to protect Tinubu. It will not work unless Buhari backs off.
I make bold to assert that today, the South West holds the key to Nigeria’s continued corporate existence. The day the military is also deployed in the South West, it will be Nunc Dimitis (“now let depart”) for the Nigerian experiment as we know it.
I don’t know what Tinubu will do if instead of getting paid in kind he gets the Moshood Abiola treatment. But, I don’t think he would just fold his arms.