By Ladesope Ladelokun
THE President handed Nigerians the marking scheme with which to assess him some five years ago when he told Nigerians at virtually every campaign stop that he would fight insecurity, work hard to revive an economy in a tailspin and declare a total war on the vermin called corruption.
But it must be said that it is not the best of times for Nigeria at the moment. The most populous black nation is mourning. It is mourning the demise of peace in a country where human life is not worth more than a kobo a dozen and left helplessly bleeding by elephantine corruption.
While it is expected that every rational leader would be worried about Nigeria’s many problems, it cannot be out of place to state that worrying alone cannot liberate the wretched from the chasm of destitution, or lift an economy gasping for breath. But hope gives the strength to trudge on when everything fails. After all, only death terminates hope and only the living can hope. But hope can be shattered.
It explains why the current spate of insecurity across Nigeria is worrying. President Buhari had told Nigerians while canvassing for votes that he would fight corruption, tackle insecurity and revive the economy – the three planks upon which his campaign rested. Truth be told, it remains to be seen how Mr. President has delivered on his three major campaign promises.
If anyone needs proof that we may still be far from winning the war against corruption, the accusations and counter-accusations ranging from relooting of recovered looted public assets and protection of people with corruption allegations hanging over their heads between two appointees of the president – Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, do not just provide one but make a mockery of the president’s fight against corruption.
Also, before Nigeria’s slip into what experts have described as the worst recession it has seen in over 30 years, Nigeria had had (and still has) the dubious honour of being the world’s poverty capital with inflation rate climbing to a 30-month high at 14.23 percent in October, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, leaving the prices of food items at the rooftop, among other indicators of a country in economic bondage. What exactly is governance when the welfare of the people suffers? What exactly is the president really getting right when assessed by his three major campaign promises?
But, as aforementioned, when everything fails, hope becomes the pillar to rest on. Yet, only the living can hope. This is why the unremitting killings occasioned by the worsening state of insecurity across Nigeria should worry long-suffering Nigerians. From East to West, North to South, gory tales of mindless murder rent the air. Wailing and gnashing of teeth have remained commonplace.
Not a few dyed-in-the-wool fans of Buhari, including yours truly ever envisaged that a time would come that we would bash our former idol and war General over the alarming security problems besetting Nigeria like we did to his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. What did we not call him?
Clueless. Incompetent. Other adjectives that convey the frustration of a people terribly disenchanted by the failure of their leader in his primary responsibility of securing the country were freely used. Buhari has not convinced right-thinking Nigerians that he does not deserve more bashing, especially with his military background.
No dispassionate Nigerian under the sun would disagree that one of the major reasons former President Jonathan was sacked by Nigerians was his failure to secure Nigeria, particularly the unceasing Boko Haram eruptions in northern Nigeria.
In fact, it got so deplorable that Prof. Osinbajo – running mate to General Buhari at the time – in a tweet suggested that Jonathan should resign. “If the president says I’ve lost the capacity to guarantee the security of lives and property, it’s certainly an unimpeachable offence,” he tweeted.
True, Osinbajo made a valid point in his 2015 tweet. No leader deserves to continue to hold on to power if they cannot guarantee the security of lives and property – and they do not even have to spell it out. Or, what else is the primary responsibility of the Buhari government apart from the welfare of the people?
Today, the Buhari government’s failure to secure lives and property has made a hero of Jonathan. Now, it is only appropriate and fair to ask Vice President Osinbajo if he still maintains his position in his 2015 tweet, especially with the rising spectre of violence across the land.
Expectedly, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has told Nigerians why Buhari has secured Nigeria better than his predecessor. According to Mohammed, before Buhari assumed office, Boko Haram could stroll into any city in the north to carry out deadly attacks. The minister said suicide bombers were detonating bombs and killing people, deposing and installing Emirs.
But how do we explain Mohammed’s position to the family and friends of the slain Ondo monarch, Olufon of Ifon, Oba Israel Adeusi, who was snatched by the icy hands of death because the bullets of some suspected kidnappers hit him? How do we tell Mohammed’s story to farmers who reportedly pay bandits to work on their farms?
How do we convey his message to the families of the scores of farmers who were murdered in Zabarmari, Borno State? And, amid simmering anger triggered by the massacre, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, would not let the tears of the families dry before querying the dead. He wondered why farmers could not get clearance before working on their farm.
Though Shehu has denied blaming the dead for their death, no discerning mind would agree with him. Was it even up to a year the Buhari government bragged that Boko Haram had been badly degraded, that were no longer occupying any part of Nigeria?
Why then do people still need to get clearance to farm food items? Only recently, a shouting evidence of a country at war against itself was unveiled when a national newspaper reported that 1249 -657 civilians and 592 state actors- were killed in eleven months in this year alone by Boko Haram – and the figure excludes unreported cases of murder by dreaded group.
Earlier, the 2020 Global Terrorism Index had revealed that Nigeria maintained its position as the third most impacted country in the world. The report added that the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019. It must be stated that apart from the fact that the grim statistics on the mindless killings in Nigeria hands a certificate of failure to the Buhari administration in its primary responsibility, it advertises a country in dire need of help.
Since the Commander-in-Chief would not sack his service chiefs despite clamour by Nigerians, even after he reportedly said their best was not good enough, it can only be appropriate to consider Borno governor, Babagana Zulum’s recommendation that foreign mercenaries be recruited by the Federal Government to help in ending the Boko Haram war.
Of course, long term measures like getting the over 10 million out-of-school children that represent time bombs off the streets and the need to address the poverty question must be treated with gravitas in northern Nigeria and other parts of the country to check the enablers of insecurity across Nigeria.
Ladelokun, a social commentator, wrote via: [email protected]