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IN January 2020, almost five years into Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency, I had an interview with Eze Festus Odimegwu, erstwhile Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc. and former Chairman of the National Population Commission, NPC.

It was deliberate. Shortly after the 2015 presidential election which Buhari won on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, my newspaper, TheNiche, had an exclusive interview with the master brewer in Lagos where he said emphatically that President Goodluck Jonathan betrayed the trust of Nigerians, and, therefore, deserved to be voted out.

“I worked with President Goodluck Jonathan. He is such a big disappointment – a young educated man that was supposed to have a Ph.D., doing things that do not have any sense at all. It was a betrayal of the educated people,” Odimegwu lamented. But he was effusive in praising the incoming president.

“Buhari doesn’t talk much. He is a man of few words. He is measured. But anything he says, he is clear. He doesn’t talk from two sides of the mouth. That clarity of thought and speech mirrors intention. A leader will never do well unless his intentions are good. Everybody knows where he stands on corruption.

General Buhari will perform at least 100 times better than Jonathan. So, that change is already good to that level.”

So, the idea of the second interview was to find out what Odimegwu thought of the Messiah he fervently promoted in 2015. He still insisted it was good Jonathan was voted out in 2015.

But he now thinks worse of Buhari. “On assuming office,” he bemoaned, “Buhari has been an unmitigated disaster and a complete failure, to put it mildly. In fact, he has failed to the level that he has become a security risk to Nigeria.

Some people say it is those around him that are the problem, but leadership makes you to be responsible for what is happening.

And the failure of his leadership is comprehensive. He has not shown any element of capacity in any department of leadership and it is very unfortunate.”

I cannot agree more. The Buhari presidency has become an existential threat to the country. Those who look at the fatal escapades of terrorists and separatist agitators as the real threat staring Nigeria in the face miss the point. As dire as the consequences of their actions may be, they are only fallouts, domino effect of a presidency with an ulterior, immoral motive. Nigeria has collapsed under Buhari’s watch because the president had an agenda that was, to put it mildly, anti-Nigeria, and many who rooted for him in 2015, like Festus Odimegwu, didn’t see it coming, hence their utter disappointment.

Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which deals with the ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’ clearly states in Section 13 that: “It shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.” Section 14. (1) states: “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.”

Subsection (2) was unequivocal in its declarations: “Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

For maximum effect, Subsection (3) was emphatic in its avowal: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.” Section 15. (1) went ahead to say: “The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress,” and Subsection (2) states that: “Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.”

President Buhari has observed these sections of the Constitution in the breach. He has actively discouraged integration and promoted national discord by brazenly discriminating against some sections of the country. He failed woefully in reflecting federal character in the composition of the government of the federation, which is the main reason for all the separatist agitations across the country. Buhari has promoted the interest of his ethnic Fulani group, even when some of the people are not citizens, over and above the interest of bona fide citizens of this country. This singular act partly explains the low intensity war raging all over Northern Nigeria. It is a war, a pushback by some indigenous ethnic nationalities, including the Hausa, against the Fulani on a domination mission aided by a well-armed militia.

As Odimegwu said, Buhari’s failure in governance is beyond the pale, having failed in the very primary responsibility of government – security and welfare of the people. Under Buhari’s watch, life approximates the Hobbesian standards – solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Unfortunately for the president, at the twilight of his administration, the chickens have come home to roost. There are no more lies to tell. Even the most rabid promoters of the Buhari phenomenon are not mincing words in acknowledging the fact that he has failed beyond compare.

Addressing Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and APC presidential aspirant, who came to commiserate with him on Tuesday over the train bombing, Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, said: “Nigeria is at crossroads, a critical crossroads, and we must take very difficult decisions to get the right leaders that would take us out of the multiple quagmires that we are going through.” Clearly, we are where we are today because we made the wrong leadership choice in 2015. And that wrong choice is no other than Buhari.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, echoed the same sentiment when he met with the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, and the Service Chiefs, also on Tuesday, on the same matter. “It is important to put our heads together to rescue our country from where we are today,” he said. Buhari’s incompetence has driven Nigeria to a dangerous spot. That was exactly the point the former Chief Imam of Apo Legislative Quarters Juma’at Mosque in Abuja, Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid, made last Friday that earned him a sack. “My sack is a reflection of how Nigeria is today,” the Imam said.

Granted, Buhari still has the power of life and death over the rest of us, but the joke is on him. Nine days after the fatal attack on the Kaduna-bound train, 168 people are reportedly still missing. The victims will only be released if their relatives pay the ransom as the Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, BoA, Alwan Ali-Hassan, who regained his freedom on Wednesday, obviously did. If anything, the tragic train attack and the response of the Buhari government has proved beyond any iota of doubt the absence of even a pretence to the government in Nigeria.

As if the train attack was not bad enough, terrorists, suspected to be the Ansaru arm of the Boko Haram sect, one week attacked a military base at Polewire in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, killing 17 soldiers and injuring 40 others. The gunmen also killed three locals, razed four armoured vehicles and went away with military weapons.

For too long, we have been inundated with falsehoods that terrorists have been so incapacitated that they can only attack soft targets. If a military base is not a hard target, one wonders what else qualifies to be. And to imagine that this disaster could have been avoided if only we had elected a different kind of president in 2015. We didn’t. And seven years after, rather than solving the country’s problems, the Buhari presidency has become the worst existential threat the country faces. What a tragedy. 

Vanguard News Nigeria

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