By Ochereome Nnanna
ONE thing we must give to President Muhammadu Buhari is his outright rejection of pressures on him by his political sycophants to run for a third term of office. This unfolding transitional politicking would have been all about that.
He has only said he has a (yet unnamed) preferred candidate. Perhaps that is why we see 27 aspirants who have coughed out N100 million for the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential nomination forms, each hoping or believing he is the favoured one.
The same cannot be said for his immediate predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan. It is almost a year now since the rumours came that a section of Buhari’s Northern supporters is plotting to bring him back to power to complete his so-called outstanding one term and hand over back to the North.
When I first heard this, I thought it was laughable. How can the same people who called him “clueless” and his government “corrupt”, and deployed every dirty trick to get him defeated turn around to bring him back to succeed Buhari?
Even if they return to eat their vomit in pursuit of their selfish goal, how can Jonathan, whose patriotic handling of the 2015 transfer of power to Buhari earned him a place among the world’s statesmen, accept such an absurd proposal? What would they tell Nigerians at the soapbox? That they lied about Jonathan?
Or that Buhari and the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, lied about their insistence that they inherited “nothing” from Jonathan’s and other previous regimes? Why would they want to reinstall the “Sheppopotamus” as the First Lady after confiscating so many of her “corruptly” acquired properties?
Here is another hilarious angle to the cockeyed tale. A group of Northern Nosey Parkers which described itself as “Association of Fulani-Almajiri”, announced that it had bought the N100m Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for Jonathan.
Really? Almajirai are Islamic pupils in the deep North sent out to the streets to beg form alms. They constitute the bulk of Nigeria’s 13 million out-of-school children. Their poverty level verges on destitution. Are they the ones that contributed money to buy a N100 million presidential form?
Again, the Fulani livestock minders and owners don’t pay tax. Many of them constitute the bandit-terrorists that hold the North-West and North-Central by the jugular, killing and kidnapping school children, travellers and people from their homes for ransom.
They are the so-called “transactional businessmen” who have made billions from kidnappings and terrorism. Another branch of this group are the armed herdsmen who have been massacring people, destroying farms and taking over communities in Southern Kaduna as well as Plateau, Taraba and Benue states.
Their terrorist activities are also felt throughout the South. Yet the Buhari government has condoned them. The regime has even made several failed attempts to force indigenous Nigerians to give up their lands for the nomads’ settlement throughout Nigeria, even where they are non-indigenes.
Instead of spending the N100m to send their Almajiri mendicants to school, pay their taxes and establish ranches for their livestock, Fulani pastoralist leaders prefer to spend it to re-install Jonathan as president without even informing him as Jonathan’s media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, clarified.
Jonathan’s camp described the form procured for him as “an insult”. But they did not dissociate him from the presidential race. The insult is that the “Fulani-Almajiri” had the temerity and presumptuousness to buy such an expensive gift for him without even consulting him.
That should not surprise anyone who is a keen watcher of the antics of the Fulani pastoralist groups and some of their so-called intellectual backers. These groups, in their words and actions, tend to live in a fool’s paradise. They are fond putting their mouths into issues that are none of their business. Recall how they announced their “endorsement” of some candidates for the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in 2020.
When the Southern Governors met in Asaba in May 2021, one of these Fulani groups threatened to bomb the Asaba Government House and Agbor, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s hometown, unless the ban on open grazing ordered by the 17 Southern Governors was rescinded. A spokesman of the group claimed that Fulani leaders were “not consulted” by the Governors before ordering the ban!
They have also “demanded” 750,000 sqm of land throughout Delta State. Meanwhile, the Fulani ethnic group is not one of the indigenous tribes of any part of Southern Nigeria. Their homeland is in the Sahara Desert and the Sahel.
They are only allowed to rear their livestock as peaceful nomads, but since they took up arms and started making territorial claims, they have become the main agents of terror and bloodshed. What manner of president or even candidate will Jonathan be if these violent groups are his sponsors?
Some media reports had it that as of Monday, May 9, 2022 when the story of Jonathan’s presidential form came to town, the former president had not even registered as a member of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Yet we saw a photograph of him smiling as he met the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu.
Jonathan is obviously fascinated by the prospect of his return to Aso Villa. Many of his well-wishers have begged him not to bite the poisoned morsel on the bait because under it there is a cleverly concealed hook. Our people say that when a dog no longer hears the call of its owner, its death is at hand.
A stubborn fly usually follows a corpse to the grave. If Jonathan enters this crowded race, he risks tumbling from the Olympian Height of international statesmen to the Thespian Pool of a laughingstock of history. It is not too late for him to pull back and retain some of his already tarnished halo.
If by next week Jonathan enters the race, we will dive deeper into this topic.