Which way, Nigeria? 4+4 or 4+0?
Permit me to publish this piece for today’s edition. I find it timely. I’ll be back next week. —Odumakin
By Jude Obuseh
THE widespread aversion, in some quarters, to incumbent President Mohammadu Buhari’s re-election bid is as shocking as it is baffling. It beats the imagination that in less than four years, a president that once enjoyed overwhelming goodwill across the country, when he officially assumed duty as the Chief Executive Officer, could have incurred the wrath of large swathes of the population who now resent, deride and despise him to the extent of literally calling for his ejection from the Olympus he currently occupies.
PMB’s blanket sin, according to the opponents of his re-election bid, is that contrary to his pre-election promise that he would magically “change” the sordidly sorry fortunes of the country within a short space of time, if voted into office, he has failed woefully in redeeming his “covenant” with Nigerians. According to this set of hurting Nigerians, the president has pooh-poohed the trust they once reposed in him. They point to the worsening economic situation, rising state of physical and social insecurity, cyclical unemployment, increasing corruption, political instability and other visceral challenges as evidence of the president’s failures since coming to power, and reasons why he should be voted out at the polls come D-Day, February 16.
However, for PMB’s diehard supporters, the salvos being fired at him by his critics are “unfair”, “parochial” and “illiterate”; rants of a bunch of jobless mischief makers. They vehemently posit that Mr President has matched his every word with commensurate action since assuming office. For this group of Nigerians, anybody accusing the president of having failed to deliver the dividends of democracy is not only an anti-progressive, anti-democratic element, but an archenemy of the state.
But one wonders why PMB’s supporters keep dissipating energy in rationalising his several shortcomings, when even the terminally impaired can, through the use of their senses, attest to his administration’s several unmitigated goofs. It is insulting that the president’s hatchet men persist in their vain attempts at convincing Nigerians that the president has done well, when verifiable facts run contrary to their outlandish claims.
Let’s take the economy for a start, a sector where PMB’s supporters have scored him 100 per cent. Can it be said that his administration has brought succour to reign in this sector? Is the national currency, the Naira, now at par with the American Dollar, Pounds Sterling, Euro, et al, as is been suggested by the president’s damage control experts? Has it added or lost value, compared to what obtained prior to his assumption of office? What about the petroleum sector, the mainstay of the country’s economy? Have the pump prices of petroleum products been drastically reduced to their barest minimums? Has the purported removal of petroleum subsidies improved or worsened the pitiable condition of the common man?
More seriously, has the expansive void between the haves and have-nots been bridged by PMB’s much trumpeted economic miracle? Have millions of Nigerians been lifted above the poverty line? Should we ignore the 2018 report by Brookings Institution that Nigeria had overtaken India as the “poverty capital of the world” and the subsequent corroboration of this revelation by Mrs Theresa May, the British Prime Minister (see Vanguard, Tuesday, August 29, 2018), and other damaging reports by some of the world’s most prestigious rating agencies? Or should we, as is being suggested by His Excellency’s mouthpieces, just see these reports as largely “biased”, cruelly “malicious”, “compromised” reports sponsored by opposition elements bent on ridiculing the president’s “achievements”, with intent to scuttle his re-election bid?
Again, has the unemployment rate in Nigeria improved drastically, or worsened, compared to what obtained in the past? Is Nigeria the new employment capital of the world, as is being claimed by his praise singers, when there are demonstrable facts to the contrary? For instance, the National Bureau of Statistics noted in its 2017 Q3 report that “Nigeria recorded its highest ever aggregate unemployment rate rising from 14.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 18.8 per cent”. Trading Economics (2018), an online portal, stated that “the unemployment rate in Nigeria increased to 18.80 per cent in the third quarter of 2017 from 16.20 per cent in the second quarter of 2017.” Other widely respected rating bodies – local and international – have concurrently alluded to the escalating unemployment rate in Nigeria in recent times, contrary to the lies being relentlessly drummed into our ears by the president’s points men.
Has the power sector fared better? Consequent to the much trumpeted reforms in the power sector, how many megawatts of electricity are we currently generating to service other critical sectors of the economy, compared to what obtained prior to the coming of PMB’s administration? During the anniversary to mark its third year in office, the administration ludicrously claimed that it had “increased power generation from the 2,450MW it met on ground in 2015 to 5,000MW.” Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, even claimed at another forum that the Buhari administration had increased power generation to 10,000MW. This is against the backdrop of the disheartening fact that power shortages, within the last three and a half years, have exponentially risen to an all-time high across the country. Interestingly, the previous administration was able to generate 4,257MW in one day in 2014, and before 2015, the nation occasionally experienced power supply of close to 4,000MW. So who is fooling who?
What about the anti-graft war, the chief plank of PMB’s “change” mantra? Has corruption, the rampaging gorgon that ran roughshod across all sectors of national life, before PMB’s coming, been completely eliminated, as is being suggested by his devotees? Have anti-corruption institutions such as independent courts, commissions and bodies such as the Public Complaints Commission, Code of Conduct Bureau, National Human Rights Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Office of the Auditor General etc., been strengthened and granted full autonomies to function fluidly without interference from any quarters, as promised by Mr President?
Do we now have a scenario where there are no more sacred cows in Nigeria, where even serving state officials, including some chieftains of the ruling party, are being made to answer for indiscretions committed in their past or present callings? Have all hitherto pending corruption cases such as, the Malabu Oil Scandal, the Kerosene Subsidy Scam, the N32.8 billion Police Pension Fund fraud, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Babachir Lawal’s grass cutting saga, the $20 billion NNPC fraud, the N195 billion Maina Pension scam, the Abba Moro Immigration recruitment scandal, the N36 million JAMB scam, Governor Ganduje’s bribe taking scandal, and other unnerving scams involving billions of dollars, been properly – not selectively – investigated and those found culpable by omission or commission brought to justice by Mr President’s legendary winnowing fork? Objectively speaking, has the war been truly thorough, in the face of the hubbub that has accompanied it since the outset of the incumbent administration?
Again, should we, as is being advocated by the president’s spokespersons, view as “unsubstantiated” the report by global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), which in its 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranked Nigeria in the 148th position out of 180? Nigeria, according to the CPI, scored 28 out 100, a figure lower than the average in the Sub-Sharan region (Sahara Reporters, February 21, 2018). Are these reports hollow, shallow, illogical and lacking in credibility? Let’s check our factsheets, please!
On the security front, has PMB, a retired military General, exceeded the high expectations of Nigerians and close security watchers who predicted tougher times for forces of violence? Is Nigeria now the most peaceful place on earth? Have the several cases of violent conflicts and acts of criminality – that are regular occurrences across the country – become things of the past? Are Nigerians now sleeping with their eyes closed? Have all conflict instigators and entrepreneurs been forced out of business consequent to the closer checks on their activities put in place by the authorities?
What about the war on insurgency? Has Boko Haram, the recalcitrant Islamist terrorist group that has been waging a tireless Jihad against hapless Nigerians and the security forces in the country’s North-East, been completely “degraded” and comprehensively “defeated”? Should we see incidents such as the Dapchi debacle, Metele slaughter and other incendiary attacks on military installations, kidnapping and killing of international aid workers, razing of towns and villages, invasion and annexation of some hitherto “liberated” sections of the North-East by the extremist group, increasing cases of violent attacks by cattle herdsmen on their host communities across the country, in tandem with the recent general upsurges in the activities of violent groups around the country, as minute exceptions to an otherwise immaculate security campaign by PMB’s military forces?
Should we discountenance the report by Amnesty International of gross human rights violations by the Nigerian military in its war on terror, especially the extra-judicial killings of innocent civilians on trumped up charges of being members of Boko Haram, the carpet bombing of villages suspected of playing host to the Islamists, which has resulted in collateral damages, and other unlicensed acts of violence – which run contrary to all known international rules of engagement in armed conflicts – by members of the security forces which have resulted in the massacring of innocent civilians, including women and children? Or is the report, an amalgam of cooked-up facts by a compromised global human rights body working for the opposition, as has been suggested by the Presidency and the country’s security eggheads?
Politically, has the country been magically transformed into a haven of stability? Should we regard as inconsequential the presidency’s apparent disregard for the principles of separation of powers, rule of law and supremacy of the constitution – foundational values on which democratic societies are constructed – which has created an extremely volatilepolitical atmosphere that has pushed the country closer to the precipice of balkanization? Should we view as normal, the executive arm’s tendency to constantly treat the other arms of government – Legislature and Judiciary – as mere rubber stamps? Should we regard as irrelevant, the incumbent administration’s penchant for disregarding court orders, its lopsided political appointments, which are mostly nepotistic and contrary to constitutional provisions, his excessive use of Executive Orders to bypass legislative cumjudicial checks and balances, and other executive excesses that have so far defined its stewardship? Should we turn blind eyes to all the instances of unconstitutional infractions on the residual functions of state governments, agencies and departments by the executive?
Socially, the country has never been as divided and conflict-ridden as it has become since the outset of the incumbent administration. Contrary to his mantra of “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,” PMB has been unabashedly bigoted in his dealings with the country’s multifarious groups. For the first time in the country’s history, we have an unpleasant scenario where most of the strategic executive – including security -positions are manned by individuals from the northern section of the country. As of October 30, 2017, BusinessDay newspaper had noted that “81 of the 100 appointments made by Buhari were from the North, while the other regions shared the remaining 19 appointments”; an unjust, largely lopsided arrangement that is contrary to the Federal Character principle in the country’s constitution. This gross disparity has not been abridged till date, despite the spate of condemnations generated by this extra-constitutional action by the president.
Also worth mentioning is the president’s barefaced creation of a monster master race out of the Fulani ethnic stock, while relegating other constituent ethnic nationality groups in the country to the margins, which have confirmed the fears of some very perceptive Nigerians, who, consequent to Buhari’s victory at the 2015 polls, predicted that, like the legendary leopard that could never wash off its spots, he would never change from his set ways.
In the current dispensation, the president’s Fulani kinsmen are the only sacred cows in the country; they can do no wrong as far as the president is concerned. This perhaps explains his reluctance to condemn the criminally violent activities of recalcitrant herdsmen largely of the Fulani stock who have had a field day spreading fear and death across the country in their morbid quests for cattle colonies. No geopolitical zone has been spared the horrors of these terrorists who maim and kill at will without fear of any kind of censorship. They have practically become laws unto themselves, thanks to the president’s noncommittal deportment to their barbarous acts, coupled with his reluctance to wield the big stick – which he has used to devastating effects in beating other so-called “troublesome” groups from other sections of the country into line – when it matters most.
It is shocking and at the same time enraging that, in the face of Mr President’s failures, he, prodded by the itinerant shadow parties propping up his administration, still hankers for a second term, for whatever successes the Buhari administration claims to have achieved within the past four years, pale into utter insignificance when juxtaposed with its plethora of avoidable failures. Even his supporters, including the cabal controlling his administration, know this. But rather than admit its shortcomings, the administration has elected to pour more fuel on an already raging inferno by barefacedly insulting the collective intelligence of Nigerians at any given opportunity through spurious claims of success.
Perhaps, Nigerians would have given the administration’s second term bid the benefit of the doubt had it accepted its mistakes, shown remorse and provided a new template on how to rescue Nigeria from its current misfortunes. But that is not the style of PMB and his narcissistic band of power courters. Rather than accept blame for its obvious inability to match its several elephantine pre-election promises to Nigerians, the administration prefers passing the buck at any given opportunity. Its penchant for accusing the previous administration of being responsible for the country’s plethora of woes, despite having four calendar years to, at least, improve on the deplorable conditions it claims to have met on ground, has exposed it for its lack of capacity, sagacity and finesse to continue leading the country.
It would be a monumental travesty of natural justice, an irreversible disaster of catalytic proportions for the whole country if Muhammadu Buhari is given another chance to further ruin the country’s affairs for another four years, in the face of his calamitously lethargic performances since donning the presidential Kimono. Not only has he exhibited his lack of competence to do the job, he lacks the political will, as he has never been in control of his office, to lead the country for another four years. Nigeria has been in the bloody hands of faceless Medusas whose infamies have transformed the country into a giant potpourri of confusion; a country at the brink of anarchy.
Responsible leadership is assessed on the basis of how the riders of the Leviathan match their promises – before, and after, gaining the reins of power – with commensurate action. On the evidence of the hellish times Nigerians have been forced to endure for close to four years, the incumbent leadership has been found wanting in virtually all ramifications of governance. What we have had as a government since 2015 is an insensitive, directionless, obstinate, recalcitrant, clueless, divisive, impassive, manipulative, arrogant, unrepresentative, witless and draconian government that is hell-bent on perpetuating itself in power, despite its gross shortcomings; a government that constantly assaults and insults our sensibilities through arrant lies, subterfuge, misdirection, gross misrepresentation of facts and blatant use of force in its physical and psychological dimensions.
If performance is the key criteria for measuring the success or failure of a government, it would not be out of order, based on the hard facts on ground, to conclude that PMB’s administration has failed monumentally; one does not need to be a sage, mage, seer or intellectual Hercules to decipher this stark reality. That is why he can no longer be trusted to continue spotting the mantle of the country’s number one citizen.That is why he should be voted out at the polls come D-Day, February 16, 2019. God save Nigeria!