PROFESSOR Wole Soyinka, last week, while playing host to some secondary students, as part of the activities lined up for his 85th birthday programme, said that President Muhammadu Buhari could not do much in proffering solutions to the nation’s many problems because he was overwhelmed by the problems. The Nobel laureate then went ahead to say that the president lacked the capacity to lead the nation.
While the view of the respected icon is not incorrect, I don’t think it is exactly right.
The real problem with the president is not his capacity; it is about his orientation and mindset. When a person is given to sentiments, his capacity is clipped; he cannot operate at his best. That is the undoing of our president. So, even if the president had the required capacity, he would still underperform because of his warped orientation. If the president lacked capacity but had the right orientation, he would surround himself with the people with the right competences to make up for his deficiency.
So, the major issue with the president is that he does not see himself as a Nigerian, but first as a Fulani, then a Northerner. As bad as that is, it is worsened by the President’s unequivocal advertisement of his distrust of Nigerians from outside his North. This has informed his actions, inactions as well as decisions and that is why the country is the way it is at the moment. That is why what many Nigerians from outside the North consider as serious problems are trivialized by the president. That is why the only Nigerians that are fit for high offices are mostly from the North. That is why the best Nigerians that can secure the country are Northerners. That is why the head of the nation’s immigration service is a northerner. That is why the head of the Customs is a northerner, that is why the head of the nation’s secret service is a northerner, and that is why the nation’s cash cow has been entrusted to the care of a northerner. That is why if any position goes to non-northerners, it is usually a position with minimal power and influence.
Despite the horrendous atrocities attributed to Fulani herdsmen across the country, they have been shielded from prosecution by the state. In March 2017, a clash between some northerners and some Yoruba communities in Ile Ife left 46 people killed, about 100 injured and properties worth several millions of naira destroyed. Subsequently, 38 people comprising Yoruba and Hausa were arrested and taken to Abuja. But when the suspects were to be paraded, the 18 northerners among those arrested had been released, the 20 people paraded by the police as suspects were Yoruba.
Former Force Public Relations Officer, Yekini Jimoh, in his explanation said, “Consequent upon the unfortunate clashes, the Inspector General of Police deployed Police Special Intervention Forces. It comprised the Police Mobile Force, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Counter-terrorism Unit, Intelligence Response Unit SIB, EOD and led by the Commissioner of Police in Charge of PMF.
“The operation was successful, leading to the arrest, detention and investigation of 38 suspects out of which 20 were found culpable for direct and indirect participation in the killing of innocent people, maiming, and destruction of properties of the victims.”
Jimoh added that while the paraded Yoruba people would face prosecution on the completion of investigations, the other 18 suspects were released unconditionally for lack of prima-facie evidence against them.
Is it not interesting that only people of Yoruba descent were found culpable in a fracas involving two ethnic groups? Were there not casualties on both sides? Why were the Hausa men let off the hook while the Yoruba suspects were left to face the music? The fact is that in Buhari’s Nigeria, it is a crime to be a non-northerner.
The Federal Government descended heavily on Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in 2017; the military rolled out the tanks against the group, a court proscribed it and declared it a terrorist organisation, yet the government has been dealing with killer herdsmen with kid gloves. The question is what evil did IPOB perpetrate that the killer herdsmen didn’t do more of? The killer herdsmen have killed more people than the IPOB, destroyed more homesteads than the IPOB, laid waste more properties than the IPOB, yet the killer herdsmen are shielded by the state, while the IPOB has been outlawed by the state.
In Buhari’s Nigeria, it is sacrilegious to challenge a Fulani.
During the World Bank/IMF annual meetings of 2017, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, said the bank had concentrated its development projects in the northern region of Nigeria in accordance with President Buhari’s request.
According to the World Bank president, “In my very first meeting with President Buhari, he said specifically that he would like us to shift our focus to the northern region of Nigeria and we’ve done that.”
Now, what would make the president of a country ask for the development of a section to the neglect of others? The only reason is that he does not see himself as belonging to those other sections. In his mind, Buhari’s primary constituency, to the negation of the constitution, is the North, not the whole country. That really is the tragedy of the Buhari presidency.
The tragedy is that under Buhari rather than have a Nigerian president what we have is a Northern Nigerian president, a president that has no qualms trading the peace of his country for the comfort of his clan.