Mai Kariya: Muhammadu Buhari and the Failure of Integrity, By Majeed Dahiru
The presidency has become more opaque than transparent, as promised. Half-truths, cover ups, decoys, deflation, buck passing, denials and outright lies have become the mode of operation of the Buhari presidency…a well-oiled propaganda machinery is in place to misinform the public by the way of a clever twisting of facts and figures to obscure the reality of the failure…
The president of the Nigerian federation is suffering from a rare character disorder known as dishonest integrity. Some visible symptoms of this disorder include multiple and conflicting personality types, double standards, preaching what is not practiced, reneging on promises and breaching agreements. The symptomatic effect of this character disorder on the way and manner the Buhari administration is running the country has far-reaching consequences on the socio-economic well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians. Hampered by a dominant figure at the head of government with a dishonest integrity, the programmes and policies of the Buhari administration have been plagued by narrow sectional interests rather than broad national interests, which has expectedly failed to solve any of its inherited problems.
President Buhari was reputed for having unquestioned integrity; a man of truth, probity and honesty. His antecedents in public office suggested a man who was averse to indiscipline and corruption. These qualities and many more endeared him to millions of Nigerians. The poor and downtrodden adored him and proclaimed him, Mai gaskiya. The ruling class respected him for ignoring the looting circle despite having all the opportunity available to him to partake in it. His reputation was greatly enhanced by his tenacity in the opposition to the then ruling PDP, which was a bye phrase for misrule and arrogance of power. Between his first attempt to become president in 2003 and his eventual election after the fourth attempt in 2015, a lot has changed in the political life of Muhammadu Buhari.
From a sectional candidate who ran on the sentiments of an Arewa agenda of taking power back to the North in 2003 to a certified opposition leader when he ran against a fellow Northerner in 2007, a combination of a credible and opposition candidate who enjoyed massive following in the North in 2011, he finally became a national consensus candidate when a broad coalition of diverse and sometimes conflicting interest groups propelled him to the highest office in the land in 2015. The Buhari brand was hinged firmly on his integrity and incorruptibility; two qualities that were thought to be very rare in the political establishment that was the PDP. A great effort was put into projecting him as a national figure rather than a sectional champion.
He started his campaign from the southern city of Port Harcourt, dressed in full Ijaw attire. As a person who had been accused in the past of being a religious bigot, he was seen on several occasions attending events in churches. Most notably, he was physically present at the church service of the burial ceremony of APC chieftain, Ikechukwu Emenike’s father in-law in Abia state, in March 2014 at the Holy Trinity parish Umule village. He was also seen on two occasions attending thanksgiving services organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), first at the International Conference Centre, Abuja and secondly at the Lagos government house, in the election years of 2011 and 2015 respectively. These steps were deliberately taken to allay the fears of the Christian population of Nigeria. Giant and colourful billboards of the president decked in the different traditional attires of various ethnic groups endeared him to all. The president promised transparency and accountability in government business. He openly declared that he was going to declare his asset publicly. He promised to cut wastage in public finances by reducing expenditure on things like foreign medical trips and vacations.
That Muhammadu Buhari, commonly referred to as Mai gaskiya, cannot be truthful enough to reveal to his countrymen the true state of his health, clearly lumps him with the very people he loves to hate – the corrupt ruling political class. The lack of unanimity among Nigerians on sympathy and prayers for the president is as a result of the deeply divisive attitude of his government…
The first sign of Muhammadu Buhari’s dishonest integrity was his adoption of extreme sectionalism in his strategic appointments, which not only favoured his Northern region but excluded the entire South-East region from his kitchen cabinet and his security council. Sectionalism is the root of corruption. Sectionalism promotes mediocrity and incompetence, which results in corrupt practices that eventually lead to economic and financial crimes. Therefore, the president is promoting corruption, rather than fighting it. Since he became president, Buhari has not been seen anywhere around a church event. For example, he arrived at the burial ceremony of the late matriarch of the Yoruba nation, HID Awolowo, shortly after the church service in November 2015.
President Buhari has not visited the entire South-East region of Nigeria and has visited only Cross River State in the entire Niger Delta region. He has not been seen in public adorning any other attire but his native Northern ones. The next major failure of the integrity test was the president’s reluctance to declare his asset publicly as promised. When he eventually did, under intense public pressure, he merely listed his asset without specific details of type, location, size and value. The reluctance of the president to declare his asset publicly is for the obvious reason that unknown to his devote followers, he is a man of reasonable means, contrary to public perception. His declaration of the possession of a landed property in Abuja sent shock waves down the spine of millions of Nigerians who were made to believe that Mai gaskiya is the only former military head of state without a home in Abuja.
Enter the president’s anti-corruption war. He loves to blame the PDP for all of Nigeria’s woes. His rear gaze is perpetually activated towards the sixteen years of PDP rule, which he claims achieved nothing and destroyed the country. That president Buhari is rigidly fixated on this false narrative clearly shows a man suffering from a chronic form of dishonest integrity. That PDP failed to meet the expectations of Nigerians does not mean they achieved absolutely nothing. The PDP administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo inherited a worse situation in 1999 than Buhari did in 2015. In May 1999, Nigeria’s foreign debts stood at a meagre 3 billion dollars as against 24 billion dollars in 2015. The international price of crude oil stood at 17 dollars per barrel in 1999 as against 38 dollars in 2015. The minimum wage of Nigeria’s workforce was about three thousand naira in 1999 as against 18,500 in 2015. The president’s double standards is also always on display when he is referring to PDP. To Buhari, the PDP members that destroyed Nigeria are those who supported Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election but not those who decamped to APC on the eve of the presidential election and supported him with their looted fund.
This vicious propaganda war against common sense and logical reasoning is gradually failing because the pace of socio-economic progress is glaringly slower than the fast paced propaganda can really obscure. That chief propagandist of the Buhari administration has gained the notorious sobriquet of “lie” Mohammed is an indication the Muhammadu Buhari may have transformed from being Mai gaskiya to Mai kariyane.
Another indication of the president’s inherently deficient integrity is the issue of his constant medical vacations overseas; a practice he preaches against. Despite voting huge sums of money for the state house medical centre, an amount estimated to be over 30 billion naira, the president’s still travels on the public purse for medical vacation. The presidential spin doctors have refused to disclose the actual state of the president’s health. He is said to be hale and hearty but at the same time undergoing medical examinations, which have called for an indefinitely extended leave. That we are asked to pray for our president who is said to be “hale and hearty” is the height of disrespect for and insult to our collective intelligence as a country.
That Muhammadu Buhari, commonly referred to as Mai gaskiya, cannot be truthful enough to reveal to his countrymen the true state of his health, clearly lumps him with the very people he loves to hate – the corrupt ruling political class. The lack of unanimity among Nigerians on sympathy and prayers for the president is as a result of the deeply divisive attitude of his government, which has left Nigeria more fractured along fault lines than ever before in its over fifty years history.
In reaction to the glaring failure of the president’s integrity tests, Nigerians have grown more hostile and suspicious of the Buhari administration. The presidency has become more opaque than transparent, as promised. Half-truths, cover ups, decoys, deflation, buck passing, denials and outright lies have become the mode of operation of the Buhari presidency. To keep the Buhari worshippers in the line of devotion, a well-oiled propaganda machinery is in place to misinform the public by the way of a clever twisting of facts and figures to obscure the reality of the failure of the Buhari administration as much as possible. The Goebellian-style propaganda is being prosecuted with fascist precision of mind indoctrination of the gullible many, who are stuck on the Buhari persona as infallible. This vicious propaganda war against common sense and logical reasoning is gradually failing because the pace of socio-economic progress is glaringly slower than the fast paced propaganda can really obscure. That chief propagandist of the Buhari administration has gained the notorious sobriquet of “lie” Mohammed is an indication that Muhammadu Buhari may have transformed from being Mai Gaskiya (Honest Man) to Mai Kariya (Dishonest Man).