So Buhari, Is This You?, By ‘Tope Fasua
Barbarians have finally seized the treasury. Buhari has turned out a paradox… I see no easy way out of this logjam that Nigeria has put herself in. Buhari, is this really you? If it is you, are you not telling our children that a meritorious career in crime, fraud and sundry dishonesty is now a requirement for people who want to serve in government?
In 2015 after Buhari won the election, friends with whom I had supported his quest were so excited to get invites to Eagle Square for his inauguration. I didn’t get any such invite and I am not usually excited about ceremonies anyway. For me, it should be all about the substance. No one needs to tell us that we should by now focus on rescuing our country, not grabbing power for its own sake. In time, I started seeing behaviours that were not in tandem with the persona of Buhari that we had been sold; it was Bayo Omoboriowo taking pictures of Buhari from every angle, and the rapidity spoke of vain self-worship; it was Buhari getting angry each time he was reminded that the people are suffering and asked what he wished to do about it. Six months was to disappear and we did not have ministers. In between, Buhari dilly-dallied on the matter of open asset declaration, eventually pushing back on the pretext that the Constitution did not require that of him and whoever wanted to see what he owned should apply to the Code of Conduct Bureau, where he was sure they would be stalled. A scanty list was released, which showed hesitation and a desire to remain in the realm of opacity.
I ported and stopped being a Buharist altogether.
I had had enough of the scam, which has lasted till date since 2015. The reality is that Nigeria has tumbled everywhere. We have tumbled in terms of human development. Nigerians are poorer. We tumbled in terms of inequality; the few ‘winners’ took it all. We tumbled in terms of illiteracy and ignorance; there are more children on the streets. Those who clink champagne glasses still exist, but they did not notice that their numbers were getting fewer. Thousands of families are emigrating to countries that value human resources. Buhari fumbled, and eventually shut up on Nigerians. In four years, he had only one open media parley! No one knew his mind. Even the security of the nation that was meant to be his forte, suffered. Today we have kidnappings and marauding in the North-West, where he is from. His own very village chief was seized for almost three months by the bad boys. 90 year-old and blind retired Justice Mamman Nasir, a district head too, was kidnapped and may have died shortly after release as a result of the trauma suffered in the hands of the ‘bandits’.
Zamfara State became notorious for bandits who kill at will. Sokoto was not spared. In the North-East, Boko Haram still holds sway, and Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States still suffer in their hands. The Middle Belt of the country roils in conflicts between herders and farmers. In fact, the government is in the process of setting the country on fire entirely by grabbing land by force in every local government, in order to settle herders and their cows. Buhari does not plan for our children, but cares so much for cows; how they will eat, get their inoculations, where they will sleep and so on. Cows are far more important than humans under Buhari. Where we should have been declaring emergencies on human issues – education, health, security, environment – we dropped the ball and focused instead on cows.
We don’t need much convincing to know that Buhari is a huge mistake and the next four years will be another rollercoaster of trouble. On the economic front, the Buhari government doubled Nigeria’s debts under three years and is collecting more as we speak. Buhari has to tell us who he really is, and where his allegiance lies. Is he just a very well-packaged ‘figazi’, currently unraveling?
The South-West has become a no-go area. Senators can only fly to their state capitals. All our policemen are now on escort duties as our ‘big men and women’ have to protect themselves first; everyone else is on his/her own. Buhari also conducted a general election that is probably the worst in the history of the country. An election reflects the spirit of the incumbency. This one showed the intolerance that rules the streets today. Many people ‘contested’ for presidency, although less than 15 went into the election on their own; the rest had stepped down for the two big parties. The elections Buhari organised were so discredited that the U.S. has banned a number of APC stalwarts from her borders; and that is a sign of things to come. The reports from the European Union, International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) say the use of the power of incumbency, vote buying, violence, fraud, and the lack of transparency, marred the election.
Nigeria teeters at the edges, like never before. For the first time, Abuja has become a war zone, where anyone could walk into a stray bullet. The serenity of the city has been permanently disturbed. Perhaps Abuja will now pay for the decades of sleaze and embezzlement upon which it is built. It is a sign of Buhari’s inefficiency that the incarceration of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) leader, El-Zakzaky was mismanaged and is now a major issue gaining international attention. There seems to be no intelligence to the way governance is carried out these days, except when they want to harass the little people. So East, West, North or South, there is trouble in the land. We don’t need much convincing to know that Buhari is a huge mistake and the next four years will be another rollercoaster of trouble. On the economic front, the Buhari government doubled Nigeria’s debts under three years and is collecting more as we speak. Buhari has to tell us who he really is, and where his allegiance lies. Is he just a very well-packaged ‘figazi’, currently unraveling?
All said, Buhari promised that since he didn’t know most of the people he worked with during his first term, this next team would be ‘him’. I felt he made a fair try at poetic elocution on that occasion. I only want to ask Buhari: Is this you, sir? Are you Akpabio? N108 billion is hanging on his neck. We knew that he went crazy as governor of Akwa Ibom State. Sir, are you Uche Ogah? His company, Masters Oil was indicted for a N2.9 billion subsidy fraud in 2011. He refunded N1.2 billion in 2016. Are you Timipre Sylva? He was arrested for N48 billion fraud in 2013. We know that because he is now an All Progressives Congress (APC) kingpin, his sins have been forgiven and his dozens of properties returned.
Is this what it’s all about? What are we doing with nine ex-governors whose tenures were mostly full of fraud and mediocrity? Are we trying to rehash the past or build a new future? What did these governors achieve in their States? What are we doing with 13 people who served during the first tenure? What did they achieve to warrant a recall?
Are you George Akume? He has an old N2 billion fraud case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Or is N2 billion now too small in your books that it is insignificant? Are you Henry Nwajiuba? What happened to the microfinance bank he formed? What was Dariye’s link with that bank? How many widows are gnashing their teeth today as a result of his actions? Are you really Rauf Aregbesola? What is the state of Osun today? Did we not see in stark reality how he overtraded on infrastructure and left the people broke and broken? Is this what it’s all about? What are we doing with nine ex-governors whose tenures were mostly full of fraud and mediocrity? Are we trying to rehash the past or build a new future? What did these governors achieve in their States? What are we doing with 13 people who served during the first tenure? What did they achieve to warrant a recall?
But my biggest concern is with the issue of corruption. President Buhari goes around with this anti-corruption toga and is always eager to speak about his own piety. However, the evidence on ground points to something different, especially with this list of new ministers. This morning we read that the managing director of the Asset Management Company (AMCON) – a bad bank where Nigeria’s poor taxpayers’ monies are being used to bail out fat-cats who borrow and refuse to pay – drew attention to the fact that many of the new ministerial nominees, as well as many lawmakers who are today confirming the ministers, are bad customers of AMCON. I know that, at least, Senator Ifeanyi Ubah is owing some N160 billion to AMCON (in other words the Nigerian people). Ahmed Kuru also said AMCON may be unable to recover at least N5 trillion, which these guys are sitting on.
I am afraid. Barbarians have finally seized the treasury. Buhari has turned out a paradox. He has shown that in Nigeria, bad is good, black is white, evil is holy; we live in abracadabra land. I see no easy way out of this logjam that Nigeria has put herself in. Buhari, is this really you? If it is you, are you not telling our children that a meritorious career in crime, fraud and sundry dishonesty is now a requirement for people who want to serve in government?