Leaders in third world countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, enjoy being disgraced out of office. Their shenanigans are legendary and rank very high on the dark flanks of Africa. Just think about this inglorious list of shamed African leaders: Yahaya Jammeh, Robert Mugabe, Jacob Zuma, Siad Barre, Dawuda Jawara, Mobutu Seseseko, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, Charles Taylor, Laurent Gbagbo and Mengistu Haile Mariam.
These people insisted on holding on to power against the tide, while their people wallowed in hunger, poverty, disease, unemployment, insecurity and deep-rooted division. Many of them were massively corrupt and incompetent. They were eventually disgraced out of power.
I was not surprised when our own Muhammadu Buhari decided on Monday to travel on this same infamous road by indicating that he would seek re-election in 2019. Buhari wants a second term because his legion of sycophants is urging him on; not because he is convinced about it. Charade is in the blood of the typical African leader. Can our President honestly say that he has delivered on his promises to Nigerians, with just 13 months left of his tenure? Can he honestly say that Nigerians are better under his government than that of his predecessor? Can our President say that he has positively impacted on the lives of the masses of this country in the last 35 months? The frank answers would be on the negative.
The last 35 months have been horrendous for most Nigerians (except those benefitting from Buhari’s trickeries) with unprecedented economic hardship, unemployment, inflation and mass killings. It has been three years of blood, tears, pain, ineptitude and corruption. Above all, this country has never been this divided. It is an undisputable fact that our President presided over the destruction of our fragile unity, forcing former President Obasanjo to declare that Nigeria had never been as divided in history, except for the country’s civil war period between 1967 and 1970. He added in his remarks on August 2016 “At no time in our history, except probably during the civil war, has Nigeria been so fractured in the feeling of oneness and belongingness by the citizenry.” The ex-Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, concurred in September 2016, saying “Nigeria has never been as divided as presently, since it’s amalgamation over 100 years ago.”
Let’s take a look at Buhari’s avowal to exterminate Boko Haram. As I pen this piece, over two million Nigerians are living in excruciating condition in numerous IDP camps in Borno State. They can’t return home; their towns and villages are still controlled by Boko Haram. The terrorists are perfectly in control of three local governments in Borno State. Under Buhari’s watch, Boko Haram became the deadliest terror group in the world, with thousands of Nigerians killed in the last 35 months. Even in IDP camps, displaced Nigerians are persistently attacked and killed by Boko Haram, as seen in Rann, Muna Garage, Dalore and a number of others. Few weeks back, the terrorists invaded the camp in Rann, killing four international aid workers and an undisclosed number of IDPs.
The UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Yassine Gaba noted: “Innocent civilians continue to suffer daily from direct and indiscriminate attacks in the North-east of Nigeria. Endless numbers of explosions, brutal killings, abductions and lootings continue to uproot the lives of women, children and men daily. Women, children and men face daily grave human rights violations and sexual and gender-based violence.”
Under Buhari, this country has been needlessly losing hundreds of its gallant soldiers to this madness called Boko Haram, yet he refused to replace our inept service chiefs. Many will not forget in a hurry the massacre of soldiers in places like Sasawa, Magumeri, Malam Fatori, Gashigha, Rann, Kanama, Gamboru-Ngala, Mafa and Kunduga. What about the unprecedented and persistent killing of officers by the terrorists under Buhari? Those killed include Lt. Colonel O. Umusu, Lt. Colonel K Yusuf, Lt. Colonel Abu Ali, Lt. Colonel B. U. Umar, Captain Victor Ulasi and Group Lt. Col. A E Mamudu. So, what are we talking about? Buhari’s war against Boko Haram has been a big mess.
Buhari pledged to revamp the nation’s economy. So, how well-managed has this country’s economy been in the last 35 months? Are there positive stories to tell about the value of the Naira, electricity, petrol, manufacturing, jobs and so on? The truth is that in 35 months, this administration squandered virtually all the economic gains of its predecessors. Thousands of businesses and manufacturers are gasping for breath. Many have closed shop, while millions of Nigerians have lost jobs. At a point, inflation was almost at an unparalleled 18%. The refineries are still not working. That was why the NNPC spent a monstrous $5.8 billion on the importation of 9.8 million metric tons of petrol in four months – October 2017 to January 2018. This is why payment of subsidy on imported petrol now gulps N1.4 trillion annually. Which corruption is bigger than selling petrol at N145 per litre after spending so much on subsidy? Nigerians outside Lagos and Abuja pay more.
Corruption under this government is frightening. It was no surprise when the 2017 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International revealed that sleaze in Nigeria is more severe under the Buhari administration. Nigeria was also downgraded by TI from 136 to 148 in the CPI. We can’t forget the likes of Mainagate, Barugate, NHISgate and Babachirgate. Contracts running into billions of USD were allegedly awarded exclusively by Maikanti Baru’s NNPC, without due process.
Which corruption is bigger than plunging Nigeria into unprecedented foreign debt within 35 months? According to the latest data from the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s external debt rose to $18.91 billion (N5.787 trillion) as at the end of December 2017, while domestic debt rose to N15.937 trillion, bringing the total debt stock of the country to N21.725 trillion ($70.92 billion). The bulk of the borrowing was done by the federal government under Buhari. What do we have to show for all these borrowings in the last 35 months? The Naira, our symbol of nationhood has never had it so bad. At a point, it was trading for as high as N520/$. This is the same Naira Buhari inherited at about N220/$.
Rampaging Fulani herdsmen have spent the last 35 months killing hundreds in Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Enugu, Delta, Oyo, Zamfara and so many other states. This spate of killing is unmatched. As at press time, over 100,000 displaced Benue State indigenes wallow in IDP camps while well-armed Fulani militia control their local government areas – Gwer West, Guma and Logo. Security agents have refused to curtail them. For me, this is state-sanctioned terrorism under Buhari.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, was appropriate when it said Buhari had nothing to show Nigerians, in terms of concrete achievement, to make him think of seeking re-election “beyond the fact that re-contesting is a legal right.” It continued: “It is disappointing that the President will choose to declare for a second term at when the security of lives and property of Nigerians cannot be guaranteed. His declaration at this time is the height of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians who are suffering under his administration. Today, we can count businesses that have either collapsed or are operating under the worst economic condition in history of our dear country.
“Re-electing the incumbent is to vote for continuity of failure… Mr President has performed so woefully in security, nation building, provision of infrastructure, employment generation, name it to seek re-election. His government has failed all-round. Nigerians have experimented enough in the last three years. The hungry and jobless citizens can no longer endure, and cannot afford to see another four years of this failed administration after 2019.
Yes, let Buhari run again. The good thing is that this time around, he would be running back to his farm in Daura. Enough of blood, tears, pain, ineptitude and corruption in our beloved Nigeria.