Yesterday I received a call from a friend who said he called to apologise and to accept that he was wrong all along on Buhari and that he has now come to accept that my dissection on Buhari was right. According to him, since action speaks louder than words he finally changed his mind after Buhari’s latest appointments all of which went to Northerners convinced him that far from being a national leader who genuinely wanted to turn Nigeria around for the better, Buhari has rather proven to be a narrow, sectional, dictatorial and insensitive leader whose primary interest and agenda was for the North. He concluded that such a sectional leader in an increasingly divided nation like Nigeria can only do more harm than good and on that premise he was finally quitting the Buhari camp.
Now this was a friend whom I always argued with and who until yesterday was a die-hard Buhari supporter that was in the face of many absurdities still willing to give Buhari the benefit of doubt until the latest appointments jolted him from dream-land into the reality of a deeply tribal, vindictive, undemocratic and divisive president who having come to power on the slogan of change is now unfolding what for all intents and purposes is negative change. I have spoken to a few other friends since then and I noted that without any exception Buhari’s supporters are beginning to dump him in droves. One of them, a journalist with connections to top members of the APC revealed to me that even the APC is regretting their choice of Buhari. Thus, for all the deafening noise of change that accompanied his campaign, Buhari it seems is dead on arrival and already a certified failure for the reasons outlined below.
According to the failed states index reports, one of the most important reasons for which a state becomes classified a failed state is group grievance or disharmony within a state. More broadly marginalisation and dissent constitute fundamental markers or pointers to a failed state. Nigeria as a nation has been through a secessionist civil war, Major Gideon Orkar’s coup of 1990 that almost succeeded in Balkanizing the nation and ever widening ethno-religious cleavages and conflicts arising from group grievances and dissent. Against this backdrop the first test of a Nigerian leader is how well he navigates and manages the existential problems associated with the nation’s delicate diversity and in this critical test Buhari has failed woefully. The evidence of his failure is in the strident outcries that have trailed his blatantly sectional appointments since he was sworn in. His lopsided appointments have so brazenly gone to the North while excluding other regions that you would be forgiven to think Nigeria is a now a “federal government of the North.”
Laughable reasons ranging from competence to merit has been advanced by Buhari’s handlers to justify his shameful sectionalism, but none of the reasons holds up to scrutiny. Firstly all regions have an abundance of qualified and meritorious personnel, secondly it is strange that the North that is considered educationally disadvantaged which is reflective in the lower quota and cut off marks with which Northerners are admitted to federal schools and universities can claim to be more meritorious or competent than Southerners who are required to score a higher cut off mark before they can be admitted to the same universities. Thirdly if Northerners are as competent and meritorious as Buhari handlers now spuriously claim why are they almost totally absent in the merit driven private sector? Walk into any bank or factory and 95 percent of the time, you are most likely going to see a Tunde, Emeka, Efosa, Okon or Ejiro than an Abubakar in the cadres and these are private organisations that are strictly merit driven. Why also are they absent in the merit driven leadership of international organisations such as the World Bank, African Development bank amongst others or is there a different measure of competence and merit by Buhari and his handlers? Truth is; Buhari’s own standard of merit and competence is driven by tribalism and tribalism alone and this explains his sectional appointments to date.
Not only has Buhari’s tribal appointments violated the constitutional provision on federal character it has further deepened Nigeria’s ethnic divisions so soon in his administration. The distribution of offices in the House of Representatives is another example of Buhari’s dangerous sectionalism. While the speaker of the house Hon Dogara preferred an all inclusive distribution in line with the federal character principle Buhari overruled him and instigated the total exclusion of the Southeast zone. For a very fragile nation with a chequered past and present of bloodletting owing to its ethnic and religious fault lines, Buhari coming on the heels of his campaign platform of change, had the choice and ample opportunity to like Nelson Mandela be a nation builder, reconciler and father figure for all, instead he chose to unfold an agenda of sectionalism and Northern domination thereby consolidating Nigeria as a failed state and pushing it further to the brink. Buhari is thus as it concerns managing Nigeria’s diversity a certified failure.
(2) Failed Promises To Publicly Declare Assets And Constitute Cabinet Immediately
One of the greatest marks of a leader is the ability to keep his words and promises. In the course of the campaign Buhari promised in his well publicised covenant to declare his assets publicly and to constitute a cabinet immediately he is sworn in to tackle the multifarious problems confronting the nation, but more than 3 months and almost 100 days after being sworn in Buhari has reneged on the promise to publicly declare his assets and has continuously given illogical reasons for the delay in constituting his cabinet. What is he hiding that has made him unable to publicly declare his assets? Most importantly when a leader is ever too willing to make bogus promises he does not intend to keep just to get what he wants, such a leader is dubious and in that regards Buhari is already a failure.
(3)Politicisation Of Corruption War And Selective Victimisation
Beware of those who promise to fight corruption but end up making so much noise on the pages of newspapers with no real action against corrupt persons. Much of what has passed for Buhari’s anti-corruption war has been politics and hypocrisy. While they have ended up making wild unsubstantiated allegations and politicising the corruption wahala in newspapers, the EFFC and ICPC has been largely dormant with no flurry of arrests and prosecutions, at the same time Buhari has been hypocritically hobnobbing and shielding well known corrupt individuals like Amaechi former governor of Rivers state who ironically travelled with him to America and Obasanjo who is listed in the Halliburton scam because they backed him during the elections. Making noise in newspapers and selectively shielding corrupt individuals who happen to be your supporters is a flawed way of fighting corruption and in this regards Buhari is already a failure.
(4) Undemocratic Tendencies And Dictatorship In A Democracy
Like many of his critics observed, Buhari is not a democrat and does not believe in democracy. He publicly admitted during the course of an interview in the United States that he would discriminate against those who didn’t vote for him, which is indicative of his undemocratic preference for a one party state and disdain for competitive democracy. He has also increasingly become dictatorial, refusing to appoint a cabinet and isolating his party while taking decisions on his own. None of this conforms with the practice of democracy and Buhari is already a failure in this regards.
(5) No Action Plan or Initiative To Begin Implementation of Campaign Promises
In the course of the now obvious wayo campaign, Buhari promised social welfare payments for the poor, free meals for students, free education, free medical care, the establishment of regional development agencies, creation of 1 million new jobs annually amongst other lavish promises. But 7 months after winning elections and almost 4 months after being sworn in there is not a single initiative, action plan or road map for the implementation of any of the campaign promises. Indeed there is no longer any talk of any of the campaign promises. The many campaign promises have turned out to be a scam with which Buhari and his enablers hoodwinked the gullible and in this regards Buhari is already a failure.
(6) Absence of Nation Building And Refusal To Implement National Confab Report
Buhari came to power in a nation confronted with deadly Islamic terrorism by Boko Haram in pursuit of self determination for the purposes of creating an Islamic State, and others such as Radio Biafra, MASSOB, MEND, SNC conveners group, OPC and others all clamouring for self determination. One would have expected that confronted with such secessionist forces Buhari would have as a priority established a committee on nation building and looked into the implementation of aspects of the national conference report that will enhance national unity. Rather than embark on any of such necessary initiatives Buhari has toed the line of Northern conservatives by refusing to implement any aspect of the confab report or take any initiative on nation building. Buhari thus represents a set-back for Nigerian unity and failure in that regards.
(7) Boko Haram Continues With No End In Sight
One of the strongest points of Buhari’s campaign was promising to end Boko Haram, but since coming to power, Boko Haram has continued its murderous rampage with even more ferocity. Thousands have been killed and maimed since he was sworn in and thousands are set to die in the days ahead. Apart from illogically relocating army chiefs to Borno state which provided no results there is no new strategy for dealing with Boko Haram beyond the regional effort which former president Jonathan nurtured and which he had criticised at the time. Buhari is thus a failure in that regards.
(8) Appropriating the Achievements of Jonathan
Because Buhari has no achievements of his own having spent time indulging in propaganda even after winning elections, he is now mischievously trying to appropriate former president Goodluck Jonathan’s achievements. Some cases in point are the refineries that recently became operational which Buhari who was barely two months in power when they became operational is trying to appropriate. Yet it takes 18-24 months for a complete overhaul of badly broken refineries that have been in disrepair since Babangida’s military regime. How then can a two months old Buhari administration that has no minister of petroleum claim credit for a project that has been ongoing since 2013? Reported improvements in electricity has also been falsely appropriated by Buhari, not minding that there are always seasonal improvements in electricity particularly during the rainy season that usually ebbs after the season (hope they will credit it to Buhari when it ebbs) and not minding that NEPA has since been unbundled and sold to private sector operators just like GSM and thus no longer under the control of government. Is it not strange that a government that does not even have a minister of power can claim credit for a private sector driven power generation?
The resumption of railway ferries after more than two decades of inactivity is another achievement of former president Jonathan that Buhari and his deceitful louts have tried to appropriate. Most absurd is the appropriation of the eradication of Polio for the first time ever in Northern Nigeria whose one year anniversary was celebrated a few weeks ago when Buhari’s presidency was only about two months old. How can a two month old administration without a minister of health claim credit for Polio that was eradicated ten months before he came to power? This dishonesty and propaganda on account of having no new or initiated projects of his own to showcase is another area where Buhari has failed.
Ultimately Buhari is an old school, sectional, bigoted, dictatorial, undemocratic and primitive leader who is not suited to the leadership demands of a diverse nation in the modern times. His unsuitability for office is vindicated by his resort to banal sectionalism, bigotry and reconstitution of the born to rule Northern agenda in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious environment which has ignited mass protests and increased the tempo of separatist groups. His other sins border on unfulfilled promises, absence of nation building, fake and hypocritical war on corruption, government by propaganda which together has condemned his government to failure already. Nigerians should not expect anything from Buhari. The only change he has brought is negative change which will further destroy Nigeria. It is remarkable that for the first time in Nigeria’s history we have a situation where a president’s sectional appointments have attracted so much public opprobrium to the extent that some including his erstwhile supporters are insisting it must be revised. Such has never happened before and is a bad omen which is demonstrative of the extent of Buhari’s bigotry and failure so soon in his administration. Nigeria is unfortunate to have a tribalist like Buhari as leader and will end up worse for it. All should brace up for the coming storm as consequences of Buhari’s negative change and consequent failure continues to unfold.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu