For a president who happened on the highest political seat in the land not because the country’s political class suddenly became enamoured with him, but because they saw that Jonathan was dead set on collapsing the socio-economic and political roof over their heads to have been adjudged to have performed successfully after his first year in office could not have been more gratifying for the General and those that believes in him. Even more to their discomfiture was the insistence by those ordinary Nigerians they truly disdain that it was either Buhari or nothing. So, in their enlightened self-interest, it was better that some of them get caught in Buhari’s inevitable corruption dragnet---a man that no one can intimidate or blackmail from casting the net he had promised the electorates if elected---than to allow the son of a fisherman who, in his youthful exuberance and naïve optimism, and in retrospect, they had mistakenly invited to paddle their boat, was about to capsize it with all of them inside.
The consensus in the polity after President Mohammadu Buhari’s assessment in office after one year is that he had scored very impressive high marks in the areas of Boko Haram induced insecurity and Jonathan inspired runaway corruption that held sway during the lifetime of the previous administration. As candidate Buhari, the General from Daura (apologies to Tatalo Alamu) said on the campaign trail that the focus of his administration---if he was elected president---would be mainly concentrated on obliterating the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists, stopping and killing corruption in its ruinous track and repositioning the economy for enduring and sustainable national development. Reversing these tripartite abnormalities, coupled with the personal integrity that Nigerians have never seen in any of their leaders---dead or alive---became the clincher that resonated and fired the willingness of the electorates to participate in the presidential election like never before.
One would have thought that the retrogressive forces that threw everything at Buhari in order to stop him---including another mischievous behind-the-scene suggestion of an interim national government in which a major political force in the southwest would be its deputy chairman but was shot down---would have caved in most especially after the most heart-wrenching revelations of corruption probably never seen in human history. But almost from Day One after his inauguration, Buhari was being taunted for his inability to bring a rabbit out of a hat. And on the Hundredth Day when no one reported a miracle of any kind, those that are afraid of the consequences of their actions during the Jonathan administration and their cheerleaders were at daggers drawn. They didn’t spare Buhari as they carved out such unsavoury monikers as “Baba Go Slow,” “Mr. Body Language president” and “one-man” government, among others to underscore the president’s baseless non-performance indicators.
One would have also thought that a man whose administration pummelled and reduced Boko Haram from a significant non-state actor that controlled 14 out of 17 local government areas in Borno State---what the previous administration of the “Azonto dancer” from Otuoke could not accomplish in four years---to a soft-target, hit-and-run suicide bombing terror network in less than one year would have been applauded for gallantry and purposeful leadership. But no, they also expected Buhari to perform magic on the economy within a year as if the country has an economy worthy of the name before he came into power. Whoever heard of an economy---no matter the strength of its fundamentals---that is not only trapped in unpredictable orgy of violence from all angles, but had also been viciously assaulted by the most virulent corruption strain never known to man to have bounced back within 365 days after a change of leadership. As if the president’s attempt to redirect a vacuous economy whose health and wellbeing depend on so many external factors upon which the government virtually have no control from a dying commodity into a self-generating, self-induced and sustainable economy that can stand the test of time is not tasking enough, the new swan-song now is the ubiquitous “restructuring” that Buhari should implement sooner rather than later. It is not enough that within one year of the administration of the gaunt General from Daura that the Boko Haram Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group have been subdued and humbled and it’s just a matter of time before it is completely vaporised out of existence. They’re also not impressed that within the same spate of time, an economy that---unknown to many Nigerians---was on life-support under Jonathan due to the debilitating effects of corruption so nauseating that the president “outed” his own military constituency---which until now would be considered an abomination and a death knell of any Nigerian government (military or civilian), is now recovering under intensive care.
The pressure on President Buhari to restructure the polity with automatic alacrity was a result of the new waves of insecurity by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) in its relentless blowing up of pipelines that has significantly reduced the production of crude oil in the south-south, and the restlessness of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in its demand for a Republic of Biafra. While one cannot contest the necessity for a fundamental restructuring of Nigeria’s political economy, it’s patently disingenuous, if not mischievous by those beating the restructuring drum at this material time---such as the Afenifere grandees that has never hidden their disdain for Buhari as well as the Ohanaeze group when they’re yet to call the spade by its proper name. To be sure, the new insecurity challenges that the nation is facing, which Buhari is equally up to the task in confronting, has absolutely nothing to do with their advertised desire for self-determination, but the ultimate card that must be played by those who had been warned to be afraid of the consequences of their actions by Buhari.
One most definitely would have applauded the patriotism that runs through the veins of these advocates of restructuring the polity at this time if they had exhibited the high decibel they deployed in calling for restructuring to condemn the NDA and IPOB in their treasonable criminal acts. The root reason for these new and improved but deadly agitations has everything to do with Buhari as the country’s chief of state.
If the truth must be told, the so-called “Avengers” and the “Biafrans” are up in arms because of Buhari’s audacity to not only stop them from continuing the bleeding of the country they started under the Jonathan government, but also his effrontery to prosecute their leading lights that engaged in the most reckless and unimaginable heist in an administration in which these two geo-political regions were predominant. The truth of the matter is that the “Avengers” would not have had anything to avenge, and neither would the “Biafrans” have called for a separate republic if Jonathan had won re-election. They also would have been happy campers if Buhari had simply ignored past corruption as he was advised to do immediately after he became the president. We need to have the presence of mind here that the rotten apple of these new insurgents did not fall too far from the Jonathan corruption tree.
It should be recalled here that the old power formation in the South-south geo-political region, as well as the new one created by Jonathan when he became the president which gained ascendance through violence and criminality, made no pretence about the fact that they wanted Jonathan to be allowed two terms almost since Day One of his administration. About a year into his administration even when it had become obvious that Jonathan was the worst president who continued to bungle his presidency in every unimaginable ways that the blind could see, they were not deterred. Their leading lights took advertisements in virtually all the country’s newspapers that their son must be allowed to preside over the country at all costs. The criminal wing of this power formation got emboldened after its patron opened the nation’s treasury for its members to feast upon that they threatened fire and brimstone---literally---should Jonathan be denied a second term whether or not he won the presidential ballot. We must also recall that this threat was taken all the way to the very day of the presidential election when the ballots were still being counted. We also must not forget that asinine statement by Jonathan when all entreaties from the likes of Kukah and Oritsejaor to Buhari to rescind his decision to probe his administration failed. The former president had said that in case Buhari was still bent on probing his government for corruption, the new president should also investigate the corruption practices of the past administrations before him as if Buhari took over from all these past leaders. If the president’s traducers could not be persuaded that the new insecurity bedevilling the nation has nothing to do with the loss of the presidential election, one hopes that they can now be convinced with the recent demand of the “Avengers” that the president must turn off his corruption search light on their leading lights before there can be any ceasefire from them.
If there was any geopolitical region that saw Jonathan as their most beloved in whose presidency they were well pleased, even more than the south-south region from where the former president was issued, it’s none other than the southeast geopolitical zone. The southeast did not hide its ecstasy for Jonathan and his government. The region became so enthusiastic about Jonathan that he was called their kinsman. They wasted no time in telling the rest of the country that the former president is Igbo because his name is Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. They boasted that Buhari would never be Nigeria’s president as Jonathan would receive every single vote from their region. They made good on that boast. What is more, as the presidential election drew near, MASSOB’s Nwazuruike, the organization that birthed IPOB read what could have been better described as the riot act to the Igbo nation to vote for Jonathan. Nwazuruike’s admonition was later to be followed by another injunction from the president of the Igbo Leaders of Thought Prof. Ben Nwabueze that it would be in the “best economic interest of the Igbo nation” to re-elect Jonathan.
Having fought as if their very existence depended on Jonathan’s re-election to no avail, some of the leading lights of the Igbo nation, including Nwabueze, started to make overtures to Buhari. It should be recalled that Nwabueze it was, who accosted president Buhari on his way to his first visit to the United States and told him to forget about prosecuting the Jonathan administration for corruption and “let bygone be bygone.” It’s either that these prominent Igbos went into overdrive for their leading lights that served in the Jonathan administration because they probably knew intrinsically that they would be well represented in Buhari’s corruption dragnet, or they were pressured by the looters themselves to intercede for them. Could Nwabueze and other so-called Igbo Leaders of Thought had wanted Buhari to “let bygone be bygone” because they’re well aware of the natural predisposition for uncontrollable greed of their kinsmen? One may, unfortunately, have to make this assertion now that Nigerians have seen how one of their leading lights had demonstrated that he would rather chew papers for the rest of his days than to vomit his own share of the loot from Sambo Dasuki.
When it dawned on them that Buhari was proving as ever, to be a hard nut to crack, they enlisted the clergy such as Cardinal Anthony Olubumni-Okogie and Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah with the hope that their cassocks would bring the miracle that would turn the president’s heart against his own promise to the Nigerian people to kill corruption before it kills the country. Cardinal Okogie made broadsides and berated the president’s corruption fight while Bishop Kukah opined that it was unnecessary for him to pursue his corruption fight since Jonathan did something “spectacular” when he conceded defeat even when the votes were still being counted. Nigerians now know that the “spectacular” thing that Jonathan truly did was not that telephone call he made to the president-designate then, but the spectacular corruption that happened on his watch. It is important to make these recollections in order to bring the point home that these new insecurities are specially designed not only to force Buhari to capitulate on his corruption drive that has many layers out which one layer has so far been exposed to the Nigerian people, but to render his government ineffectual before the Nigerian electorates and the international community.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s latest commentary on governance in what Festus Eriye on Sunday, June 5 in his column called “his powerful but pregnant intervention” at a book presentation written by Chido Onumah is another attestation that Buhari is deliberately being assaulted on all fronts, even from within his own political camp in order to break his back. Atiku’s “pregnant intervention” was not because the country is not working it seems to me, but that Nigerians may feel that the country is not working under Buhari. Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen. The Turaki Adamawa made the sweeping remarks that all but said president Buhari may not only have the presence of mind to lead the nation out of the morass in which he himself has been, and continues to be an integral part, but may have started sending coded signals to NASS in which his sympathisers are legion (because he was one of those behind-the-scene that facilitated the chambers’ coup de grace), including the two heads of the chambers’ leadership to start thinking about extra-constitutional measures if the president would not soft-pedal on his war on corruption.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was reported to have said at the book presentation that: “If I had won, I would have sold 10 percent shares in the NNPC; that will give me 20 billion dollars which would build infrastructure for the Niger Delta but we will always end up with accidental leadership.” As if that statement was not an affirmation that the Niger Delta Avengers are genuinely aggrieved and that they have enough justification for blowing up the nation’s economic assets out of existence, the former vice president added another clincher when he said: “Here we come back to the same economic challenges that are facing the country but we also have a leadership that is not prepared to learn from the past and the leadership that is not prepared to lead.” His reference to “accidental leadership” could only mean the bitterness that he probably cannot forget in a hurry in which the rigging he had perfected at the APC presidential primary convention was frustrated at the very last minute before balloting started.
Pray, what exactly was in Atiku’s mind in that erroneous postulation that the country is once again saddled with “a leadership that is not prepared to learn from the past?” What should Buhari have learnt from the despicable past that sucked us into this agonising present that has made the country’s immediate future to be very bleak? Was it the president’s attempt in 1985 to set Nigeria on the path of greatness through probity, societal discipline, sound economic management and good work ethics that was effectively terminated by a military putsch in which the same Col. Sambo Dasuki whose National Security Office was turned into an ATM machine was also his “arrestor” the past that Atiku wanted Buhari to have learned from? In what way has Atiku Abubakar found the present leadership “not prepared to lead?” These are some of the questions that Atiku should help us find answers to in his next book presentation.
While there’s no doubt that the former vice president’s insidiously negative comments were a hit below the president’s belt, Atiku had unequivocally blown the first trumpet that he will, once again, fight in 2019 with or without Buhari. His intervention at this book presentation was also a clarion call to the fifth columnists in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to begin to circle their wagons against the Buhari presidency of which the implosion of the party would be one of the inevitable resultant effects. Nigerians should expect the birth of a newAPC in which Atiku and Saraki would be two of the arrowheads. With these reckless commentaries coming from one of the major pillars of the party, most especially this early in the life of the administration, it may not be inconceivable that Atiku and his cohorts are deliberately, methodically, and strategically causing the Nigerian people to feel that Buhari’s government is hopeless and helpless for the military to take a second glance at intruding into the nation’s body politic should the president insist on shaming the criminal political class without let or hindrance. This may sound far-fetched to some minds, but Nigerians cannot lose sight of the fact that Buhari has once again taken on a more ruthless criminal political class in the 21st century just as he attempted to do in the 20th century before he was snuffed out of power.
The above assertion is also being made against the backdrop of how the Jonathan presidency was so tormented by Buhari’s prospect of winning the presidential election that, in a hysterical outburst, announced to the world that it would rather prefer the military to take over than to have Buhari at the helm of affairs of this country again. The new insecurity challenges from the Niger Delta in which the NDA has vowed to reduce oil production to “zero” and making good on that threat, with its twin IPOB sister in the southeast that Buhari must deal with and prevail over may very well be indicative of the deadly corruption fight-back that may have reached its crescendo.
The most enduring and probably the greatest legacy that Buhari can bequeath the Nigerian masses that their generations yet unborn would forever be grateful is not only the pursuit of this corruption war more relentlessly as long as he remains the president of this republic, but also a complete desolation of the camp of the criminal political class that had held this country by the jugular for so long that it would be impossible for them to regroup. Nigerians give their support to Buhari’s presidency not because it wants a perfect government. And neither did they think for a moment that this government would not make its own mistakes. But considering what they now know, they’re rest assured that this government’s mistakes will pale, and infinitesimally insignificant in comparison to the 16 years of unimaginable socio-economic rot into which these criminal elements and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) deliberately and disdainfully subjected the country and her people.
Femi Odere is a media practitioner. He can be reached at [email protected]