President Muhammadu Buhari fiddles while Nigeria burns. The truth of this phrase lies in its evocative description of national chaos, crisis, disaster, and failed leadership that have become permanent features of Buhari's regime. In the history of a nation, each historical moment presents a distinct set of problems for its current leader. Each leader in different ways and with varying degrees of success sees himself as a protector and provider for his people.
President Buhari faced the task of renewing Nigeria after the unprecedented rupture of socioeconomic problems and political conflicts of Jonathan years. Open looting and corruption binge had produced significant anxiety, unrest, and fear. Even today, these anxieties have become more potent and combustible. The criticisms and condemnation of Buhari capture the tale of his abysmal performance.
The reputation of Buhari has vaporized like his administration. Driven by myopic northern hegemonic order, a visceral longing to be president and obsessive inaction, he poisoned the Nigerian political atmosphere with his cowardice, hypocrisy, and nepotism. Many of us who campaigned for him have been consumed by guilt and shame that we have settled for a subtle, primitive tribalist who is addicted to parochial and selective governance. His indifference, inaction, and palpable slowness atrophied his physical courage. His bias and prejudice undermined his moral courage.
The importance of any government lies in the security and protection which government has been devised to provide. Government is a means to an end, not an end itself. Candor, concern, transparency, truth, decisiveness are characteristics of a good leader. Dishonesty, deception, and pessimism ridicule a leader.
In his new year address to a restless, jobless, hungry, hopeless, and jittery citizens, Buhari's speech adds insult to injury. There's nothing elevating, inspiring, or comforting in the speech. The particular one that sets off the antennae of Nigerians is the reference to the burning issue of restructuring. “When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered,” Buhari argues, “my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than restructure,” says Buhari.
The summation of his “aggregate opinions” is not only untenable and unreasonable, it's a false and fraudulent claim. In fact, the reverse is true: the overwhelming opinion of Nigerians support restructure. To put it diplomatically, Buhari is dishonest in his assessment of the Nigerian situation.
Mr. President, what do you mean by process? What has process got to do with restructuring? Are you substituting process for restructuring? Process for what? The process of governance or process of restructuring? You sound like you have been away from Nigeria since the very day you moved to Aso Rock. Even the illiterate of illiterates by now knows what restructure means and why Nigerians want devolution of power. I'm sure you know what restructure means. But because of your oath of allegiance to Hausa-Fulani oligarchy and to perpetuate a feudal anachronistic regime, it's safer for you to feign ignorance of the term restructuring.
Restructure is not negotiable. Except for the herdsmen, no one is buying Buhari's offer that restructuring will happen after the elections. Why not now? Nigerians have become wiser. Buhari cannot fool us this time around. He has betrayed our trust. His political capital squandered. He's callous, insensitive, and unmoved to what happens to Nigeria and Nigerians as long as he's the president and as long as Hausa-Fulani controls the machinery of government. He lost it – big time!
It's obvious that Buhari has no plan to move Nigeria forward. He's not ready to embrace the needed reforms and transformation that will unite and keep Nigeria as one nation. He has subscribed to cowardice and nepotism as new normal in the Nigeria political engagement. Buhari is a classic example of a leader who lacks the courage to do the right thing. He yields to his lesser self and fails to do the right thing.
The cowardice of a leader at the very top is disheartening as it is damaging. Buhari promised change, instead, we're given chaos. He promised to kill corruption before corruption kills us. Corruption has not only killed us, we're buried under the rubble of corruption. He promised security, but we've never been more open to insecurity. The country is worse off today than at any other time. One of the most important attributes of a good leader is the willingness to seek feedback and listen. It's also important for a leader to have the humility to expose his views to scrutiny and analysis and to engage feedback on same.
Buhari should welcome criticism and correction and must be willing to embrace restructure in the face of compelling wisdom for restructuring articulated by Nigerians. Buhari lacks the capacity to say what needs to be done. A good leader shows he's fearless and willing to sacrifice himself. A good leader is capable of expressing what needs to be said.
A courageous leader knows he's not omnipotent or omniscient, and he's not fazed by the idea that others may be better at some things than him. But more importantly, he knows he can benefit from the ideas of others. It is a coward and insecure leader who is unable to accept suggestions, advice, or contributions of public opinion. A leader must be able to hold others and oneself accountable.
From time to time, the break up of Nigeria becomes inevitable to many of us who believe that “In the course of human events, it is necessary for one people to dissolve the political band which have connected them.” We're in one of those periods now. Those who still see future or unity in one Nigeria, are deluded, ignorant, blind, and unrealistic. They don't know what's real, what's possible, and can't differentiate fact from fiction.
President Buhari looks the other way while his kinsmen – Fulani herdsmen – have turned Benue and other states in the country to killing fields. It is evident that he tacitly approved the killings. With his waffling, wobbling, and shuffling, on restructure, and the genocide carried out by Fulani herdsmen, President Buhari hastens Nigeria's break up.