If President Muhammadu Buhari is truly interested in amending his prejudiced ways, he would withdraw to his inner chamber and spend quality time reading the 2022 Easter Epistle of the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah. Our dear President should also call for the audio recording of the interview the Sokoto Bishop subsequently granted Arise News and deeply listen to the Kukah message. This is what is expected from a genuine patriot. But I doubt if it would ever happen. I very much doubt if Buhari is interested in amending his unpatriotic ways. He can’t claim to love Nigeria so much, yet encourages frightening insecurity, corruption and division in the country. Our dear President deliberately bungled Nigeria’s diversity.
For me, the heavy criticism of Buhari by Bishop Kukah is just and nationalistic. He spoke for millions of voiceless and worried Nigerians. Kukah, a man that truly loves this country is heartbroken by a failed President. Nigeria is broken. Seven years of the Buhari Presidency have broken this country. Kukah is right! Every aspect of life in Nigeria has been destroyed while corruption is enthroned. We have never been this broken as a country. I often shed tears for my broken country.
Inconsolable Kukah remarked: “With everything literally broken down, our country has become one big emergency national hospital with full occupancy. Our individual hearts are broken. Our family dreams are broken. Homes are broken. Churches, Mosques, and infrastructure are broken. Our educational system is broken. Our children’s lives and future are broken. Our politics is broken. Our economy is broken. Our energy system is broken. Our security system is broken. Our Roads and Rails are broken. Only corruption is alive and well.”
As I pen this piece, 68 abducted train passengers are languishing in the dungeon of terrorists. This is the broken security Kukah talked about. These innocent Nigerians, a pregnant woman and five children inclusive, are today 27 days old in the forest, with the terrorists pummeling them. These extremists derailed a train, killed eight people on the spot and abducted scores of people, all without consequences. They even made a video mocking everybody. Our Commander-in Chief has failed these people. The Nigerian state has never been this weak. What a country!
Under Buhari, terrorists are roaming freely in the North-west, maiming and killing. Criminal herders and kidnappers continue to maul Nigerians. Boko Haram terrorists have also become emboldened under the Buhari government, expanding territories with intense carnage. In Borno State, the epicenter of Boko Haram, 20 of the 27 local governments are unsafe. Last Wednesday, Boko Haram ransacked Geidam, Yobe State, killing 11 people. They also set ablaze the Government Science and Technical School in Geidam.
This country’s economy is in shreds, and under Buhari, continues to suffer, with no hope in sight. This is the broken economy Kukah talked about in his Epistle. Thousands of businesses are gasping for breath. Many have closed shop. At one point, inflation was almost at an unparalleled 18.72 per cent. Note that Buhari, in 2015, inherited an inflation rate of 8.7 per cent.
The waning economy has pushed millions of Nigerians below the poverty line. Joblessness has worsened with millions losing jobs in the last seven years. The sad news is that Nigeria has surpassed India as the country with the largest number of people living in life-threatening poverty in the world. This is an insignia of disgrace that should task Buhari. Regrettably, he is untroubled.
The Naira, our symbol of nationhood, is now in tatters. Yesterday, it was trading at N590/$ in the real market. This is the same Naira Buhari inherited at about N220/$. Manufacturers are puffing for survival, while providing their own electricity, water, road and security. Power supply is still one big mess. This is the only country in the world where the national grid often collapses like a house of cards. Buhari promised to increase generation to 10,000MW within his first term. Seven years after, this is still a mirage.
What about Buhari’s war against corruption that has turned out to be a scam? This is what Kukah affirmed by saying “only corruption is alive and well” under Buhari. The United States’ 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices gives a ready answer to this Buhari incongruity called war against corruption, by avowing massive sleaze in Nigeria under Buhari’s watch. This report only emphasised what many of us had always known about Buhari’s anti-corruption scam. I persistently point out the flaws, with a long list of untamed sleazes – NNPCgate, Maihajagate, Mainagate, Barugate, Yusufgate, Babachirgate and the rest of them.
In this country, a serving army chief under Buhari bought a $2 million property in Dubai and shamelessly defended it with impunity. What about the re-looting of recovered Abacha loot under Buhari’s watch? Despite outcry, dubious fees amounting to $17 million were allegedly paid to two lawyers for the recovery of $321 million stolen by former military ruler, Sani Abacha.
Money gobbling has been the name of NNPC’s game under Buhari. The memo written by the former Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu on sleaze at the corporation remains fresh in my memory. Expenses on the provocative School Feeding Programme of the Buhari government are likewise dizzying. Spending on the N-Power Scheme, another arm of FG’s Social Investment Programme, has also been puzzling. This scheme gulped N421 billion between 2016 and 2020.
For me, the biggest sin Buhari has committed against this country within his seven years as President is the division created with his frightening clannishness. This is what Kukah described as the greatest challenge facing Nigeria, adding, “Here, the Buhari administration, sadly, has divided our people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and region, in a way that we have never witnessed in our history. This carefully choreographed agenda has made Nigerians vulnerable and ignited the most divisive form of identity consciousness among our people. Years of friendships, cultural exchange, and collaboration built over time have now come under serious pressure from stereotyping.”
No doubt, Buhari has spent seven years stoking our fault lines, with no respect for Federal Character in his appointments. The crooked appointments of heads of military and para-military agencies of his government have been most infuriating. Our dear President fully understands the importance of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended), and has chosen to persistently mock it. As a reminder, this section states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Skewed appointments have been responsible for the hatred across our country with unprecedented ethnic and religious divides. This is certainly not the Nigeria of our dream.
Kukah rightly declared: Nepotism is horrible; it is evil because it denies you as a leader an opportunity to hear other voices. So, you end up in an echo chamber where all of you are speaking the same language and think the same way.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s remark about Buhari’s clannishness in the early days of his government is instructive here. He said: “At no time in our history, except probably during the civil war, has Nigeria been so fractured in the feeling of oneness by the citizenry.”
We need to quickly look at facts and figures to understand the extent of Buhari’s nepotism in appointments. In Buhari’s Nigeria, most of the key federal government departments and agencies are headed by people from a section of this country. I am talking about big agencies like Customs, NPA, Pencom, NNPC, NMDPRA, FIRS, NCC, NBC, TETFund, SEC, CAC, UBEC, NIMASA, NPHCDA, FAAN, NDIC, AMCON and NUC. Buhari evidently cares less about the unity of this country.
I can safely say that under Buhari, 90 per cent of heads of military/para-military agencies are people from just a section of the country. Take away the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor and Chief of Air Staff, Isiaka Amao, and you will understand what I am saying. This is what we have: Director-General, Department of State Security, Yusuf Bishi; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Chief of Army Staff, Faruk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Zubairu Gambo; Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali; Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Mohammed Buba Marwa; Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Jere Idris; Commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ahmed Audi; Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Nigeria Baba; Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar and the Controller-General, Nigerian Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa.
Does this list smell pan-Nigeria? It is bad enough that the heads of these military and paramilitary agencies are all from the core north. It is even worse that they are all Muslims. In a country where religion remains an issue, concentrating the security apparatus in the hands of one tribe and one religion is a betrayal of trust of Christians and an affront on the Nigerian Constitution. Buhari evidently lacks the capacity to manage Nigeria’s diversity.
Those around Buhari won’t tackle him on slanted appointments. They are largely bread and butter politicians/aides who merely deliver propaganda and insults to Nigerians. They persistently abuse well-meaning Nigerians who disagree with these skewed appointments. Mr. President, these hawks are not winning friends for you. Rather, they are helping to grow the rank and file of Nigerians who genuinely hate you. Whoever wants you to succeed must persistently tell you the truth.