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Published On: Mon, Oct 15th, 2018

The Buhari era:  How the president is reshaping Nigeria after his own image

President Muhammadu Buhari

 By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA

On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, and there were great expectations from Nigerians. While campaigning, the Daura-born president centred his campaign on five focal points: building the nation’s infrastructures, job creation, revamping the economy, providing security and fighting corruption.

After 16 years of dashed hopes under successive Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administrations, Nigerians hinged their hopes on President Buhari, largely because of his much hyped pedigree of integrity, dedication and commitment to the Nigerian project.

However, barely three and half years into his administration, Nigerians have found it difficult to assess the legacies of the president who will be seeking reelection for another four years in office on February 16, 2019.

While his die-hard supporters see him as a miracle worker who has turned around the fortune of the country and directed it back on the path to prosperity, his opponents however depict him as  the worst thing that ever happened to Nigeria. Today, Nigerians are now divided into two groups: the so-called hailers and wailers.

While Business Hallmark can confirm that President Buhari’s administration has impacted on several sectors and on the lives of Nigerians, they are however, largely limited to the advancement of Northern interest.

Contrary to the expectations of Nigerians, President Buhari’s administration’s, with its policies and actions, is pushing for the redistribution of wealth from the South to the North and transforming the nation into an Islamic country. The move, political observers argued, is going to shape the future of Nigeria.

To achieve the goal of perpetuating Northern dominance in the nearest future, several policies are being blatantly implemented. They include lopsided appointments into federal positions, massive concentration of projects and infrastructure in the North, the push for cattle colonies, inequitable implementation of the CBN’s Anchors Borrowers Scheme, the controversial bill on water resources and many others.

The most worrisome facet of the Buhari legacy, according to BH findings, is Nigeria’s gradual decent into an Islamic state. Despite the fact that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, upon which the Nigeria state is predicated and governed, proclaims unequivocally, the secular status of the Nigerian federation, the federal government has continued to tilt its policies towards Northernization and Islamisation of the country in a move at foisting a state religion on Nigerians.

 BH checks show that there have been brash efforts to position and posture Nigeria as an Islamic state. This is coming as no surprise to many as some top officials in the Buhari administration had severally professed a desire to ensure the application of Shari’a laws across a secular Nigeria.

One of such impetuous actions is the involvement of the Federal Government in promoting, championing and facilitating the SUKUK (Shari’a-compliant) Bonds, an unconstitutional move in itself since the Federal Government was deploying state resources in a discriminatory manner towards the promotion and elevation of a religious faith contrary to the provisions of Nigeria’s constitution.

Rattled by negative reactions that greeted the action, the Buhari government made unconvincing efforts to douse the implications of the Federal Government involvement in a strictly religious financial instrument. One of such is the positioning of the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele (a Christian) as the Chairman of the International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILMC).

Not done with floating and dealing in the SUKUK Bonds, the president in October 2017 attended a meeting of the ‘D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation’, a group comprised of the following Islamic countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan and, you guessed right, Nigeria.

The Convener, Colloquium against Genocides, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (CAGWCCAH), Eze Eluchie, said that it would take a blind mind not to discern a worrisome pattern of gradual Islamization of the country, which he warned portends dire outcomes if not stemmed early enough.

“There is nothing wrong with a people hobnobbing with whosoever they so desire to be with. When however an entire multi-ethnic and multi-religious contraption is by deceit, subterfuge, sleuth and all manners of vague posturing ensnared into being perceived, seen or become a religious state, a transgenerational catastrophe would have been ignited.

“How and when did Nigeria get into this D-8 group, which in its website affirms that the ‘idea of cooperation among major Muslim developing countries was mooted by Prof. Dr. Necmettin Erbakan, former Prime Minister of Turkey?

“From what sources does the membership fees for such religion-based organizations emanate in a secular Nigeria?

“When the above is juxtaposed alongside a very striking religion-based slant in leadership of state institutions and coming on the heels of Nigeria’s continuing membership of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), it will take a spectacularly blind mind not to discern a worrisome pattern that if not stemmed early enough, portends dire ending.

The Buhari government is also pushing for northern dominance through the Anchor Borrowers Programme. It would be recalled that the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), launched the Anchor-Borrowers Scheme to finance large production of grains in an effort to boost local production of rice, maize, wheat and sorghum. The program was designed to assist small scale farmers to increase the production and supply of feedstock to agro-processors.

The programme was launched in November 2016 in 14 states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano, Zamfara, Admawa, Plateau, Lagos, Ogun, Cross-Rivers and Ebonyi for rice and wheat farmers to advance their status from small holder farmers to commercial or large growers.

However, farmers from the southern part of the country have cried out that the scheme is skewed in favour of northern farmers.

“The scheme is a farce. We were happy when we learnt about it. But we now know better. It was primarily designed to help farmers in the North while their southern counterparts are abandoned. Most of us (southern farmers) have not been able to access funds and farm tools through the scheme. From Ogun to Cross River, to Ebonyi and Anambra, the story is the same. We are getting no support from the government.

“While they gave us stringent conditions to access funds and planting stocks from the CBN’s scheme, Northern farmers easily access their own funds without any difficulty and are always smiling to the bank at the end of every planting season.

“The Federal Government is also pushing billions to reactivate and construct dams and irrigation systems in the North to favour northern farmers. Most farmers in the north can now cultivate their farm throughout the year with the help of irrigation system from government-funded dams. The dams in the South, like the one in Sepeteri, in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State and Oyan in Ogun State are in deplorable states.

“Yes, the scheme has recorded some success, but only in the North”, fumed Dr. Moses Ogundimu, the South West Secretary of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN).

Ogundimu argued that for Nigeria to be self-sustainable in food production, the ABP should be extended to the region as well as every state in the country.

Ogundimu’s expectations are farfetched as the anchor borrowers’ scheme is primarily tailored to benefit the North, it was gathered. Any eventual benefits to southern farmers will be inadvertent

In its quest to perpetuate northern dominance, the Buhari administration is also daily filling federal positions with people of Northern extractions. For example, 81 of Buhari’s 100 first set of appointments in July 2015 were Northerners. Many Nigerians saw the appointments as divisive and heavily tilted in favour of the North and against the South. They pointed out that the appointments violated the Federal Character Principle of the Nigerian Constitution.

The northerners in the first batch of appointments were the sacked Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; former Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mrs. Amina Zakari (who succeeded Prof. Attahiru Jega, a northerner, and had since been replaced by another northerner (Prof. Mahmood Yakubu); the Director, Department of Petroleum Resources, Mordecai Danteni Baba Ladan and the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.

 

Also in the batch were the President’s Chief Security Officer, Abdulrahman Mani; State Chief of Protocol, Abdullahi Kazaure; Aide-De-Camp, Lt.-Col. Muhammed Abubakar; and the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu. Only Adesina, who hails from Osun State in the South-West, came from the South.

 

The President would later on June 23, 2016, get another CSO, Abdulkarim Dauda (who replaced Mani), and Officer in Charge of Presidential Movement, Kayode Sikiru Akande, after their promotion from the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police to Deputy Commissioner of Police.

 

Rather than abate, the situation has gone worse. Findings showed that 15 of the nation’s 17 security agencies are currently being headed by northerners; only two are from the South, while the majority of them were appointed by President Buhari.

 

For instance, the current Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), under whose purviews are the Nigeria Prisons Service, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Federal Fire Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, hails from Kaduna State.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, is from Borno State. The National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), is also from Borno State. Also from Borno State is the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

The Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan Ali (retd), hails from Zamfara State, while the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, is from Bauchi State. The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, hails from Niger State.

Also from Niger State is the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu. The Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Musa Daura, is from Katsina State. All of them are from the North.

However, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, is from Ekiti State in the South-West. Also from the North are the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, (Jigawa State); the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retd.) (Bauchi State); the Controller-General of the Nigeria Prison Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed (Kebbi State); and the Federal Road Safety Commission boss, Corps Marshal Boboye Oyeyemi, is from Kwara State. But the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (Cross River State) is from the South.

 

Like in the security sector, virtually all major government parastatals are headed by Northerners. They include the NNPC, Nigeria Customs Service, Immigration Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, NHIS, DSS, NDIC, among others. Findings also show that massive recruitments of candidates of northern extraction

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