2023: Buhari declares support for Tinubu, begs Western nations to designate IPOB as a terrorist group
Buhari, Nigeria's president

By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU

The two- term tenures of President Muhammadu Buhari are perhaps, the most contentious in the history of Nigeria.
The administration since 2015 has upended many an official political orthodoxy, sought to rewrite rules of political engagement and heightened discussions on ethnic relations among others.

Many spoken to by this newspaper say the president needs an image makeover before his tenure ends so as to temper the verdict of history on his administration.

Perhaps at the end of his tenure next year, he will have succeeded in making Nigeria unrecognizable even by its own citizens; as so many things have changed thus turning the land into an arena of ethnic tensions and contest.

How did it begin?

Buhari is the greatest beneficiary of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s political naivety, and what some will call incompetence.

“The first minority president, Jonathan was overwhelmed by the force of the prebendal politics of the powerful political interests in the major nationalities in the country- the big three- Hausa/Fulani- Yoruba- Igbo, his inability to counterbalance one against the other, his inchoate understanding of the country’s configuration among others all coalesced to help Buhari into power”, says Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political scientist.

“Unfortunately, Buhari had a personal agenda different from the official All Progressives Congress’s agenda, his agenda was full of venom against what he believed to be the bloated advantages of the south over the north, which he wanted to right.

He didn’t know that it was in atmosphere of keen competition, advantage in education and the enterprising nature of southerners, especially the Igbo that made the south successful. This grudge was the central thesis of his administration”, Abiola Obatomi, political sociologist told Business Hallmark.

Between 2015 and now, many spoken to by this newspaper are agreed that the country has come off worst than when he took over from Jonathan.

Only last week, Professor Ango Abdullahi, former vice chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, and one of the top leaders of Northern Elders Forum, said the country is in bad shape under Buhari in a way it never was in the history of the country.

He made this known when he visited former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta. The elite consensus, the general feelings of the ordinary Nigerians and the business elite is that the country needs healing, a national leader who can unite the people again after what many refer to as the unprecedented division and bad blood under the current administration.
As it is now, the country needs an extreme makeover, much as the president himself needs one to redeem or salvage what Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, director of Entrepreneurship at Redeemers University, calls “a poisonous legacy”, when asked by BusinessHallmark to sum up in one phrase what the administration’s legacy would be.

“I agree that Nigeria needs an extreme makeover, much as Buhari himself needs one to salvage his legacy of ruin, a poisonous legacy of anomie – insecurity at an unprecedented levels, mass poverty, ethnic animosities, intolerance, favouritism and the fragmentation of our values that hold us together as unity in diversity.”

But unfortunately, he said, Buhari is not the man to see it through. “He doesn’t have the temperament.”

Nigerian national institutions and values have become moribund, giving rise to huge dysfunctions in the society, now the country seems to have embraced Thomas Hobbes’ thesis of “life being nasty, brutish and short” as insecurity has reached levels never imagined before, among other socioeconomic challenges.

No one ever believed Buhari would get a second term, given his national poor rating and feeling of disappointment felt by Nigerians over a botched hope of renewal under him. But like the- more-you-look the-less-you-see syndrome of the Nigerian life he won a second term in 2019.

Atiku Abubakar, his main opponent in 2019 presidential election, was riding the wave of discontent and contempt for Buhari’s tenure, packing stadiums and venues all over the nation and dominating the cyber and air waves with messages that resonated with deeply disappointed Nigerians.

Many then as now seemed desperate to get rid of Buhari, a man whose tenure has been plagued by gaffes, unforced errors, incompetence and a puzzling cluelessness that seemed to point to the challenges with his age and health.

Before 2015, many Nigerians, especially common folks in the north, and sizable number of people in the southwest saw Buhari as a god, a much misunderstood puritan, stickler for discipline and rules, and thus the right person to lead the country to sort of an Eldorado.

“Buhari’s fall from grace to grass, as we say in Nigeria, has been meteoric and eerily mimics his first coming as a military dictator in the mid-80s. Just like in 2015, he was welcomed as a saviour of sorts, but by the time he was toppled in a military coup, he was so reviled for his draconian rule and failed economic policies, relieved Nigerians rushed into the streets ululating with joy”, Professor Moritiwon intoned
The fact remains that in 2015, many Nigerians, fed up with life under president Goodluck Jonathan were willing to forgive Buhari’s past and give him a second chance.

Even, the legendary Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka who in 2007 wrote an epic piece about why Buhari did not deserve to be Nigeria’s leader ever again, recanted and cautiously endorsed Buhari.

This time around, he endorsed neither Buhari nor Atiku but has called for “a third force” of new leaders to take over from the tried and tired. Omoyele says most Nigerians are agreed that in four years under Buhari, Nigeria has lost ground in pretty much every index of governance.

Inflation has skyrocketed, the administration’s rhetoric against corruption, is nothing but rhetoric, and if anything it is seen to be selective, and in any case to the extent that it has driven money off the streets, few are impressed.

“The case of Abba Kyari and the administration’s seeming dragging of feet on extraditing or putting him on trial here is another example of phoney war on corruption which only harasses opposition figures, while the ruling class parades EFCC list of people on trial”, Omoyele said.

Today, former president Jonathan, Buhari’s predecessor, who was seen as incompetent few years ago, is riding a wave of popularity as many now remember his policies fondly. “There is even talk of his coming back, being lobbied to contest by the same administration that derided him”, Daniel Emeka, a business man told this medium.

In many ways, Buhari is the face of many things wrong with governance in Nigeria. Accountability is sorely lacking. Money remains a corrupting influence, and public institutions are unreliable . The unprecedented dysfunctions in the country has led to comments from prominent Nigerians condemning the slide into near anarchy that insecurity has become and other malaise in the society.

Even the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, who is the monarch in Buhari’s home town, lamented that “what Nigeria is experiencing now is worse than civil war.”, even as the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, CFR, declared that the North is, in his words, the “worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in the villages, households, and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is challenging them.”

The voices of concern about the state of the nation also reverberates from the southwest as the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, speaking on behalf of other Yoruba traditional rulers, including the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, and the Awujale, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, recently cried out to the president over the state of insecurity in the South West.
The lamentations of the royal fathers have been echoed by sociocultural groups across the country, including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Arewa Consultative Forum, and Afenifere.

The Northern Elders Forum has gone as far as calling for the resignation of the president. Even governors and lawmakers have joined the lamentations. From one declaration to another, and from one resolution to another, the consensus amongst these stakeholders is that Nigeria is in a state of emergency.

However, and in spite of many difficulties, the Buhari administration has grappled with the collapse in oil prices and Nigeria’s first recession in about twenty-five years. But, despite the false starts, the administration succeeded in bringing Nigeria out of recession and made some gains in security, especially in confronting Boko Haram and job creation.

On anti-corruption, the president took certain praiseworthy steps in the fight against corruption at the beginning of his administration, including the attempt to plug the loopholes in the system through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) intervention. As a result of these efforts, in 2016, Nigeria received its highest scorecard so far in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

On job creation, at the beginning of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari embarked on large-scale skill development through the N-Power programme. Under this scheme, hundreds of thousands were empowered. In addition, the government’s reform policies significantly moved Nigeria up from the 170th position in 2015 to the 131st position in 2019 on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

Through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a number of programmes were further put in place to provide take-off grants for small and medium-scale enterprises.

As part of its efforts to combat poverty, the administration deployed such programmes as the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, the TraderMoni initiative, the school feeding programme, among others. These successes, alongside visible investments in rail and road infrastructure, and such initiatives as the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, which boosted rice production, played a role in giving President Muhammadu Buhari a second term.
But Moritiwon said these efforts have been insufficient in dealing with our national problems; they have been unable to address the underlying problems of the Nigerian nation.

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