President Buhari

By OLUSESAN LAOYE

The emerging security challenges in the South west may have given President Muhammadu Buhari a black eye. For a man who came to power on the massive support of the region is turning to a persona non grata as his popularity which gave him two elections has suddenly turned to notoriety and infamy.

Before 2015 he was of little political consequence in the south west but the alliance with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the formation of APC changed all that and made the man to beat. The had  tried  to rule the country, but  his limitations which  revolves round  the North, especially  North  West, made  his presidential ambition impossible.

But the honey moon with the region seems to be in its twilight as 2023 approaches but especially the rising insecurity in the region and other parts of the country which the president has proved incapable or indifferent to tackle.  The turning point was the murder of the daughter of the leader of Afenifere, the Pan Yoruba social cultural group, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin in July,which sparked off a gale of protests and agitations against Buhari.

This was followed last week with the RevolutionNow protest and the pre-emptive arrest and detention of the organiser, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.

The formation of the APC as a political  party between the  CPC, which he led  and the ACN led by Tinunbu and other fringe parties such as the  ANPP, faction  of APGA and  later  the new PDP with  Alhaji  Atiku  Abubakar and Olusola  Saraki with five governors became the game changer. The role of the South west was crucial as the strongest partner in the alliance.

Before  then, the  impression was that  he  was a dictator  and Islamic funder and Fulani irredentist  who  believed in a section of the Nigeria alone. He was not  accepted  in the  south  west  because  of the  role  he played  as a military  head of state in 1983  when  he  jailed  politicians in the region  and  other  parts  of the  country.

His obnoxious  decree, especially Decrees 2 and 4 which  empowered them to detain people without trial and also clamp down on  journalists and eventually  led  to the  imprisonment  of Messrs Tunde  Thompson and  Nduka  Irabor of the  Guardian newspapers for publishing factual but embarrassing report of public officials.  This made him unpopular and worked against him  since  2003 till  2015.

It was after the ACN platform controlled  by Asiwaju  Ahmed  Bola Tinubu  repackaged him and through a sustained propaganda campaign that changed  the  impression Nigerians had about  him.  The  South  west  APC  used  all  the  machineries  at its disposal – the  press, civil societies and  moved  round  the  traditional  rulers  to convinced  them that he had turned  a democrat.

He too made the entire world believed that he had changed during the Chatham House lecture just before the election and all what was being said about him was  blackmail and cheap propaganda.

What  actually  worked  for  him was  that  those  who repackaged  him  calculated  to watch  the  mood  of the  nation which  was  tasty  for  Change. The  propaganda was  that  he  was  the  only  one  at  that  moment  who could  turn  the  fortune  of Nigeria  around, especially, the  fight  against  corruption and insurgency in the north east.

He  and his party  made  a lot  of promises to make  life  better  for  the  people and  to an extent some Nigerians  saw him  as the  messiah. But  now, the general impression and belief is that he has not delivered especially  his  lopsided  appointments  into  key  areas which  favoured  a section  of Nigeria.

Judging  by  his  performance politically since 2015 when the South  West  was  involved, he was  not  popular as his electoral performances were  very  low and  he  was  not in any way  regarded  as a factor politically.  Even when he contested  against  his  brother  in Umaru  Yar’Adua in 2007,  he lost. His votes  were  nothing  to write  home  about in the  South  west  compared  to what  he  got in 2015  when  Tinubu  and  others  sold  him  to the  Region  with ACN.

Although he won the last election in the region his fortunes declined. In 2015 in Ondo, he scored 299,889 compared  to 241,769 in 2019; in Oyo in 2015 he had 528,620 against 365,299 in 2019; Ogun, it was 2015..308,290 vs. 2019..281,762; Osun 2015.compared to383,603.in 2019..347,674; Lagos  2015..792,460..2019..580,825; and Ekiti 2015..176,466. 2019..219,231.

What  has  even  happened  since May 2919 when  he  was  sworn in for  a second  term  has  further  diminished  his popularity  among  his followers , who  believed that  some  of his  actions  are  detrimental  to the  people  of the  South  West  and  against  the  earlier  principles which they  had in 2915.

One  major  policy  which  got the  people  of the south  west  really  angry  was the  idea  of Ruga  settlement  for  his Fulani  tribe  across  the  country. This  made  all  well  meaning  people  in the  zone  to come  out  with  one  voice  to reject it.  The  likes  of Professor  Wole  Soyinka,  Chief  Olusegun  Obasanjo ,  all the  political  and  socio-cultural groups,  traditional  rulers  and  institutions  rose up against  it.

What  worsened the  situation  now  is the  invasion and kidnapping  of the  people  of the  South  West.  These  recent  incidents did  not  only  affected  his  popularity but  credibility  as  a national  leader.  People  in the  region  now  see  him as  a leader  for  his  own  ethnics  group alone  because  they  are  yet  to  be convinced  about  the  rationale  behind  Ruga  and  other related  policies  mapped  out  to favour  only  the  Fulanis,  especially  the  herdsmen.

All those  who  reacted  to his  present  position  in the  country  as  they affect  the  South  West,  expressed  disappointments, saying  that  they  thought  he  has  changed and  condemned  what  they  described as  his nepotism in handling the  affairs  of Nigeria, at the  expense  of other  tribes.

The  Deputy  National Publicity  secretary  of  the  People’s  Democratic Party, PDP,  Mr.  Diran Odeyemi said  that the  actions  of President Buhari now  serve those  who packaged  him as  a democrat  and  sold  him  to the  South  West  right,  because  they  have  now  realised  that  President  Buhari  would  never protect  their  interests  and that of their people. He argued  that  as far  as  he  was  concerned he  knew  his policy  would  not  favour  the  South  West  and  that  was  why people  like them  worked  hard  to ensure  that the  PDP  candidate  got there  but  unfortunately the  election  was  massively  rigged.

One  of the  governorship  aspirants in Oyo  state in 2015, Princess  Sangodoyin  had  also  said  that  the  people  were  disappointed  in Buhari,  saying that  the  issue  of Ruga  and the  intention  to take  up  the  water  ways  in the  country are  issues  which  made  the  president look  like  a sectional  leader.

She  said  that  what  the  president  should  be  thinking  is how to  improve  education,  health  care  delivery  system,   agriculture, deplorable environmental  situation in the  country and  youth  employment.

Also  former  governor  of Oyo State  Senator  Rashidi  Ladoja said  that  the  president  is no longer popular even  among  his  own  people  in the south  west,.  He said  his  Ruga  policy  which  has  been suspended,   got  a lot  of people  angry saying  that  there  was  no need  for it because the  people  of the  region  have  been living  peacefully  together for  decades with  the  Fulanis and  even  they  used  to interact when  he was  young.

It will  be  recalled  that in the last one  month  the South  west  has  been  under siege  with  the  alleged invasion  and  kidnapping  of innocent  people  by the  herdsmen. This then  fuelled  the  anger  of the  people  against  the  present government  for  not being  sensitive  to the   security  challenges  of the  region.  This then informed the  security  submit  held  by the  six  governors  in the region , several  meetings  by pressure  groups  and  organisations and  the  traditional  rulers.

This  was  followed  by  the  visit  of the  Ooni  of Ife  Oba Adeyeye  Enitan  Ogunwusi Ojaja II to President  Muhammadu  Buhari  in Abuja  and  later an enlarger traditional  rulers  also  led  by Ooni of Ife at the instance of the Vice president Prof.YemiOsinbajo.

What  actually  showed  clearly is that  the  South  West in unison have  come together to reject Ruga  and  the  perceived invasion  by the  Fulanis of the  region was  the  historic  letter  to President  Buhari  by the  Alaafin  Of Oyo  Oba  Lamidi Adeyemi III. That letter  was  a strong  signal that  the  region  would  not  tolerate  any  government  policy  that  would  put  them  in bondage.

 

 

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