BY OKEY MUOGBO
We must acknowledge the reality that President Muhammadu Buhari belongs to that small group of people who don’t talk much but the little they speak create volcano of some sort in the society. His tacitum life is obviously not in doubt. I have seen a one-on-one interview he granted to a popular national daily newspaper which lasted for more than one hour but could hardly fill a newspaper page. Some more garrulous politicians would have given the interviewers headache looking for more pages to accommodate the whole interview.
Back to the volcanic nature of his few comments, we recall his statement as Head of State that “this generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations have no other country than this, we must remain here and salvage it together.” The weight of that statement is so striking and patriotic that it has remained one of the few statements made by Nigerian leaders that is most often reproduced. It might have been a statement passed over to him by a creative speech writer, but whoever has the discerning mind to hire a good writer is also a creative person. For that simple reason, all the credit for that patriotic quote goes to President Muhammadu Buhari. As a matter of fact, if President Buhari is able to hire such creative minds today, as General Buhari did some 20 years ago, I am sure this present administration would have run on better sure footing than it did in the last four years.
Most other statements and comments by our President, especially since 2015 when he was sworn-in as civilian President have also come as great hits, maybe not as nationalistic and patriotic as that one he made in the mid 1980s. Today, when he releases a bombshell, you either pity his Party, the APC, his Government or his aides who he makes the public believe that they are doing their jobs well.
Remember when he took on his wife, it was the bombshell of “the other room”. When he went to abroad, he told the whole world, he wished he is younger. When reacting to killings in Benue state by herdsmen, he asked the victims to accommodate those killing them. In Zamfara killings by bandits, he dismissed them as non-Nigerians. He went to the South East where people were complaining of not being given any position in the entire security network to tell them to their faces that he only appoints people on merit that is, no Igboman can do any security work in any of the security/intelligence sector. He even admitted that a former Inspector General of police appointed by him deliberately refused to obey his order to relocate to Benue state to tackle the killings in that state. The list goes on.
Just last week, when many people thought that a brand new president, (though same person) in the person of Buhari, sworn-in on May 29 had turned a new leaf, he released another bombshell when he told FCT residents that they are evils because they didn’t vote for him. That was last Tuesday at Presidential Villa, Abuja when he received Vice President Yemi Osinbajo alongside service chiefs and an FCT delegation, who paid him the traditional Sallah homage for this year.
After praising the VP for his hard work in the last four years, he urged him not to relent despite challenges.
“I want to appreciate the number two man of the country (Osinbajo) because he knows what we are going through very quietly; I am very pleased that you came with this very powerful constituency.
“I appeal to you to remain exemplary so that those under you will know that the country is doing very well.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Buhari jokingly told Mr Philip Aduda, senator representing FCT, who was part of the FCT delegation, that his constituency did not vote for him in the last presidential election.
“I have just spoken to the senator on my left (Aduda) and I told him that his constituency did not vote for me. So, I was very pleased that when they made the arrangement they put him very far way from me,” the president was quoted as saying.
“I have results of all the constituencies. I am not threatening FCT because to make FCT secure is to make myself secure and the vice-president. I think they know that they are necessary evil, that was why they decided to vote for PDP.” He went down memory lane of his “long journey” to Presidency from 2003, 2007, 2011 to 2015, saying they were interesting political developments.
I am an FCT resident for about 20 years. I was hit by that comment of my President. I was shocked and I am sure many of the other residents were. First, it was and is, our constitutional right to vote according to our choices in an election. By attacking the voting prferences, the President has put the constitution of the country below his executive or rather personal whims. He could not also filter his comments properly because the condemnation of FCT residents also affects those who voted for his APC in that presidential election.
Unknown to Mr President, FCT represents Nigeria and if the voting pattern of the FCT is subjected to serious social scientific review, it could be the basis for assessing the credibility of the last presidential election and that puts a big question mark on the integrity and authenticity of the certificate of return which the Independent National Election (INEC) issued which the President is parading. Every section of Nigeria is represented in the FCT and they passed their verdict at that election.
How does President Buhari come back to FCT resident to ask for votes in future after this remark? If he won’t be contesting again, how does his APC explain this negative remarks when it would be time for next election? The President needs to review his opinion on some critical and sensitive issues before voicing them out. Some of his views are at variance with national consensus, some make a mockery of governance and yet some ridicule those who are around him as advisers, some of who are acknowledged good brains before they were recruited to work for him. These advisers should not leave this political appointments as junks.
Nobody disputes the fact that Buhari won the 2015 presidential election but the President’s claim that he won the 2003, 2007, and 2011 do not reflect popular opinion. Such unpopular and perhaps wrong opinion has influenced his reaction to some people and institutions of Nigeria. His attack on the judiciary may not be unconnected with his insistence that it was the judiciary that prevcented him from becoming president since 2003.
Again, the now popular 97% and 5% was a clear reference to Igbos of the south east who shunned him in almost all the elections and there is a link between that and his comment that he didn’t find any Igbo man in the security outfits to work for him as a head of agency. Major-General Nicholas Rogers was acknowledged by northeast people as the best Theatre Commander of Operation Lafia Dole in the fight against Boko Haram. He is an Igbo man. How many of such Igbo high achievers can I mention and even the most powerful or best performing president in the world cannot downgrade the Igbo race, only God can and He hasn’t.
You can’t take mindset away from the pattern and quality of performance of a president.