By Dons Eze, PhD
If former President Goodluck Jonathan had “Trumped” after the 2015 Presidential election, that is, if Jonathan had refused to conceded defeat as Donald Trump is currently doing in the United States of America, retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari would not have become President, and he would have remained a cult hero, a demi-god to millions of his admirers, who believed him to have solution to all Nigeria’s problems.
For three consecutive times, Buhari had sought to rule Nigeria through the ballot box, but failed. He had earlier ruled Nigeria for twenty months as military Head of State. 2015 was his fourth attempt through a democratic exercise, and if Jonathan had not conceded defeat, he probably would have bowed out and thus became “the best President Nigeria never had”, apologies to Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Thank God, Jonathan conceded defeat, and Buhari ascended the throne as President. He came, he saw, but did not win. He is defeated, or to put it mildly, demystified.
What went well for Buhari in 2015 when he was seeking to be President, was that many people believed him to have zero tolerance for corruption, which was, and still is, Nigeria’s number one enemy. A no nonsense Buhari, they thought, would deal decisively to the cankerworm, and end corruption in the country, once and for all.
Another thing was the heightening insecurity in Nigeria, in particular, Boko Haram insurgency, which then was threatening to dismember the country. As a retired Army General, they believed Buhari to have had all it takes to defeat Boko Haram in one fell swoop.
No wonder therefore, in 2015, almost everybody in the country had rooted for Muhammadu Buhari as President, so that he could save the sinking ship from drowning. The belief then was that with Buhari in the saddle, all Nigeria’s problems would be over.
Six years down the line, however, Nigeria has become worse in all ramifications, than what it was in 2015.
Corruption is still endemic, with Buhari’s political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as habinger of corrupt politicians. Erstwhile National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomole, put it succinctly: “If you are corrupt, and you come to APC, your sins are forgiven”. So it is, APC has become a rendervouz for corrupt politicians, and Buhari will simply shut his eyes, and will not see them.
The implication is that rather than end corruption as promised, strange things have been happening under the Buhari administration. Budgets are padded, and sometimes, lost in transit; snakes swallow millions of naira from the coffers of an examination body; billions of naira contracts are awarded to cut grass for those living in Internal Displaced Camps (IDPs), or to build makeshift bridges by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), etc.
In 2014, before Buhari became President, Nigeria ranked 136th position in the corruption perception index by Transparency International, a global body that monitors corrupt practices among countries of the world. Five years later, in 2019, under the Buhari regime, Nigeria sank to an abysmal low position of 146th, out of the 180 countries indexed by Transparency International.
Second, under Buhari, the security situation in the country has worsened. Formerly, it was Boko Haram in the North East, we now have bandits operating in the North West, killing people every day; AK 47 wielding Fulani Herdsmen operating in the North Central, the South East, and the South West, wrecking towns and villages and slaughtering people in their numbers; kidnappers terrorizing people everywhere, etc.
In spite of the claim that Boko Haram has been degraded or defeated, they now tell people living in the North East that they must obtain permission from the military before going anywhere. That was in response to the gruesome murder of scores of farmers in Borno State a few days ago by Boko Haram insurgents. There are also various attacks, almost on daily basis, by the insurgents, of towns and villages in the North East, including sacking of military barracks and killing their soldiers.
Till date, Sambisa Forest has remained inaccessible, while hundreds of Chibok girls kidnapped by Boko Haram since 2014, as well as the Dapchi girl, Leah Sharibu, also kidnapped in 2016, have not been found.
Third, Nigeria, under Muhammadu Buhari has been into two recessions in less than five years, due to poor management of the economy. The Naira has nose-dived to an all time low of N500 per one United States dollar, while the cost of living has risen astronomically, with many people finding it very difficult to eke out a living.
Fourth, Nigeria has never been as divided as it is today under the Buhari administration due to nepotism. Nigerians now view each other according to their ethnic belongings, who gets what, and which ethnic group does he or she belong?
For almost one year now, students in Nigeria’s public universities have been at home as a result of indefinite strike declared by university teachers under the banner of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), çlaiming poor funding of the universities by the federal government.
We can go on and on, but suffice it to say that the aura, the charisma, the invicibility, the unassalability, which many people thought Major General Muhammadu Buhari possessed when he was asking us to vote for him in 2015, have now been shattered. Buhari is no longer what many people thought him to be. He has been defeated. He has been demystified.
For the Northern Elders Forum, which all along, was Buhari’s main backer to have openly asked him to resign, since he could no longer handle the affairs of the country, is something very serious. According to Hakeem Baba Ahmed, spokesman of the group, “it is regrettable that lives of Nigerians no longer have value under the present administration in the country due to constant attacks and killings of innocent citizens”.
People no longer take Buhari serious. When he says that he is fighting corruption, they will remember the Magu case hanging on his neck; Bola Tinubu and his bullion vans; the Grasscutter former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; the hundreds of corrupt politicians joining the ruling APC, and the man will welcome them, etc.
Each time Boko Haram strikes and kills people in their numbers, or the killer herdsmen destroy homes and farmlands and murder scores of people, and Buhari will come out to curse them and swear that he will deal with them ruthlessly, people always laugh at him with scorn!
Oh, how has the mighty fallen! A yesterday’s hero, becoming a today’s villain. Such is the irony of life.
*Dr. Eze, veteran journalist, lives in Enugu