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POWER OF INCUMBENCY AND BUHARI’S MASTER STROKES

June 12, 2018

SubTopic: IF ONLY BUHARI HAD ALWAYS BEEN THIS SENSITIVE

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has made a couple of masterpiece political moves in the past one month. They could have put him in a clear lead against his opponents in the impending 2019 presidential election in Nigeria. But that is, if only he had been consistently sensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians in the past several years. Can a third master stroke consolidate a repair of the apparent damage done to the psyche of the people about him before 2019? I’ll tell you what I think, meeeeeeeeeen!!!

I had published an article titled “If only Buhari Was President” long before his 2015 ascension to power. That was right after he lost the 2007 election; and, I listed some of the ways that I envisaged him to start to correct the ills of the Nigerian society, if only he had won the 2007 presidential election. I actually received threats, because I did state that people like Obasanjo and Mr. Fix it (Anenih) should be cast in prison forever for their atrocities. My expectations as a Nigerian observer speaking from outside Nigeria were based on Buhari’s reputation as a stern man of integrity. I even countered an argument then that he was a religious bigot with my excuse for him. I figured that the disadvantages of any leader’s religious bigotry in a democratic federal republic system was not so bad. I was sure that such disposition could be neutralized by the legislature and the judiciary. Of course, now I realize that this position would be valid if only Nigeria had a legislature and a judiciary with integrity.

Now, I lament again. This time I cry, if only President Muhammadu Buhari had always been so sensitive in the past three years! If only he had been listening to the heartbeats and yearnings of Nigerians, as he has been in the past three months! If only Buhari had shown more sensitivity when Nigerians started crying over the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers all over Nigeria!! If only Mr. President had shown more sensitivity to the agitation of the Igbo people for fairness in the scheme of things in Nigeria!!! If only he did not allow the agitation to snowballed into agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra!!!! If only Buhari had paid more attention to the heartbeats of the Yoruba, the Ibibio, the Edo, the Igala, and the other Nigerian ethnic nationalities right, from the beginning of his presidency!!!! If only Buhari was less obviously tribal in his appointments in his government!!!!! Indeed, if only Buhari truly has been acting in consonance with his famous presidential inauguration pronouncement!!!!!! He told us then that he is “for everybody and for nobody.” If only he has been that good, his two recent acts would have become political masterpieces to consolidate his re-election in 2019!!!!!!

Oh yes, indeed, President Buhari’s recent move to sign a “Not Too Young To Run” for government office bill into law was a masterpiece political move to woo Nigerian youths’ support. Another definite political masterpiece was his latest move to declare the late Chief MKO Abiola the legitimate winner of Nigeria’s June 12 1993 presidential election. It was an election that was mischievously annulled by the then military ruler Ibrahim Babangida. For one thing, this masterpiece duo has been the best legitimate application of the power of incumbency that I have seen in Nigeria. Hitherto, Nigeria’s power of incumbency has commonly been used by sitting presidents and governors to intimidate opposition and to rig elections. This time, President Buhari applied his incumbency wisely by making legitimate moves that are bound to attract resounding public appreciation. In turn, the appreciation attracts votes. But, that would have been only if he had been showing such sensitivity to popular yearnings of Nigerians from the on-start!!!

Alas, no matter how sincere Buhari’s two recent political master strokes may be, many Nigerians see them as dubious political ploy. The argument is that he has shown his true character of insensitivity to the yearnings of the people for the past three years. And now, he suddenly “pretends” to care, by accenting to some popular public demands. The people now believe that “he wants to deceive Nigerians to vote for him again in 2019.”

Indeed, it is quite difficult to defend Mr. President against this argument when an unbiased observer objectively examines the situation. It’s difficult to defend his actions or inaction, or slow-action for that matter, in sensitive national issues during his past three years in office. Indeed, many neutral foreign critics have condemned some of his actions and inaction. In the herdsmen conflicts and killings, for instance, Mr. President has been widely criticized for his “slow-action,” at best. Some critics have gone beyond accusation of “slow-action,” to indict Mr. President of complicity. He is accused of shielding marauding Fulani herdsmen from the law because they are his tribesmen. Also, Buhari’s handling of the Igbo agitation for fairness in the scheme of things in Nigeria has been widely criticized. My 2-cent contribution in this particular argument as an Igbo man is this: no, most Igbos, including I, never wanted a secession to become Biafra.

Yes, most Igbos wanted to remain in one Nigeria, but not as second-class citizens as presently apparent. Certainly, the agitation for Biafra came along only due to Mr. President’s poor handling of the agitation for fairness to Igbo people in the scheme of things in “one Nigeria.” And, of course, there are other similar calls for secession by various ethnic groups all over the country now because many Nigerians have perceived Buhari’s government as a Fulani government. This perception is quite easy to substantiate, considering the daylight fact that Fulani persons occupy almost all the important offices in President Buhari’s government.

Nigeria does need a messiah, and many Nigerians truly believed that Buhari was that messiah. In fact, it is on record that I was definitely one of those who saw Buhari as a possible messiah. No wonder, I published my “If Only Buhari Was President” article in 2007. I had insisted that Buhari’s touted positive character of sternness and integrity would make up for his perceived religious bigotry. I believed that he would do the good job of ridding Nigeria of her bane, Mr. Corruption. Apparently, there were many Nigerians who believed so, too. So, Nigerians of all ethnic extractions massively voted him into power in 2015 against an incumbent opponent.

But, alas, Mr. President is now known by most Nigerians to be for some people and against some people.’ Some critics insist that he is being misinformed and misguided by people close to him, and he has shed the character that brought him into office. Alas, if only Mr. President had kept to his inaugural pronouncement! If only he was perceived to have kept the pronouncement, that he is “for nobody and for everybody!!” If only he was a good president, Nigerians would not have minded to vote for him even if he went for a third term after 2023.

The pertinent question now is: Can Mr. President’s recent sensitive political masterpiece strokes still make a difference? Can he still win back all the votes that he has apparently lost due to his past insensitivity to the people’s yearnings? This is a difficult question to answer because so much damage has been done to the psyche of the people about him. My advice to him is to surprise Nigerians with a third master stroke. I would advise him to give in to the yearnings of virtually all non-Fulani Nigerians and restructure Nigeria politically. He would do well to initiate a transparent irreversible move to restructure Nigeria for true federalism, for fairness and equity for all. Now, that would be a sure winner of many hearts any day…No Bullshitting!!!

 

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