FEATURE ARTICLE

Fr Pat Amobi ChukwumaTuesday, June 13, 2017
amobipchuks@yahoo.com


THE DEMOCRATIC REPORT CARD

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uring my primary school days, one of the pupils in my class failed woefully in the promotion examination. He was to repeat Elementary four as it was called in those good old days. When his name was mentioned publicly as a failure, his face also failed. He collected his report card from our class teacher and hid it inside his pant. As he was going home shamefully, he was crying profusely. He must face the wrath of his parents who sweated a lot to pay his school fees. On drawing closer to their home, he wiped away the tears. Instantly the devil inspired him to concoct a convincing lie he would tell his parents about his academic promotion result.

On reaching home, he was beaming with smiles to avoid his parents suspecting him. He greeted them extraordinarily. He nearly prostrated himself before them. The parents were very happy for the due respect. When asked of the result of his promotion examination, he told them that he performed very excellently. The parents were very happy. They asked him to show them his report card. He lied that the teacher was with it because he (the teacher) wanted to display it in the Local Government Education Authority in order to attract a scholarship for him. The parents couldn't control their happiness. They went to the extent of slaughtering a giant fowl for their promising child. In addition, they sold a piece of land and bought him a new bicycle. But how long could the boy in question conceal the truth?

One fateful day, as the mother of the 'promising' boy was sweeping the rooms thoroughly, she came across her son's report card, cunningly hidden under the bed. She opened it and what she saw almost blinded her eyes. Every subject was marked with red biro. Her son failed woefully and took the last position in the class. She started crying over her son's academic and moral failure. He did not only fail the promotion examination, but also told blatant lie. She lamented that her son was turning gradually into a crook. She narrated everything she saw to her husband when he came back. When the stubborn and unintelligent boy came back, the parents showed him his report card. He became downcast. Truth has overcome falsehood. Without delay, the parents beat him black and blue for deceiving them. He was starved and shut in an empty room for three days.

Where is this story leading us to? This year, our country Nigeria is celebrating 18 years of uninterrupted Democracy. The Military militarized the country for so many years since our Independence in 1960. When General Sani Abacha died mysteriously in office in 1998, General Abusalami Abubarkar as the most senior officer took over as Head of State. Within one year, he drafted a Constitution and organized a presidential election which threw up Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as President on 29th May 1999. From prison Obasanjo walked into the Presidency. He ruled for two terms of four years each. He made an impact but not as expected. However he was fair in his appointments and respected the Federal character. Alhaji Umoru Shehu Yar'Adua took over from him and died after two years in office. Within the short period in office he did well and respected the federal character in national appointments. He appointed an Igbo man as the Inspector General of police. May his soul rest in peace! The then Vice President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan completed the tenure of Yar'Adua as president. He contested for the presidency and won. He served from 2011 to 2015. He did his best despite the challenging forces that prevailed. He also respected the federal character in his appointments. He handed over to the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army general, who has been nursing to rule this country, on May 29, 2017.

During his presidential campaign, Buhari promised us CHANGE. I thought he had magical powers that would bring about the intended change. Hunger, anger and recession set in. The change became a mirage. During his inaugural speech at Eagle Square in Abuja on 29 May 2015, Buhari categorically said, "I am for everybody and for nobody." A loud applause was given to him. But on assumption of office as the President, his body language changed automatically. His actions show that he is not for everybody but for somebody. His appointments were lopsided. Nepotism is part of corruption. He turned his back on the South East for not voting massively for him. In normal parlance a president should be a father of all with no discrimination. After all not all Americans voted for President Trump but he is not showing any segregation. Writing on "Biafra: Another war we can't afford" Majeed Dahiru categorically asserts, "For a close and objective observer of events in Nigeria since the beginning of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, it is manifestly clear that the Igbo ethnic group has never been this marginalized in the history of Nigeria. The victorious President Buhari has largely treated the Igbo as a conquered people. He has excluded them from his kitchen cabinet and National Security Council. These have further exacerbated the structural marginalization of the Igbo, who have the least number of states and local governments in Nigeria, which makes them work hardest for the lowest reward. The Buhari administration appears to be punishing the whole South East for making a democratic choice against him. This heightened marginalization of the Igbo has negatively affected the political elite in an unprecedented manner, leading to a drastic reduction in their already meagre privileges of state patronage" (Dailysun Friday, June 2, 2017, page 32). In giving credence to the observation of Majeed, Onuoha Ukeh says, "His (Buhari's) government's attitude towards Igbo is to say the least, unfavourable, as seen in appointments and location of projects" (Dailysun June 2, 2017, page 46). As a remedy to this ugly trend, the Nationalist Majeed opines, "The first and immediate step at resolving this impasse is for the current administration to reconstitute the relevant organs of government to fully include the South East, particularly the National Security Council."

Recently, the Minister of Housing and Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, excluded the South East from the impending National Railway plan. Was it an omission or commission? Chibuike is an Igbo name which means 'God is power' and Amaechi is also an Igbo name which means 'No one knows tomorrow.' So, I believe by God's power justice will sooner or later prevail since no one knows tomorrow. Also, a bill for the South East Development was killed at the floor of the House of Representatives recently by the Speaker Yakubu Dogara. He put it to a vote and the voices of those in favour of the bill outweighed those against. He unjustly gave it to those who said 'nay.' This angered the Honourable members of the House from South East and South South who staged a walkout. Speaking to journalists outside the green chambers, the angry honourable members bemoaned the unjust killing of the Bill. For them "This is not one Nigeria." Similar Bill for the Development of the North East was passed when it was debated at the same House.

You cannot beat a baby and tell him not to cry. Injustice is the cause of disorder in the society. According to the Acting President, equity and justice are the things that provoke agitations. This is why the Biafran agitation resurrected after 50 years. As Nigeria marked 18 years of uninterrupted democratic rule (1999 - 2017) on 29 May 2017, the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) from the South East and South South marked 'sit-at-home' on 30 May 2017 to register their grievances for being marginalized. They are asking for freedom if they are no more part and parcel of Nigeria. On that day I sat at home prayerfully from morning to evening. If Nigeria belongs to all, there should be no exclusion of any ethnic group for whatever reasons. Indeed many have called for the restructuring of this country. Unfortunately the call has been ignored by the present leadership. The outcome of the 2014 National Conference was ignored for selfish reasons. If care is not taken we may be heading to doom; but God forbid. I am not a prophet of doom, rather I am for progress.

The wanton killing of innocent citizens from any part of the country must be stopped. The Boko Haram terrorists have done bloody havoc in this country. Thousands of souls have perished. Many are homeless, motherless, fatherless and orphans. Millions of people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency are currently managing life in make-shift camps. It has not been easy for them. They have sold education at the expense of their stomachs. President Buhari has indeed decimated the bloody terrorists who had held most part of the North East at ransom for about 6 years. As if enough is not enough, the Fulani herdsmen have formed their terrorist group. They have killed, maimed and raped innocent Nigerians here and there. The Presidency must nib this new bloody terrorist from the bud before it escalates like the Boko Haram. Since President Buhari is a Fulani, he must speak to them in the language they understand. Also they should be disarmed. How can herdsmen parade with Ak-47 instead of sticks as we know them before? There are massive thick forests in the North where the herdsmen can rear their cattle instead of going into people's farms and homes. Let them rape their cattle instead of raping women.

The democratic report card of President Buhari in the first two years is thus summarized in the front page of the Weekly SUNRISE of May 29 to June 4, 2017. It reads:


       Plus                                                               Minus
Anti-Corruption Crusade                                             Fulani Herdsmen
Bail Out Fund                                                       Recession
Some Chibok Girls Freed                                             Biafra Resurgence
Boko Haram Decimation                                               Skewed Appointments
Agro Allied Revolution                                              Infrastructural Decay

As a teacher, I have gone through the above result card and given my score. It is not a woeful failure but a weak pass. The Presidency has two more years to improve or deteriorate. In academic language I would say, "He must study harder to improve." If a good student performs below expectation, he tries his best to make an impression next term or semester.

Many eminent Nigerians have reacted over the democratic report card of President Buhari's two years leadership. According to Chidi Odor, "the metropolitan Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna has stated that the whole issue of democracy in Nigeria is under question. He stressed that not every section of the country has a sense of belonging, stating that the agitation from the geo-political zones was an indication that all is not well with Nigeria, pointing out that the issue of bail-out funds have become controversial, as the true picture was not presented to the citizens" (Weekly Sunrise Nigeria, 29 - June 4, 2017, page 28). In his own view, Iyke Ibeh quoting Professor Ango Abdullahi, former VC of ABU Zaria, asserts, "The two year of Buhari's administration has a telling effect on the economy. It is of a failed economy" (Ibid.). Similarly, Ebere Wabara in his write-up titled "APC's poor mid-term report" laments: "There is nothing that suggests a better tomorrow. The whole environment is gloomy, catastrophic and frightfully irredeemable, almost. The level of poverty, want and hopelessness-cum-haplessness of the 'average' (the middle class if it still exists) Nigerian is atrociously unprecedented, unimaginable and unconscionable. It has transcended official callousness" (Dailysun Monday, June 5, 2017, page 16).

In conclusion, no student marks his own examination paper. The Minister of Communication scores the Buhari Administration high. To make an impact, the Presidency must listen to the opinions of reasonable and ordinary Nigerians over his performance in the first two years of his administration. Members of the president's kitchen cabinet and ministers may be praising him sarcastically just to retain their portfolios. The Holy Scripture says the Truth will set us free.

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