FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, June 6, 2021
SILO@depaul.edu
Chicago, USA
IT’S TIME TO TERMINATE BUHARI’S CONTRACT WITH NIGERIANS,
HE HAS FAILED THE NATION

witter just did Nigerians a huge favor by deleting President Buhari’s threats against fellow Nigerians and suspended his account at least for 12 hours. In doing this, Twitter has exposed just one aspect of the failed leadership of President Buhari—his failure to communicate and dialogue with Nigerians. Here is a President who does not know how to connect with the pains and suffering of his people. Here is a man who does not listen to his people. Here is a man who meets the anguish and lamentation of his people with anger, threats, and violence. Here is a man who lacks compassion and empathy and who has no respect for his people and has distanced himself from the people he was meant to serve. Here is a man who prefers to hide under press statements and tweets, generated by his underlings, rather than speak directly to his people’s fears, doubts, and anguish. Here is a man who is unfit to lead this country and who sadly has not learned any lessons on how to be a national leader.

This is a president whose contract should be terminated by Nigerians. Rather than terminate the Nigerian experiment; let us terminate Buhari’s contract and that of most of our present-day politicians across the board who, like Buhari, have failed the nation. Buhari claims in his deleted tweet that people want his administration to fail when it has already fallen under the weight of his ethnocentric and Islamic agenda and short-sighted anti-democratic, and anti-Nigerian conduct and utterances.

The problem with Nigeria today is not that Nigerians cannot live together or that Nigerians do not love each other or that we are bad people. The number one challenge facing us today and the number one threat to the survival of this nation is the man who occupies Aso Rock today and those who think and act like him in the structures of our government and institutions. In less than five years, General Buhari has rolled back all the gains of the democratic culture, freedom of speech, and human and citizenship rights, civility, unity in diversity, and tolerance we all have fought for since June 12.

All of us from the North to South, from the South-South to the Middle Belt, and from East to West fought for June 12 without minding the religion or ethnicity of Abiola and Kingibe. When Buhari was voted into power, there were dark forces around, but the amiable President Goodluck conceded the election to avoid any bloodshed. Again, Nigerians including this writer gave Buhari a chance in the hope that he would become a national leader who will heal this land. But the hope of most Nigerians for a better Nigeria under Buhari have all been dashed as we have become like a nation without a destiny; a people without a vision; and a country without hope and a disunited country without any national culture or a transcending national moral compass. Buhari has failed the test of leadership for many reasons. First, the primary task of any government is to protect the lives and property of her citizens. Today, no one is safe anymore or anywhere in Nigeria. In an address at the prestigious Policy Think Tank, Chatham House in London, just before the 2015 elections, Major General Buhari told his audience that he would lead from the front. Painfully, the same Buhari who promised before the international community that he would lead the war on terror from the front is missing in action, enabling and emboldening his Fulani brothers in their siege on this nation through his words and actions. The Nigerian armed forces are untrained and ill-equipped, and their planes are flying coffins and the security apparatus of this nation is so weakened by corruption that we now seek help from Chad and Mali to defend our territories. The mighty has fallen because the President continues to entrust the security of Nigerians in the hands of incompetent people because he can only trust his fellow Fulanis or/and Muslims from the North.

Second, let me state this as clearly as I can do here. I assert unequivocally that in my own judgement, General Buhari is the first Nigerian head of state who has not made any effort to unite Nigeria. Rather, Buhari displays open hatred, vendetta, and anger against the rest of this country outside his kith and kin, through his inflammatory words and divisive actions. Nigeria is now rated along with countries like Iraq, Haiti, North Korea and Congo as a volatile and fragile state in the 2020 Fragile States Index. As former American Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campell wrote recently, Nigeria now ‘resembles an archipelago of islands in a sea of ungoverned spaces.’ Nigeria, he argues, has become a very weak state, on the verge of collapse.

This situation should be blamed on the failings of Buhari who sends the full force of the military to crush Nigerians who are agitating for self-determination (their human rights) in the South East, or those who are fighting back against the Fulani invasion (their ecological rights) in the Middle Belt. Most Nigerians would hope that Buhari could channel his threats and military might against the so-called unknown Northern insurgents and kidnappers, Islamic militants, and Fulani terrorists who are parading themselves as herdsmen, who have taken over our country. In any other country, this president should have been impeached as unfit for office, but the legislative arm of the government, like the rest of the country is still in a state of shock as to how our country has degenerated so much to this level.

Sadly, even with the full control of the armed forces of this country and our enormous national wealth, Northern Nigeria has remained more insecure, poorer, and more desolate than ever before. Even in the heartland of the Caliphate that President Buhari loves so much, life has become in Hobbesian term, “short, nasty, and brutish.” The North has remained more convulsive now than ever. In addition, one cannot forget the pains and anguish of many of the indigenous peoples, indigenous religions, and Christian peoples and other minorities in the North who are suffering from being cloaked with the same Islamic and cultural garment as the Fulani. They continue to cry out against the internal slavery they suffer in their own land because of Buhari’s ethno-religious Islamic supremacy of which the Northern minorities and Christians are the worst victims.

Nigerians need to pause for a moment and think. The problem of this country is complex, but it has been compounded by the failed leadership of Buhari, and our very corrupt political and religious elites, some of whom are part of this iniquitous structure or are benefiting from this dysfunctional and destabilizing social condition. However, I am confident that if Buhari is out of the way, we will still have our fights, but we would have put an end to military leadership in this country and particularly the failed generation of Buhari-Obasanjo-Abacha-IBB and those associated with them. What they have given this country is nothing but bloodshed, corruption, centralization, dictatorship, abuse of the rights of citizens, and exploitation, and manipulation of the hoi polloi and other unspeakable atrocities. This country and the great people of Nigeria deserve better than what we see all around us in this presidency. Given this dicey and complex situation, Nigerians need to be patient with each other, while we pray and work for the end of this presidency in the hope that Buhari will be the last military coupist to occupy Aso Rock. It seems that we are reliving the dark days of Abacha today.

This moment of thought is also more so for the Hausa-Fulani coalition propping up Buhari. Your champion is like a king without cloth—an embarrassment to his religion and his ethnicity; and a disgrace to this country. He is turning the nation against the Fulani whose nomadic life made them very open, hospitable, and friendly to strangers. One lesson though we all have learned from the failed presidency of Buhari is that the future of Nigeria can never be secured through his brand of divisive ethnocentric politics, nepotism, favoritism, and Islamic supremacist agenda. It all leads to chaos, agitation for self-rule, violence, deaths, and suffering. Northern Nigeria has produced the most radical forms of religious bigots and fundamentalists in our nation’s history. No one more than General Muhammadu Buhari exemplifies this senseless bigotry. Today, the noble religion of Islam has convulsed because the President’s Islamist supremacist agenda and intolerance of religious or cultural pluralism and brazen rejection of the ideals of an inclusive Nigerian state. This is why his government has opened all the wounds in our nation’s history and is associated with the worst fears of our people.

What does the future hold for Nigeria? Shall we fold our hands and watch our young people being destroyed by violence, terror, poverty and an unbroken cycle of suffering and pain? Shall we all watch as our standing in the comity of nation is dragged to the mud because of the dangerous politics of President Buhari? Shall we all stand by as our economy is being destroyed through poor economies of scale and poor economic planning? Shall we all go our separate ways because of one bad leader or shall we work together to say ‘never again’ and strategize for a new Nigeria built on a new constitution and a new national ethics and moral compass? Even though we all admit that Nigeria is broken and gravely ill as a political reality, viewed as a multicultural ideal of diverse peoples and interests forging a workable relationship in a different regional political structure from the present centralized and unjust federalism, there is still the possibility of birthing a new Nigeria, created by Nigerians, for Nigerians, and run by true patriots and national leaders.

Nigeria is in dire need of leadership at all levels. President Buhari is old and set in his ways, even twitter’s reprimand cannot change him because I am not even sure that he is fully in charge of what is going on in this country. But the leadership we need is not simply a transformative servant leadership at the center, but rather positive and sacrificial men and women who become influencers at all levels of society—ethnic, social, professional, institutional, and religious. Everyone can influence the behavior of others for good and all of us can help heal the moral rot, greed, selfishness, and dishonesty in our land across the board.

Leadership is not about command and control, angry tweets, and threats. Leadership is about being part of a collective vision, a collaborative mission, and inspiring everyone to embrace the moral and ethical ideals for jointly working together in realizing the common good. Leadership is sacrificial. This was exemplified in the life of Nelson Mandela who once wrote on leadership; “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” The reason we should terminate Buhari’s contract with this nation is that he has never been on the frontline in this country since he took the oath office except when he is issuing threats or, distributing privileges and perks to his reference group. This is why a presidency that came with so much hope is doomed to failure. No amount of threats or blame game will change this judgement of history on a man who turned against the rest of the country, while facing only his own ethnic and religious group.

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