By Tola Badejo
Sometime in August 1985, a few days after a military junta under the leadership of Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) took over power from the government of Muhammadu Buhari, my good friend and colleague in the then University of Ife, Felix Akojie, who is now a professor of biochemistry in a university in Kentucky in the United States of America, said to me emphatically that Buhari will be celebrated in this country sometime in the future. I did not disagree with him because the reasons he gave were too germane to be faulted. First he said that IBB, being a co-conspirator with Buhari in the December 1983 coup d’état that rescued Nigerians from bad governance under Shehu Shagari’s NPN government shouldn’t have betrayed him. He added that betraying Buhari would put an end to the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) programme of Buhari’s administration and return Nigerians to those days of lawlessness under the governments of Gowon and Obasanjo. I quickly reminded him that there was no lawlessness under Murtala Muhammed, and he retorted that Obasanjo reversed that 100-day sanity after the assassination of Murtala.
Akojie’s prediction of 1985 has now come to pass with the re-election of Buhari into office. Whether one agrees with his style of governance, his party affiliation etc. or not, the naked fact is that Buhari is being celebrated in Nigeria at the moment. One of the heroes of Buhari’s second victory is Bola Ahmed Tinubu who, in 2014, led a group of his party’s leaders to Buhari on a visit which eventually resulted in the merger of CPC, ACN, ANPP and a faction of APGA.
I have been watching with keen interest the developing trend of hatred for Buhari right from the inception of his administration, First, was the delay in appointing ministers. Then came the undelivered account of his first 100 days in office. Next was his failure to spread security appointments beyond his geo-political base. Later was his purported involvement in the herdsmen killings in Benue State. His sudden health challenge not long after he assumed office was super-imposed on all these. The most devastating challenge for his administration was the opposition he had from within his party right from day one. His party made the unavoidable mistake of accepting a faction of the PDP into their fold. This faction hijacked the 8th National Assembly and nearly frustrated his efforts in the areas of security, economy and fighting corruption. The fate of his detractors has now been determined by this 2019 election.
Buhari is reaping the fruits of his (good) work when he was Head of State in 1984 while his detractors are now reaping the fruits of their (evil) work. The law of retributive justice is infallible.
There are many categories of detractors of Buhari and his administration. One category comprises those who voted against him because they believe he had a hand in the killings in Benue. There are also those whose Buhari’s style of governance prevented from having access to free government money either directly or indirectly from their friends or relations close to power. A pitiable category comprises those who attribute the economic hardship of today to Buhari’s incompetence in governance as if we have never experienced economic hardship in this country before. In compliance with the dictum that human beings have a short memory, all the detractors went back to those who out of misrule brought us to the state we are today in respect of insecurity and ailing economy.
The category of those who decided to unseat Buhari by declaring themselves presidential candidates is the most laughable. About 90 political parties emerged, all of them blaming Buhari for all our woes. Rather than join hands with the PDP to unseat Buhari, they went their different ways chasing shadows. At the end of the day, many of them could not even field a presidential candidate. Of those who fielded candidates, the highest votes went to the candidate of the SDP who was not even able to campaign effectively due to internal crises within his party. Where lays the wisdom of these neophytes whose collective votes were just a few thousands?
There is also another group of those who are obsessed with the idea of a young president. More than 90 percent of people in this category do not have permanent voter’s cards. Their protests never went beyond making noise on social media. The rate at which they believe and spread fake news is so alarming. A prominent Nigerian recently opined that the third World War will most probably be triggered by fake news from Nigeria. I agree in to to. When the news of Buhari being a clone went viral, I was disappointed in those who believed and helped to spread it. Little did I know that a more stupid claim of impersonation of Buhari by one Jibrin from Sudan was on the way. Untrue stories, photoshopped pictures, etc., were flying in the air and people who cannot by any means be regarded as illiterates were not capable of disbelieving them. On the day the outcome of the presidential election was announced by INEC, a member of one of the WhatsApp groups which I belong forwarded a posting from a youth corps member who claimed that the ruling party rigged in his/her polling booth. The information, as fairly lengthy as it was, did not reveal the following: the identity of the youth corps member; the polling booth and state where this rigging took place; and yet the posting directed that the information should be spread like wild fire so that the whole world would know that the 2019 election was rigged. That this posting was made after the winner had been announced reveals the inconsequentiality of the mental faculty of the source. If the information is true, why wasn’t it revealed on the day it happened? Another pertinent question is: Is the social media a police station?
This 2019 election to me represents a referendum on whether the anti-corruption war in Nigeria should continue or not. It is also a choice between an honest leader and one whose well documented antecedents suggest inherent pathological dishonesty in fiscal matters.
It is obvious that the tasks ahead of the 9th National Assembly is multifarious. One is to take a look at our electoral laws and introduce amendments and reforms that will discourage proliferation of political parties. Parties who are no longer pleased with the status quo should be forced by law to regroup into one or two mega parties that can face and chase the old order out of power. This is when genuine politicians among them will be known because many of them formed those mushroom parties for various reasons other than the desire to govern. Secondly, the responsibilities of INEC should be reviewed with a view to increasing the technological content of their delivery to the Nigerian electorate. The legacy left behind by Attahiru Jega must be maintained and improved upon. Attention should also be drawn to the areas of overlap of INEC’s duties with the duties of other government agencies and commissions in the country such as the National Population Commission. Thirdly, the fight against corruption should be improved upon to give emphasis to preventing corruption through institutions that will launch the badly needed anti-corruption spirit into the psyche of our business men, civil servants and youths. I wonder how many Nigerians know that the ICPC has a functioning anti-corruption institution. The second coming of Buhari should take bold steps towards ensuring that this agency of government is relevant in establishing the basis for a long term solution to the menace of corruption in this country. In addition, punitive measures for corrupt people, after stripping them naked of their ill-gotten loot, should be intensified without considering party affiliations and sectional, tribal or ethnic sentiments.
A fourth task which comes to mind is the much talked about issue of restructuring. All shades of opinion on restructuring across party lines should be considered, amalgamated, packaged and sent to the executive arm of government for consideration, scrutinization and implementation. I am convinced that the badly needed harmony between all geo-political regions, which is a recipe for political stability in the country, will be achieved if the issue of devolution of powers in this country is given a face lift in the next dispensation.
Source: The Nation