Buharism: A brand damaged by nepotism - By Ikechukwu Amaechi
Until recently, the Muhammadu Buhari brand was, perhaps, the most potent and compelling brand in the country. In the north, he was “Mai Gaskiya” (truth avatar). Even as he never gave anyone scholarship, never built a vocational centre or any industry to employ youths or get almajiris off the streets, he continued to get millions of votes from there.
In the south where he didn’t enjoy the same cult status, he was completely rebranded shortly before the 2015 elections so much so that the Buhari myth became so persuasive almost to the point of deification.
But time makes all the difference in the affairs of not only men but also nations.
It took less than a month after he took oath of office as president for some discerning Nigerians to realise that Buhari’s unflattering tendencies portend danger for the country. Yet, some were not quite perspicacious. But three years hence, the brand has become toxic, having contaminated the country’s filial bonds, which, no matter how tenuous they were before now, endured. Nigeria, despite all its challenges, was work in progress. The problems we faced were the birth pangs of nationhood. They were bound to be difficult but not insurmountable. What was needed was unrelenting selflessness in pursuit of common good, an anathema to Buhari.
Those who voted for him in 2015 believed they were electing a president for Nigeria.
But Buhari knew where he was headed and gave a clue in his first major policy statement as president-elect in a speech he delivered before an audience of exclusively prominent northern Moslem leaders on May 2, 2015 at Queen Amina Hall, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
“I charge you to join me as we build a new northern Nigeria in a generation … the best investment we can make in the north is not finding oil in the Chad Basin … we will start with one local government in each state until we get to every school in all of northern Nigeria … To achieve this, I have secured a northern rehabilitation fund … to rebuild the north after the devastation of Boko Haram insurgency … Join me my brothers and sisters and let us finish the work our forefather, Ahmadu Bello, started,” he exhorted his audience.
He didn’t seek the presidency for 12 years to rebuild Nigeria. As Professor Ben Nwabueze observed recently, this speech “portrays the picture of someone driven by something more than the ordinary ambition to become President of Nigeria.
“Buhari was driven by a passion, the passion of religious fanaticism or a religious zealot, to become president of Nigeria in order to carry on and finish the work started by his forebear, Sir Ahmadu Bello, including the Sardauna’s fond idea to extend the rule of the Moslem north throughout the country by means of a jihad.”
This dire portrayal may seem outlandish, but some of the president’s actions, utterances and postures since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, bear Nwabueze out. An example is his appeal to Benue leaders who met with him at the Aso Rock Villa on Monday, January 16, over the killing of 73 of their kinsmen by Fulani herdsmen on New Year day.
Addressing the delegation led by Governor Samuel Ortom, and which included Deputy Governor Benson Abounu, former Senate President David Mark, former Governor George Akume, Senators Barnabas Gemade and John Waku, Generals Lawrence Onoja and John Atom Kpera, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly, Terkimbir Kyambe, etc., the president admonished his grieving visitors to accommodate the villains.
“Your Excellency, the governor, and all the leaders here, I am appealing to you to try to restrain your people … I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen. You can also be assured that I am just as worried, and concerned with the situation,’’ he said.
More than two weeks after the fatal attacks by a group already labelled by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015 as the fourth deadliest known terrorist group in the world – only Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Shabab terror groups were deemed deadlier – Buhari, the same president whose regime declared the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), a self-determination group, a terror organisation could not muster the will to declare murderous herdsmen same.
More than two weeks after the cold-blooded and gruesome murder of hapless Nigerians, no arrest has been made even when the umbrella group of the herdsmen, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), had on Sunday, January 14, 2018, admitted, literally, that the massacre was in revenge for herdsmen and cows allegedly killed in Benue and Taraba states by natives.
Yet, this is a government that had severally claimed that these terrorists were not Nigerians. When did they suddenly become fellow countrymen?
The implication of the president’s plea is that he truly believes that the herdsmen are victims in this war of attrition. That explains why rather than bringing the full weight of the law on them, they are shielded. That explains why people who should be hiding from the long arms of the law are brazenly addressing press conference, threatening more violence if a law validly enacted by a state and which by no means violates the Nigerian Constitution, is not abrogated.
Even if these blood-sucking vampires were foreigners as the government often claims, isn’t that the more reason why they should be vanquished? Why is a government that hoists on a totem its trumped-up ability to secure the lives and property of the citizens feigning helplessness in the face of unprecedented bloodshed in the country? Truth is, this wanton spilling of human blood continues unabated because Buhari’s government and its security forces have elected to do little or nothing to prevent, investigate or hold perpetrators accountable. How can anyone explain this lack of willingness to prosecute perpetrators of these vile acts in the face of overwhelming and unassailable evidence?
Just as it was the case in his first coming as military head of state, the arrogance of the Buhari government is insufferable. Its insensitivity and imperviousness have led to the elevation of ethnicity and nepotism to principles of state policy. The consequence is negation of good governance. Or is the best government no longer that, which for good or bad, carries the majority of the governed along?
Buhari neither means well nor has a salvific agenda for Nigeria. His actions and utterances are visceral, disrespectful and dehumanises Nigerians just as his presidency remains the most potent threat Nigeria faces today. His body language ratchets up tension in the polity. His sense of entitlement is exasperating. He must be stopped or Nigeria is doomed.
President Buhari is one man, who, despite the lofty heights God placed him – former military governor of the defunct Northeast, petroleum minister, head of state, etc. – he could not rise above debilitating and petty primordial loyalties. Here was a man whose myth was so romanticized barely three years ago that many Nigerians believed that he didn’t even need to talk to fix Nigeria. His body language alone was the magic wand and he almost got away with the false portrayal, until his prejudice, nepotism, clannishness, provincialism, bigotry and absolute lack of empathy betrayed him.
Still, I believe that President Buhari is a man to be pitied because it is apparent he cannot help himself. But it behoves well-meaning Nigerians who are desirous of charting a new course for their beleaguered country to salvage it by doing the needful as 2019 beckons if Buhari decides to hearken to the self-serving entreaties of sycophants urging him to prolong the agony of Nigerians for another four years.
*Ikechukwu Amaechi is the publisher of TheNiche newspaper (email@example.com)