By Emmanuel Ogundele
For those who have watched the direction of President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration for well over two years now, there is no doubting the fact that we have made a wrong choice. Not that there was anything to choose from between a weakling called Goodluck Jonathan who allowed free stealing to go on in his government unabated and, at that time, a serial loser at presidential elections since 1999 called Muhammadu Buhari.
However, little did we know then that it was a choice between a present disaster and a would-be tragic figure. The facts don’t come out in good time and so people were quick to paint a future devil in a Saint’s colour. While the drive to choose anybody but Jonathan among the political elite which eventually percolated down to the people, was so pressing at that time, it was not a well-thought out choice. For while Nigerians act as if they operate a two-party system, we actually run a multi-party democracy.
To blind our eyes to the true state of things and elect an uninformed and acutely incompetent president is a dent on our political judgment and general intelligence. Truly we got rid of Jonathan and look at what we have. I am not sure that when Nigerians were going to the polls they had bargained for what they have at the moment: a highly nepotistic leader, insensitively religious and deeply incompetent person. We have today sitting as president of this country, the worst we have ever had, one who has beaten all records in terms of poor governance.
Many have argued that Buhari was voted for because in his first coming as military head of state in conjunction with the late Tunde Idiagbon, ran a fairly credible government even though it was an authoritarian regime. What was however hidden from many at that time was that Idiagbon was the engine room of that government because of the quality of his grey matter. Buhari was more of a ceremonial head of state. Our seeking to please the Fulani power elite as a collective has not helped us at all as a country. Now that Idiagbon is no longer available and even though Osinbajo is vice president, he is only there at the pleasure of the president. I believe that Osinbajo is more competent that Buhari, but the 1999 constitution weigh very heavily on the side of the President to the utter disadvantage of the vice president. What it means is that what Buhari did not do in his first coming, he has now come to do during his second coming: total dominance.
This nation has never been this divided and never has anyone governed Nigeria with total disregard for the principle of Federal Character like Buhari. He behaves very much like an ethnic purist as if Nigeria is meant for a particular race alone. As former President Obasanjo has said, Buhari is lacking in the requisite knowledge of the internal dynamics of this country. We therefore have as president a different person from the one that was elected. Truth be told then, Buhari was elected in error. As a country, we have to live with the grave error till 2019 and at a great price.
The reinstatement of the ex-executive secretary of the NHIS, Professor Yusuf is clear statement of Buhari’s blindness to competence, integrity and decency. This is not the first time. Maina was reinstated with the full knowledge and approval of the president. I am almost sure he would have reinstated the ex-DG of Securities and Exchange Commission if not because of the wrong signal it would send to foreign investors. What is clear from the running of the Buhari administration is that “there are different strokes for different folks”. An ethnic chauvinist like him cannot see anything wrong with someone from his own ethnic group stealing anything. After all, “it is their time” having been out of power for so long.
We have heard how much Yusuf was boasting that the Minister for Health who is Yoruba is helpless against him as he would soon be reinstated by the president.
This is what we witnessing. If I were the Minister for health, I will tender my letter of resignation immediately. I always think this would not happen because people have compromised themselves. To steal 919 Million Naira from this agency and regard it as nothing is a proof of how corrupt Buhari and his government is and this is part of why we have dropped on the corruption perception index of Transparency International. While you can fool people locally, you cannot fool the world.
What has landed us where we are today is our uncritical admiration of yesterday’s men. We shall continue to pay a high price for this until we have the uncommon wisdom to look for a truly Pan-Nigerian leader within some of the marginal parties and vote for such candidate and not his party. This is the only way our democracy can succeed and make a meaningful impact on the lives of our people. Otherwise, it is better to have a referendum as to whether we should go our separate ways which I believe is the best option for us. I have often wondered if Nigeria will ever live up to its dreams so long as we remain only on the optics a united country though a highly and bitterly divided one. With killings all over the land and poverty increasing through every length and breadth of this country, if I were Buhari, I will leave the rest of my presidential tenure for Osinbajo to complete. This is what he should do if he were a true patriot. Time is not on the side of Buhari to do what is right. But Nigeria itself is on its last lap.
• Fr. Emmanuel Ogundele sent this piece from Epe, Lagos State.