The Buhari We Should Know
By Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.
With the pressure from civil rights groups and activists mounting, but particularly with the 2019 election in view, President Muhammadu Buhari finally bowed to public pressure and embarked on an executive visit to states where herdsmen and insurgents reign supreme.
Nigerians where of course curious as to what Mr. President would say in these states in his itinerary given how he had shied away from actively confronting the problems facing them. In Zamfara, President Muhammadu Buhari turned a statistician and is quoted to have said fewer people died in Benue compared to Zamfara, a statement widely interpreted as ill-advised as it trivialised the lives of the over 70 victims of the Fulani herdsmen massacres in Benue state.
If Nigerians were hoping Mr. President would recover from his gaffes in Zamfara and be more delicate, sensitive and responsive in his speeches then the trip to Benue dislodged those expectations. Looking right into a weary Benue crowd and speaking into several media microphones with video cameras shooting away on national and international coverage, President Muhammadu Buhari openly admitted ignorance as to the compliance (or lack of thereof) of a direct order he had given to the Inspector General of Police Idris Kpotum.
In the wake of the senseless death of over 70 women, children and men in Benue state, President Buhari had ordered the IGP to temporarily relocate to Benue state to deal with the crisis. This was two months ago. By his own admission, in the days and weeks after making that order he was unknowing and unconcerned as to whether or not the directive had been followed, and if it had been, what the result so far had been.
Of course the question of if Mr. President is aware of what goes on in the country at all, if he is truly in charge of his government or he had been upstaged by the Kaduna mafia have constantly grazed headlines. While the argument that his usual jaunts outside the country for treatment and poor medical health greatly limits his capacity to commandeer his government, it is becoming apparent that the case is NOT solely one of incapacity but nonchalance and insensitivity.
A cursory look at the history and personality of President Muhammadu Buhari reveals a sad truth: he lacks the requisite empathy to lead a nation, any nation at that. Searching deeper, one might be confounded by a history that depicts the number one citizen of Nigeria as a self-centred, absorbed and insensitive individual with spare emotions for people profiled in his subconscious as kins, family or friends.
Naturally, his sycophantic aides, assistants and appointees would be quick to publicly denounce such labelling as political and untrue, but privately I vouch-safe that even they cringe at the President's apparent dearth of touch in his role as the nation's consoler-in-chief.
As earlier noted, we have seen the manifestation of Mr. President's deliberate non-emotive response to the crisis that has rocked and keeps rocking the boat in the country's middle-belt region. In Benue state, the President's tribesmen were fingered in a horrific blood-letting with a body account above 70 and an unaccounted number of severely injured people.
While the nation wailed and looked up to its president for assurances and comfort, President Buhari wasted precious days speaking through aides and assistants whose political rhetorics and non-speak only further aggravated an already implosive situation. At the state organised mass burial, not a single federal representative showed up to pay final respects to the victims of the Fulani massacre.
In a rather puerile banter to the Governor of Benue state, Samue Ortom, less that two weeks after his state had suffered massive bloodshed, the president is reported to have asked him in a cabinet meeting, " How are your cattle rearers? ". The response of the Federal government after then was to send in an IGP who ghosted on a direct presidential order with the impunity of a self-satisfied narcissist.
When the Dapchi girls kidnap broke on media, the government released about three statements in which they made contradictory statements before attempting a volte face and placing the blame at the feet of the State government. Two days after said kidnap, President Buhari was in full glare of cameras celebrating in a wedding ceremony. While all of these are recent happenstances, President Buhari 's imperial and dangerous apathy has before now reared it's head in public.
While speaking on his election bid in 2011 he is quoted to have said that if he lost then the 'bloods of the baboons and dogs' will be shed. In a rather surprising statement another day he referred to the Boko Haram group as 'our brothers' and declared that a military campaign against them was an affront on the north as a whole. In 2015 in a post-election speech after his victory at the polls, President Muhammadu Buhari made the now infamous speech where he declared he could not be expected to treat those who gave him 5% vote same as those who gave him 95%.
The whole point, mind you, is to point out that President Buhari lacks the national character to be a national leader of a nation as diverse as Nigeria. His obvious bias in his response to maurading fulani herdsmen in the north and IPOB in the south paints a policy contrast tinged with tribal prejudice.
The level of poverty in Nigeria in recent times have reached unprecedented heights. The recession may be over on paper but the misery still persists in corner shops and decrepit homes where civil servants, menial workers and other classes of workers try the utmost to survive each day on little.
The very many promises made by this government have either been denied or ignored, and criticisms against the government is now arbitrarily labelled 'hate speech', with a proposal before the Senate to invoke capital punishment on critics of the government. The response on the APC government has been to inundate Nigerians with new plans to return President Buhari to office now 2019.
Nigerians deserve much more than President Buhari could ever offer. It is foolishness to expect a man to give of what he does not have. President Buhari has shown an apparent lack of ideas on how to salvage the economy or unite the Nigerian people. His claims that he has given his all to the country only goes to show that his best is definitely not good enough. How do we expect a sick man to fix a sick nation, I ask?
Nigerians must go back to the drawing board and agree on better alternatives, while insisting on their choices at the poll. The country has suffered enough in the political experimentation of Buhari and his coterie of insensitive sycophants. We could be much more better as a nation and achieve more. One man must not be allowed to hold our future to ransom.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq. is the Principal Partner of Pelumi Olajengbesi & Co. Law Corridor and the National Coordinator of YouthLeadNigeria Campaign.