The change that chained us
By Toyo Jimmy
Angered by monumental corruption, incompetence, insecurity, impunity, cabalism, and the crass arrogance of the then ruling party (PDP), Nigerians yearned for change. Compelled by this yearning, they sought for a different pilot in 2015. In our estimation, the pilot needed to be someone who is firm, credible, incorruptible, competent, and with a good grasp of governance. ‘Candidate’ Buhari fitted perfectly into this mould. Tales of Buhari’s integrity and no-nonsense demeanour were highly seductive to sedate our memory against his ‘misdeeds’ as a military ruler. Groan with patriotism and exigency of saving Nigeria from being run aground, most Nigerians were ready to abandon, and indeed abandoned, their traditional, ethnic and religious ties to root for Buhari. In the end, Buhari won. The air was filled with joy and some sense of fulfilment. A strong statement was made that, power belongs to the people and that change is inevitable.
At his swearing-in, President Buhari famously and tastily declared that he belonged to nobody. The media were awash with such bold statement. There was a great feeling of satisfaction among Nigerians – our hopes were alive that we have snatched power from the establishment and given to the masses. ‘We now have a nation where considerations for appointments and employment will not be based on ethnic, religious or political lines,’ retorted some.
More than three years down the line, our hopes have been dashed. President Buhari appears not to be the beautiful bride we all celebrated. The iniquities that the past administration was accused of have been committed by the present administration and even more.
Insecurity is still pervasive in the North East. The promise to decapitate Boko Haram has not been fulfilled. Some weeks ago, the Governor of Borno State while on a visit to President Buhari helplessly broke down in tears as he narrated the ordeal of his citizens in the hands of Boko Haram.
Corruption, which forms the main policy plank of this administration, is fought selectively and dishonestly. Corruption is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (9th ed.) as dishonest or illegal behaviour especial of people in authority. Many instances of dishonest behaviour of the President Buhari abounds, but a few will suffice. It amounts to dishonest behaviour by the President Buhari for a minister who allegedly served the country without having her NYSC certificate is escorted out of the country and not made to face the law. It is dishonesty when President Buhari turned a blind eye to collection of bribe by a governor in his party and even went ahead to defend the governor, while other governors still under immunity are investigated and their state government accounts froze by the EFCC.
Impunity is the order of the day under President Buhari’s administration and court orders are flouted at every turn. It is unconscionable that Dazuki and El Zakzaky are detained for over two years even in the face orders of court granting them bail. President Buhari acts based on his whims and caprices, the very attitude legal scholars feared when they decided to propound certain theories – rule of law, separation of power, checks and balances – which have now been adopted as being part and parcel of democracy. The President has suspended the Chief Justice of Nigeria in the most brazen manner without recourse to the law. President Buhari has exhibited behaviour characteristic of a despot.
President Buhari has displayed the highest level of incompetence. The President does not understand questions asked and cannot give rationale answers to them. At law, the President would have been called an ‘incompetent witness.’ The President has committed faux pas and blunders of unpardonable proportion.
Cabals have taken over President Buhari’s administration. Many plots have been hatched without President Buhari knowing about them. The National Assembly was laid siege by the State Security Service (SSS) without the knowledge of the presidency. The incident totally embarrassed the government which led to the sack of the then Director General of the SSS. It is alleged that the presidency did not know of the proposed arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria before the Code of Conduct Tribunal until few hours to the arraignment.
President Buhari’s party – the All Progressives Party (APC) – has acted with crass arrogance exhibited by the repented PDP. This arrogance reached its nadir when the Chairman of the Party declared to the whole world that the sins committed by politicians are wash away when they join the ruling party.
Moving forward, Nigeria deserves better. A nation so blessed with human resources deserves to be competently represented. With hindsight, this is not the change we bargained for. To be clear, the problems enumerated above existed before President Buhari took charge of government, but Nigerians expected that things would be done differently with Buhari being in charge. Under President Buhari, our situation has become worse and the change seems meaningless. To worsen things, the economy has degenerated and there is high rate of unemployment in the land.
In the forthcoming election, our options seem limited. We have Moghalu, a young and vibrant Nigerian, capable of turning things around. But does he have the necessary political base to win election in Nigeria? Pragmatically, the answer is in the negative. Even in the most civilised clime, it will still be difficult for Moghalu to win a national election given his lack of base. What option do we then have? Atiku seems to be the only expedient option. He is not without baggage, but he appears to be the lesser of two evils. Though he has been accused of corruption, it is over five years since he left office and no charge has been brought against him. And he has a formidable base that sustain his ride to power.
President Buhari needs to be voted out if Nigeria is not to be plunged into abyss by Buhari and this men. The change we voted for has now become a chain that has tied our hands and feet. We must cut it free and embrace a new era. The options may be limited, but we have a choice.
The Conscience of the Liberal