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A government of my people

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 03, 2019 Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari looks on while giving a press conference during his official state visit at Union Buildings in Pretoria. – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on February 17, 2021 condemned the abduction of schoolboys from a school in central Nigeria and ordered a rescue operation, his office said. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)


Across the land today, and in many political circumstances, we all hold President Muhammadu Buhari responsible for our collective tragedies. A symptom of the sickness in Nigeria today is a certain level of insecurity not before experienced, and eloquently expressed through kidnappings for ransom. While the governors across the land collect almost a billion monthly to secure their states, we all look to the chief security officer of the land, Muhammadu Buhari, for action, reprieve or respite. As our naira steadily declines in the face of an egalitarian world economy, which is dwindling revenue from oil, Nigerians hurl all manner of insults at Muhammadu Buhari. After all, didn’t he make all of those fantastic promises prior to being elected for his first and second terms? Didn’t he give the impression that as a former military head of state that he had the muscle and chutzpah to deal with security issues in Nigeria?

It is well though that we fault him. But in all these, is Mr President the one at the offices in public and private establishments, at local printing shops where the proprietors are unable to deliver on simple assignments? If there’s a national malaise from where Nigeria need refabricating, we need to redefine what we really mean when we say that Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people.

If there is evidence to back up claims that Goodluck Jonathan’s people took over Aso Rock, there is none so far that his successor’s kinsmen have been thronging Aso Rock seeking favours. In spite of that though, Muhammadu Buhari has taken clannishness beyond this millennium, rubbishing his quote of belonging to all and to none. First, he made his kinsmen his cocoon – almost all were Hausa/Fulani. Then in the appointment of the security machinery of Nigeria, personnel were nearly all Hausa/Fulani. For all other parastatals and MDAs, the famous body language of Muhammadu Buhari is such that he favours his own people rather than the Nigerian people – fueling speculations that in building a rail to Niger Republic, that his real people are Nigerien rather than Nigerians.

As a consequence, democracy becomes government of my people rather than of the people. It is what is fueling these agitations of, for succession, especially when the body language of the incumbent indicates that it is God that has put him there for his people, not for Nigeria or anyone else.

And therefore, we need to begin to interrogate the concept of people in the context and course of taking Nigeria forward. There are pastors, imams and very many interest groups today who promote the slow motion our country is passing through today simply because the person in power is either a Muslim, Christian or our religious brethren or sisthren. There are governors sending congratulatory messages to successful Nigerians in the Diaspora, only just because the names of these successful people in sports especially, have some ethnic background with the governor. It does not matter to them that part of why these successful sportsmen and women left Nigeria is because ethnic and primordial considerations pushed them out in the first place. We believe therefore that in defining democracy as government of the people, Nigerian leaders and followers must interpret people in the generic term rather than the primordial. Those who would succumb to the ethnic blackmail of their people, are the ones leading this country to the brink. At no point has any ethnic Nigerian group laid claims to an exclusive ownership of Nigeria than the way we have it now. For now, because Muhammadu Buhari is President, his people behave like some conquistadors who bestride over a conquered Nigeria.
• Etemiku, editor in Chief of WADONOR (cultural voice of the Delta) is deputy executive director of CERLSI.

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