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Another paradise has just been lost

By Abraham Ogbodo
05 August 2018   |   2:36 am
I apologize for the rude exit. When one friend called to find out what happened to Backlash, I told him the bitter truth. I was tired of pushing positions that had not drawn down on President Buhari’s nepotism, tyranny and cluelessness on one hand and enhanced his statesmanship......

President Muhammadu Buhari

I apologize for the rude exit. When one friend called to find out what happened to Backlash, I told him the bitter truth. I was tired of pushing positions that had not drawn down on President Buhari’s nepotism, tyranny and cluelessness on one hand and enhanced his statesmanship, democratic credentials and capacity to govern well on the other hand.

My last appearance on this page was on April 15. Since then, the degeneration in national life has continued unabated. In fact, the bizarre has become the norm. Yet, the purpose today after the break is not to give any good news. It is to reinforce the futility in expecting a reversal in the narrative of negativity. I apologize for increasing your worries. It is just that President Buhari is incapable of changing tactics and strategy and how he came to be infused with the concept of change shall remain the biggest moral scam of all-time.

The sorest point in the administration is the conversion of the entire Middle Belt and parts of the far north into killing fields by Fulani herdsmen. He has refused to be moved by the intensity of the carnage. If anything, the killers are encouraged to step up because all the Federal Government does after a bloody attack is to proclaim a readiness to bring the killers to book.

Between when I went on self-exile and my voluntary return today, about 1000 people have been massacred by herdsmen at a frequency that is as horrendous as the scope of damage. Across communities in Sokoto, Zamfara, Adamawa, Kogi, Nassarawa, Taraba, Benue and Plateau States, Fulani marauders destroy communities unchallenged. It climaxed on June 24 and 25 in Plateau State, where more than 200 people were killed and many communities completely obliterated.

It was casually explained that the attack in Plateau State and the attendant losses in lives and property was to compensate for the loss of cows by the headers who claimed their 300 cows were rustled by locals. And they got close to balancing the equation at one human being to one cow. Even when statements were volunteered and detailed enough to establish a prima facie case against the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, the federal authorities feigned deafness and looked away. On one occasion, President Buhari even urged peaceful co-existent between killer herdsmen and local farmers. No diligent prosecution has been launched to make the killers answer for their crimes.

Now, with 2019 so visible on the radar, matters have become even more complicated as every other item is taken off the governance menu except the re-election of 76-year old Buhari. He has become the benchmark against which democracy and good governance are measured in Nigeria. The mantra now is that to ensure progress President Buhari must not retire prematurely. It is made to seem as if something so precious will be lost if Buhari fails to return to the presidency in 2019.

All hands are seriously on deck to stop Buhari from leaving in 2019. The police, military and EFCC are all working round the clock. It has literally become ‘a do or die affair.’ It was so in last month’s governorship election in Ekiti, where the APC candidate Dr. Kayode Fayemi emerged winner. The police that had not been able to successfully pre-empt and burst any attack by the herdsmen suddenly doled out 30,000 men and women to ensure nothing went wrong with the polls in Ekiti. Last year in Ondo, it was also ‘a do or die affair.’ In short, Operation Capture Oduduwa for Buhari in 2019 has been declared and it also a do or die affair.

Meanwhile, after three years of Buhari’s operation, what is left of democracy in Nigeria is so distant from its standard definition of government of the people by the people and for the people. The attendant privileges and what makes democracy majestic have been recklessly invested in the exigency to return Buhari in 2019. The outcome is a brand that lies midway between anarchy and full-blown dictatorship. And none but only the political class is to blame for the unfortunate derailment.

But I am so happy that things are turning out this way. The ugly events have at least exploded a lot of assumptions about Buhari, who in the build up to the 2015 general elections, was packaged by a complacent political class as the one to pull back Nigeria from the precipice. It has not happened and it is likely not going to happen even if Buhari stays till 2023.

In the 2015 general elections, an inordinate hunger for power caused otherwise righteous men and women to enlist in coven. The choice back then was between the survival of democracy, fairly approximated by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and an un-interrogated hope of good governance which Buhari taunted through a sustained media orchestration. The same forces that battled the military establishment to recover democracy in 1999 got blinded by tactical reprieves against Jonathan and the PDP and lost sight of the more strategic goal of retaining democracy.

But our politicians missed it big. For instance, with his own hands, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the man who sacrificed so much for the rebirth of democracy handed back the hard won trophy to the enemy in anticipation of good governance. Nothing could be more illustrative of selling one’s birth right for a mesh of porridge. Till date, he has neither got democracy nor the good governance that he voted for; not even due recognition of his prodigious efforts in creating the new dawn. This is called double (or is it triple?) jeopardy in jurisprudence.

Tinubu was not alone in the ignominious voyage to nowhere. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, Samuel Ortom, Audu Ogbe, Aminu Tambuwal, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Chris Ngige, Rotimi Amaechi and a host of other pseudo-democrats actually scrambled to be misled. In their hurry to eat fat, they forgot the unwritten rule in power game, which is a tendency in the king to liquidate every king maker upon ascendance.

On the intellectual front, Professor Itse Sagay, Femi Falana and Festus Keyamu have relentlessly explained away every official bad step as an innovation in the task to recover Nigeria from the vicious grip of corruption. It was in this context that Buhari’s mid-night attack on serving justices automatically became a noble mission to rescue the country from corruption. Even Prof Wole Soyinka is no longer as forthcoming as he was some four years ago. Instead, he has become fixated on checkmating former President Olusegun Obasanjo. His grouse is that on account of his real and imagined sins, Obasanjo who has been lately active in efforts to take down Buhari should not be the person to head the mission to recover Nigeria.

I understand perfectly. But ejoo Prof, where we are now does not permit the luxury of critical characterization of who should or should not come on board the rescue mission. Even God sometimes uses the devil to reach His purpose after which He will return with a much harsher deal for Lucifer. The scripture, for instance, would have been left hanging and unfulfilled if there had not been Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus Christ. In the matter at hand, both saints and sinners should be allowed equal access, at least, in the short run. After all, only four years ago, Soyinka and Obasanjo were part of the united team to bring back Buhari. There is time for mock fight; this is not the time. When pirates quarrel, they settle for the sake of the big haul ahead.

For me, Buhari has not disappointed anybody. He has been most faithful to his character. He lives life as he understands it. As a president, he wants good and law abiding citizens who obey the leader not noisy democrats. If I may ask, what was on the mind of Tinubu, Saraki, Atiku and others when they went into the Buhari alliance? Were they expecting the snake to beget an offspring that is not long? Or were they expecting a change of character simply because the snake had changed skin? It was the height of political naivety and buffoonery!

In about three years, President Buhari has almost finished the job of decapitating all the kingmakers. He is still on the prowl. His approach challenges the Machiavellian prescription in ruthlessness. He attacks with deadly ferocity and orders his targets not to run for cover. For the first time in the history of party politics in Nigeria, defection from one party to another is being branded a crime and security operatives are afield to apprehend the criminals. Because of this, aggrieved APC members cannot defect to the PDP or alternative political platforms without threatening consequences.

Cross-carpeting is not a new word in the national political lexicon. It happened in the old Western Region parliament when overnight, the then Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe-led National Congress of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) lost its majority edge to Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Action Group (AG) due to defection of parliamentarians from the former to the latter. Chinua Achebe said in his The Trouble With Nigeria that instead of the whole Zik of Africa to hold fast and regain lost grounds, he fell from that Olympian height and scampered across the Niger to become Owelle of Onitsha.

Same way, if Buhari is less able through engagement to hold fast in Abuja, he is at liberty to climb down from the hilltop and scamper across the Sahel to become the Emir of Daura in 2019 and nobody will be hurt. Partisan politics is all about consensus building not intimidation. The Buhari cum APC mindset is dangerous for democracy.

Added to this is a new affliction called Oshiomhole, who is standing in one corner with a cane in hand like a head-teacher before his pupils and barking instructions at cabinet ministers and everybody.

To conclude, I say with all the emphasis I can muster that it is not Buhari that has failed Nigerians. At fault are the democrats who fought to win democracy but conspired for their own selfish ends to let it slip off. They went in the wrong direction and hoped most gratuitously and foolishly to arrive safely at destination. If you should ask me, I would suggest they be charged with crime against the 180 million Nigerians. This is much graver than treason, which is a mere crime against the state. 2019 offers another opportunity. They can either choose to retrace and reclaim their prize or forever remain silent.