Aragbada: Buhari, warlord in bare-hand combat
POLITICS, like the gladiatorial pistolling of enemies by the military, without pretence, is war. Unlike the conventional warfare, however, where disloyalty and disobedience are synonymous with self-immolation, politics could in real terms be regarded as a congregation of human beings with diverse values and specious but exterior amity. It is in this kind of murky state of political space that a retired military General and former Head of State of enviable pedigree has presented himself for service once again in a civil capacity.
The candidature of Buhari as the presidential flag bearer of the APC has jolted the PDP, as the beneficiaries of the old order. Despite the persistent assault on our collective psyche by the marauding cabals, Nigerians are wiser as the antecedents of General Buhari which have survived the torture of wicked attacks can no longer be poisoned with the serpentine tongues of hatchet agents. He has come at the right time to bring this great country to the glorious path of rectitude and socio-economic rejuvenation.
Corruption, which is stoutly sustained with generous stipends to hangers-on will require a stern individual like Buhari to extirpate. The natural reaction of the evil-minded persons to any form of change is to obstruct the path of change. Buhari as an agent of change remain a man of destiny. Some pessimists have argued with stress that the country needs no change with the familiar mantra of “change to what?”
The suffocating socio-economic scenario in the land reveals the need for a quick and drastic change from the prevailing decadence, which if care is not taken, will obliterate our cherished values of honesty, empathy, hardwork and decency. We need a change to reverse the reign of corruption, insecurity, illiteracy, ignorance, poverty and greed, political sit-tightism, leadership deification, infrastructural decay and youth’s apathy, among others.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared openly at the National Convention of the party in Abuja that his party was chronically beset with injustice and lack of equity where monkey dey work and baboon dey chop. It will be a tragedy for Nigerians to entrust their future in the hands of such a political party. President Goodluck Jonathan has been described as a complete gentleman; unfortunately, gentility is not sufficient to salvage this nation from the precipice of collapse.
The exodus of international conglomerates such as, Dunlop, Michelin etc. to neighbouring Ghana due to deficit of electricity supply has never been so bad in the annals of Nigeria with a consequent effacement of employment for the citizens.
Corruption in Nigeria has reached a dangerous apogee so much that the scourge, which used to be abominated in the past has become a visible part of our value system. Pitiably, Nigeria whose poverty level was put at 15% in 1960, when she got independence from Britain has now climbed to 70% by world bank rating thus positioning this country as one of the poorest nations in the universe. It is on the basis of the country’s socio-economic dysfunction that a global body – The Fund For Peace (FFP) – a few years ago rated Nigeria as the 14th failed country in the world and 10th in Africa. Some of the core criteria adopted by FFP are security apparatus, factionalised elite, external intervention, extreme poverty, economic decline, uneven development, group grievances, human and capital flight.
Security, which is the most salient ingredient of human existence, has become a luxury in Nigeria. Thousands of people have perished needlessly due to insecurity. For anyone to argue that we are not sitting on a keg of gunpowder is to carry the joke too far. Our pretentious obliviousness of this brooding spectre cannot obliterate the consequences of danger. We cannot continue to dine like King Nero and expect Rome not to burn. Unemployment of employable youths is dangerously palpable in Nigeria.
Education in Nigeria is in a shambles. Only a very few of our graduates can defend the certificates they hold for no fault of theirs, as no education can rise above the level of the teaching staff.
The health sector has deteriorated and some of our hospitals are worse than prescription centres, with only the rich having access to high quality health care in advanced countries.
In the year 2005, the country exited from the Paris Club debt gulag of $4.7 billion with a lot of national hilarity, but 10 years later, the country has accumulated over $10 billion external debt and about N11 trillion domestic debts without tangible projects to justify these humongous liabilities.
Despite the rise in our GDP, the recent World Bank report on Nigeria revealed that Nigeria would be one of the 10 countries of the world that would be the largest contributors to world poverty in 2030. This is due to her unimpressive growth rate which must rise from its present rate of 2.3 per cent in real terms to 3.2 per cent. Anything short of this, according to the report, will attract 61.5 million poor people from Nigeria to world poverty rate. Nigeria is no doubt in dire straits.
The jubilation of Nigerians on December 31, 1983 when the military struck was palpable. The socio-economic rot, despite the admonition of elder statesmen like Chief Obafemi Awolowo and others was festering. The sanctions that met the offences at the time, although heavy, were in tandem with military exigency. Despite the unquestionable authority to deal with the offenders without due process, Buhari’s government ensured that every offender went through due process, and in fact, Chief Gani Fawehinmi of blessed memory represented many accused persons. It is on record that the president of the tribunal that tried Pa. Adekunle Ajasin in his verdict said he was yet to see a man as honest as papa, whom he described as totally incorruptible, he later removed his cap and bowed for papa three times before acquitting the old man with generous eulogies.
Jonathan’s spin doctors have consistently missed the points. If there is anything, they have inadvertently boosted the image of Buhari. They started with Buhari being a religious fanatic. Unfortunately, their permutation on faith-based jingoism failed. Buhari, according to independent source, was said to have approved Sunday as a free day for Christian soldiers, in difference to biblical injunction, which recognizes that day as Sabbath day – that is “rest day”. According to the source, the Muslim soldiers who sought for the same off-duty on Friday were asked to buttress their request with Quranic injunction which they could not and therefore forfeited their demand for full rest on Fridays. That is not all, the man, Buhari is confirmed to have kept a Christian cook and chief driver for the past 25 years, The issue of his certificates was also brought into focus. Not many people knew that Buhari is a distinguished alumnus of the century old United States War College and also master’s degree holder in strategic studies and one of the foundation graduates of the Nigerian Defence Academy.
Not satisfied, the healthy soldier, whose medical record has never been negatively indented by medical experts, was again alleged of suffering from a chronic ailment. The injection of unverified negative issues to electioneering has shown, unfortunately, the level to which some idle trouble mongers can go to achieve an end.
As Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) chairman, General Buhari was washed clean by the probe panel set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo regime. A 1998 report in NEW AFRICAN praised the PTF under Buhari for its transparency, calling it a rare success story.
Those jittery of Buhari’s iron-fist discipline as a military head of state should be consoled with the fact that his second coming as a democrat will be moderated by democratic norms and values. But that will not spare economic rats, as a sinner will not go unpunished. Buhari will not fold his arms and engage in buck-passing when the bucks actually stop on his table.
The ball is in our court, we must vote rightly for Buhari. Those who keep silent in the face of injustice and socio-economic subjugation cannot but suffer from historical guilt.
• Phil Aragbada Esq. is a former newspaper editor and retired bank executive.