As Buhari comes to judgement…
President Muhammadu Buhari has come to judgment. After exercising presidential power, judgment follows. Pricked by pangs of conscience on the last Sallah Day, Buhari realised that he committed many injustices against numerous Nigerians during his eight-year reign. Consequently, he apologised to Nigerians and begged for their pardon. “God gave me an incredible opportunity to serve the country. We are all human, and if I have hurt some people along the line of my service to the country, I ask that they pardon me… All those whom I have hurt, I ask that they pardon me,” said a seemingly remorseful Buhari.
It is not surprising that Buhari is now sitting in judgment with his conscience. A man reaps whatever he sows. The obligation to avoid inflicting physical or psychological harm on others is a primary ethical teaching of Prophet Mohammed (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). “He who causes harm will be harmed by Allah, and he who acts in a hostile manner will be treated in a hostile manner by Allah” (Jami’al-Tirmidhi, No. 1306). Unfortunately, the Buhari administration has caused tremendous harm to many Nigerians. As we speak, many Nigerians, young and old, are leaving the country in search of the so-called greener pastures abroad. And if the mass exodus of Nigerian medical doctors from Nigeria to Europe and America is not arrested now, there will be fewer or no medical doctors available in Nigeria by 2030. Writhing under the pains of suffocating Buhari’s policies, many multinationals shut down their operations in Nigeria, while others simply fired their staff. From 2016-2018, for example, 9.3 million Nigerians lost their jobs. From 2015-2018, poverty in Nigeria tremendously increased. Nigeria has now taken over from India as the poverty capital of the world. According to the African Development Bank (ADB) Nigeria Economic Outlook, about 152 million Nigerians live on less than $2 a day, representing approximately 80% of the country’s estimated population of 190 million.
The United States Department of State has issued a damning assessment of Buhari’s government. In the 48-page Human Rights Violation Report, it stated that impunity remained widespread at all levels of government in Nigeria during Buhari’s reign. It notes that the Buhari government lacks transparency. The report also indicted the Buhari government for not adequately investigating or holding police or military personnel accountable for many extrajudicial killings. The Buhari government came to power on the mantra of fighting corruption. But tragically, the Buhari government is now defined by corruption. For example, the United States Human Rights Report has scored Buhari’s government low for corruption. The report states, among other things, “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”
Buhari’s currency redesign policy is still inflicting pain on Nigerians. Imagine having money in your bank account and not being able to access it because of a badly-conceived currency redesign policy. Imagine bank customers endlessly queuing up under the sun to access their own money in the bank.
At the twilight of the 2023 Election, Buhari promised Nigeria and the international community that he would leave a legacy of a free and fair election in his eight-year tenure. Why has Buhari not queried or sacked the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for organising a scandalous election in Nigeria?
A guilty person might escape human justice wrought in the court of law; they might take flight from their guilt through ingenious rationalisation, but they cannot escape from the ultimate justice in the recesses of their conscience. The natural law is written in the heart of every rational person. Therefore, every rational person, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, Marxist, internet free-thinker, juju worshipper, agnostic, animist, or otherwise, is under the judgment of the natural law written in their heart. For example, in one of the tragedies of Sophocles, the woman Antigone sought permission from the King to give her dead brother a burial befitting a human being. But the King refused because the dead brother was adjudged an enemy of the State. However, Antigone approached the King and told him that there was another law (natural law) higher than the King’s law, which obliged the King to give her brother a proper burial. Antigone was neither a Christian nor a Muslim. She had never read the Bible or the Koran, yet she recognized a higher law, the law of conscience, which obliged the King to give her brother a befitting burial. When we commit an injustice, our consciences continue to torture us until we make amends.
There is this anecdote of some Japanese ladies who had committed several abortions in their youthful days. Pricked by their consciences, they went and molded some effigies that actually looked like the babies they had murdered, placed them one by one on a platform, and started bowing before these effigies, asking them for forgiveness for the murders they had committed. This is natural law at work. In Dostoevsky’s epic work, Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov tried to erase his crime from his heart by ingenious rationalisation, but upon discovering the inescapable basis for ultimate justice in his heart, he went to Siberia and served an eight-year prison term to appease his conscience.
Therefore, if Buhari really wants to appease his conscience and have a restful and peaceful retirement in Daura or Niger Republic, he should make amends or reparations for the many injustices he committed against Nigerians. Allah will treat him the way he treats others. Therefore, Buhari should treat people well in the remaining days of his tenure. He should show mercy to others to enjoy mercy and peace in Daura. He should show kindness. Allah loves those who are kind. Therefore, Buhari should order the release of all prisoners unjustly detained in Nigerian correctional centers, including Nnamdi Kanu, who, in actual fact, has been discharged and acquitted by the court but is deliberately left to languish in prison. Buhari should also ensure that his government obeys all pending court orders served on it.
Ninety percent of President Buhari’s key political appointees are from his part of the country, and he refused to alter this imbalance in conformity with the pluralistic and multi-ethnic nature of Nigerian society and the Federal Character principle as enshrined in section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution. Now, as he is quitting office, how would Allah judge him for this act of injustice? The Golden Rule states, “Honesty is the best policy.” Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, says, “stand firm for justice…even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives.” Therefore, Buhari should stand firm for justice and correct the lopsided political appointments in his government before he leaves office to avoid his conscience torturing him when he retires to Daura.
Ethical conduct is the anchor of the Islamic personality of a Muslim. There is an obligation on Muslims to improve and enhance the welfare of others, including care for the sick. But rather than improve and re-equip the existing public hospitals in Nigeria so that many sick Nigerians could go there for medical treatment, Buhari prefers going for medical tourism in London to cater for his own health. Therefore, in his remaining days in office, Buhari should show mercy to sick Nigerians. He should visit the hospitals and console the sick patients there. He should ensure that the daughter of Zion and conscience of Nigeria, Leah Sharibu, regains her freedom. Buhari has not only over-borrowed money but also misused the borrowed money in inanities. In fact, Nigeria’s rising debt profile spells doom for the incoming government.
Therefore, if Buhari wants peace in his retirement, he should team up with the incoming government to rein in Nigeria’s debt. Buhari is very conscious of his place in history. He is afraid that history will judge him harshly and negatively. But he should not forget that he has repeatedly promised to end insecurity in Nigeria. Even in March 2023, the President reiterated his government’s commitment to winning the war against terrorism and other forms of insecurity. The truth of the matter however is that insecurity in Nigeria has worsened despite Buhari’s assurances that he will defeat insecurity before leaving office.
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