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What is ‪President Buhari up to?


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. PHOTO: SEYLLOU / AFP

The news about lives lost to herdsmen in Benue State left me wondering if it wouldn’t be best to lease Nigeria to Botswana, Tanzania or any other African country that does not tolerate gangs of unwashed thugs holding it to ransom.

I voted for President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 presidential elections and so feel entitled to vent my spleen on him for the way he is currently running the affairs of this country. Especially as it concerns the security of the nation. How can a band of robbers in whatever guise hold Nigeria by the jugular? We hear of herdsmen killings in Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau, Benue repeatedly with no intervention whatsoever from this president other than grandiose statements which only embolden and energize these criminals let loose from hell.

This president seems to surround himself with too many stake-holders who do not bother about country but only about their interests. And these people with many promissory notes will undermine his presidency. I expected him to be like Ronald Reagan, a warrior president, to tackle insecurity in Nigeria and also like him to speak to the hearts of people or like President Franklin D Roosevelt for his gift of persuasion, all of which Buhari has not been able to do so far. Popular votes is not enough reason to go sleep on a whale’s tail and even when he sees a killer whale in his dream in Benue, Buhari chooses to do nothing.


Like Goodluck Jonathan deracinated from power in 2015, President Buhari is squandering the opportunity to bring Nigerians out of extraordinary tough times. Now it seems the popular uprising in 2015 which Nigerians hailed, a movement that gave them a voice for change and which many hoped would usher in a vibrant democracy is tether-bound by a few interests group in the presidency. It is the duty of a president to rise to national baits without creating red herrings, using platforms given to analyze and solve pressing national problems. What is sad for me is that despite the fact that Buhari rode to the presidency with a clear-cut mandate which included tackling insecurity, he has done little to help people who are oppressed and killed by Fulani herdsmen and have not being able to reign in these killers in the middle belt and all over Nigeria. Watch the trajectory of killings: they are never carried out in Fulani enclaves but outside of it. Might this president have kept quiet, if these herdsmen regularly kill people in his homezone of Daura in Katsina State.

Do soldiers have to wait for the order of a president to rein in these armed murderers who go about with fire power against the laws of the country? Isn’t there a rules of engagement clause in the armed forces handbook which prescribes that armed civilians are mortal enemy of state and should be engaged with force. Why is the case of the Fulani different? I expect, just like in Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba that these terrorists would go about killing helpless people and sacking them from their home lands. A president has to be an emotive leader when it comes to insecurity of the country.

Nigeria doesn’t seem to belong to us all. One quality a good leader must have is that he must not be irascible; but, having made a decision, after careful thought and analysis, such a leader shouldn’t change that decision like mothers change the diapers of their children. The president’s pledge to secure our lives is quickly becoming a con.

Collectively, Nigerians acknowledged his capacity to lead in 2015 and couldn’t have imagined that they would get general statements to convey direction of the country. Statements so ambiguous and haven’t been able to handle large and difficult questions because of interests groups and personal agenda. President Buhari needs to provide real presidential leadership to get my vote. Political dynamic changes. There is a world of difference between being president and being a great president. To be a great president, he must use the bully pulpit to rein in all trouble makers for the sake of country.The 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report categorically ranked Nigeria as the third most terrorised nation.

Nigeria is a country where leaders are solicitors in the face of wrong. A governor in Zamfara turned cleric and declared sharia, the political version of it, to cause trouble   in a region known for peaceful coexistence which consumed lives in Kaduna and other states. Mind you, I was in Kaduna and saw too many dead bodies when trouble started and the fealty of pigs to dead bodies, a president who should have used his powers to prosecute people went about soliciting as a solicitor. Kaduna can never be as cosmopolitan as it was once where people cohabited everywhere. It’s the same way with militancy in the Niger Delta. When the men grouped, no-one said anything. Their supporters said they were on a mission only to make statements on the plight of the browbeaten people. They were tolerated and celebrated. Then they began to kidnap oil workers. Now, oil workers can’t move around without a garrison of soldiers. Some people with mercantile spirits have moved away from oil workers to kidnapping Nigerians. ‬Boko Haram like militants were financed by some people that the state is aware of but ours is a country of solicitors. What is the function of a state? The constitutional process that presidents and governors swore to uphold? The importance of political power to the people and the establishment?

The fourth republic confirmed our worst fears about politics — that our lives don’t even matter because our politicians have all turned solicitors and may have never heard about the phrase, “the will of state.

“Margaret Thatcher campaigned in the 1980s for the re-introduction of the death penalty which was stopped in the early 1970s in Britain because of the upsurge of terrorist activities of the IRA. The IRA killed many people in their fight against the state. Today they have seats in the British Parliament. It took the will of state to make Gerry Adams bow to the will of state. President Obama gave the nod for the state to ‘take out’ a U.S. citizen with terrorists’ links abroad.

Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus law during the civil war to allow the state keep and detain outlaws as long as the state wants. To send money from Australia to their people abroad is so hard because the state looks at Western Union/Paypal/banking transactions for terrorist links.

Got a splitting headache but I will continue. Go to Colombia to understand why FARC rebels are today asking the people to forgive them for many years of brutality. The state fought them until the end. Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army were not allowed the chance to destroy Uganda by Yoweri Museveni.

The IRA once boasted to Margaret Thatcher when she missed being killed in a bomb blast, that governments have to be lucky everyday and the IRA, lucky once. Haven’t bad people in this country been lucky more than once?

Abah wrote from Abuja.

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