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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
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Buhari’s Fear Of Failure

By CASMIR IGBOKWE

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In his recent meeting with service chiefs in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly vowed not to exit government as a failure. This is as surprising as it is laughable. Is the President not aware that many Nigerians are already counting days and waiting for his exit from power to stamp his failures in the checkbook of history?

On assumption of office in 2015, the President promised three things: to tackle insecurity, improve the economy and fight corruption. Has he fulfilled any of these promises? The answer is a capital NO!

The President knows this himself. In his address to mark this year’s Democracy Day on June 12, he admitted that he has failed, especially in the area of security. According to him, the fight against insurgents in the North has spread violence to other areas. He said the past two years had seen “challenges that would have destroyed other nations, especially relating to our collective security.”

That is true. Militants, for instance, had overrun a number of military bases in some parts of the North since the beginning of the year. Take the recent audacious attack by bandits on the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna as a typical example. The criminals invaded this elite institution without any challenge, killed two officers, and abducted a Major.

The list of other security breaches in the country is quite long. Last July, bandits shot down a Nigerian Air Force jet in Zamfara State. The pilot was lucky to have escaped alive.

Nevertheless, 13 police officers were not that lucky. These officers were overpowered and killed in July when they went to repel an attack on some communities in Bungudu Local Government Area of Zamfara State. In 2018, Boko Haram terrorists attacked about nine military bases and overran the Multinational Joint Task Force base in Baga, Borno State. They also killed no fewer than 600 soldiers and captured some ammunition. If soldiers and policemen could easily be killed in this manner, one can then imagine what will happen to ordinary civilians and other soft targets.

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It is common knowledge now that our students have become endangered species. From Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, to Government Science School, Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, the story is the same. Bandits have abducted hundreds of schoolchildren and subjected them to unimaginable torture and humiliation. They have abducted over 1,000 students since December last year.

The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) believes the North has paid the biggest price for Buhari’s failure. Spokesman of the group, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, was quoted to have said recently that “the people in the North have the wrong person in office because they are the first victims of the misgovernance of President Buhari.”

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Even the governor of the President’s home state of Katsina, Aminu Bello Masari, would not have asked his people to take up arms and defend themselves against bandits if the President had tackled insecurity as promised. Little wonder, the Defence Minister, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd.), wondered why Nigerians had become cowards, not defending themselves against attacks by bandits. 

As the Arewa Consultative Forum put it, “What else do we need to show that our national security system is running on reverse gear?”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria captured the mood of the nation recently when it posited that Nigeria was one of the most terrorized countries in the world. In a communiqué issued at the end of its second plenary meeting in Enugu last week, the bishops lamented that “except for the civil war, our nation has never witnessed the kind of widespread evil, wanton destruction, and murderous bloodletting.”

The Global Terrorism Index 2020 was magnanimous to rank Nigeria the third most terrorized nation in the world for the sixth consecutive year.

Many Nigerians are already afraid that the nation is on a serious march to Afghanistan. Recall that the Taliban took over the government of that troubled nation recently. People wondered how the Taliban whose numerical strength does not match that of the Afghan army were able to overrun Kabul and take over without resistance. 

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Boko Haram is our own Taliban. Now, some of them claim to have repented and have handed themselves over to security agents. Some have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. But whether they have repented or not is a question whose answer will unfold sooner than later.

In the area of the economy, it is also obvious that Buhari has failed. The greatest indicator of this fact is the level of poverty in the country today. It is no more news that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. It is also no longer news that prices of almost every commodity in the market today have doubled. Some have tripled. Only very few privileged citizens can afford two square meals in today’s Nigeria. The majority of others go to bed on many occasions on an empty stomach.

Unemployment has reached its peak, the cosmetic disbursement of cash palliatives by the Federal Government notwithstanding. As it is now, many people die these days for ailments that could have been easily treated due to a lack of money for medical treatment.

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Part of the reason for this state of affairs is corruption, which the President has woefully failed to tackle. If he is serious about fighting corruption, those politicians who flew into Kano in over 50 private jets for the wedding of his son, Yusuf Buhari, should have been telling Nigerians the source of their income by now. If this government is serious about fighting corruption, Transparency International should not have been scoring us low in the corruption perception index every year. And corrupt policemen would have stopped collecting tolls at every checkpoint across our highways. I drove down to the East last week and my experience was horrible. Every pole, there is a security checkpoint. Those who are lenient will wave you to the past. But some stubborn ones will ask you to park and ask for all manner of particulars. Once they discover any slight mistake somewhere, they put your particulars in their pocket and you begin to bargain to bail yourself out with a reasonable sum of money. 

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To be fair to Buhari, he has improved the defense budget since he came on board. In 2020 and 2021, the military got N878.4 billion and N840.56 billion, respectively. But this has not translated into effective security due partly to corruption and recurrent expenditure. Allegations of diversion of public funds meant to fight insecurity are rife.

This corruption permeates all through the agencies and departments of government. We convict a few people, make some noise about it but the majority of others continue to wallow in their corrupt practices. Even the wastage in the government, which we thought Buhari would curb, has continued. The President leads the pack in this profligacy with a fleet of presidential aircraft. His medical trip abroad is at a huge cost, which could have been avoided if our hospitals had ceased to be mere consulting clinics.

Going forward, the President should concentrate on searching for ways to salvage the dwindling fortunes of his government. In a society with an efficient electoral process, the ruling All Progressives Congress will not get near the corridors of power after the next general election. Unfortunately, the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is not better. What Nigeria needs now is a third force that will put an end to the shenanigans of the two major parties in Nigeria. Nigerians desperately desire an end to leadership failures, especially those of the incumbent occupant of the seat of power. 

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